Monday, December 31, 2012

Burn Baby, Burn

Okay, I have been avoiding the owners of the hostal/hostel like the plague, because I did not trust myself to be civil after that party. There was no warning, no concern, no nothing that an accommodation should offer in such a situation. We are leaving today on a 3:30 pm shuttle for Guayaquil; the best way to avoid them to send Ron, the mediator to do all the work. Ron is a people pleaser, so he will tell them all the positive kudos they want to hear about our stay as I am in the room writing my TripAdvisor commentary with the wrath of Simón Bolívar as he was kicking Spanish ass.

I knew they were playing Musical Chairs the night of the party, because I kept peeking through the blinds. It was not until I went into the kitchen, right next to our room that I spotted the Pin the Tail on the Donkey paper taped on the wall RIGHT under our bedroom window. The nerve of it all and for god sakes, not one of them was under 25 years old. How crazy!!

This was our last go round with the city of Cuenca, the 3rd largest in the country. In some ways 3 days was too long, but I fear I did not give it a fair trial. My church junkie needs were met today, because most of the churches were closed until today. We went from church to church, but even I became overwhelmed with photographing gold, so quit.

Some Canadians started talking to us as we were leaving the park, there was some parade forming with dozens of floats, all nativity recreations. Some people hold onto grudges, these guys refuse to give up Christmas. Anyway, the Canadians had been here for 7 years and love it. They were not sure why other than it was cheap. Apparently, you can get a long term Visa if you have an income of $800 a month. They have a 1600 square foot, 2 bedroom place with a huge patio and only pay $400 a month for rent. No one I spoke with could pinpoint the attraction of this town that drew them other than the fact that it is cheap and there are many other ex-pats. None of them explored other cities or towns before deciding on this one. Rather short sighted.

Just a side note for my own memory, no one can sell alcohol on Sundays throughout the country. Therefore, you will not find a single bar open and not one restaurant will sell you a beer.

Being New Year’s Eve, there are still more businesses closed than open. We did find the used English Bookstore, called Carolina’s open. Quite a comprehensive collection, we swore we would not buy any books, because we brought books to read and leave for others. We found 2 we surely would not find in Budapest. Chatting with the owner, she is from South Carolina, hence the name of the store and her name is Caroline. She and hubby have been here 17 years.

Taking a taxi to the shuttle office, we arrived in quick time, which was fortunate as we were told the shuttle was leaving at 4pm, but a Brit on the same was told 3:30. The scenery was breathtaking; hairpin curves in thick fog at times almost instilled a renewed interest in religion. When there was clear viewing the mountains and green pastures were glorious. This really is a beautiful country.

Arriving at 7:00 pm, we took a taxi to our hotel. Lovely place, Hostal Joshua is highly recommended. Finding a restaurant open on New Year’s Eve was a difficult as my passing for 40. Unlike our budgetary needs dictated, we had to settle for a high priced seafood brasserie. As we were scanning the menu, we both realized that our charge cards were at the hotel. Between us, we had $40. Dinner was sparse. Ron had soup and a beer; I had an appetizer crab salad and diet Coke. The bill was $32.89.

Ron finally found a place where he can watch CNN to see if the USA has sailed over the fiscal cliff or if a bridge of sanity was constructed. The joke on him was that 99% of the coverage was New Year’s Eve in NYC with Kathy Griffon and Anderson Cooper. The real thrill of the night came close to midnight.

Our host directed us out on the street where the neighbors gather for the festivities. All of the local families brought their dolls that they created or bought. Spider Man, the Hulk, and Little Smurf made an appearance along with a dozen others we did not recognize. They all stood there like ladies in waiting or Joan of Arc waiting for their fate. Before midnight, there were dozens of fireworks sailing through the sky, lighting it with gold, green, and reds at times singularly and others in combination. The real show starts close to midnight when all of the dolls who have been so patient are put in a pile in the street where they are saturated with gasoline and lit on fire.

The surprise for us was that each of these babes and boys were filled with firecrackers. As they burned, they exploded. There must have been some layering, because not all of the firecrackers went off at the same time. They continued over time for twenty minutes or more for several. It was quite fun to be part of the neighborhood. They seemed to enjoy sharing it; a number of people made a point to pass by us and wish a Happy New Year!

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