Goings On in Cuenca

5 Apr

What have I been up to lately? Hmm, well I don’t really know. I’ve just been keeping busy. The last three weekends have been nice because people have been visiting Cuenca. It gives me something to look forward to during the week and gives us an excuse to go out and do something. This weekend Jacqui from Loja was visiting. Her sister and friend were visiting from the States and their last stop was here.

On Friday afternoon after my class I met up with the girls and we walked around town, getting some ice cream and stopping by the Panama Hat museum. By this point I know some people around town, and I hung out one night with one of the guys who was working there. He gave us a tour of the facilities and then I ran into my old student who used to work there, so she continued to give us a tour. It was a nice building with a great view of the river and lower part of the city.

After that we rested up and went out for dinner at a great Italian restaurant. Lauren and I agreed to help a professor teaching a Masters course on Saturday morning, so we called it an early night. On Saturday I woke up and hour and a half earlier than I normally wake up during the week to get down to the university. The school is offering a Masters course for English professors, and they were taking an oral exam. We were there as second and third opinions on their accents sounding American.

The topics covered were reading a speech, a 20 second segment from either a John McCain or Barack Obama speech, a skit from “Crank Yankers,” and singing part of “Hit the Road Jack.” It took about two and a half hours and was slightly entertaining, but mostly tiring. For the rest of the day I was pretty out of it, but we were invited to a gringo party later at night and Jacqui was still in town, so we decided to go out.

The party was a going away for old/welcome party for new teachers at a language institute here. We were pretty surprised when we walked in to find that it was like a frat party, except for the small children and older people there. The age range was something like 6-60, but the mid-range age group was acting like it was college spring break. We weren’t really prepared for it, but dealt as best we could.

We had a couple of drinks but eventually ran out, so around midnight I went out to find a flask of some liqour, but everything was closed. The only thing open was this sketchy karaoke bar with 5 guys in there. I asked the bartender where I could buy something and he told me he could sell me some canelazo for $3. He let me in and locked the door, which was a bit odd, and then disappeared behind a door.

While I waited the guys at the table eyed me curiously but didn’t say anything. When the bartender came back he had very strong and hot canelazo in a used water bottle and asked me to try it to make sure it was good. He asked where I was from and not wanting to look like a gringo I just told him Argentina, a lie obviously. But he was interested and told the guys at the table, and suddenly they wanted me to sit with them and talk. They were asked me what happened in the game against Bolivia, because Bolivia recently beat Argentina 6-1. Luckily I knew about that and said I had no idea what happened, but that I had to go.

In my best Argentinian accent I said I had to go and shook my hands for emphasis, and they all laughed, “Ahh Argentino!!!” I made it back to the party and we stayed for an hour or so longer before deciding we’d had enough. Today Jacqui is heading back to Loja, but a couple of us will head down to the stadium to buy tickets for the game against the Boca Juniors, a soccer team from Buenos Aires. It’s a two game package for $15, and we probably can’t go to the first game, but it’s worth it to see Boca.

As for the classes, they’re continuing along steadily, even though I’m still not a fan of my night class. The afternoon class is really fun, and this week was a students birthday. I secretly told another student to collect some money from everyone to buy some snacks or candy. They were very sneaky about it and 4 of them disappeared for over a half hour, even though there’s a store right on campus. When they came back I was surprised to see that they’d bought the girl a teddy bear and birthday card, which was all in a nice bag. I have no idea how they got that confused with snacks, but I knew I should have told them in Spanish.

And this week will be a short one because of Semana Santa. With Friday and Monday off ( and possibly Thursday ) we plan to go to Loja, Zamora, and Vilcabamba to relax and visit some friends.

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