By Dave Nelson
What a great night!!!
A few weeks ago Tom suggested El Nopal, a Mexican restaurant, for our Friday night dinner. I like Mexican food, haven’t had any since moving here, so overcame my reluctance to go to an unfamiliar place, and agreed.
It was small, maybe ten tables close together, and we sat down next to an Ecuadorian couple with a small girl. In exchanging greetings the girl, with a big smile and obvious pride, said “hello” instead of sitting quietly while her parents did the little talking that there is between Cuencanos and Gringos. So lots of fun complimenting her on her English with smiles all around.
I asked if the enchiladas came with the usual rice and beans and got a “no,” they are a different style, just the enchiladas. So, ok, the usual is too much for me anyway, and yes, we want margaritas and a glass of water. The enchiladas were different, delicious and filling.
The family left, a couple sat down, they spoke English, asked questions about the food and we got acquainted enough to talk a bit during the meal. They are originally from Cañar, spent 10 years in the U.S., he is a professor at The University of Cuenca, and she works in a bank. As we finished our food, we had just finished our third margarita, but … let’s have another one, the salt on the rim has something added that tastes really nice and they are really good margaritas.
As we waited for a taxi Tom said, “It’s only nine, why don’t we go to Wunderbar for a scotch?” I didn’t need any more alcohol but Tom is my friend, I like scotch, and it’s a short walk home from Wunderbar. The pour was not too generous so the drink was suddenly gone, or that’s the way it seemed. It took about three seconds to decide to have another which went down more slowly and when that was finished, so was I.
Wunderbar is near the top of the Hermano Miguel escalinatas, so my first chore was to get down sixty steps to the bottom, with no helping handrails. Very slowly and carefully, looking down at every step I took, I made it. Now it was only a matter of a couple of hundred yards on the concrete walk beside the river, up and over the bridge, across the busy street to the gate of my building, and up the stairs to my apartment. It was not as easy as I thought it would be (it was pretty hard, in fact) but with concentration and a stagger now and then, I made it.
No headache the next morning but I was not well. I managed to keep my date with Tom for dinner, soup and a mushroom crepe with water, and then a concert of Chilean music. I made it to class Monday morning (one has to do one’s duty) but I was not fully recovered until Tuesday.
This would have been a bit much for a younger man but at 86 perhaps the most charitable word for it is “foolish”. I really don’t mind having “too much” on an enjoyable night out and taking most of the next day to recover but I have discovered since then that having a glass of water for a nightcap instead of one more alcoholic drink does not lessen the enjoyment of the evening.
But what a wonderful way to learn a lesson.
David Nelson, spent 30 years growing up and getting educated in Oregon before moving to the Oakland, California and the East Bay area, where he practiced worker’s compensation law, representing injured workers, for 40 years. When he retired from his legal practice, he worked another nine years as a part-time gardener before moving to Cuenca.