Saturday was a kickback day. I wanted to catch up on some things and we had another social event planned to the evening. After Friday’s marathon walk, we needed to do less for a day.
One problem we had was the ATM machine
spit out $50 bills, causing us problems getting them broken here. As our neighbor Howard explains, you give them a $10 note for a tab of $5.60 and their face scrunches as they ask “Don’t you have anything smaller?” We were stuck with two $50 bills. Some problem, right?
Mike suggested we go across the street to a money change place to see if they would change it. Ron went, but they wanted a passport, which he did not have on him. Going up three flights of stairs and coming back down again was not an option on Marathon Friday. Of course, on Saturday, the place is closed.
Where oh where were we going break this? We needed coffee beans, but knew the coffee roasting guy would not be able to make change. Off we went to the grocery store called TIA. Though it means aunt in Spanish, it really is an acronym for a corporation. We bought just enough to get by: eggs, broccoli,
and butter. When I handed over Ulysses S. Grant, the male cashier’s face turned into some character from the TV show Grimm. He looked at me with disgust and said “No change!” I opened my wallet and said “No mas dinero.” This was like show down at OK Corral. Who was going to fold first? I waited for him to make a decision. Finally, his hunched shoulders slackened and he yelled for someone to rescue him. A young woman arrived, took Grant and held him to the light. She looked at our changeling, while nodding her head. He opened his draw and gave me change from the copious amount of $20s and $10s in his draw.
Carting a few groceries, we continued to our grinder man. Ten feet from this café, it started to sprinkle. This is the place where we were held captive last Saturday. We wondered if this was a déjà vu moment. After a delightful espresso and our bag of beans, we were off.
Dear and darling, Howard Wood and Mike Frohling were thoughtful enough to include us in their plans for a “Boys Night Out
”. A group of their friends and friends of their friends has periodic group events. We understand the last one was a bowling night. Thankfully, we missed that one. I can only handle so much humiliation. Tonight’s event was dinner at Césares Internazionale Restaurant located at Tarqui 9-61 between Bolivar and Gran Colombia.
We knew there were to be about 22 men all together. This caused me to think what collective noun has been coined for a group of gay men. Hmm… a group of geese is a gaggle, for flamingos it is flamboyance, and for critics it is a shrivel. A group of men is called a band, but that just does not do justice to gay men. Having to look it up, an ensemble is the word for a group of homosexuals. As very dramatic sounding as it is, homosexual is such a clinical term. For gay men, I want to coin the collective noun as exquisite. A group of gay men is exquisite.
However prior to dinner, their friends George and Chad offered a pre-dinner cocktail hour at their place on Primero de Mayo. We had no idea what was forthcoming. It was a mind-blowing experience on so many levels.
We had to take a taxi; George and Chad live a walkable distance away, but it was raining again. This lovely modern building had a security guard at the front desk where Howard signed us in.
After taking the elevator to the fifth floor, the top of the building we entered their entry hall where we discovered there were already 12 men chatting and drinking cocktails. Without any of the attitude or game playing so often encountered, each and every one of these men embraced us with introductions. Again, the warm welcoming demeanor took me aback not only how they reacted to Ron and I, but to each other. Not everyone there knew everyone there. Feelings of a platonic love fest were one of the thoughts that ran through my mind.
Besides having an exquisite apartment with the most spectacular view, two complete walls of the living room are glass. There are no obstructions for the view. What is even
more jaw-dropping is the wraparound balcony that covers 1,200 square feet. Never in my life have I seen a balcony like that connected to someone’s apartment. Chad and George were the perfect hosts who made the best guacamole I have ever tasted.
|Mike Frohling, Howard Wood, Ron and Ryan
George called and ordered a small fleet of taxis to whisk us all away to the restaurant. Groups of men started down in the elevator. When Ron and I squeezed in the elevator had reached its capacity, refusing to move. We waited for the next lift to arrive. When we reached the front door, everyone was gone. They had all taken off in taxis. Two more taxis arrived, but we did not know the address of the restaurant and our driver had no clue based on the name alone. A little quick thinking was in order. Our cocktail hosts were last to leave to lock up. I went up to get them while Ron waited downstairs. We made it to the restaurant.
For as large a group as we were, there was only one server who had to double behind the bar. The meals arrived one at a time, but somehow we all had hot meals. Dinner was superb. I enjoyed the jalapeño chicken while Ron savored the tomato garlic sea bass.
As I was looking around and remembering the pairs of men we met, almost all of them have been together for 10 years or more and most have married their spouse. Another observation was the age range. I do not think anyone was younger than 45 years old and the ages progressed into the 70s. When you think about it, this makes sense for people expatriating. You need to have made your money first if you are going to move to a new country to retire. That said though, there were a few couples who have created businesses here as well. The fortunate few!
We finally parted for home around 9:30 pm floating on Cloud 9. This social activity is going to make the rest of our Ecuador travels pale by comparison.