Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Last day in San Pablo

I hung up the laundry this morning as soon as it stopped drizzling. We leave tomorrow morning, and tonight we pack. If the clothes aren't dry by late afternoon, I'll ask Venancia to take them to the lavanderia. I'll say, "Venancia, las ropas, a seca, por favor," and she'll understand what I mean and fit the walk across the grounds and back into her schedule for the day.

I went to the wi-fi place at Hacienda Cusin and ran into five frustrated American tourists. They'd just finished a three-week guided tour of Peru and Ecuador, including the Galapagos, and they decided to stay here an extra day after their group broke up. There are rose plantations nearby, and they went on a tour. The tour was entirely in Spanish, and they learned at the end that the fee for a 15-minute tour was $15 a person. They were short on cash and the people at the plantation locked them in until they could come up with the money! One of the men climbed the fence and made his way back to Cusin's Reception. He complained about their treatment, saying that neither Cusin nor the plantation had told them about the cost before the tour.

I thought about guided tours. We've been on some ourselves, and they have their advantages. Nearly everything is taken care of, and, if in a foreign country, guides on the tour speak the native language. On the other hand, reliance upon a guide can be detrimental once the group tour ends. The frustrated Americans hadn't had to pick up Spanish words as they became necessary. They hadn't had to figure anything out. Had it been me, after 18 days on my own here, my first question would have been "cuanto cuesta"? Probably spelled wrong, but I've used it and I understand when the other person tells me how much the cost will be. I've learned to ask first. Without a tour guide.

We took our last walk into San Pablo this afternoon. We were looking for a taxi to take us to a weaver's shop. No taxis. Carnivale this weekend. We figured we weren't supposed to see the weaver. I said, "I've spent enough money." We stepped into our favorite panaderia and bought two cookies. We told the young proprietor we're leaving tomorrow. He asked how long we have been here and we said 18 days. All in Spanish. His was good, mine not so much, but good enough. We found a tienda that was open and bought bagged milk and Trident gum. Milk in a bag or a box seems normal to us now. We said "buenos tardes" to the dozen or so people we passed, and they returned the greeting.

We've invited Venancia to join us for dinner tonight. She'll fix a soup using the chicken breasts we have left in the refrigerator, plus the giblets and broth from our chicken dinner on Saturday. We'll give her a $40 tip for 14 days of service to us out of the last 18 days. For washing our sheets and towels, vacuuming, cleaning up the kitchen, cooking our meals, correcting our Spanish and laying our evening fires.

San Pablo has been our third restful place this winter. We spent ten warm, sunny days on the Big Island of Hawaii in December. We'd been there before; the best part was the company, for three days, of our daughter and son-in-law. We spent 14 cool, sunny days in Sedona and three warm, sunny days in Tucson in January. We'd been to Sedona before; the best part was the seven short hikes we took. And discovering a place to spend two months next winter, in Tucson, was very good.

We've spent 18 mild days in San Pablo. We've never been here before. We don't speak the language. We don't have our cell phones. But we have explored every other day or so and grown to love the area. I read five books: The Time Traveler's Wife, the Memory Keeper's Daughter, Water for Elephants, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Under The Dome. Art has read as many. We have slept listening to outdoor sounds and listened to a CD course on personal growth.

When we left Seattle on February 1 I was feeling discouraged by physical issues: the long, slow healing process of a back injury, difficulty seeing well enough to drive at night, and ear issues causing mild dizziness. I was feeling limited in the amount and kind of exercise I was getting and by the way my nighttime schedule was changing because of the driving issue. My concerns weighed on my mind.

In the last 18 days I've gotten just the right exercise - walking and hiking and maneuvering in the cobblestones in the streets and walkways. I've been home every night, reading or talking to Art. I haven't been in traffic, with the glare of headlghts, to bother my vision. I was given some exercises before we left home that have significantly helped my ears. I feel good now. I've had time to get away from myself! And now I'm looking forward to cataract surgery sometime in the next couple of months - and also to the longer light that's coming to the Pacific Northwest, and the resumption of my evening schedule.

Being in San Pablo has been exactly what I needed. I feel refreshed and ready to go home, taking my restored self along.


Out on the prairie said...

You have done so well in a real nice place, I envy this trip.

#1Nana said...

What a great adventure you've had. I remember so well the blessings and the challenges of living in another culture. I'd like to do it again, but this time with credit cards! When we lived in Nicaragua with Peace Corps we had very little money. i think it would be a different experience with a little more to cushion the experience.

Perpetua said...

What a truly positive post this is, Linda. Here's to a happy return home.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am really going to miss San Pablo and your adventures. You have really done the visit as it should be.
That was scary about the tourists being held against their will but as you said, it could have easily been avoided.
Have a safe trip back and enjoy your revigorated self.

Olga said...

I feel refreshed and ready to go home, taking my restored self along.

Now, that makes the perfect vacation!
I have thoroughly enjoyed your sharing it with us.

DJan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJan said...

What a wonderful vacation you've had. You became one with your surroundings and took time for yourself as well. I've read all but one of the books you mentioned, but not in such a sort span of time.

I didn't know you were scheduled for cataract surgery, Linda. I found out I will also need it one of these days and makes it difficult to drive at night, so I avoid it. I am sorry you're leaving, because I'll have to leave, too. It's been such an enjoyable trip reading all your posts.

Ms Sparrow said...

Wow, what a great wrap-up to your journeys. Have a safe trip home.

Rosaria Williams said...

I spent a little time catching up here, and I'm glad I did! You are a model traveler, soaking up the sights and picking up language and customs, things most folks don't have time or inclination to do, and missing out on the most important part of the experience.

You inspire all of us to get out and experience the world.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

It sounds like the most perfect vacation ever! I feel for those other tourists that they had that happen to them. But luckily it sounds like you & Art managed to navigate your way through the foreign land with little to no trouble. Its inspiring and I'm so thankful you took us along on your travels! Best of luck with the surgery.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

This really has been a fun trip for all of us! (And I feel a tiny bit guilty but I was laughing about the folks who got detained...maybe next time they'll plan a bit better.) Welcome back.