I began wondering this week if it were possible to miss something and not miss it at the same time. As I prepare to leave my home of the last three years in Ecuador to return to my hometown in South Carolina, I think it is only natural to think about the things I will miss, as well as the things I won’t. What I find fascinating, though, is that sometimes I think I will miss, and not miss, the same things.
I will miss the fresh markets in Ecuador because they are fun, colorful, and chock-full of some of the best fruits and vegetables in the world. Since I have lived in Cuenca I have become a fruit fanatic. So many wonderful and exotic fruits that I never had before in the southern U.S., like granadilla, chirimoya, guayaba, guanábana, maracuyá, and about a million varieties of bananas and plantains. And most of the produce here is much more affordable than in the states. Yum!
I will not miss the fresh markets in Ecuador because often times, to get to the fruits and veggies, you have to pass through the meat section where chicken, pig, and cow carcasses hang in the open air. Being vegetarian, this is not an easy thing for me. The smell can be overpowering (especially in the seafood section), and I have not yet gotten used to walking by rows and rows of chopped off pig’s heads staring at me from behind the counter. Or the chicken feet dangling over my head.
I will miss the grocery stores here because you don’t have to spend a lot of time there. Instead of having a thousand different brands of the same thing you will only find a few brands, which really cuts down on the time it takes to compare labels, which then frees up the rest of your day for more interesting activities.
I will not miss the grocery stores here because there is virtually no selection! And if you do find a brand you like, you better buy up all they have because they probably won’t carry it after next Tuesday. Seriously. Buy it when you see it or you will never see it again. I do not lie.
I will miss the pharmacies here because you really don’t have to have a prescription to get what you need. This cuts out time and expense having to go to a doctor every time you have a condition you’ve had before and know how to treat yourself.
I will not miss the pharmacies here because at any moment the government can decide to ban any drug they want to. Not long ago the government eliminated country-wide the most common hormone replacement drug available here, and I can tell you, it has not been pretty. I really feel for the spouses of middle-aged women here. Ouch.
I will miss the weather here because, at least where we live in Cuenca, the weather is pretty predictable. That means you will have a mix of clouds, sun, and a possible light sprinkle for most of the year, save the rainy season. No one has centralized heating and air because it’s really not necessary, and that cuts way down on living expenses. The temperature never gets down to freezing, and rarely goes above 80. As long as you dress in layers, you’re good to go!
I will not miss the weather here because there are no seasons (other than the aforementioned rainy one). Being from South Carolina, I am accustomed to four distinct seasons and always enjoyed the differences each season brought, from the new growth of spring to the personal contemplation of winter. I didn’t realize that the weather always being the same here would often time make me feel as if I were in a rut.
I will miss the buses here because they are super affordable (25 cents one way, unless you are over 65 and then it’s only 12 cents…12 CENTS!!!) and you can totally forgo owning a car. That means no car payment, no insurance, and no stress of driving in traffic. I have LOVED not having a car here.
I will not miss the buses here because sometimes you have to wait a long time for your bus to come along, and that is not fun in the rainy season. Just like most public transportation anywhere in the world, the buses here can be on the dirty side. And I have never quite gotten used to the lack of personal space in Ecuador, which is at it’s finest on the bus with 50 unruly schoolchildren, indigenous women and their baskets piled high with whatever fruit is in season, and the occasional live chicken clucking in your ear.
Read Part Two of things I will simultaneously miss and not miss about my adopted country, Ecuador.
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the humorous travel memoir, Thirty Days In Quito: Two Gringos and a Three-Legged Cat Move to Ecuador. She also writes adult parables and short stories as well as books about yoga and meditation. Kris is a determined chess player, an origami enthusiast, a classically trained pianist, and a playwright. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two cats.
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