Want to get the latest low-down on tram construction? San Francisco Plaza? Why they keep changing the rules for getting your meds at IESS or the public hospital? When the electricity or water will be shut off in your neighborhood? Why the planning department nixed the El Centro Supermaxi? Why Ecuadorian bureaucracy is so inefficient? How the tax man chooses which businesses to spy on?
If you want to be first in the know — at least to hear the complaints and the official answers — tune in weekday mornings to La Voz del Tomebamba, 102.1 on your FM radio dial. The program has the highest radio audience in Cuenca and the powers-that-be pay close attention.
Recently, when a listener called in attacking tram management, the mayor, former mayor and project manager for the city all called in to respond. An on-air free-for-all ensued.
On the same day, after a woman complained about cancelled appointments at the IESS hospital, the hospital manager called in to apologize and invite her to his office to straighten things out.
A week later, a foreign resident from Colombia complained about delays at the Azogues immigration office in her son’s tourist visa. Within minutes, an office manager called the radio station, with the woman’s file in hand, and promised the visa that afternoon.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The Venezuelan invasion
Speaking of La Voz del Tomebamba, they had a segment the other day about the influx of Venezuelans into Cuenca.
According to one new expat, most of the Venezuelan newcomers are middle-class professionals, doctors, professors, accountants, etc. The expat guessed that the number of Venezuelans living in Cuenca is about 500, up from just 100 in 2014. Radio callers were unanimous that the Venezuelans would be a good addition to Cuenca because they are educated and enterprising and will bring jobs to the community. One caller compared them to the professional-class Cubans who went to Miami in the 1960s and 1970s.
A rep from the immigration office phoned in to report that more Venezuelans received permanent residency visas in October and November than folks from any other country, including the U.S.
Cuenca radio has fun with gringos
Speaking even more about radio … Did any of you ever listen to those morning drive-time comedy shows in the U.S.? Dave and Steve, Preston and Chuck, Morning Glory, etc. Some of you might recall the master of radio prank phone calls, Roy Damn Mercer, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was always quick to threaten those on the other end of the line with a “good ol´ fashion ass-whoopin’.”
Well, we’ve got a couple of those funny “shock jock” shows right here in River City, or La Ciudad de los Rios, as the locals might call it, and they’re pretty damn funny — speaking of Damn. And guess who one of their biggest targets is? Us gringos!
The DJs have great fun with how we walk, how we dress, our attitude, the size of our bellies, and how we mess up the Spanish language, among other things. The jokes on 96.1 FM tend toward the ribald and scatalogic. “Oye Gustavo, ¿oíste sobre el gringo viejo del Supermaxi el otro día que le dijo al empleado que tenía 73 anos? Dicen que estaba paseandose en el pasillo donde está el papel higiénico.” (Hey Gustavo, did you hear about the old gringo at Supermaxi the other day who told the clerk he had 73 anuses? They says he was hanging out on the toilet paper aisle).
A few of the local DJ comics have a good command of English and love to engage in bi-ligual word-play when they make fun of us.
I remember one sketch back in May about how gringos would celebrate Mother’s Day that morphed into a discussion about the low reproduction rate for seals on a certain island off the coast. Baby seals, by the way, are called focas in español. The DJs combined the English “mother”, which one of them translated into U.S. ghetto lingo, and focas, to come up with the solution for the low seal birth rate: “Mas mudda focas.”
Did I mention that the radio boys tend toward the ribald?
Please send tips, rumors and alt news concerning expats and Ecuadorians, no matter how outrageous, to Alice at firstname.lastname@example.org, “attn: Alice.” She will look into them, attempt to verify, and report items that are newsworthy or have entertainment value.