Or “No More Eating for Two!”
We had this blog post half written about 3 days ago with the working title “The Necessities”. But a couple things happened. Somehow, even though we saved our draft MANY times, it did not save and we were left with nothing but several wasted hours. But more significantly, that evening, nausea, chills, intestinal pain and diarrhea came to stay for a few days, especially upon Mara and a little bit on Glenn. That brings us to our first necessity . . .
Health: With the ability to eat fresh, whole foods year round and exercise by walking everywhere we go, we have made great strides toward better overall health. Good hygiene habits have always been vital – frequent hand washing, keeping our living space clean, washing our produce, drinking purified water, etc. Cuenca boasts the status of having the only drinkable tap water in all of Ecuador. We have been drinking it each visit here and like the taste as well. We wash our produce with a substance called “Vitalin” to help make sure all little critters are gone. Even so, it would appear that we are hosting some parasites in our guts. We visited our local farmacia and the pharmacist gave us an anti-parasite remedy, which many Gringos and Ecuadorians also take on a semi-annual basis as a preventative. Mara is feeling much better and we both look forward to eating some real food today. Hopefully, we won’t be eating for two for too much longer!
And that brings us to . . .
Food: Our choices are vast and varied. We could eat every meal out and not run out of new choices for quite some time. But that’s not necessarily the route we want to take! Eating “almuerzo” (set plate lunch) at small restaurants all over the city is something we enjoy doing. These cost anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 and most of our eating out budget will be spent this way. On occasion, we “splurge” and dine at higher priced places, especially with friends. By higher priced, we mean entrees that cost about $3.00 to $7.00. Glenn’s birthday lunch was at Fabiano’s, a favorite pizza and Italian restaurant. Lunch after church was a delicious hamburger at San Sebas. Both of these restaurants are popular with Gringos and Cuencanos alike.
In actuality, we eat in more than out. Our shopping is easily done at the Super Maxi (I know, sounds like a feminine hygiene product) which has about anything one would need. We have found a smaller and closer supermarket called “Comisariato Popular” around the corner from our current apartment. It has less and costs a little more but you can’t beat the location when you need some bread or milk. We like to purchase our produce at the local markets. That’s where the best fruits and vegetables (as well as meats, grains, eggs, etc.) are and the best prices are found.
Panadarías are bakeries and they are all over the place, too. Once we get settled into our permanent dwelling, we will find our closest and best neighborhood panadaría and get our bread there.
Speaking of permanent dwelling . . .
Housing: We have been looking but have not signed a lease anywhere yet. There are two apartments in the running, both with pros and cons, but both would be very comfortable and are in the general part of town that we would like to live in. Cuenca is a city of 500,000 and so there lots of areas. Most of the city has mixed residential and commercial neighborhoods. This is very different from what we were used to in Anchorage. There we lived in a residential area and drove to the businesses we needed to. We are excited about having the ability to shop, conduct business and live in the same neighborhood.
El Centro is the historical district of the city. We want to be close enough to walk or take public transportation easily to El Centro. A lot of great restaurants, museums, cultural activities, colonial architecture and one of our favorite parks, Parque Calderon, are in El Centro.
Getting around is very important so on to . . .
Transportation: Getting around without a car has been easy for us so far. We don’t miss driving one bit nor the cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle. Plenty of Ecuadorians have cars and some Gringos, too. But we came here to walk! And walk we do – to El Centro, to the supermarket, to the parks, to our friends’ homes, to church, and just to walk. Mara can’t seem to get enough walking, so she walks(!) to Parque de la Madre nearby to walk on their track for a more aerobic workout. That way she can exercise on smooth pavement without worrying about traffic, dogs, dog poop, or holes in the sidewalk.
We have taken a taxi only once so far to an unfamiliar part of the city at night for a meeting. The taxis now MUST be metered so no more bartering with the cabbie for his fare. We’re fine with that although we understand the cab drivers are not so crazy about it. We paid about $2.25 for our cab ride. We can’t imagine spending more than $3.00 to any place we would need to go in the city.
By far the cheapest way to get somewhere too far to walk would be using the city buses. There is a vast network of routes that crisscross the city and even extend into the countryside a little. 25¢ is the fare. We will be using the buses!
There are lots more “necessities” but we think we will save them for our next post. Hopefully, we won’t be waylaid by any illness next time. But before we sign off, we’d like to mention the . . .
Weather: Down here in the southern hemisphere we are in spring right now. However, Cuenca is only about 200 miles south of the equator so the temperatures (and daylight) fluctuate rather minutely. What does change is the amount of precipitation. We are currently in the wet season and at times it has been quite wet. But each day brings some sun as well. Sunscreen and an umbrella are the order of each day. The temperatures have been in the mid-60s which for former Alaskans is PERFECT! The Ecuadorians are bundled up in down jackets as are the Gringos from warmer climes. Warmer temperatures (but not too much warmer, remember we are at 8,200 ft. elev.) are coming as we approach summer. Homes here neither have central heating or air conditioners although some have space propane heaters for the coldest months (July and August).
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Here’s what we’ve learned: Intestinal parasites can happen to anyone!
Here’s what we need to learn: Getting rid of intestinal parasites takes time.
Here’s what we need to remember: We have time!