Two weekly Gringo Nights take place in Cuenca. One is on Fridays at Zóe restaurant on Presidente Borrero between Mariscal Sucre and Presidente Cordova starting at 5 p.m.
The other is on Tuesdays at DiBacco restaurant on Tarqui between Bolivar and Gran Colombia starting at 5:30 p.m.
Both are great places and times to socialize, drink, and meet other pilgrims, many who’ve arrived here within the year or six months or last Monday and still like to go to these events to socialize, drink, and meet other pilgrims.
But a new wrinkle entered the scene at DiBacco last Tuesday night: Gringo Bingo.
This charity bingo event was sponsored by the newly formed Cuenca Expatriate Benevolent Association (CEBA) for the benefit of seven-year-old Mateo, who lives with his family in the hills above Cuenca, one of eight children. Three years ago, he got hit by a bus and mangled his leg. A generous orthopedist, Dr. Alfredo Jesus Gabarro Gonzalez, saved the leg and, though he’s been seeing Mateo free of charge every two weeks since, the family struggles to get Mateo back and forth to the doctor. Then, in a recent rainstorm, the house they lived in collapsed.
CEBA, ably organized by Dean Keyes, who’s had a varied career as an English teacher, banker, fundraiser, and artist, along with her husband Bill, has taken on Mateo and his family as the recipients of the initial fundraising efforts, of which Gringo Bingo is just one initiative.
Gringo Night downstairs at DiBacco segued into Gringo Bingo upstairs, which started at 8 p.m. Skip, an experienced bingo operator, called the game, while Victoria translated the letters and numbers into Spanish.
The buy-ins ranged from $5 to $50 and the prize for each game was $25 (several generous souls donated a portion of their prizes back to CEBA) and included dinner for two at Tiesto’s and a bottle of wine. An enthusiastic crowd played seven games between 8 and 10 p.m.; no one won the last game, a coverall, so the $100 jackpot progressed to $125, which will be up for grabs at the next session.
The next Gringo Bingo event will take place on Saturday April 9 at 2 p.m. at DiBacco; DiBacco's Lauro will offer a $4.50 lunch special with four selections prior to the bingo game. For more information on the CEBA fundación and Mateo, click here. The email for the fundación — and Gringo Bingo — is email@example.com.
Photo captions, top: Gringo Night at Zóe; second from top: Gringo Night at DiBacco; middle: the bingo masterboard; second from bottom: Skip operates the cage; bottom: floorperson Cynthia checks on a table full of players.