The only thing I had planned for Halloween was to go to the Language Exchange meetup. The Language exchange is where people can come and engage in conversation in the language they are learning and help those learning their native language. It was the second week I attended. One of the first things I learned is that no one, who had attended the language school, which I attended that first week I was here, liked it. I am glad I didn’t go back after getting over my altitude problem.
The Meetup is at 6:30pm, at a coffee shop about a five-minute walk from my condo. I knew from my first night there that the group would hang out until the placed closed about 9:30, so if I was going to get my walk in beforehand, I would have to head out for an evening walk.
I walked along the river, where many tents are set up for the four days of celebration between Halloween and Ecuadorian Independence day. Most of the tents were being cleared out for the night, but from what was left I could see that it looked like a huge craft fair. There was a band setting up to play. I wish I could have stayed, but I really like the guys at the Language Exchange, and was looking forward to seeing them.
When I got back to the end of town where the coffee shop is at, I realized that I had enough time to get back to my place, go to the restroom, put out the garbage for pickup, and get back to the coffee shop in plenty of time. I actually walked past the coffee shop on my way home. Half way back I stopped at a bakery and took home some bread and meringues for the morning. I stopped across from the condo to buy some tamales from the lady who has a tiny restaurant there, but last night she was far too busy, and I only had so much time.
I got back to the plaza where the coffee shop was at, too early in spite of taking my time. To wait, I walked around the edge of the plaza. They were setting up more tents. The canvas was still folded in big bundles, but it looked as if all the metal frames for the tops were assembled and they would be hosting them on to their legs soon. I was wondering if the frames were light enough to be lifted by people, or if they would bring in a crane. It looked as if that plaza will be covered with tents. I will have to go make sure I go out before the fiesta is over to see what is happening all over the city. Of course, I plan on dashing out of the condo if I hear music.
The Meetup was great. The first time I was there, we sat at a long table. This time they arranged several smaller tables so that it was easier to speak to each other. I was at a table of five. It ended up being six, as one girl had to leave and a late comer joined out table. It is really cool. No one demands that you speak in one language or another. There are no formal lessons.
Everyone just talks story, trying to use as much of the language they want to learn as they are able. I have lots of stories to tell. Though the place is a coffee shop, they also sell food and beer. Since the Language Exchange meets there every Wednesday, the staff is very patient with the english speakers practicing spanish on them. When I ordered CLUB brand beer, the waiter slowly, in spanish, explained that the CLUB hadn’t been in the refrigerator long enough to be muy frio, so I should the other brand.
As the waiter served beer to our table I explained to my new friends that beer helps me speak in my second language much better. They all agreed it had the same effect on them. The serving of the beer started off the conversations.
When you feel like saying something in spanish, if you can say it, the others listen and then correct what needs to be corrected. Or if you don’t know how to say it, you can ask in english how to say it in spanish. The same thing went with the others learning english. At my table two of us had english as a first language, and the others had spanish as their first. Everyone’s english was better than my spanish.
All the different levels of english and spanish proficiency was helpful to everyone. We even had a piece of paper in the middle of the table were we could write things down when we needed to. One piece of paper with several pens. It was a lot of fun to pass the paper back and forth.
The evening flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to que up and pay our bills. When it was my turn I asked the staff if they would package up a slice of their famous carrot cake, for me to take home. One of the others in line agreed that it was the best carrot cake in Cuenca. I disagreed. I think it is the best carrot cake in the world. As the oldest person there I pulled rank, saying that I had eaten carrot cake all over the world for years and knew where I stood on the subject.
I paid with a twenty-dollar bill and placed the change in an empty section of my purse. That way when I count the change I can know exactly how much I spent, so that I can enter it into the Excel spreadsheet I use to track my budget. Some of us lingered in the plaza saying lengthy goodbyes.
As I was on my way home I passed quite a few kids out Trick-o-Treating. Everyone I passed was in a festive mood. When I got near to the church I realized that the was a band playing in the plaza next to the church and I dodged through the traffic to go over. Sorry for the quality of the video. I was just holding my phone out in front of me while my eyes were on the traffic.
I was rather late, nearly 10pm, so I only heard part of the last song. But I did get to see an expat couple dancing to the music. (at least she was dancing) The fountain was wonderful. It is really hard to believe that I recorded this on a phone. This plaza is a block from my condo.
When I got home and counted my change, I realized that they hadn’t taken out for my two beers, even though I told the cashier that I had “Dos cervezas and uno pastel de zanahoria.” I thought back to when we were all at the table. The waiter had brought a check to one of the men, who looked over, and said something that I didn’t catch. I do remember that he waved his hand around the table when he handed it back to the waiter. Shortly the waiter returned and gave him a longer check, which he took up the cashier when we were all leaving. I will have to thank him next week for picking up the tab.