How is it that in a new city even the most mundane tasks transform into adventures? I had to get some bloodwork done, and Erika convinced me that I need not go to a doctor, that with a form she has from her grandmother's medical file, I could simply go to a laboratory and order and interpret my own lab reports. So that is what I did. Erika drove me to the lab which was located near the Plaza de Toros. The lab was tiny with a small foyer and an attached medical suite. There was no wait, in fact, the laboratory assistant took me before others waiting ahead of me, perhaps because I was a paying customer. All was routine, except that when I tried to pay with a credit card, I was told that although there was a sign proudly informing me that Amex was accepted, because I had an 'international' card (are there any other Amex cards?) I would have to pay cash. This is an issue because we are very tight for 'effectivo' since Eric's robbery experience. He has spoken to his bank countless times to arrange for a replacement card, but the last we heard was that the Fedex package was in El Salvador!!! I gave the lab technician my precious dollar bills and had the blood work.
I woke up early to pick up the results this morning, but only remembered that the lab was near the Plaza de Toros. I became entirely turned around and spent an inordinate time going in the wrong direction before I called Isabel for a reminder of where the lab was located. When I finally found the place I presented my passport copy, and was given a printout of the results.
I met Eric at the Megamaxi for the highlight of my day. I ordinarily cannot bear to go grocery shopping and most of the time Eric gets a list from me and manages well enough. But Megamaxi is an entirely different experience, and one I look forward to. It is a huge store, with electronics, kitchenware, and clothing, somewhat like Target. The store was not open when I arrived, but my attention was drawn to the display of fruits and flowers and outside the locked doors. It was an exhibit of edible art and very captivating. It kept me busy until the doors to the store opened. I feel like a child in a candy store, surrounded by enticing sweets. Once inside the store, Eric and I were drawn to display after display, trying to choose local produce and labels, discussing buying a small oven to complement my kitchen, still looking for a whisk and now a potato masher as well.
Two hours later, we finally wandered out of the store, our buggy full, our pockets empty, entertained for the time, simply by having to make decisions about which juicer to buy, how much to spend on a pot we will discard in a year, choosing between local and imported produce, whether we in fact need a laundry hamper, which unknown detergent to buy, all very momentous decisions. Perhaps what made the experience more fun was doing it together, something we never have time for in our usual lives.
My day became far less mundane when I met my group of Spanish students for a walk around the 'centro historico' at night. All the churches were lit up and the place was magical. We encountered a protest at the Plaza de la Independencia, climbed up the stairs to the roof of the public library to see Cayambe clearly in the distance as well as the spires of the churches nearby, drank 'canelazo' (a warm alcoholic drink with cinnamon) in La Ronda, visited the man squares of the old town, and talked and got to know each other better. Back in the Mariscal it was ladies night at the local bar, and after a few mojitos and swaying on the dance floor it was time to check on Maya and Eric, who were cuddled together in bed fast asleep.