February 14, 2016

FROM OUR CUENCA, ECUADOR FRIEND, FORMERLY OF HARRISBURG, PA., EDDIE THE EXPAT

#17

(Prepared 2-12-16)

Hi gang! I had planned to write this sooner but I had computer problems and had to have the tech come to the apartment to lay his healing hands on the machine. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank my fan club for all the cards, letters and emails that I received in 2015. I am astounded that one person can compose so much!

I hope your holidays went well: New Year’s Day, Historic Snow Day, Advertising Bowl, Groundhog Day, W-2 Day and Valentine’s Day. I got so excited watching the non-stop coverage of the snow storm on channels 27 and 8 that I rushed out and got storm supplies. The heck with the bread and milk, I stocked up on chocolate and liquor. Then I bought new snow removal equipment – I decided to go with a shaker of seasoned salt, a new straw to blow the snow and a new teaspoon to shovel it. Braving wind chills in the mid 70’s it took all my stamina to cut a swath through 18 inches of sunshine, but somebody had to do it.

One holiday that just ended here is Carnaval, (Spanish spelling), kind of akin to Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, but without the debauchery or in your case, the fasnachts. There was a big parade here. Another tradition – in order to “cleanse” each other water is used via water balloons, buckets, water bottles and/or any vessel that will hold H2O. Also, all size cans of pressurized foam from small to fire extinguisher size are used for the same result. The cans of foam, water guns, pistols and cannons are big business and vendors sell the items at a myriad of small stands that spring up like mushrooms throughout the city – and disappear just as quickly. I took a walk downtown on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and found this city of 550,000 to be almost a ghost town. Malls were closed as were most all of the businesses. The only stores that I found open were a video store, an ice cream parlor and a Chinese restaurant. There were hardly any people walking and virtually no cars on the street. Normally busy streets and bustling four lane thoroughfares could be crossed without even looking for traffic. There was no bus service and taxis were at a premium. The next day all returned to normal.

One must be careful when buying some products. I recognized the names but, (for example) ………Vanish is not used to clean the toilette – it is a prewash to remove stains on garments and Lava is not a hand soap – it is a dish detergent.

As some of you know one of my past occupations was as an auto detailer. One certainly could not make a living here doing same or being a salesman for auto detailing products. In over three years here I have seen people wash their cars frequently but have seen only one person wax a car. Cuenca is only about one degree from the equator and the sun is directly over head, hence as the cars age the surface area paint is literally burned down to the primer or metal. Cars have always been a love of mine. In a previous rambling I mentioned how expensive cars are here and how used cars hold their value. For example: a new Hyundai Accent – $23,990……new Hyundai Tucson – $37,990……used 2013 Ford Edge – $49,900……used 2010 Mazda CX7 – $37,000……used 1987 Mitsubishi Montero with over 186K miles – $7000. Yikes!

Not too long ago a street crew of seven was patching some cracks in the street in front of our apartment. I watched as a man brought a wheelbarrow to the area to be fixed, put charcoal and logs in it, lit the fire, put a small barrel on the fire, filled it with patch material and waited for it to become hot and liquid. When it was the correct consistency other men dipped the molasses like goop from the barrel with cans and filled the cracks. Other men then leveled the thick semi liquid. That finished they worked their way up the street several blocks. Not one machine was used.

Ecuador just lost first place in the 2016, “Best Places To Retire” ratings. Panama was named number one and Ecuador two. Having spent time in Panama I don’t agree – much too hot.

I just finished doing my end of the year expenses. Here is what my bills averaged monthly for 2015:  Electric/Trash – $11.25………Water/Sewer – $9.01………Propane (for the stove, hot water heater & clothes dryer) – $4.58………Internet/Phone – $30.50………Transportation – $14.85………Food – $229.85.

There are four different types of lodging available here to accommodate guests: hotels, hostels, B&B’s and motels. At the first three one can stay overnight, but motels rent by the hour, if you catch my drift!

Ecuador produces some of the finest chocolate in the world and if one eats dark chocolate containing over 65% cocoa it is good for one’s health.  At a specialty store we buy luscious chocolate that is 75% cocoa for $10 a kilogram, (that’s 2.2 pounds for the metrically challenged).

We bought some tomatoes that were about the size of tennis balls from one of the local street vendors – 30 tomatoes for a dollar.

Last week I went to the dentist to have an examination and cleaning – $15………A chiropractic visit is also $15.

In January I turned another year older, but not deeper in debt, (If you remember the Tennessee Ernie Ford song). I had a physical and I am in the best shape I’ve been in 20 years. My blood pressure was 108/64, pulse 68 and I take no prescription medications – not too shabby for being one-year shy of 70. For my birthday I received first editions of the two shortest books ever written,The Unabridged History Of Patriotic Liberals’, and ‘The Complete History Of Liberal War Heroes’.

I see Harrisburg is off to a rousing start in the murder department for 2016. They will get the crime off the streets of Harrisburg just as soon as the subway is built. More water problems in Steelton? Who takes care of Steelton’s water? The same people that take care of the monthly borough council meeting minutes? Or did they import personnel from Flint, Michigan? We drink the water from the tap here.

How was the Farm Show this year? At least the snow held off until the Show was over. I saw there was a new milkshake flavor available – Liberal Lime. I understand anyone who drank two shakes got the biggest urge to apply for welfare.

Tonight we go to another free performance of the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra, tomorrow evening a Valentine’s Day party and on Valentine’s Day evening we have reservations for a restaurant at which a man I know will give a vocal concert. He sang on and off Broadway and has a fabulous voice.

And to my fan club, don’t get sick or there will be nobody to attend the meeting!

Until later from beautiful Cuenca,

Eddy the Expat