Monday, November 3, 2008

Cuenca's Independence Day: Part 1

On Friday I woke up tired from a night out with my students, but was excited with the anticipation of the coming weekend. A 5 day weekend was in store to celebrate Cuenca's Independence Day, and 8 of my friends from around the country were coming in for the weekend and staying at my house.

After getting through the day which dragged on, I met up later that night with Lauren, Casey, and Lara at Cafecito, a popular hostel/bar before going out. Reconnecting and talking about how the last month had been, it was fun to recount some of the things we'd come across. We wanted to find a good salsa club, so we walked down Calle Larga, which was already packed with people setting off fireworks. A police band was playing in a square, full with hundreds of men in uniform, and everyone circled around a couple dancing.

We found a bar that I'd been to before, but they wanted $10 to enter, claiming that there was live music and an open bar, all you cand drink, for an hour and a half. We tried to work out a deal, arguing that we're volunteers and not tourists, and that Casey wasn't going to drink because he was talking anti-biotics, and eventually got it down to $8 for the rest of us, $5 for Casey.

When we got upstairs we saw that we were the only people, there was no music, and the open bar only applied towards whiskey, rum, or vodka, which the girls weren't interested in. After 2 drinks, they started charging for the soda to mix with. A few people eventually came, as well as two more of our friends, but the live music didn't start for an hour and a half, and when it did, it was lousy, depressing music.

With the mood dropping, we left for different salsa club that was $5 to get into and actually fun. After hanging around for a while, we finally left at 2:30 a.m. I was woken up early in a state of fog on Saturday morning, but was eager to get started and meet up with my friends. Russell came in from Quito and was staying at a different hotel because my hostel was all booked. Jacqui and Becky were coming in from Loja around noon, and Bryce and Katherine would be in from Machala around the same time. Craig was coming in from Guayaquil around 10, but ate some dangerous street meat the night before, which got him sick and held him up until later in the afternoon.

Once everyone was finally in town we went for a little walk around the center, down by the river, into a market, and eventually to a shop where they overheard us talking about getting some beer, so they went out and bought cases for us.

It was great hanging out with some guys, because for the most part, there's only one man in each city. As the girls wanted to continue shopping, the guys decided it was time for some male bonding, and we left to head back to the hostel (my house), have a few drinks, and talk about whatever we hadn't been able to for the last month.

Continued in Part 2...

Above: a walk by the river, a market, a typical street in the center of the city

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