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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Buncha Stuff

Time for another round of 'story-ettes' where the subject matter doesn't warrant a whole blog entry, but they're worthy enough of being PART OF a post.

Social Events

In the expat slash retirement world, we try to organize a semi-steady flow of events to get us up out of our rocking chairs and into the social world from time to time.  Every so often, Granny (remember her?) puts on a shindig at her house, throws a cover over the 'seement pond' (swimming pool) and the boxed-wine flows.

Then there's the civic events (ie; Symphony concerts), fiestas, and the performances at the Jazz Cafe.

The Expat population is a great source for volunteers.  One such example focuses on doggies and kitties.  We really don't have a well-organized pet shelter infrastructure here in EC.  It's comprised of rag-tag operations barely surviving on donations in waaaaaay over-populated primitive structures.  A small group of individuals have taken it upon themselves to launch a spay/neuter program by coordinating Veterinarians willing to provide their services either free of charge or at a large discount, along with knocking on neighborhood doors and setting up spay/neuter clinics at specific sites on specific dates.   Donations fund this process.  Frequently, they are successful in s/n nearly 60 animals over the course of a weekend.

Shocking reality...  Let's say 1 male and 1 female produce 6 puppies.  Those 6 puppies may bear or cause to produce 6 more at the age of 1.  Those 6 may bear or cause to produce 6 more by the time they are 1 year old.   6 x 6 = 36.   36 x 6 = 216.     216 dogs could be created in just 2 years originating from just ONE un-spayed/un-neutered male and female!!!!   LISTEN TO BOB BARKER!!!

How does this connect up with social events?   Well, recently a fundraising event was held at the beautiful hacienda Villa San Carlos in Cuenca.  It was an evening comprising of a silent auction, live art auction, dinner, and cocktails.  Nearly 200 people attended the $20 per plate event called 'Spay-ghetti and No Balls'.   Yes, you read correctly!!  And, nearly $7,500 was raised which goes a lonnnng ways to providing spaying and neutering services.

Oh, if you want to read more about this organization, just go to their site:

http://happydogsincuenca.wordpress.com/

Here's a few photos from the event!


Besides buying my house, Franny also volunteers in a school of young children with special needs.




This was everyone's favorite.   A blue-footed booby made out of various metals.  It went for over $500.

Cheryl and Rex from Colorado, living here now.

Artistry

I love Love LOVE the work of Eduardo Vega!!   He's a very famous artist who designs pottery, dishes, wall art, murals, etc out of ceramics.  I recently went to his studio slash gallery at the top of the hill overlooking Cuenca, known as Turi.  Here's a peek for you.

The front entrance encased by an old stone wall.

His house on the right.  It overlooks the entire city.



Artist hand-painting each and every item.

I bought the one on the lower right.



Passive or Assertive

I get rather tired of people who tell me (or write me) saying 'it's the way it's always been, they're not going to change', 'it's their culture', 'you're a guest, adapt to the way things are done here (right or wrong)', 'only an Ecuadorian can make things change, not you....a foreigner', blah blah blah.

Well, you can either be passive about it, or be assertive.   Being passive and letting things ride the way they are will get you....ummm....let's see.....NOTHING.    Being assertive (no, I didn't say 'aggressive') MAY actually cause something to happen.

Case in point.   Some months ago, I wrote about my experience of being pulled over by the transit cops of the Guayas province.  In short, they forced me to fork over $250 in payola to let me go.  I wrote about it.  Someone noticed it and passed it on to a government agency focusing on eliminating corruption.  They contacted me immediately, details were exchanged, I identified the jerks from photos they sent me...voila....caught!!!   Had I done nothing and bought into the mentality regularly conveyed to me, nothing would've happened and those cops would've continued-on, happily bilking people of moolah from their wallets.

More recently, parking 'cops' have been aggressively harassing anyone who stops in front of a 40-unit (one of which I own) apartment building.  There's no parking in front of the building, we don't have a parking garage or lot, and there's no other option but to pull over to the side of the road, put on the flashers, and load/unload quickly.   It's a one-way street with 2 lanes, therefore only one lane is partially blocked, temporarily.  Taxi's were harassed.  Trucks delivering tanks of gas (for cooking, heating, hot water) were harassed.   Furniture deliveries, too.  Even a friend of mine, who lives in the complex, received a $100 fine because they stopped just to unload their groceries onto the sidewalk!!

So, one evening I fired off an email to the Mayor.  Long after office hours, I received a reply from him...no, not an automated reply thanking me for writing and they would respond within XX hours...but a response informing me my email was being forwarded to the head of the parking agency.   Late that same night, I heard from the parking agency asking for my phone # so they could call me and discuss the matter.  A few days later, I got a call.  They wanted to meet me.   I arranged to meet at another location at 12pm today.  They showed up AT 12pm on the dot....the head of the agency, along with a parking enforcer who spoke English, and another man.

Long story not as long....they agreed to allow 10 minute parking in front of the building to allow for loading/unloading without being hassled or fined.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained....as they say.

