Having had a disruptive night last night with the 2nd anniversary party of the hostal/hostel, which made me hostile, we did not get out the door until noon time. Our first stop was the Coffee Tree for breakfast and a good cup of coffee. The folks around the hostal are rarely around, so we would have had to hunt them down for a paltry breakfast that they charge extra for anyway. This is the rendezvous post for the ex-pat community, so when we arrived and took a table, all Caucasians turn to us with questioning eyes. Are you the latest addition to our clutch? You can tell they are dying to talk, but resist. At one point, I was reading my book; those at the next table asked what I was reading, but as soon as I described the plot, their eyes glazed over, tuning out.
There seems to be a custom here that we have been witnessing bit by bit. People create a mannequin, full body and then put a mask on it. From what we have been told, they add a mask of someone they don’t like: a political figure, an entertainer, a mother-in-law, or ex-wife even. On New Year’s Eve, this effigy is set on fire. As all customs become commercialized eventually, we have seen full sized Spider Man, Smurfs, Minnie Mouse, et al.
We ventured into their version of a great market. It is much more compact than the one in Budapest. The stalls are side by side in neat rows of two on each side on all of the three floors. On the top floor, they almost all sell fruit drinks, freshly juiced. How 10 stands selling the same thing side by side can make money is beyond me. A glass of fresh papaya juice is 50 cents. I keep buying 5 fresh, ready to eat avocados for $1.
On the first floor or ground level, there are so many good looking foods being cooked, I could really make a pig of myself. Speaking of which, there were seven stands again side by side selling pork right from the pig that had been sitting out all day.
Competition is not complete without the ladies in front of the churches. There will be 3 to 5 of them all sitting side by side with their outdoor umbrellas shading them, while they have their portable fryers at the ready for the finishing touches of the empanadas they make by the mountain load. Each lady has a stack of freshly fried dough stuffed with something ready for any pedestrian who either is entering or exiting the church. It is almost as if they realize that the wafer offered inside is definitely not filling for the body, even if it is for the soul.
I concluded that I am a church junkie, if it has not been apparent from past trips and photos. The reasoning is simple with three components. Churches have fantastic art, even if it is flavored with faith beliefs; I can still appreciate the value of the artist or lack thereof. There are few things that I love artistically more than stained glass. The execution of the work is most often incredible and the best pieces are incredibly high up where they don’t photograph well. Last of all, if I were good at math or could even measure with a ruler, I would have considered architecture. That was my early career dream, but it was thwarted when I could not decipher those little lines between 1 inch and one half inch on a ruler.
So the rest of the day was spent walking or resting or walking some more. According to my pedometer, we are putting in 5-8 miles a day.