Friday, April 1 in Cuenca

Street vendor at the steps
For Dan and Lane Friday began with running down and up the steps near the hostel. Dan did 7 laps and Lane managed 6. Here the native vendor who was selling lemons and apples from a wheelbarrow at the top of the steps. After that things were pretty quiet until the early afternoon when Dan, Theresa and Lane took off to visit the Museo del Banco Central. While they were gone we did some detective work.
The Cuenca Zoo
We had heard from other Gringos that there were shops selling programs for learning Spanish at very inexpensive prices but we hadn’t learned where. So we wandered up to the local bookshop. Lee was busy teaching a Spanish class so we sat around and talked with Sylvia and Jerry Porter. They are from North-East Oregon and have moved down here to Cuenca.
Shop selling inexpensive software
Eventually Lee’s class was over and we asked about the cheap software. He told us of a location near the Zoo about 4 blocks West along Calle Largo and then 50 meters South on Padre Aguirre. We found the shop and arranged to purchase a copy.
The Taj Mahal Restaurant
While we waited for the software, we walked back to Calle Largo and went to the Taj Mahal restaurant where Nan had a Mora yogert drink while I had a Pilsner.
Big sale at the pharmacy
As we finished our drinks, we noticed that the pharmacy across the street was having a big sale. Since the splashy advertizing was so unusual, we decided to take a photo of it.
Gringo night at Zoe's Bar and Restaurant
We didn’t do much more that afternoon until about 5:00 pm when we walked over to Zoe’s Bar and Restaurant for their Gringo Night. This week’s Gringo Night was not nearly as productive as the one last week. The only person we recognized was Charlie at the left end of the bar. We met Larry who is single and lives in a 3 bedroom, 2-bath apartment in new Cuenca. His rent is $350/month. Things got rather noisy and so we left shortly.
As we walked towards the central plaza (Parque Calderon) we passed a shop that had some interesting statues and a chest in the window. The carved chest was beautiful. Nancy though the statue of big mama dancing was neat. The statues of toucans added a colorful touch.

Carved chest in show window Big mama dancing Colorful toucans

Restaurant beside the new cathedral
We were headed for the restaurant beside the new cathedral. We split an order of Noodles and chicken and each had a soft drink. The total bill was $8.00.
As we walked home from the restaurant we passed a computer store. In the window was this netbook for $420. It is virtually identical to the one that I bought in the US for $269. Imported high tech items are certainly more expensive here. We also passed many, many Internet cafes. This one was huge with at least 50 computer terminals available. We also passed a couple of restaurants serving Shawarma. This is a popular dish brought to Ecuador by middle Eastern immigrants. Shawarma is made by alternately stacking strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat on a stick—an onion or tomato is sometimes placed at the top of the stack for additional flavoring. The meat is roasted slowly on all sides as the spit rotates in front of, or over, a flame for hours. The meat is shaved off the stack with a large knife and made up into a sandwich wrap with pita bread together with vegetables and dressing.

Netbook for $420 Huge Internet cafe Meat for Shawarma

When we arrived back at the hostel we visited for a while with Daniel, Theresa, Lane and some of the other hostel guests. It seemed to be a special night, There was a lot of traffic and there were some sporatic fireworks. At one point about a dozen small hot-air lanterns were released to float up over the city. A bit of a fire hazard but really neat!