- Food comes in strange packaging (well, it's strange to those who never travel or live outside of the USA). Milk comes in a liter box... kind of an over-sized juice box... and it's on the shelf, not in "the dairy section". Juices also come in liter boxes. Most condiments come in a baggie with a squirty thing in one corner. I LOVE THIS!!! It is lightweight in my bag, it takes up very little space, it isn't breakable, and I can squeeze the last drop of ketchup or mayonnaise out of the bag. As discussed in the previous blog, coffee is purchased by the kilo in a brown paper bag (creepy). Dog & cat food is much the same... by the kilo in a plastic bag tied in a knot.
- Dish soap also comes in a baggie, or you can buy it in a solid form in a tub - think of Comet in a solid cake. By the way - dish soap is formulated differently here because most people don't have hot water and can't cut grease with the heat, so this soap is INCREDIBLE at cutting grease and cleaning. Same with laundry soap - you buy it in a bag. Really, nothing here comes in a can or a plastic container or a box - not if it can be put in a baggie of some type.
- Don't even get me started on the bread and the dried cereal that is sold on the street. Billy and I watched one day as a street dog came by and tried to steal some cereal, thus spilling it all over the street. Then, horrified, we watched as the lady scooped it up with her hands (off the street) and bagged it back up and put it on the table for sale again! We made a solemn vow not to buy cereal off the street!
- We buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Liz goes to the open market once a week and buys most of it for us, but we buy some things for ourselves. ALL OF IT is washed in clorox water and dried before we eat it. We didn't do that in Costa Rica, but when even the locals tell you that you should do it, we decided to do it. Add to that the fact that we have watched dogs walk up and hike a leg on the fruit crates... Yes, we wash everything!
- And the water... we have a water filtration system in the house. But a major problem here is the water quality and how it effects health. Liz told me today that the ladies look at their water and they say, "It looks okay to me. It is clear. There isn't anything wrong with it." But, in fact, the bacteria and yucky factor in the water here is horrendous! Giardia being a huge problem. One of my jobs in the very near future is to use a microscope and show people what they can't actually see in their water, and teach how to combat the issue.
- I've become a big fan of yogurt here. They don't have the "stiff" yogurt like we have in the USA. All of the yogurt here is the drinkable type... it comes in liter bottles and it pours. Some of you are surprised that I like this, since I have the severe "gag factor" test for foods that might be too slimy or gooey or unusually thick... well, I'm all about this yogurt. But I don't drink it. I pour it over my cereal instead of milk. I have also poured it over cut up fruit. It's awesome!!!
- I had a traditional drink the other day. I've seen people drinking it on the street corners and wondered what it was. Liz made it for lunch... chicha morada. It is made from purple corn. It looks like grape juice. It smells and tastes like hot spiced apple cider that we drink in the USA around Christmas, except maybe not quite as sweet. It was delicious! I look forward to more of that. And I'm assured by the locals that it is the cure for hypertension and high blood pressure and all problems heart or blood related (I love learning local lore and local natural remedies).
Okay - that's all for now. Ciao!!! Happy eating!!!