It’s hard to wrap your head around so many new customs and traditions in the short amount of time that we’ve been in Cuenca. I find that most Ecuadorian customs make more sense to me than some of the ones I’ve lived with all my life.
For instance; light switch plates are installed the way I’m used to; vertical to the floor; however, for multiple switches…it still takes only one that can have up to 3 switches instead of having them run half way across a wall. In contrast, electrical outlets are installed horizontal to the floor…containing the typical two or more outlets. Keeps the cords from getting in the way of the other ones. I know; small things but it seems so efficient to me and I wonder why the electricians in the US doesn’t do it this way.
In a shop…pick out your merchandise….stand at the counter…pay for it…the clerks are cordial and professional and you go about your day. BUT; if some how in the course of this exchange….you stumble over your spanish and impart to them that you are in Spanish classes to learn their language….the whole landscape changes. The transaction usually turns into an extremely friendly conversation with the locals being very impressed that you are trying to learn their language….don’t know why this is, but we’ve had the most delightful talks with shop owners by doing this.
I am convinced that all cab drivers in Cuenca learned their trade in New York! 9 out of 10 drivers with english (broken or not) under their belt; when asked where they learned English all reply “New York”. Interestingly enough, though, they all returned to Cuenca! Can’t blame them!
Chatting with cab drivers and other locals usually turns into the same conversation when they discover we actually live here. They are genuinely shocked and delighted that we chose their city and always want to know why? Yet, they will tell you in a heartbeat that Cuenca is the most beautiful city in the world and they love it very much. They always inquire as to whether you like it or not…would love to tell one of them “I hate it” just to see what would happen but so far I haven’t been close enough to the house when the conversation turns that way….cuz he’d probably make me walk!
Hubby turned 65!….now in Cuenca that is closely related to sainthood, seriously. The banks here have incredibly long lines (you know, take a number, have a seat and get hypnotized by the electronic meter watching for your number)…now he walks right up to the window…because Ecuador thinks he’s old and deserves respect. (This is not playing too well inside our casa, however.) The bus fare is $.25…he is charged only $.12. Any flights he takes originating in Ecuador to anywhere within South America….are also half priced. Any museum, public performance, etc…..he gets in line first; gets to sit down, etc. I’ve gotta keep him on my good side so I can go with or else wait at the back of the line. (they also do this for pregnant women and women with infants). Pretty cool, huh?
Got the gas bill this past week….Hubby says I need to cut back on expenses…not! Bill comes every two months and was a whopping $15.68. Electrical, water and phone also had to be paid also …total was $22.16. Okay, all together now; can you say “hydro power is a good thing”? I’ll think about each and every one of my friends back home as they all approach the blazing heat of Texas for summer…while we enjoy the cool breezes off the Tomebamba river.