Saturday, Aug 6, 2016
This might be the sunniest day yet for me since arriving in Cuenca. The sun is bright, the air is warm, and the sky is a deep blue. Heidi and I started off today by taking Max for a walk around the Yanuncay river on our usually course. Heidi stopped and bought a plant…or two…from the lady at the nursery on our way back to the house.
We decided to make one more trip to Supermaxi, since we were told new produce arrives on Saturday, to look for the elusive jalapeno peppers. Alas, none were to be found. Heidi wanted to pick up some groceries at Supermaxi but I suggested we grab lunch first, then continue our walk to Mega Tienda, the local Ecuadorian grocery store.
Supermaxi is a nice grocery store, hands above most anything here in Ecuador, but it is so…Americanized. Ecuadorians shop there but it is clearly designed and tailored to the Gringos who live here. You could almost think you were in Anytown, USA inside that store.
There are many things we find there that we can’t find anywhere else, so I appreciate that aspect of it. I just recognize I love being in a store filled with Ecuadorians, not a word of English can be heard, a certain level of chaos abounds, and I feel very much I am in their world, not the other way around.
As you approach Mega Tienda many Ecuadorians are sitting outside the entrance waiting for the bus, a taxi, or a ride with their bags of groceries sitting on the ground in front of them. Walking into the store you immediately notice the isles are crowded and seem more narrow. They are packed with moms and dads with their kids in tow, pushing red carts filled with local brands of food products. There is a constant hum of activity inside this place.
You also notice there are no shopping carts immediately available. Where are they? After hunting for them the first time I shopped at Mega Tienda, I found them all parked underneath the stairs located in the middle of the first floor. Groceries are all on the first floor, and kitchen ware, cleaners, furniture, and many other household items are all on the second floor.
The only place to get meat at Mega Tienda is at the butcher counter. The meats are clean and cold, with each type of meat jammed in tightly to the next. Today we wanted chicken breasts and thighs, but they didn’t have any thighs. They don’t carry everything all the time. Unlike Supermaxi, there is not a long expanse of nicely wrapped and displayed packages of every kind of meat you could want.
There is something I like about not having every selection, every choice possible, available to me 24/7. This is probably the biggest thing I have had to deal with living outside the United States. Choices are limited. I learn to make due, or figure out an alternative, and amazingly, life goes on. A result of living like this is that I have developed a greater appreciation for what I do have.
Without the constant barrage of choices, endless display of items to select from, and numerous places to buy from, life becomes much simpler. I miss not being able to readily find what I “need”, but I’ve discovered I can live well without it too. It’s a nice feeling.
The produce is located outside the store, in a separate area attached in the front. Payment for all produce is made here, not in the store. It carries fresh vegetables and fruits, queso fresco (cheese), and some eggs. I like it. Bananas are currently running 15 for a dollar. Tomatoes are 40 cents a pound. Limes of good size are 20 for a dollar, and a large-sized pineapple is $2. Prices here are comparable to the farmer’s markets in Cuenca.
Heidi and I had lunch at a place that was roasting a pig out front. A roasted pig like this is called Hornado. We went inside and ordered a beef plate and a pork plate. All the meat was being cooked outside, then served to us with a small, slightly fried, mashed potato, some kind of beans, and a salad. The beef was very dry and the pork only slightly better. Not sure I would eat there again.
When we got home the Vet had left a message that Monte’s paperwork to get him out of the country was ready to be picked up. Since Monte had his latest shots while with us in Cuenca, the Vet here prepared the documents for Monte to get back into Canada with Don and Donna. Before the sun went down and the temperature began to drop, I got another great walk in going to his office to pick the papers up. Monday I will send them to Don and Donna who are on the coast.