Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Walk Down Calle Larga

After a declicious breakfast at the Kook Sharon, Dean, Bill and I go shopping for fruits and veggies at Diez de Augusto ( the tenth of August) Mercado (Market). Open 7 days a week the market consists of two big floors. Meats, Fish and Fruits are on the bottom floor.  Restaurants, Shops and Veggies are on the top floor. We were in search of onions, carrots, potatoes, strawberries, mangoes, and papayas.

Sharon did all of the negotiating of prices for the first time in Spanish. Besides the great price of fresh produce I love photographing the Campasinos in their native costumes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Un dia hermosa en el barrio

Un dia hermosa en el barrioThe title of this post translates to "A beautiful day in the neighborhood". The weather has been just fantastic in Cuenca the last couple of days.  Sunny, and in the high 70's around 3:00 pm and very low humidity. We had breakfast with our good friends Dean and Bill at Banana's Restaurant right near the Caroline Book Store. The country breakfast ( huevos, papas, tocina y cafe) was outstanding. We walked to the 10th of August Mercado and purchased strawberries, limes, and potatoes.

Later that day I walked into El Centro and exchanged a Blu-Ray Disc that had no subtitles. Hopefully in year I'll be ready to see a movie entirely in Spanish but I'm not ready now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

No Cambio

"No Cambio" is roughly translated into English as "no change". No change as in handing a Cunecano merchant currency and he/she has no change in the till.

I think all of you who read this blog know that Ecuador as well as Panama and El Salvador use the American Dollar as their currency.  Ecuador mints their coins but relies on available paper currency for circulation.  Cuenca also heavily uses the gold Sacajewa coins.

I have learned from experience to always carry gold coins, $5 and $10 bills because going to the local tiendas (stores) you have almost no chance of getting change of a $20 before noon.

One of the perks of living in Cuenca is that you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from the local tiendas, food coop or from the campasino vendors on the street. My first score was 10 large madirinas(tangerines) for a $1. I've purchased fruit from this street vendor before and he always starts off with the "Gringo Price". I'm confident with my numbers and we quickly negotiated the right price.  The "right price" is also in different parts of town. I can get 15 tangerines for a $1 if I go the Fiere Libre Market but that's a bus ride away and very busy.

My next purchase was a 1/2 kilo of fresas (strawberries) for $1.50. The third purchase was a 1/2 kilo of freshly ground cafe (coffee) for $3.00. I gave the jefe (manager) a $5 bill and his reply was "no cambio". The woman next to me had made a purchase with a $10 bill and she had the same predicament. We waited for 5 minutes until the next customer came. In the interim she started talking to me in Spanish.  The usual conversation entails if I'm visiting or living in Cuenca? Do I like Cuenca? Where am I from? and am I renting or buying?  You always get a big smile from Cuencanos when you speak Spanish.

The video below is my walk into town and some of the interesting sites in front of my apartment building on the Yanuncay River.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lots Of Mileage With 2 Spanish Words

I'm back to taking Spanish lessons 3 times a week and I try to use as much Spanish on my walks into El Centro. I was exiting the Farmacia at Mt. Sinai Hospital. An adorable 2 year old was blocking my path. I probably would have knocked her down if I opened the door. Her father saw this and quickly swooped her up in his arms. I said "Tu hija es muy hermosa"(your daugher is very beautiful). His face lit up and he immediately said "Muchas gracias".

The next encounter was on the bus and two young boys were having a friendly argument about who had the best backpack. When one of them got off the bus I told the other one that his backpack was "muy chevere" which translates to "very cool".  I was greeted with a surprised smile. My goal is everyday to start a conversation in Spanish with someone I don't know.

Below is an Animoto video of my walk today.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Juggling With Fire

The title of the post sounds like it could be a political novel or a TV reality show. It's actually a street entertainer that I encountered on my daily walk into El Centro. The corner of Doce de Abril y Solano is very busy with traffic and pedestrians. There's is always one or two street entertainer demonstrating their talent. This young man was especially good.