“Where to, pal?”

Jun 4, 2018

This afternoon I took my 5th taxi in two days.  You see, my car is in the shop.  It had to go back in for the simplest of things that actually causes a big problem.  We had the engine rebuilt about eight months ago.  It was a GREAT deal and I was very impressed with the power it had afterward.

But shortly after we got it back from that major work, we noticed it had a little bit of an oil leak. We all know that is not good.  So, we brought it back to our mechanic and he vowed to find the problem.

He did.  As it turned out, there was a small plug on the bottom of the engine that had not been tightened well enough before the engine was put back in the car.  “Great, that will be easy to fix,” I thought when he told me.

I was sorely wrong.  The little tiny plug apparently is in a place that once the engine is put back in, is impossible to reach.  The entire engine has to be pulled out to get to it.  You would think, that if this little plug is so crucial, it would reside at the top of the list of “Things to check before you put an engine back in a car.”  I’m assuming there was no list.

Taxis are cheap and readily available in Cuenca.

Anyway, I’ll get it back tomorrow morning, so no more taxis for a while.  Getting back to that, I have to admit that riding in the taxi was relaxing for me as opposed to driving everywhere here in the city.  And I got to see the city itself, which is always hard when you are the driver.  For only $1.50 I got where I need to go and didn’t have any stress along the way.  In fact, what is really amazing is that for the five taxi trips I took over the last two days, I only waited more than a minute or so one time.  That was probably a higher percentage of luck than usual.  But, it still is something to be amazed about.

Think about that, we live in a city of roughly a half-million people.  That’s relatively small when you compare it to other “large” Ecuadorian cities.  Or even U.S. cities for that matter.  Yet, whenever you need or want a taxi, there is one nearby.  It’s as if we lived in New York City!

Things like that make me love this little city.  It makes it feel comfortable.  I wonder how other expats feel about it.  Are you amazed too?

Here’s another story that makes this place special.  A friend of ours — an expat who visits a few times a year — got on a bus today without knowing that you now need the plastic bus card to pay your fare.  The last time she was here she used coins; she had no idea this had changed.

So, what do you think happened?  Did she have to get off the bus?  No, she didn’t.  Because a woman behind her simply swiped her card a second time and then let our friend give her the coins she had ready.  Simple.  No big scene.  Just a simple kind and friendly gesture.

When I started this column I used to share a lot of these kinds of stories about things that made me love Cuenca.  I’ve gotten away from that for the last six or eight months, so I’m going to start sharing them again every once in awhile (and not because one of the commenters suggested I “stick to something you know about, like cute stories about Cuenca” or something like that).  It just seems like it’s that time of year to do this.  It’s rainy and overcast and wet a lot right now and we tend to forget all the good things about a city when that happens (anywhere in the world).

As for the faux pas with my car, well hey, it was a GREAT deal.  I never could have imagined having an engine rebuilt for such a low price.  So, if it means a little error has to be addressed afterward, it’s not such a big deal.  And at least it made me enjoy a few taxi rides around the city.

I might even take them when my car is fixed.  Just to see the city from a different level.  Better yet, maybe I’ll try getting on a bus without a card!

I’m just sayin.

P.S.  Update on Tutto Matto Pizzeria.  Tutto Matto will be opening back up a little later than planned.  The new date for their re-opening is June 23.  Please mark the date in your calendar and show them your support!

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