Seen Around the Clock

  • When I came home one day, 2 kids with their bikes were sitting with a small young dog...my neighbors dog.  They saw that it was outside and didn't know who it belong to, so they waited for someone who might come by and know where the dog lived.   I thanked them and off they went happy the dog was going to be okay.  I took it to my neighbors house, where it had escaped in-between the time the driveway gate opened and closed.
  • Some sort of safe driving campaign was underway awhile ago.  Downtown they had 'lifeguard stations' (those wood structures you see on the beach) erected with 'lifeguards' using a megaphone to broadcast do's and don'ts to drivers and pedestrians.   On the autopista (our pseudo freeway) young adults dressed either as an Angel or Death were positioned at a stoplight near the mall.  The Angel would reward drivers who exhibited good behavior (ie; stopped before the line) and Senor Death scolded those who did not (ie; turned on a red light).
  • Street performers are everywhere here.   Normally, they take a spot at a busy intersection and entertain drivers while they are stopped for a red light.  Usually it's various acts of juggling, or flag twirling, or my favorite guy who bounces a soccer ball on his head and shoulders, it never hitting the ground.   They know the timing of the lights, so just before they turn green, they stop, bow, and dash from car to car accepting tips (of the coin kind...not advice!).
  • Construction, CONSTRUCTION!!  Going on everywhere you look here.
  • My pharmacy called to inform me they're having 20% off all prescriptions next Tuesday!
  • 8 Expats (myself included) struggling to learn 2nd level Spanish in classes twice a week for 6 weeks.  $100
  • Yesterday was clear blue skies, no clouds (rare here).  Full moon at night.  I headed out on another motorcycle adventure....and found it.  More on that in a forthcoming blog!!  Stay tuned.

Dano

Yes, Gracie....we know you auditioned for the Victrola dog, but they didn't summon you for the callbacks.  Now, get outa my blog!!!




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Monday, September 9, 2013

What We Have and What We Don't Have

WHEW!!  I'm waaaay late in getting another post out to y'all.  Saw wee.

I think it's about time for another list of pseudo-observations and maybe even a tiny dose of my (MY!!) opinion tossed in.   In fact, I'll mix it up a bit so some reader's blood pressure doesn't get too high before a pressure relief valve kicks in.

Ready?

First a disclaimer.  These are not 101%, black and white, all or none, no-exception statements.  These are 'generalities'.  If I were to say "I never go to Walmart" I mean it would be RARE you'll find me in a Walmart.  It doesn't mean never Never NEVER in my entire life time have I or will I EVER step foot in a Walmart!!!  (unlike my Ex who pretty much held me to the latter...thus now being my EX!!!).

What we DO have:

