This is Elise. I am feeling much better since our arrival in Cuenca. This is mostly due to the spacious,well decorated place we are staying in. I am extremely affected by my surroundings in that I become depressed if am I am in a dirty, polluted city or a small, dirty or rundown hotel room. We try to stay in nice places but sometimes we have to pass through somewhere or the choice of accommodations is meager or the place looked much better on- line. I had been debating whether I wanted to continue the trip. After seven months of travel I am starting to long for the comforts of home. After discussing it with the family and looking at our route through Peru, I have decided to continue. I really want to see Cuzco. I have also been motivated by the lure of good food. The food is supposed to be quite good in Peru and Argentina. The food here is so bland I was beginning to think I had lost my sense of taste. The only food that tastes good are the baked goods. Not good for my waistline so I had to ban myself from all bread.
I promised the family I would cook some good meals this week to make up for weeks of bland food. I decide to make a green chile recipe I got from one of my friends back in Austin. The supermarket is too far to walk to and the streets are a bit confusing for driving so I just take a cab. I could call one but will they understand me over the phone when I give the address? Will I understand their response? I decide to just walk the two blocks to a main street to flag one down. When I am in the taxi I have a moment of panic. Did I bring the address of where I am staying with me? I don't have a cell phone. I don't know the city and would have a difficult time directing the taxi back to our place. These are the things I have to think about every time I leave our accommodations where ever we are staying. Being in foreign cities and not being fluent in the language keeps you on your toes. At the supermarket I now have to try to find the ingredients for the chili. No canned green chilis, no canned white beans, no tomatillos of any kind. Hmmm. I will have to improvise again. I ended up cooking my own green chiles and making my best chili ever. Even though the sour creme tastes different, the colby-jack cheese taste different and I didn't have the right ingredients it all came together. International Living Magazine has a lot of articles touting the fresh wholesome food in Ecuador, saying the produce tastes much better here and people lose weight without even trying once they get out of America. I have not found this to be the case. I don't think the produce is better and I haven't lost weight.
We did find a great place to eat with a three course set lunch for $4. I had a delicious bowl of soup, a plate of sea bass, jello dessert and a glass of juice. It was good too! The food had flavor and even had fresh herbs. When I think about how a fast food meal in the states can set you back $8, I can see why retirees like it here. Cuenca is a pleasant city but isn't the right place for us to stay. I wish I had a better feeling about Ecuador in general but there is something I just don't like about it.