Friday, July 9, 2010

Goodbye Quito

It took far to long today to make a decision about who would paint the apartment, how much would be painted, what colour was to be used, who would buy the paint, when it would be done, how much to pay, etc etc. Maria recommended the painter who did a great job on her house, but he got lost finding our place (went to Suiza instead of Suecia) and in the interim Isabel recommended Fidel, who cleans her house and is a professional painter, and would give me a good price. He came over and agreed that the walls looked good, but suggested that it is usual for owners to expect a renter to paint before leaving. When Maria's referral came by, he did not feel that anything but the baseboards needed painting. The maintenance man from the apartment, who had originally painted the place before we moved in, suggested a price fully four times that of Antonio and Fidel.

Finally, I agreed to have Fidel come tomorrow after buying the paint (I gave his son Gustavo the leftover paint when I did not feel the apartment needed painting so he has a sample of the right colour). Later I received a message from Gustavo saying he would come by and help paint as well. I gave Fidel my key and hope to be gone for the weekend so as not to have to breathe in the fumes, but Maria had originally agreed to take a trip to the Avenue of the Volcanoes for the weekend but by the end of the day decided she was too tired to join me, so Maya and I will have to decide in the morning how to organize our last weekend. I had wanted desperately to return to Quilotoa, which was clouded over when Eric, Maya and I visited. I thought the drive was stunningly beautiful, and wanted to take it slower and appreciate it more. Of course the weather is not very friendly as of late, and it will likely be awfully cold and there is a good chance the lake will be clouded over again, but I still want to try to get there. The bus ride is endlessly long, but may be an opportunity to appreciate the countryside (the journey is the destination). There is a wonderful ecolodge nearby, but it is entirely booked for the weekend, so we may end up traveling for the day only. Decisions, decisions.

Maya and I finally went to visit Isabel, whom we had not seen, for all sorts of reasons, for months. She was busy preparing for her son's graduation party, to be held at the Marriott with 300 guests. We caught up with our lives and arranged for a lunch date with the whole family on Tuesday, the day Maya and I leave. I chose Costeño food, since Isabel is from Manabi, and now that I have spent some time on the coast I have decided that I like coastal food best.

Maya had her last violin lesson, except that we did not feel ready for it to be the last one and we arranged for another on Monday. She had her last orchestra practice, but will see all her music friends again on Monday when she has her last concert. We visited her ballet school to leave some DVD's and say goodbye, but we were there too early and saw no close friends and will have to try again next week.

I had been to Mi Commisariato and Megamaxi yesterday, likely for the last time, searching for cleaning materials that Gustavo had insisted he needed for the apartment. I bought some fruit from the local market, and was cheated again, but this time I looked at my bill immediately and questioned the error before leaving the store and I was finally able to prove that the salesclerk had charged me exceessively. This happens quite regularly, and usually I figure it out when I am back in the apartment, but I am prepared for the errors now (finally) and am able to catch them right away. Even when I showed her the error, she still tried to give me a dollar less, and I had to embarrass her further by insisting on the entire amount owed. I wonder that I keep returning to the same shop knowing that about 80 percent of the time she is trying to steal from me!

Maya and I decided to have a night in the Centro Historico. Our first taxi had no taximeter and wanted $7 for the ride. When I pointed out that it costs less than $3, he booted us out of the car. We found a legitimate cab a few minutes later, who used his taximeter and arrived at our destination at under $3 so I felt exonerated. I truly know the cost of a cab ride almost anywhere, and can argue knowing I am right. It is still exhausting to be always on the lookout for inaccuracies and intentional efforts to take advantage of my gringo status.

We watched folkloric dance in the Archbishop's Palace and then walked to 'La Ronda', probably for the last time. Maya found a theatre with more folkloric dance by another company called Humanizarte, which has a venue in the Mariscal each Wednesday night but now also dances Friday nights in La Ronda. Music was overflowing everywhere and the street and restaurants were packed. I was so sad that when I brought Deborah and Rebecca and Werner on a Monday night, the place was dead, and they were so unimpressed. The energy is entirely different on a Friday night!

Great Hot Chocolate

Maya insisted on trying 'canelazo', the warm drink with naranjilla juice and sugar cane alcohol. I asked for a very small amount of alcohol, and I was surprised that she liked it and kept asking to drink more. We wandered in and out of the shops and the bars and the restaurants, and tried an amazing cup of hot chocolate made with a bar of exquisite dark chocolate. La Ronda is absolutely the best place to be on a weekend night. I felt that we were saying goodbye from morning until night all through the day, but not very well. Nothing felt final. Everyone that we said goodbye to, we arranged to see again next week. I suppose we are not very good at letting go, of making it final. Except I think this may be it for La Ronda, but we may want to return to buy more chocolate. Perhaps I won't say goodbye to anyone. It will have to be 'hasta luego'.

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