Monday, March 17, 2014

Water World

The leaking wall.

Why does la Asociación de Hoteleros del Azuay stink of urine?

That is the question, one I had often wondered about, especially when passing on the south side of the building.

What was it about the Hotelier's Association of Azuay Province, specifically, that made it reek? Could it be their bylaws? The shape of the building? The color of the paint? The plaster used in its construction? The building's specific spatial orientation? Its fung? Its shway?

Evil spirits?

Maybe. Anything is possible, and not just here, but everywhere. Anything at all.

True. And that is what makes life special.

Life is special because it is composed of living beings, each and every one of which, in its own way, is capable of noticing odd situations and strange events, and then (again, each in its own way) of understanding the weird, and reacting. Even plants.

Plants can tell that the sun moves across the sky. This is basic understanding. We, of course, know that the sun does not move across the sky because we are brighter than plants, and confine ourselves to speaking about the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, but not about it traveling across the intervening distance. In other words, we are more perceptive, and are wrong in a more subtle way.

But the real point here is that plants (even plants) are sensitive and smart enough to know when something is going sideways, and are capable of dealing with it. By bending their stalks to compensate, in this case. Rocks can't do that.

Now, with regard to la Asociación de Hoteleros del Azuay, I noticed. I noticed the funk. You can't avoid it, sometimes even from across the street, but I didn't catch on.

Some clues follow.

  1. Every now and then I see cab drivers standing side by side, facing the river, with their backs to the street and their hands down in front of their crotches. I know what that means.
  2. Occasionally I'll notice a pedestrian or bicyclist, facing the river, and so on. I.e., ditto.
  3. It's common to see a vehicle stopped along the highway with the driver and passengers standing, hands down in front of their pants, facing away from the road. Check.
  4. Downtown, guys facing a building, wetting it, in plain view of everyone else. OK, right, got it.
  5. A mother at a bus stop, coaching her five-year-old son on how to do it right. He is standing next to her, facing a wall, letting fly. She is there for him.

Hmmm. But what do those so-called clues have to do with la Asociación de Hoteleros del Azuay and why it stinks of urine?

Boy, that's a real pisser of a question — I had no idea. Really I didn't. Could there be any explanation, I thought?

Well, maybe. Maybe not, but maybe.

La Asociación de Hoteleros del Azuay stands at the corner of Presidente Córdova and Padre Aguirre, two thunderingly congested streets in the very center of Cuenca. Padre Aguirre is a major bus route. I finally caught on to that, and now walk one block north, on Mariscal Sucre because of the diesel smoke. Because there isn't any on Mariscal Sucre. Seriously. I do this now. You don't know diesel smoke until you try walking along Padre Aguirre. You can't.

You have to swim. While holding your breath, with your eyes closed. At the right time (about every 10 minutes, all day) you can see it. You can't avoid seeing it. Two or three buses heave themselves up onto their feet, tumble forward, roar, and spew gigantic black clouds out of their rear orifices. Eventually these clouds thin to the point that light again reaches the street, but leave the entire street blue and hazy for blocks. North American buses don't act this way. Not at all.

And on the northwest corner of Padre Aguirre's intersection with Presidente Cordoba is a large public market, taking up a full city block, so it's really busy there. People. Cars. Trucks. Buses. More people.

Guys stand on that corner, behind la Asociación de Hoteleros del Azuay and bleed their lizards.

That's it.

Guys standing approximately 10 paces from one of the busiest intersections in the city, whizzing away at the back wall of the building. But it's OK, because their backs are to the world at large. Only their backs are visible, and their other parts are not, since they face the wall, and around here, it's proper etiquette.

A stream flows under their feet, diagonally toward the street, trickles over the curb, and puddles.

And really stinks.

That's it. I finally caught on, though I had to see a guy out there going at it before I realized what the cause was. Of the pungency.

Duh.

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