All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: Freedom, Justice, Honor, Duty, Mercy, Hope, Smoothies.
Juan’s mom and I made a quick trip to the fruit and veggie market the other day and while we were meandering around we came up a fruit I didn’t recognize. This is pretty common for me. There are lots of tropical fruit that I have no idea what they are. It wasn’t the pear shape that interested me, nor the yellow color, it was the aroma. Now when I say aroma what I really mean is the drug like effect it had on my senses. No word of a lie, this fruit has an euphoric effect.
The new focus of my desire is called guayaba, or in English guava. I’ve tried it before in a jelly fruit candy. The smell isn’t the same, but I had a general idea of the taste. Anyway, for the rest of that morning we drove around with them in the car and all I kept thinking was, this could be bottled and sold as a natural anti-depressant. Well I guess eating them is easier than bottling and the nutritional value is outstanding!
I decided to make a batido (or a smoothie). I cut the fruit length wise and cut them into cubes, like I do with mangoes. This by the way, is the wrong way. Juan’s mom came into the kitchen and told me that I needed to peel the skin like a potato and then cut it into smaller pieces. I was just going to throw everything into the blender willy nilly, but this is also incorrect. After cutting the guava and placing it in the blender, you need to add a lot of water and blend on high.
The next step is to put the juice through a sieve and mash all the pulp out. This process also removes the seeds, which by the way are as hard as little pebbles.
I also decided to add some papaya. This is something I wish I liked more, but I can’t get over the smell. The color, on the other hand is something that I love! I put it in smoothies because it’s supposed to be SO good for you.
The last thing I put was an apple. I had no idea if this combination would work, but I thought, What the hell? It won’t be that bad.
And it wasn’t! Actually, it kind of tasted like a mild bubble gum. I think next time I’m going to add passion fruit to my guava juice. You know, there are a million different possibilities here!
Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead. ~Mac McCleary
You’ve heard me talk about it before, so it’s not the first and probably won’t be the last time I mention traffic. It’s a monster. It’s a being all of its own. I’ve tried describing the cars like marching ants, but most times they’re like the snakes on Medusa’s head. Everybody is going in every imaginable direction, including the wrong one. It really is a form of anarchy.
Although the horns blare, mostly as a form of warning from approaching motorcycles, people here really just go with the flow. There isn’t road rage like you’d expect. Tempers flare, mine included and I don’t even drive here, but drivers have learned not to take things personally and they let whatever has offended them pass. This is a lesson I need to apply to my life.
There is never a great time to run errands here. Pretty much every hour is rush hour. I normally have to mentally prepare myself if I know we’ll be in the car all day. It took us 1/2 an hour to get through 3 traffic lights on Monday. Are you starting to understand my pain?
Today Juan and I went to try to look for a car to buy. It’s a next to impossible feat. Buying a used car is very expensive, almost 3 times the price of what you’d pay in Canada. There is no rhyme or reason. Can you imagine paying $14 000 for a 15 year old Chevy? I think not. Crazy, isn’t it? There are two main reasons for this: the price of gas is practically free (we pay about $0.26 for a tank) and there is a mafia that controls the market. People list cars, the mafia buys it, repairs it (they have their own mechanics) and then they inflate the price. It’s frustrating as hell.
I know what you’re thinking, just go to a dealership and buy a new or used one there. Here’s the thing: if you can find a dealership that actually has cars in it (hard to picture isn’t it, but we went by 5 or 6 today and not one had a car in it), you order a car (which takes up to a year to arrive), only to find out that what they have for you isn’t at all what you’ve ordered. In this most common scenario you have one of two choices to make: buy the car or walk away and wait another year. 10 times out of 10, people buy a car they don’t even want. It’s a serious problem on many, many levels.
Although it felt like it, we didn’t spend our entire day in the car. We stopped by a fruit and veggie market to pick up some fresh herbs (which cost pennies) for tomorrow night’s pasta and then we went to a fruit stand to have some juice. There I tried a fruit I have never heard of; it’s called nispero. Nispero has the same skin color as a kiwi, without the fuzz. The favor was sweet; almost like a pear and the texture was a bit grainy. I liked it. Juan tells me that people here make ice cream with it, now that I’d like to try.
I’m pretty big on giving myself rewards if I’ve had a great day (meaning my swearing wasn’t at full capacity). Today’s reward was a plant. We stopped by a florist and picked up the cutest little fern (not entirely sure that’s what it is) and some flowers for Juan’s mom. Plants make me happy. Once we move to the island, our place will look like a jungle!
My other reward for being patient today? A Campari! Salud
Taste every fruit of every tree in the garden at least once. It is an insult to creation not to experience it fully. Temperance is wickedness. ~ Stephen Fry
I really was an explorer the first time I was here. In fact, I still am. There is food that I have never heard of or seen, never mind tasted. Guanabana, is a good example of this. Guanabana, known in English as sour sop, is reportedly the super cancer fighter of fruit. Even the food that I’m well acquainted with tastes differently. It’s all about freshness. There is nothing as sweet as a mango from the tropics. When food has to travel 3000 miles, something surely will be lacking. Whether it be flavor, color or shelf life, the essentials are gone.
For three years I kept hold of memories of a fresh juice kiosk in a mall here. I longed for this place like an old friend. There would be times when I’d say to Juan, “Ah, remember the fruit juice place? Remember the variety? I wish we could just have a……” High on my list of priorities, we went a few days after I arrived. I found out that the place is called Chucha.
The third best part (the first being freshness, the second being variety) of batidos, as they’re called here, is that they’re super cheap. The average price for a glass and a half is around $2.50. Trust me, if I lived closer to the mall, I’d go everyday just to try one of each.
The shelves are lined with, you guessed it, fruit. You won’t find powdered protein or wheat germ on the menu, just good old fashion fruit. And that’s just the way I like it.
My choice that day was mango. It was absolutely divine!
There are shortages of certain kinds of food in this country, but fruit isn’t one of them. There seems to be an abundant supply.
Chucha’s also has a sandwich counter and a full menu including empandas, fish and criollo (the national dish made of shredded beef, black beans, plantains, rice and arepas). Stopping by Chucha’s is the highlight of my trip to the mall. It’s kind of like my reward for having to fight the traffic and, of course, going to the mall in the first place.
Well, it’s definitely my intention to try as much tropical fruit (and various other forms of food) while I’m here. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you know what I discover.