After the tour of the mine stopped in at a bar/restaurant and grabbed a couple of beers. I was a bit wary because, after all, it was a dry weekend. I figured that it was a fine time to get out of Cuenca and see a new city, but as it turns out Zaruma is a town that likes to drink. In broad daylight, even though it was illegal, people were drinking in an open door bar facing the street. They thought it was funny that I mentioned it was a dry weekend, and we soon had our beers without a problem.
Apparently, in smaller towns like Zaruma, no one really cares about following the dry law. As I was told by Gaby’s dad, the cops aren’t going to come and bust in the door in a peaceful town like this because you’re having a drink. So to the best of my ability, we couldn’t stay dry on the dry weekend.
After the beers, we went back to Gaby’s house for another delicious lunch. It’s amazing how just a little change of scenery can also change the type of food that you get. Though the meals were still typical of the sierra, there was just something different about them, and I really enjoyed all of the meals that I ate with the family. Feeling sleepy after eating and having the beers, we hung out for a while and decided to go to a pool at an hosteria. Hopping in the back of a pick up truck with Pablo and a neighborhood kid nicknamed “Chino,” we headed to the place with a nice sized pool and fantastic views of the valley. It’s a new spot that was still in the process of being built, so we were some of the only people there.
The clouds had rolled in and the wind was causing me to freeze in the pool, so after swimming for about 20 minutes I jumped out and tried to warm up a bit. Once the rain started to come in we decided to head home, once again getting in the back of a pick up truck. What is illegal in the U.S. is one of the main ways to get around in this country. And since I never really get a chance to ride in the back in Cuenca, I kept choosing the back, even if it was cold and drizzling.
I headed back to the hotel to rest up for a bit and let the family have some time alone before dinner. And of course, after another delicious meal, Gaby and I went into town to meet up with some of her friends from high school. In a way, the whole night reminded me of the night before Thanksgiving in the U.S. All of the college kids come home and meet up at a bar or someones house to catch up. That’s exactly what was happening. Except they were forced to come home to vote, rather than coming home for Thanksgiving.
A group of friends gathered, and though there seemed to be a little confusion at first as to why I was there, they were all very friendly and interested to talk to me. I found out quickly that the Zarumenos are very friendly people. The center park was filled with groups of young people secretly drinking or people driving around in cars, probably also drinking. We walked around until we arrived at the bar from earlier and bought two bottles of rum and some coke and limes. Then we went back to the house of a friend and drank and talked until 3 am. Some dry weekend, I thought.
Though most of the conversations were based around stories from high school, I didn’t mind just sitting back and listening. And once in a while they would feel bad and try to include me in the conversation, or ask me about American culture or music. It was interesting for them to hear what I had to say. It was kind of what I’d expected when I first got to Cuenca, but never really encountered.
By the end of the night we were all tired and they had to wake up in the morning to vote for the president, so we said our goodbyes and I went to the hotel to try to get some rest, which would have been easy if it wasn’t for those damned roosters.
To be continued…
Above: Inside the mine, outside of “El Sexmo” mine, a view of downtown Zaruma