Oh boohoo! A lot of my family and friends back in Wisconsin were complaining on Facebook about the winter they had this past spring. Here in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, we didn’t get any snow this year. Again! Can you imagine? And it’s 83 degrees today. I just hate it when the temperature is not between 60 and 80 like it usually is.
So then my better half says, “We need to drive to town and pay some bills, get some groceries, maybe stay for dinner.” “What? Gas costs $1.48 a gallon you know! They don’t just give it away.” And we have to drive five miles to Malacatos to get gas because Vilcabamba doesn’t allow filling stations over environmental concerns.
So we go up our dirt road and wouldn’t you know it? Traffic was backed up! Some “jackass” was blocking traffic with a load of sugar cane. We waited for what seemed like an entire minute for the burro to move over. Then we get to the stop sign at the end of our road and there’s a pickup taxi ahead of us waiting to make the turn on to the highway. Those taxis are everywhere! Probably because they’re cheap. “If you charged more than $3 for the 15-minute ride to our house maybe more people would get their own vehicle!”
First we go to pay the water bill. It was a bit dry last month so we went over our allotment of 4,000 gallons per month watering all our beautiful plants and trees. As a result, we had to pay a surcharge on top of our normal monthly bill of $1.70. I could have used those 30 cents to buy a fresh mango.
When we walk around town, we always run into happy people—with their smiling and their waving and their greeting. As usual, everybody was in such a cheery mood—apparently oblivious to the fact it was 83 degrees!
Then we go to pay our Internet bill. $50 for a 1MB connection. $50! We live outside of a small town on a dead end dirt road in a rural mountain valley in a remote part of southern Ecuador. It can’t be that hard to get Internet service out here. The fact that it works like 99% of the time should be proof enough!
When we do our grocery shopping, as usual, we have to go to more than one mom-and-pop store to get everything we want which means a walk around the town square. That’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Sheesh! I could walk across a Wal-Mart parking lot in 10 minutes.
At every shop it’s the same thing, all year round, “This all you got for fresh fruit? Mangoes, pineapple, bananas, plantain, oranges, apples, pears, lemons, papaya, strawberries, and all this stuff here I don’t know what it is?”
The fresh vegetable selection was even more disappointing: just some cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, beets, peppers, peas, potatoes, onions, avocados, and some weird looking things I couldn’t identify. So we only got one big bag of produce. $9! (With the year-round growing season, I could grow my own you know!)
It got so late that we decided we should go out for dinner. So many choices and yet not one McDonald’s. Eventually we decided we should go to one of the most expensive restaurants, located just outside of town. Everyone raves about the view from their open-air dining room. View? What view? There’s nothing to see because of all the mountains.
It’s no Micky D’s, but the food is pretty good, I mean if you like fresh fish with all the fixin’s for $8. But get this, the beer is $1.25 for a big 20-ounce bottle and it doesn’t come in anything smaller or cheaper! I mean really. Who can drink that much beer?
So eventually our day is done and we head for home. Not one blinking streetlight on our road. If it weren’t for the moon and the stars shining through the pollution-free sky, I wouldn’t have known where I was going. Then when we finally get home, it’s so quiet all we can hear is the Vilcabamba River winding its way through the valley. How am I supposed to get any shuteye with all that racket?
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