14 October 2006


Cuenca Cuenta (story)

So I forgot to share my adventures from 6 days of traveling before work...

Well, the other two MachaleƱo volunteers (John and Melissa) and I took a 4-hr bus inland to a beautiful colonial city called Cuenca one bright Tuesday afternoon. There are 4 volunteers working in Cuenca, one of which John likes (he's going to kill me if he reads this...but he won't so I expect to live long!). Basically, Melissa and I were on a double date with John and this other volunteer for 4 days. She's a really sweet and funny girl so it was fun but a bit awkward at times. The three of us stayed in a artistic, beautiful hostel for $6 a night; what a steal, for a tourist city like Cuenca! One night, a group of us decided to grab a relatively fancy meal at a gringo-restaurant. On our way there, we got a bit lost and came across a political rally for the socialist anti-gringo party, fireworks and all. Now I know fireworks can be really cool, but when you've got paper cows spewing sparks in all random directions, it's never a good thing. Sure enough, bystanders got burned. I'm not so sure how that helps the socialist party's reputation...we got odd stares and after the pyrotecnics we decided it was chow time. After our meal, a bottle of wine appeared floating by the table. As the waiter began unscrewing the cork, we all exploded into fits of "no! no! no!" because we definitely had not ordered the bottle. It turns out that same older man with a silver ponytail, Arturo, had decided that what a table of 4 girls and one guy REALLY needed was a bottle of wine. We accepted it graciously, thanked him a billion times afterwards, and assured him that we would be back the next night at 8pm sharp to chit chat some more. Of course, we never went back. We headed to a well-known salsa club in the hopes of getting some serious dancing in. The bouncer at the door told me the club was full and that we would have to wait. That was no problem, until a group larger than ours were quickly ushered in. I whipped around and asked the bouncer what that was about and he just shrugged, saying NOW the club is full. I was PISSED OFF, but the bouncer assured us that it would just be a matter of minutes before we could enter. Right then, another group of 6 friends walked in and up the stairs. At this point, I couldn't control my bubbling anger and started sternly asking the bouncer what his problem was with us. He looked to the other bouncer and said, "Oh gringos. They think they can do anything." That pushed me over the edge into furious and I started yelling at the guy for being racist. I knew there was no way we were going to get into the club after my tantrum, but I really wanted to let the guy know that it was NOT ok to reject admission to us simply because we're gringos. He started yelling at me and it turned into a game of chicken (who's gonna back down first?) Behind me came a huge group of young Ecuadorians who were itching to get into the club, but the bouncer denied them admission because of the way they were dressed. I told them not to bother with the racist bouncer and they offered to show us another salsa club. We were just too angry...or rather, I was too angry and my friends were too scared/embarrassed to want to go dancing any more so we left. Melissa and I found a quiet place where we could sit and chat over coffee...or so we thought. A group of 4 older men came into the coffee house and while 2 of them cuddled in the corner, the other 2 harrassed us to dance. We told them to leave us alone, but they kept bothering us and at one point pulled us by the wrists to dance. They were shorter than us and we could have definitely taken them, but we just didn't want to deal with it so we dance one song with them. Then we decided to leave. I didn't realize it until we were walking out, but we were the only 2 females in that underground gay club fronting as a coffee house.

The next day, our last, John decided to spend the whole afternoon with his crush so Melissa and I went window shopping...which soon turned into actual shopping! As we were on our way back to the hostel at 4:30pm, we walked by a beauty salon and decided to get manicure-pedicures at Pete's Unisex Salon. Well, why not? They were $8! When we walked in, 2 incredible feminine transvestites greeted us with enthusiasm and led us to our "stations." I asked them how long it would take and they assured us that it would be just 20 min. 2.5 hours later, we were still chatting about...well, everything! It turns out that Dayuma and Cecibel are actually jungle tour guides in the Amazon region (El Oriente, near Puyo) and 2 months out of the year they get to be beauty estheticians. Except when they're jungle guides, they're actually Oscar and Edgar, of course. They were absolutely hilarious, telling us all sorts of inappropriate things that I won't repeat here. All I can say is that it was a cultural experience like no other.

Well, John's hungry and I have to accompany him to the restaurant...so I'll continue with the weekend the next time I get online. Ciao!

yay i love reading this!!!!
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