Sunday, May 8, 2011

Voting and Mother's Day!

Mark and I voted for the first time in Ecuador after a lot of confusion and discussion. When we entered our Cedula numbers into the official voting website, we were directed to show up on Saturday at Remigio Crespo Elementary School (San Sebastian voting precinct) and bring our Cedula cards with us.

Just like in the States, voting takes place in public buildings; ours was Remigio Crespo Elementary School. There was a long line that formed outside of the school and wrapped around the block, so we had no trouble locating where we should present our Cedulas.

After looking up our numbers in the computer system, we were directed to a station. This is where it got interesting: “hombres” were separated from the “mujeres.” Can you believe that? Mark went upstairs and I had to stay downstairs!

After about a 15-minute wait, I wiggled myself to the front of the line and presented my Cedula card once again. The volunteer checked off my name and presented me with a ballot, while I scooted on over to the voter’s “booth.” After making my selections (pen to paper), I folded my ballot into fourths and dropped it in the box. After that, I was given my “voter registration card.”

There were several booths set up on the grounds of the school that offered to laminate our cards for 30 cents, so we took the plunge! It’s official: we’re registered voters and we participated in our first election in Ecuador.

So what did we vote on? The 7th Popular Vote of Ecuador included—among other things—making bullfighting illegal and freedom of speech in the press (constitutional reforms).

During the period leading up to the popular vote and until 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, alcohol was not allowed to be sold in stores or served in restaurants. Ecuador likes sober voters!

Since we were already at “al centro,” we decided to celebrate the occasion with “Mother’s Day” almuerzo at Hotel Santa Lucia. Since Mother’s Day is quite a busy day for restaurants in Cuenca, we took advantage of the calm before the storm and enjoyed "Santa Lucia" to ourselves! Our total bill came to $18.99 (tax and gratuity!).

Afterwards, Mark asked, “Do you want to go for some ice cream at Tutto Freddo?” Now, what kind of question is that? We hopped on over to Parque Calderon and enjoyed “Oreo Cookie” ice cream and took our cup to go while we checked out all the gorgeous flower arrangements for sale at the open market.

Voting is taken seriously in Ecuador and many friends called to make sure we were at the polls. If you do not vote when your Cedula number pops up on the computer screen, you can be fined up to $30.

Mother’s Day and voting will forever be linked to my Ecuadorian experience!

Feliz Dia de la Madre!


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