By Teresa Drake
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It was another beautiful morning here in Cuenca and I needed to do a little grocery shopping. With the restrictions on movement, I needed to find a place within walking distance as getting a taxi was an iffy proposition. So, as I slowly sipped on my hot horchata and made my list, I had to decide where I wished to go. Supermaxi Las Americas was a good 15-minute walk for me using my marathon stride, but reports were that there were long lines out the door. I was pretty sure that I could get all that I needed there, but did I want to wait who knows how long in a line both inside and outside the store, and did I want to pull my little cart that distance back to the house?

There was another option open for me. Approximately three blocks from our home in a plaza on Las Americas was a little grocery called Tia. I had never been there to shop, only to pay my bills at the Western Union there. With Western Union closed, I had no reason to go there, but was curious.

Since Ray is the older of our little family, it leaves me to do all the shopping and bill paying and making all travel arrangements in advance to get it done. Not having a proper face mask, I tied a blue cowboy bandana around my face, gathered up my list, my shoulder bag holding my reusable shopping bags and a little blue rolling cart and set out to explore Tia.

I made my way into the parking area and proceeded to go into Tia. A young man with a white paper mask looked at me and took a gunfighter stance. He had one hand down by his side with his fingers slowly opening and closing to grab the spray bottle hanging from his belt. The other hand was held up with a finger pointing at me. I assumed the same stance, although I did not have any way to defend myself. His brown eyes were smiling at me above the mask and full of mischief. “Es su bandito?” he asked as seriously as he could. “No, no es bandito. Es a madre en busca de comida, no, no bandit. Am a mother looking for food.”

As people watched not sure what was going on, we started to laugh. Everyone started to laugh as well. He sprayed me with his alcohol mixture, bowed and told me “passo, Senora.” We continue to laugh as I walked by and entered the store to do my shopping. Tia is quite a nice little store and I could find almost everything I needed there. When I got to the checkout counter, the cashier looked at me and started to giggle. She thanked me for making her day a little more pleasant.

As I left the store, the young man with the spray bottle looked at me and told me thank you. He then tried to twirl the spray bottle around his finger like a gun and succeeded spraying himself. We all had another good laugh and I slowly walked out of the store with a big smile. I had to literally run across the parking lot, however, as they were closing the gate to secure the lot. All stores had to be closed by noon, in accordance with the curfew. I just laughed as I ran those last few feet, took a deep breath and said “thank you Cuenca for another memorable day.”

Teresa Drake

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