Saturday, January 24, 2015

18 Miles Spanning Multiple Cultural Events

We have an amazing social calendar for not even living here. Friday's agenda: lunch with Pattie and a Mozart concert with Mike.

Our neighbor Pattie, from one floor below, had invited us to join her for lunch at a restaurant called Good Affinity. It is a vegetarian restaurant and quite a ways from the city center. It sounded like an adventure, so we agreed to meet her there as she was going food shopping first. 

We decided to walk to the restaurant not realizing how far it actually was. Ron also wanted to test the theory that where we would be moving was only 20 minutes away. The day was clear and crisp, but we learned to pack umbrellas just in case.

By the time 20 minutes had passed, we were nowhere near the restaurant and our next home is beyond this. Along the way, we did pass a group of older ladies, one being a Gringo, who stopped us to offer an invitation for a gallery opening that evening. Scheduled for 7pm, we were already committed to a Mozart concert at 8pm, but we asked if we could attend another time. The Gringo lady said it was worth a visit just to see the inside of the building; it was a converted stable, which she claimed was gorgeous. Assuring her we would return, we continued on our way. This was 15 minutes to deduct from the total walking time. 

En route, we came across a wine shop of a good size, so we stopped to see if they might carry the Chilean wine our host Barbara left for us. A quick scan of the shelves created more disappointment, but less weight to carry along the journey. Deduct another 10 minutes from the total walking time. 

Spotting Good Affinity, we were an hour early, so Ron wanted to continue to our new digs. We walked and walked and walked some more, but we still were not there. We walked for an hour and a half, but still did not find the apartment. Okay, deduct the two stopovers, but we still have an hour left. 

Deciding we needed to head back to the restaurant or be late for meeting Pattie, we turned to go. Ron kept asking people directions as we changed direction. We over walked the location of the apartment by about one mile.

Asians own and run Good Affinity, a semi-buffet style. The meal of the day includes rice, four choices of the six offerings, a bowl of soup, and a drink all for $2.75. Can you beat this? I nixed the rice, but did say yes to the mixed cauliflower and broccoli, eggplant, a corn fritter, and cucumber salad. They offered lemonade without sugar and the soup was non-distinct, but was delicious. 

Pattie was good company, cheerful and full of interesting stories of their living abroad adventures. She really is a wealth of information. Lunch was a total delight. Pattie gave us directions on how to use the bus from where we were, so we did not have hike back again.

The bus ride costs 25¢ each. It would have been 12¢ for Ron if he had an Ecuadorian residency. It was an experience zipping around curves as if we were in a racecar. Within 15 minutes, we made it to a downtown area we recognized. The plan was to go food shopping, but getting a coffee first became the first priority. We tried finding a café suggested by our next host, but directions being imprecise, we never found it. Finally, settling for a little coffee roaster café, we thought we were on track. Surprise, the coffee was undrinkable. 

Passing the old basilica hundreds of times the last time we were in Cuenca, it was never open, so we could not see it. Today, we still had some energy for one museum. An
admission charge of $1 helps the restoration efforts. At first glance at the altar, I thought we were disturbing some ceremony. Up ahead were 13 men sitting in a semi-circle. Impressive for sure! Though beautifully fitted, it is apparent some of the frescoes are still in need of repair. Beyond the main church, there is another room with an unknown use. There are outdoor areas with old photos that are lovely to survey. Well worthy of the price of admission just for the artwork.

I have long admired the architecture of an old municipal building we have walked past dozens of times, but never took pictures. As tired as I was, I could resist no longer. Then Ron noticed this was where they were displaying the artwork of a
Tomás Galindo Artist
painter we had read about. When at the Modern Art Museum, we found posters for this display, but the venue did not resonate. Being drawn in, we were pleasantly refreshed with the vibrant colors and wonderful choices of models. The artist is Tomás Galindo.

Now too exhausted to shop, we returned home. Mike was joining us for the Mozart Concert tonight, so we wanted to rest a bit, get some dinner and be ready to meet him at 7pm. Initially, we intended to walk to the auditorium about a mile away. 

When it was time to leave, it was again raining relentlessly. All three of us had umbrellas, but they were ineffective for our lower bodies; the rain hit the ground and then ricocheted back up. Standing across the street from the apartment, we attempted to get a taxi. The rule of thumb here is that when the rain comes, finding an empty taxi is as easy as finding an arrowhead in the ocean. 

After 15 minutes of trying, Mike suggested we walk toward the basilica where our chances may be better. Finding the ideal corner for a taxi that would be heading in the direction we wanted to go, we stood. Pouring rain almost overwhelmed our umbrellas. Just as we were about to call it quits and go home, a taxi stopped right in front of us to drop off a fare. LUCK!

The Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuenca performed the Noche de
Mozart concert in Teatro Pumapungo. It was free! The program included Don Giovanni and three others. Violin music was never appealing to me, but Xavier Mora, a soloist, performed beautifully. 

Later, there was a quartet comprised of an oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon. However, in Spanish they are oboe, clarinete, corno, and fagot. Performers are clarinetista, cornista, oboist, and fagotista. Strangely, all soloists were men, but the names in Spanish for performers are all feminine. Regardless of monikers, the music they performed was magical. Times like this make me wish I had continued with the clarinet.

By the time the concert was over, the rain had stopped. It was really a delightful evening and even more special being able to share it with Mike. We walked home and on the way ran into Curt. He was out with some friends and Scott was resting at home. 

When we reached home again, I checked my pedometer. We covered 18 miles today.

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