So let's see...where did we leave off. Oh, our evening with new friends, Sharon and Len. They sent their favorite taxi driver, Manuel, over to pick us up. He speaks a fair amount of English. We quickly arrived at their home...if we lived here, we would probably have walked it but we're so disoriented as to streets and directions.
They have a gorgeous 3 bedroom, 3 bath home with an outside entrance maid's quarters that they use for a guest room. They rented it unfurnished and have done a great job of selecting furniture here (which can be a challenge). We spent the most pleasant evening chatting and then a young friend of theirs arrived with her six year old son. She spent 6 months in New Jersey and her English was amazing. Soon it was time to depart and we look forward to seeing them again.
Our routine has been to get up, eat a light breakfast, catch up on the computer and then sit outside in the garden area to read before we walk into El Centro. Yesterday was no different, it was even sunny when we first went out. As is the norm, clouds came and went so we brought our rain jackets with us as well as an umbrella.
We took a slightly different route this time, walking up a steep sidewalk rather than the steps. This took us past the university and I snapped a few photos of it and the buildings around us. Also, yesterday was a celebratory day for bicyclists and to encourage more riders they staged a big event. The end count was over 8,000 cyclists. We were at the tail end and I snapped a quick photo of where they were set up. (Note: all of today's photos were taken with my phone, thus the less than terrific quality)
We wandered through some new to us streets in El Centro and found the main Mercado where we walked through and looked at all the fruits and vegetables for sale. I opted to not go down the meat aisle, yes, I'm a wimp. I'll save that for a braver day.
As we left the Mercado the rains came, as heavy as yesterday but a bit warmer. We avoided the leaning wall so we didn't have to walk in the street but still managed to finally find our final destination, San Sebas restaurant. We were dripping wet so we shook dry in the foyer and entered. Since it was close to 1pm, the lunch crowd was there, about 50-50 Ecuadorians and Gringos. Downside was no available table. We told the waitress we expected seven and she directed us upstairs. Well, due to some miscommunications, we ended up with three. LOL! But it was a great lunch and nice to meet another person visiting from the USA. Laura, her husband and their 11 year old son are visiting multiple cities. They plan to relocate to Ecuador next March but have yet to determine their final destination.
We eventually wandered back downstairs and ran into two other ladies that we know from the expats forum. Cheryl has been here two years and Andrea just moved here with her seven children and elderly father (now that's an adventure). We sat down and chatted until San Sebas closed (3pm). We'll see Andrea at tonight's party.
From there we took a taxi to Mall del Rio. (We did learn to hail a taxi by extending an arm to the side, NOT by waving it in the air. That is considered a rude insult.) $3 to the mall which is quite good sized with a movie theater, bowling alley, food court, stores of all types and kinds. We saw the little train that you can ride (for $), same as in Arundel Mills in Maryland. We saw the bouncy-bungee jump thingee that we had seen in a Florida mall. We saw Payless Shoes, KFC and even a Bass Pro/Cabella's kiosk.
Our first destination was the department store, Coral. Sort of a SuperMaxi on steroids. We had a few things we still needed to get and made the rounds of the store. We bought a light bulb (fluorescent 13W for under $3) for a bedroom lamp, a small pair of scissors, a big bottle of vinegar (used to wash fruit and vegetables that you can't/don't peel), a papaya, some Bartlett pears, a night light for the bathroom, an umbrella for Stu (which she opened to look for hole or anything broken and got the okay from Stu before folding it back) and spent $12.04.
It would have been cheaper but we didn't get their discount card because we ran into an interesting expat couple. He's a retired chiropractor and she's from Australia. We stood and talked to them for well over an hour (and my back is paying for it today - the standing, that is). We gave them our card and he emailed us last night. We plan to meet up for lunch or coffee some time soon. He offered to take us to the Mercado and and introduce us to his vendor so we don't pay Gringo prices. ;-)
From there we walked next door to Claro, the biggest cell phone carrier in the area, and attempted to get their SIM card for my iPhone. The gal was wonderful, spoke English, and did the best she could to help us. Unfortunately the phone was still locked and she couldn't get around it. (NOTE: Stu redid everything AGAIN when we got home and this time it said UNLOCKED so we'll go there again in Monday, That will give us cell service with prepaid minutes while here.)
Interesting sights and notes of the day:
- Coral employees herding shopping carts up the escalator to the second floor of their store
- A lady walking her goat down the sidewalk, dog following behind
- In rush hour traffic, a young man working the crowd for tips by juggling and wearing a red clown nose
- Finding out after the fact that I should have grabbed toilet paper at the entrance to the bathroom, thank goodness I always carry tissues with me
Tonight we'll take a taxi to Ron & Tamra's house where we will all go together in the taxi to a party on the outskirts of town. We'll meet a lot more folks that we've met online. Should be interesting!