Saturday, February 21, 2015

Disaster Before Dinner ~ Flood Before Food

An apartment equipped with a washing machine and dryer is usually a blessing. However, the washer/dryer combo here is part Australian and whirling dervish. Once it begins the spin cycle, it loses all sense of being and goes on a walkabout.

Yesterday, we did a load of clothes, but by the time it had completed cycling, it had shuffled all the way

across the kitchen to the dishwasher. Appliances in love, is not certain, but what was certain, the path was blocked. As we had to do in the immediate past, I push the machine back where it should be living, by wiggling it back and forth.

Just as I completed the task, I heard a heavy hissing sound.  Peeking behind the contraption, it did not take long to realize water was spouting out of the faucet where it converged with the tubes to the washer. I tried turning off one faucet and then the other, but to no avail. Screaming for Ron, he came and found by holding the faucet tightly, the water would stop temporarily. Within minutes, the kitchen was flooded.

Grabbing our thick and heavy bath towels, I spread them on
the floor to keep it from continuing into the dining room area. With Ron holding the pipe, I went downstairs to see if the young woman was monitoring the front door. She was not there. Then I remembered we had briefly met an American couple who said they lived on the fourth floor. I went up there knocking on doors. Shane answered his and came down with me. He had no idea how to turn the water off within the apartment for the kitchen, but was able to shut off all of the apartment’s water supply from the basement. That worked.

For two hours, we mopped up water with towels after finding the mop to be less than adequate. Hand wringing those towels, which are heavy when dry, were really challenging when soaked with water. I was so nervous about breaking someone else’s equipment I was shaking. From looking at the faucet, I thought they would certainly have to remove tile to get to it.

Not knowing what to do, I called Malena, the property owner from our previous exchange. She promised to try to call a plumber for me, but had doubts about a Saturday house call. Promising to attempt it and then call me back, we left it there. I sat on the sofa and shook with anxiety.  After 30 minutes, Ron decided to see if the front desk person was there yet, we did not realize no one is there on weekends.

Failing this, he knocked on the doors of the first floor, where Karen and Will live. They are Canadians who have been here about three years. They are retired teachers who taught in Egypt and Russia, but moved here sight unseen when they quit working. As fortune would have it, Karen just had a plumber leave about 25 minutes before Ron found them home. She immediately called a friend who in turn would call the plumber back. While they were waiting, Ron and Karen were chitchatting. After Ron mentioned that we had a B & B in Budapest, Karen said, “I think I met you two years ago.”

As soon as Ron mentioned this to me, I had instant recall. We were on the corner at Parque Calderon watching a Christmas parade go by. Karen asked if we lived in Cuenca and we said we were just visiting. They mentioned they had retired here and we chatted some more learning they were Canadians. It is such a small world. We caught the plumber who promised to return 30 minutes later.

About 15 minutes went by when the doorbell rang. It was Malena, her boyfriend John, along with Barbara and Bill the couple with whom we did our first Cuenca home exchange. They all came to see if John or Bill could assist in any manner. In the meantime, Karen popped up and the plumber arrived. Thankfully, Malena translated. He had to run to the hardware store to get a part. Minutes later, he returned and with 15 minutes had the entire thing fixed. Cost $20. I was so grateful, relieved, and blown away by the insignificant amount I tipped him. Malena told me I should not have, but I said I was so thrilled it was something minor, I would have kissed him. 

We had arranged with Mike and Howard to go to dinner at Joe’s Secret Garden. We had heard about this fabulous event that only takes place on Saturday evenings. Joe and Joseph
fill the entire downstairs of their home with tables and chairs seating up to 100 guests. They publish the fixed menu on Mondays and then take reservations until they fill capacity. From what we heard, it is easy to be turned away for lack of room. This was going to be an event we would not want to miss. The plan was to meet Howard and Mike at 5:30 for the cocktail hour. Until the miraculous plumber showed up, our being able to attend was 50-50.

Arriving at the house, there are servers waiting at the gate to check guests off the list. They then show guests where the location of their particular table, before showing pointing out the bar and the gardens. All early birds were sipping drinks in the garden. It was here where we found Mike, Howard, Curt, Scott, and Jack.  

When dinner is ready, Joe rings a bell to signal people it is time to take their places at their respective tables. Within minutes, the serving staff has glasses filled with water followed by bowls and bowls of food served family style. 

The chicken fried steak could make a catcher’s mitt pale in comparison in size, but it was moist and tender, not chewy leather. Smothering the steak and the potatoes with the roasted chili gravy was damned on this night. The cornbread arrived as sticks and as wedges. I did not realize that they were both the same, but the sticks were my favorite. Both had pork cracklings in them.heavenly and calories be
Grasshopper Pie
  Those seasoned guests around us made it clear that if we ran out of anything, they would refill the bowls. I only wish I had smuggled in some Tupperware. 

Not my greatest shot, but you get the idea.
Ron and I both had a large beer and then later a large glass of wine. The total bill came to $40 with taxes. Unbelievable!

Only the company made the evening more delightful than the dinner itself.

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