Saturday, January 1, 2011

                  2011...A Brand New...NEW YEAR 

      First of All…in case you haven’t heard it enough times…
                        here’s “uno mas” (one more)…

                 **FELIZ  ANO NUEVO**
                      **HAPPY NEW YEAR**

OK…I’m going to start the New Year Blog by backtracking 
about a week. The reason for this…is that Cuenca puts on
a holiday show like I’ve never seen which…by the way in 
reality…started a few weeks ago.

Now one would think that all this holiday merry making…
parades (especially parades) would culminate at the end
of Christmas Day.  WRONG!

From what I hear…the biggest partying...with more 
parades etc…will be New Years Eve [and Day?)… 
[and if my ears have not deceived me]...continues through 
January… although not as intense thank goodness [I think].

But for now…as you might imagine…and the way 
Cuencano’s party…last night one might have thought that…
it was the 4th of July instead of the night “before”…
Christmas Eve. Of course…besides the fireworks 
(let’s not forget the BIG BOOMS) there was a Christmas 
show /pageant.

Now I’m literally a stones throw from the festivities in 
the park. So…around midnight (lala-lala-lala)…I for one 
was very happy when they rolled up the tent (so to speak)
and took a rest until manana…Christmas Eve “Day”.

From what I hear…on Christmas Eve “day”…there is a 
continuous six or eight (6 or 8) hour parade through 
Cuenca Centro. Incidentally…this turned out to be…
“not” an exaggeration! YIKES!!!!

Being a (still) Nuevo (new) denizen of Cuenca and 
wanting to share these experiences…I’ve taken a bunch 
of pics to give you an idea. Incidentally…the process of 
taking these pics wasn’t easy as…there were “what 
seemed like” thousands of people in Parke Calderone 
which…if you hadn’t guessed was the center of all the

NOTE: Unfortunately the pics that I took...refuse
to load into the blog. I will try at a later date. Sorry!!

Now of course the “powers that be” didn’t “just” put 
on a very long and very large “home-town” parade but…
there were all the other trappings one would expect at 
a gathering such as I experienced. You name it…it was 
there and mostly with a South American flair vs. what 
we Norte Americano’s are used too.

Cotton-Candy…Stuffed Pony’s for photo-ops…a 
cacophony of music…street ice cream (picture ice 
cream molded in a cup with a sick in it…cost about a 
quarter)…all types of foodstuffs (some cooked ”literally” 
and right on the spot as “on the sidewalks” and also 
many different trinkets etc. being sold. I think you get 
the idea…yes? If not…think “carnival”.

Oh and one “must” not forget …Mother Nature! She 
did it up right…i.e. “sunshine…a few high clouds and a
temp…of about 70F. One could not ask for a better day

Now to be truthful…fast forward a few hours (evening)…
and…apparently Mama Nature decided she was being 
w-a-y-y-y-y too nice and…can you say downpour? 
However…by this time…ahem…yours truly was 
comfortably ensconced in his departemento. 
FYI…and only because this was bugging me…I just 
went through my records etc. … and finally came up with 
“my” approximate time in Ecuador. That number is “8” 
as in the amount of months living here below the equator

Now back to the present! 

Last night (that being Tuesday…27 Deciembre)…I went 
to a Post Christmas / Pre-New Years Party at George & 
Tom’s place. The invitation asked that the guests come 
dressed for the occasion…you know things like a suit and 
or sports jacket…slacks etc. I’m pretty sure you get the idea.

That said…guess who “does not” own a sport jacket let 
alone a suit…hmmm? Please understand that when I 
expatriated…yours truly disposed of such trappings with 
the knowledge that there would never be any need for such. 

On a whole I have been right.

Anyway…getting back to the party stuff.

Although “sans” suit ‘n tie…I was acceptably dressed and …
I “was” comfortable. What did I wear? 

Well…I got all duded-up in my “good” black jeans…new 
western boots…black T-shirt covered by my new black 
security vest [which BTW is quite dressy]…all covered by 
my western [cowboy] hat.

(I guess I need to take a photo if this for you guys) 

The party itself was…akin to an upscale “cocktail” party.

George and Tom…did it up right with an open bar. The 
bar included two (2)…possibly three (3) bartenders. Along 
with the bar was a full...dining room sized table complete 
with all sorts of goodies (finger food) freshly prepared 
throughout the night by some very “friendly and 
competent” kitchen staff.

Of course…no party can succeed without a good blend of 
people…to make the party a success that it truly 
deserved. This presence was “absolutely” in evidence 
for this party!

I for one had a very “high-spirited” night…as I’m sure did 
everyone else. 

Thank you George and Tom!

Abrupt course change…

This is the day that I…do to a medical concern (albeit a 
small one) and after considering that I haven’t had a 
check-up in a while…I went to see an Ecuadorian doctor. 
My new Doctor (this statement should give you a hint
happens to be a “Medicina Interna” or in English…a 
“Medical Internist”. El Doctor…was referred by another
Expat and friend…here in Cuenca…so off I went!

Now I’ve often heard of the wide chasm between the U.S. 
Medical Doctor and the Ecuadorian Doctor. Before I 
continue and…before those of you in the U.S. go off on a 
“very unfair” tangent…here me out! 

Dr. Martinez was schooled both in Ecuador and the U.S. 
This…by the way is true for a great many Medical 
personnel both in Ecuador and throughout a large part of 
what is called…Third World countries.