  • Graffiti
  • Kids walk home from school by themselves
  • Kids play in their yards, empty lots, and streets unattended
  • Dogs running amok
  • KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and soon...ugh...McDonalds
  • School kids in uniforms
  • Young people respect their elders
  • Doctors who give you their home phone #
  • Playgrounds with zip-lines for kids
  • Families that gather for meals...home-cooked from scratch
  • Elderly/pregnant/disabled go to the front of the line or have dedicated lines set aside for them
  • $1.48 a gallon gas
What we DON'T have:
  • Homeless sleeping under bridges, on park benches, under stairwells, in park bushes
  • Gangs (remember my disclaimer!)
  • Drug addicts, drug-ladened themed parties, needle exchange programs
  • Every other driver talking on their cells
  • When a financial institution goes down, the rich that get reimbursed first.  (More like it's the poor, disabled, elderly, and people with low balances).
  • Beggars asking for something for nothing
  • Coffee addiction
  • Veterans with cardboard signs wanting handouts as if being a Veteran obligates you to fork over
  • Junk mail
  • Newspapers 2 inches thick (more like 15 pages)
  • Frivolous lawsuits
  • Attorneys beckoning you to call them if you were in an accident, no matter if you were hurt or not, no matter whether it was your fault or not
  • Gun toting society
  • People telling kids not to talk to strangers
  • Pet shelters
  • Programs for spay/neuter
  • Jack in the Box, Daves, Taco Bell, Carls Jr, All you Can Eat Buffets
  • Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, and Swansons frozen dinners
  • Cops in souped up cars
  • Car-chases
  • General aviation airports
  • Limousines
  • Cars with huge gas-guzzling engines
  • Gigantic SUV's, 4x4's that never touch a dirt road, or trucks that require you to pole-vault to get in
  • 127 ounce Big Gulps
  • Cash-back at check-out counters
What we DO have:
  • Requirement that all citizens MUST vote
  • 2-3 month long presidential election campaign
  • Discounts for paying property taxes early
  • Neighborhood hardware stores, bakeries, and mom/pop groceries
  • 50% discount on busses, airfare for senior citizens
  • Sales Tax reimbursement for senior citizens
  • Mormons and Jehovahs Witnesses knocking on your door
  • Gay marriage (albeit a different name)
  • Dollar coins (and we love em)
  • 8.0% paid on gov’t insured CD’s (the decimal on the right of the number vs the left)
  • Attendants who fill your car with gas
  • Employees who take your groceries to your car
  • Strangers who say 'Good Morning' 'Good Afternoon', 'Good Evening' to you even though you may not have even made eye contact with them
  • Civic projects that get done in quick-time, not bogged down in lawsuits and NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitudes
  • Young people who WANT to work at fast food restaurants, hotels, street cleaning, laborers, etc
  • People washing their clothes and bedding in the rivers
  • Cows and chickens in regular neighborhoods
  • Zona de Tolerance where prostitution is legal
  • Free civic performances (ie; Symphony)
What we DON'T have:
  • Costco (darn it)
  • Clothes for larger-sized people, people over 5’10
  • Shoes larger than 10 ½
  • Parking lots riddled with abandoned shopping carts
  • 57 parking slots for (the supposed) handicapped in front of every store
  • Handicapped placards in car windows, not necessarily belonging to the handicapped
  • On-shore global ‘partners’ who ‘help’ us do our jobs (aka ‘outsourcing’)
  • A lot of use of credit
  • Buy 10 get the 11th free coffee, haircut, car wash, manicure, donuts, puppies punch-cards
  • Personalized license plates
  • Double wides
  • Single wides
  • Triple wides
  • Manufactured houses
  • Camping trailers
  • Motorhomes
  • Express lanes
  • Amber alerts
  • Christmas tree lots
  • Mass shootings
  • Hollyweird
  • Wars
  • Vente double mocha, two and ½ pumps of chocolate, non-fat, 13 cubes of French spring-water ice, ½ packet Splenda, stirred not shaken in a bio-diversity cup, decaf, wrapped in a cozy
  • Alleys
  • Sea of homes all with red-tiled roofs, and their colors range between white, off white, beige, tan, creme and when you visit your neighbor you know where the bathroom is because it's the same layout as your house.
  • Hummers
  • School kids competing with one another over the label of the clothes they wear or the gadgets they use
  • Dishwashers and garbage disposals in homes
  • Clothes dryers in many homes
  • Traffic jammed freeways
  • Underground gas lines
  • Parking meters
  • Hamburger helper
  • Outrageous medical costs/premiums
  • 10-minute doctor appts (more like 45)
  • Prescriptions required to purchase medication
  • Starbucks
  • Foreigners demanding we speak their language, signs in their language, documents in their language, take down our religious images because they're not religious, etc
  • $5 gas
  • Endless barrage of commercials telling us we need to take this or that pill....but, if we do....we may die from cancer or heart attack, get phlebitis, lose a limb, may need a new kidney, or not be able to get it up anymore
  • Real estate for sale lockboxes or signposts with flyers
  • MLS
  • Escrow companies
  • Appraisal companies
  • Inspection companies
  • Year-long political campaigns
  • Terrorists
  • OSHA
  • The Kardashians
  • Highway rest stops
  • Ice, snow, hurricanes, tornadoes
  • Hand sanitizer every 50' in the halls of buildings everywhere
  • Walmart
  • Attorneys that charge $500 an hour
  • Car dealer shop rates starting at $120 an hour (more like $25)
  • 20% tipping, tipping at the drycleaner, ice cream stand, quikimart, gynecologist, etc.  Debates whether the tip should be on the total bill, the bill minus the sales tax, double the tax, or the bill minus cocktails.
  • Candy/soda vending machines
  • Credit scores
  • Two 1/2 Men
  • Built-in heating systems in houses
  • Double-pane thermal windows
  • I-pod, I-pad., I-phone, I-book, I-shit for every person in the house
  • Flat-screen tv in every room of the house
  • Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers
  • Slurpees

Enjoy the photos, though they have absolutely NOTHING to do with the context of this post!!!

Dano

Street performer juggling for tips.  Not just sticking his hand out expecting something for nothing...actually EARNING his income!


My neighbor kids creating their own fun in the empty lot next door.  First, a crude wooden ladder, then add a few more sticks of wood to climb higher, then tie a rope around a limb and the other end to a tire and VOILA....a fun swing!!!
I bought an Ion-Cleanse detoxifying thingie you soak your feet in and all kinds of toxins get sucked out (see earlier blog entry).  With the purchase, I got this handy-dandy pop-up sauna for FREE!!!  A $135 value (yeah, right).

One of my favorite roses in my garden.

The cupped petals are interesting on this rose in my garden.

I could never get Calla Lilies to grow back home in the Seattle area.  Here, mine are dang near 4 feet tall!!!
Some of my neighbors 'The Waddlers'

Yet another old bridge I find so charming.

I have 3 hummingbird feeders outside my kitchen window and they are kept hummin!!




Meet 'Marcelo', a new little shit I adopted a few months ago.



I forgot how true the phrase 'curious cat' is.  Look atop the kitchen cabinets.

They all have their own dishes and they know which one is who's.  That's RIGHT....I TRAIN THEM!!

GRACIE!!!   This is about Marcelo...not YOU!!!   Now get outa my blog!!!




And now, a word from our Sponsor (me)




About Me

My photo
Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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