Saturday we walked to the market (Feria Libre), and bought our weekly supply of vegetables, and fruit. Our friend Trish joined us, and Susan and I dragged Nick along to get him out of our apartment. I bought carrots, broccoli, onions, green beans, potatoes, strawberries, blackberries, bananas, and oranges. I filled up my backpack, and a large cloth bag with all our goodies for $8.50, and in Decatur the same amount would have cost over $30.00! The produce is so beautiful that I have been making smoothies everyday, steaming vegetables for dinners, and I just love the abundance and quality of the fresh produce. We always talked of eating less processed foods, but in the USA it was easier and cheaper to eat primarily processed foods, but here in Ecuador it is totally the opposite.
Our middle son Frank is in the US Navy, and on his last visit home before we left he tried to convince us that aliens are present on Earth, and that the 2012 Doomsday Theory is true. We saw this painting on a wall as we were walking home from the market, and immediately though of Frank. Frank, it is true, aliens are at least present in Cuenca! We miss you son.
Crazed American Teenager
There is graffiti in Cuenca, and for the most part it is in good taste, and brightens up the numerous white concrete-cinder block walls. I think artistic expression should be encourage, and I think graffiti is a great medium to allow creative people to express their talents, so I will continue to take pictures when I have the chance.
Winter Day in Cuenca
Last night after we returned from the market, Susan and I walked to Super Maxi to finish our shopping. It takes us about 20 minutes to walk to Super Maxi, and the same amount of time to walk to the market. We walk most places or use the buses. Last night we had our first two-way exchange with an expat at Super Maxi. We have said hello to several expats in the month we have been here, but we have NEVER had anyone respond in any fashion to our greeting. As Susan was starring at the cereal selection, a nice man (expat) struck up a conversation with us about cereal choices, and was very pleasant. Also, while we were looking at chocolate, a nice woman (expat) suggested a certain brand of chocolate that she really liked. So, after a month, and a dozen trips to Super Maxi we finally had a positive expat encounter!
Flowers are everywhere
Lastly, a purely personal observation of mine (Steven) after a little over a month in Cuenca. When I was researching the blogs and forums before deciding on Cuenca, I had the sense that the expat community would be as welcoming, polite, and maybe even helpful as it seemed online. But, after our first month here, our experiences with expats have been mostly disappointing. I didn't expect instant friendships, a parade in my honor, but I did expect common decency one would expect of fellow countrymen when greeted on the street in a foreign country. We have made friends with a few expats who we talked with before we arrived, but the expats we pass on the street, or in the stores and restaurants have behaved as the stereotypical rude American. On the other hand, the Cuencanos we have greeted on the street always smile, and respond politely, and some have even taken the time to help us if we look lost or confused. Luckily for me, the beauty of the city, the richness of the culture, and the friends we have made (Expat and Ecuadorian) has made the move worthwhile. Life in a new country is challenging, and I hope that if I am given the chance, I will take a few seconds out of my life to say hello to a fellow countrymen to make them feel, if only for a brief moment, that they are not alone in the challenge. Life is good...