Wednesday, Sep 7, 2016

Today I decided to go pay my health insurance. It has to be paid at one of three banks and I am now in the window of time where I am allowed to pay. My friend Scott had to pay his too, so we all met in El Centro at the bank to pay and then grab lunch. I think I am losing it though.

Scott and I arranged to meet at Banco de Guayaquil to do this. When I arrived he and Colleen weren’t there yet so I decided to get in line and begin the process of getting this thing paid. Heidi, Chase, and Easton waited outside the bank. I stood in line for 10 minutes and was next up for the window when Heidi stood behind me and said we were at the wrong bank. Honestly.

I looked outside at the intersection and saw Banco de Guayaquil across the street so I went there and stood in line again. Still no sign of Scott and Colleen. I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed to fill out for the bank to take my money, so I walked outside to see if Scott was coming. I saw Scott and Colleen talking with my family at the corner. Guess what? There was another Banco de Guayaquil a couple of businesses past the corner. Scott had already paid his insurance and was done.

I walked back into the smaller branch I had been in and waited in line. When I got to the window the teller told me he couldn’t process my payment and I had to go to the other branch (the one Scott had been at). I walked to the other branch and stood in line for the third time now. Scott stood with me and pointed out the teller that helped him. As luck would have it, I got the same teller and, since she just processed one insurance payment, she was quick and efficient processing mine. Time for lunch!

We passed a hotel in El Centro called Mansión Alcázar that also had a restaurant, so we decided to check it out. It was very fancy inside the hotel in a Spanish-Old World, earth-toned kind of way. The main gathering room in the center of the hotel emptied into a very cool garden square. You would have no idea you are in the middle of the noise and narrow lined street traffic of the city sitting outside in this large garden.

Mansion Alcazar, El Centro, Cuenca

Mansión Alcázar, El Centro, Cuenca

Our lunch was served at a very decked out dining table in the garden gazebo. I will be upfront here. When there are more than three utensils around my dinner plate I’m in trouble. I counted eight. Fortunately the waiter cleared away several pieces after we ordered. I guess lunch wasn’t going to be seven courses.

I might be under dressed

I might be under dressed


Vegetable Ceviche

Vegetable Ceviche

There was everything on the menu from lomo fino (beef) to trucha (trout) to pollo (chicken) to pasta to ensaladas (salads). Prices ranged from $8 for the Pasta del Dia to $30 for some of the beef dishes. “Excuse me Señor, is this the lunch menu”? 😉 The food was very good but I think the menu prices reflected the fine dining environment more than the taste of the food.

After lunch Heidi, Chase, Easton, and I decided to hop on the number 7 bus and see where it went, and hoped it would get us home. There is a bus stop almost in front of our house and we see the number 7 stop there but we haven’t exactly figured out the route to catch it so we can be dropped off there. Well…after two hours riding the number 7, we now know.

We caught the bus at 12 de Abril and Solano, with the number 7 headed south on Solano. All was great for three blocks until it turned eastward and then our journey began. We live near Las Americas and Primero de Mayo, and during our ride we were driving by Pumapungo, the airport and bus terminal, and then into an area I have never been and have never seen since living in Cuenca. We were in the far northeast end of the valley and that is where we were asked to get off the bus.

Yep, we rode the number 7 to its endpoint and after our 30 minute ride we couldn’t have been further from our home if we tried. I asked the bus driver where another bus was to get us home. He asked us where we wanted to go, we told him, and he told us to wait for the number 7 to come back down the street.

The neighborhood we were in was…interesting. I felt safe but I would imagine…well, that the rents were low in this neighborhood. After standing on the street for about 10 minutes, we saw the number 7 headed our way. We were the first one’s to get on it as it started its run back toward the main part of Cuenca. It wasn’t too long when our bus was completely packed, people standing in the aisle, unable to move, and more people getting on at each stop.

Chase and Easton had long ago given up their seats to a pregnant woman and her small child. At first they were standing by us in the aisle but as the bus became more and more crowded they were pushed further to the back. Everyone enters the bus at the front door and exits at the rear door; I was concerned that Chase and Easton may have gotten caught in the rushing current of humanity being pushed out the back door as more people pushed in from the front door. It was an amazing process to watch.

We ended heading toward, and passing by, Feria Libre, and eventually crossed Primero de Mayo (several blocks below where we live) and headed to Mall de Rio. The driver stopped at the mall and read a newspaper for five minutes before continuing on his route. So, after two full hours between both buses we arrived at the stop in front of our house.

You know those blog posts where I bitched and moaned about taxi fares?….never again.