Sunday, December 30, 2007

Una dia con Chela

Today I picked up Chela and the two of us headed out for a day together. I had my trusty Spanish/English dictionary in my purse, which I used a lot. Chela speaks only two words of English: "Hello" and "Thank you." (I guess, technically, that's three) My Spanish is basic survival Spanish at best, and I'm not sure it would even guarantee my survival if it came to that. But somehow we do manage to communicate.
Our first stop was Thinker Toys in Multnomah Village. I had gotten a pair of those wonderful Robeez baby shoes for Chela to take to her other grandbaby back in Ecuador. She saw Sofia's and loved them, but we decided the ones I got needed to be bigger, so we went back to exchange them. Chela enjoyed looking around this cheerfully chaotic toy store and was quite blown away by the $100 price tag on a beautiful doll.

Our main destination was Fabric Depot, way on the other side of Portland. It used to bill itself as the largest fabric store in the US. I notice now they claim only to be the largest fabric store in the West. Whatever. It is a honkin' huge store. (as we say out West, here) Chela teaches sewing and crafts in a public school in Ecuador and is an exquisite seamstress, so I thought she needed a trip to Fabric Depot. Fabric stores in Ecuador leave much to be desired, in my opinion. She found quite a lot to desire at Fabric Depot.

She was absolutely smitten with the Dick and Jane prints and bought a couple of yards, despite not really knowing what Dick and Jane was all about. I tried to explain in my limited Spanish, that Dick and Jane and Sally were, at one time, "muy famosa" because of the books found in "Todas escuelas en los Estados Unidos" for teaching "ninos" to read.

She seemed to be drawn to every black and white print in the store (a woman after my own heart!) and finally settled on this cool houndstooth corduroy.

I managed to find a boring little piece of green solid Kona and a square of ultrasuede which I am going to use to make a little protective case for my new Christmas present. It's a device for carrying pictures of my grandbaby on. (I hear you can also store music on them . . )

We stopped for lunch at Old Wives Tales, one of my favorite restaurants in Portland. The Hungarian mushroom soup is the stuff of dreams. I tried translating the name of the restaurant for Chela and I'm sure she thought it was the oddest name ever.

Our next stop was the Portland Nursery. Chela saw red sunflowers somewhere—maybe in a flower shop—and wanted seeds to take back with her. Surprise! They had them. I thought about the line on the customs declaration asking if you are bringing any plant materials into the country when you land in the US. I wonder how Ecuador feels about foreign plant material. Hmmm.

We concluded our day by going to Gerrie's open house where we met up with the rest of the family. It was nice to introduce Chela to such a wonderful friend as Gerrie and the party was fabulous. Look at the pictures of the food on Gerrie's blog and you're going to be muy jealous!

It was a very fun day, but speaking Spanish is exhausting. I don't know how all those South Americans do it.


  1. I spent 14 days in a Venezuelan household where neither of us had anymore than a Sesame Street language education. We shared more laughter, love and understanding than I ever could replicate.

    I am happy you are able to enjoying your family time.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Thanks for sharing the day with us. What fun. Happy New Year Terry

  3. Anonymous11:46 AM

    I'm loving reading about your visitors and holidays. And the last line of this blog made me chuckle out loud. Love to everyone. June

  4. I am so happy that I got to meet Chela and Ani (sp?). You two really had a full day yesterday. I wish I had thought to get a photo of the whole family. Seeing Sofia with her paternal relatives makes me realize how much she looks like them. She is more beautiful each time I see her. Imaging that she might look like Aunty Ani some day - wow!!

  5. It really was great to meet the rest of your Ecuadorian family. LOL at the grandbaby-photo storage device!

  6. Great post! Thanks a lot.