Empty Saturdays, Filling Shawarmas

14 Dec

Sometimes Saturdays are more of a hassle than a relief. During the week I have enough to keep me busy and therefore, I don’t have time to be bored and restless. On the weekend, however, I need to find ways to kill the time. Even if I go for a walk into the center and try to find something to buy, I’m still back by 1 pm for lunch, and then I have the rest of the afternoon to waste. Yesterday I went out to buy an umbrella, because the one I brought from home was lost a few of weeks ago at a dinner party.

I’d been waiting it out because I thought my friend would bring it back to me, but walking around in Cuenca without an umbrella is dangerous business, and I never felt comfortable. Finally on Friday I got soaked on the way to work and decided enough was enough. I had to go to three different stores just to find a cheap, small umbrella for $2. As irony would have it, on the way back to my house I ran into my friend who I hadn’t seen since the dinner party, and she told me that her cousin had my umbrella and was waiting to give it to me. So now I’ll have two umbrellas. We agreed to meet up later in the night, (which later fell through) and I headed home for lunch.

For some reason this week I got it in my head that I really wanted to see the movies “Cloverfield” and “Lord of War,” even though I’d already seen both. I also wanted to buy “Home Alone” to show to my classes for the holiday, and the movie store I always go to told me they’d be getting “The Office” that day. I went to the store three times on Saturday afternoon ready to spend a boat load of cash, but they were closed the whole day. I was disappointed, but went to a different movie store and still found the first two movies.

I brought a Frisbee to Ecuador thinking I’d use it all the time, but to this point I haven’t used it once. There’s just no one to play with. I sent out a few messages to people I know to see if they wanted to go to the park and play, but no dice. I really just wanted to get some exercise and get out, but it’s hard to get a group together to play a sport. So around 3 pm, itching to get out, I went to Cafecito to grade some papers and be near people.

It worked out well, because I actually got some work done, which I never do on Saturdays. I was wearing my Texas Football shirt, which always draws unwanted attention. As I was paying my tab a guy came up very excited and asked me if I went to UT. I told him that I went to UMass and that I’d only bought the shirt a few years back because I had a gift card and it was the exact price of the card. He seemed disappointed, wanting to reminisce about Austin and the Longhorns, but two of the girls at his table went to Mt. Holyoke and Boston University.

I thought they were just some other tourists, but it turned out that they taught in Quito and actually knew some of my friends up there at the same school. We talked for a minute and I headed back home to watch “Cloverfield.” When the movie ended both Jamie and Lauren called to see about doing something for the night, so we agreed to meet up in the center and get some dinner. I got there early and sat by the big Christmas tree, surrounded by people taking pictures of it as if they’d never seen one before. Little kids were sliding on the tiles and falling but laughing.

Jamie brought a friend she’d made who had taught in Cuzco, Peru for 11 months and was making his way up to Quito to go home. We decided to go back to Cafecito, but since I’d never eaten there before, I didn’t know how expensive it was. Since I’ve been here I’ve been judging all of my prices on the cost of a lunch. An almuerzo which includes soup a huge plate of food and juice should cost no more than $2.50, even in the most expensive city of Cuenca. Normally you can get one between $1.50-$2. At Cafecito, even just a small plate of nachos was $2. A sandwich was pushing $4.

We decided to finish our drinks and go somewhere else. Vacillating a while between possible options, we finally headed towards the new shawarma place on Calle Larga. We were amazed to find an incredible deal when we got to the packed restaurant. $15 would get us 6 giant beers, 6 shawarmas, and a hookah pipe. The shawarma was great and filling as we piled on the tahini and aji sauces. As if this place wasn’t good enough, a belly dancer suddenly came out of no where and did two different shows.

We realized that in the entire restaurant there were only 4 women, and just about all of the men were drooling over the belly dancer. It’s not every day you see a belly dancer in these parts. Though the shawarma restaurant was great, we headed to a club, which unfortunately cost $5 to get into and wasn’t very fun. A live salsa band was playing, and though they were good, they stopped soon after we got there. Then a drum corps band came in and played for about 15 minutes until the reggaeton started up. A small beer cost the strange price os $2.32, so Lauren and I split the one beer and then decided we’d had enough, so we left by about 1:30 am.

That’s just how a Saturday goes down sometimes. You need to find a way to get through the daylight, and once the sun goes down there’s always something going on. Now the trick is to find a way to kill Sunday.

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