Getting back to that...“wide chasm"

I called Dr. Martinez (Yes…direct to his cell phone) 
yesterday and made my 12:15 pm appointment for today. 
This by the way was my choice as I could have seen him 
yesterday...but…I had other plans. One should also be 
aware that the good doctor speaks ”perfect” English!

And now…the rest of the story…
and you will then understand the word(s) “wide-chasm”…

I arrived about five minutes early and the good doctor...
hadn’t returned from his “rounds” at the hospital as yet. 
So…I waited…in a very ordinary waiting room. 
At 12:15…guess who walked in…yep Dr. Martinez.  
Within a few minutes I was sitting across from him in 
his office. 

Now…I won’t go into all that transpired...but I will share 
the following:

Unlike his U.S. Medical compatriots…Dr. Martinez took 
his very amicable and professional time in getting to know 
something about me and of course my reason for seeing 

Now if I remember correctly…in the U.S. there is always 
a nurse present. In Ecuador (at least with my limited 
knowledge)…well…there was “No Nurse”…period!

After getting to know a little about each other…he
proceeded to examine me. Apparently there is (hopefully
nothing much to be concerned about. I am however going 
for a blood test manana and [we] will both know more by…
ready for this…here it comes…5pm tomorrow.

Yes I was a little apprehensive…what with not ever having 
a blood test in Ecuador and/or not speaking the language 
(to any great extent anyway). 

As it turned out…whatever my lingering fears were…the 
feeling was unfounded. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. The staff 
was very professional…fast and friendly. My results? 
They’ll be ready by 4 pm and I’ll get those results from 
my Doctor at 5 pm. Incidentally…the clinic was clean…
modern…no pain and…I was “in” and “out” in ten
(10) minutes flat!

It was my "option" to either pick-up the printed results or 
the clinic would e-mail it to my doctor. I chose the latter.

OK…like…I’m a “time traveler now”. 

Its hours later and I just returned from seeing the doc. 
Keeping it simple…the results weren’t great but they 
weren’t terrible. That said…yours truly needs too… 
“put the breaks on”…as in not eating most of the good 
stuff that’s bad. In short I need to be cognizant of what 
I’m eating while…making a real effort in not buying 
(and then eating) the goodies.

No Appointment was necessary for the Lab.

As for costs…

The time spent with Dr. Martinez…about 1 hour…
Cost 30.00 Bucks

Next Day follow-up visit (1/2 hour)…FREE

The Docs bedside manner…incalculable 

Cost for the Lab…$78.00

TOTAL COST  = $108.00

And now returning to normalcy as in…
“Jumping Back”…to the present

New Years Eve Day (El Dia de Noche Vieja)…and 
it’s 72F and Partly Sunny. [Sorry ‘bout that folks but if I 
didn’t tell you about the weather here in beautiful 
Cuenca…I wouldn’t be doing this Cuidad (City) justice].

As for New Years Eve…I have no real idea…other than 
what people tell me about past New Years Eve’s (Noche 
Vieja) anyway. To be sure I will tell you about all.

That being said however…from what I’ve heard they do it 
up big here in Ecuador. It is now around 2:15 pm and the 
“BOOMS” and fireworks have already started. If this is any 
indication for the rest of the day/night… then I will 
probably be dreary eyed in starting the New Year manana!

Getting away from the holiday theme
(just for a moment)…

I discovered a brand new coffee shop and…made my 
“inaugural” visit about 2 hours ago. What drew me to
“Coffee Tree”…is the fact that they have an extremely 
rare phenomenon displayed (and for use) in front of the
place. This being…”outdoor tables" (mostly with umbrellas)
and comfortable chairs)…something akin to Paris and 
Roma...(what a great discovery).

Incidentally…I was treated to a small parade while I was
having my outdoor Coffee. Here’s a few fotos…

(Once to photo pics available
at the present time.)

Unless something or someone changes my mind…I most 
likely will not be joining the “late night” partying.

Now don’t get me wrong as it’s not like I don’t like it…
it’s just that after a life-time of New Years Eve goings-on 
stuff…I can very easily forgo the festivities…and enjoy it 
[safely] from my apartment.

By the way…there "was" a planned Gringo New Years 
Eve party…but late word is that it has been cancelled. The 
following is a quoted e-mail that was sent to a friend of 
mine and forwarded to me…

“buses will stop running and taxis will be EXTREMELY 
scarce.  The reason for this is that most streets are
going to be blocked off completely with effigy fires, 
fireworks, dancing, drinking, musical groups. Also, 
hundreds of men dressed as women will be roaming 
the streets with long ropes blocking off vehicle traffic 
and demanding pocket change to pass. This is a 
cultural tradition.Gangs of this also”. 

I understand the above goes on until 4 or 5 a.m.

And the Rains Came…

I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight and being 
that I’ve decided “not” to venture outdoors I really don’t care.

That said and here’s where the sub-title comes in…on my 
way to getting pizza for me…myself…and I…the sky 
opened up and did not let up for about an hour (and it 
wasn’t just a drizzle either). It’s hard to tell at the
moment what nature is throwing at us…but it looks OK
for the present time. 

All bets are off for the evening’s celebratory events. 
And like I said before…I’ll be inside…nice and dry!!!

…and so the…Eleventh Year of the Second Millennium 
starts and I wish you all a Very Happy New Year…one 
filled with laughter…good health…an accumulation of 
wealth and most of all happiness and serenity.

Until Next Time and...
From Just a Little Below the Equator

Feliz Ano Nuevo Mi Amigos y Amigas
(Happy New Year my Friends)