Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What I Wish I Had Brought to Cuenca

Over “almuerzo” on Sunday (after the Hat Factory) with a good friend of ours, Chelsey, we started talking about what we wish we had brought to Cuenca.

Chelsey blurted out, “Definitely, Airwalks and my tea kettle!”

“I second that motion,” I said, pounding my fist on the fragile table.

And then I went on to explain my lengthy list of “what if I could do it all over again.” Actually, I felt that I brought too many clothes (yes, you heard me correctly). I wear the same thing almost every day (a different version of black). I brought two Levi jeans, two black leather jackets, two sweaters, two pairs of dress slacks and a black dress. Oh and 3-1/2 pairs of shoes (one got lost while I tripped out of the big blue bus in Cuenca). And yet, it’s more than enough. If you have a nice leather jacket, you just add a scarf to it and you’re set. The more scarves you have…the better (they also help protect you from the diesel fumes).

I wear Sketchers and Mark wears Merrells, but whatever you do; don’t wear six-inch spiked heels. I still don’t know how these Ecuadorian women walk around in those “killer” shoes. I’m sure at a very young age they were taught the social graces of wearing shoes that will later cause them horrible bunions, but that they have to suffer to be beautiful!

Mark brought about the same amount of “stuff”: leather jacket, two pairs of Levis, and three pairs of shoes, two nice sweaters and some shirts. And still, we ended up storing most of it in a suitcase once we got to Cuenca. Oh, except I brought some “jogging” suits from the States (three of them) because I do so much walking around the river with Mocha, which has now become my new wardrobe.

Moving on from the wardrobe items (since this is one of the 101 questions I receive), I would have invested in some fine cookware (Cuisinart) and paid for the extra "poundage" that it may have required. I have one omelet Cuisinart pan that I use for everything. I have no baking pans (yet), six plates, six pieces of silverware and eight glasses. Hence, we go out to eat more than we eat in (and we have found that to be less expensive in our trial last month).

What else you might ask?

*Kindles. Did you notice I pluralized the word? We have ONE Kindle and we’re always fighting over it. We both like to read before we go to bed and we’re both reaching for the Kindle at the same time. Save yourself some trouble and buy TWO.

*Smart Wool Socks. I know you think I’m crazy, but they are worth every dollar. They come in all different thicknesses and I would have brought a suitcase of every variety they make. Your feet will thank you and you’ll hardly feel the cobblestones.

*Perfume. Recently one of my blog readers mentioned that he brought a suitcase of perfume that he bought at one of the discount stores in the States and sold it here for a profit. Now, I’m not going into business selling perfume, but I miss going to department stores and trying on “Happy” by Clinique. Yes, we have stores here that sell perfume, i.e., “La Fragrancia” but they scare me! I feel like I need to buy a bottle of something that I could have received FREE during bonus month at the Clinique counter. Oh by the way, you can find Clinique in odd places like the tienda across the street; they also sell bread and soda there as well.

*Bath and Body Products. I do miss that store, but I just found a little boutique “negocio” that carries a line of products that tickled my little heart "pink." Not that I’m going to pay $15.00 for a pump of Vanilla Bean hand soap , but it’s just nice to know it’s there if I need it. Stock up on the 75% sale in the States (January and July) if you feel that you can’t live without “Sea Island Cotton” lotion and body spray.

*Travel books. This is a bit of a sore subject. Twice…I repeat…twice we have managed to actually pack a Frommer’s Travel Guide of South America, Ecuador and the Galapagos, and at the last minute we were over the weight limit and “dumped” all of them –once at the hotel and the other time at the airport. There’s something about travel books that are heavy in weight, but don’t “Kindelize” that well. I like to use my highlighter, underline, and crimp pages which don’t work so well with Kindle.

*More sentimental items. Somehow in all the craziness that happened in the last three weeks before we left, a certain box of all my momentos from our boys got sent to the “incinerator” instead of being packed in my suitcase. I cried on the plane and for the first week we were here. I did manage to salvage a few items (to get us past Father’s Day), but my Mother’s Day cards (except for a couple) are all gone. Most of the other items in your life are replaceable, but not those.

*Duvet Comforter Sets. We brought one which took up an entire suitcase and on Mark’s last trip he brought three more. Yes, you can buy them here, but not at $29.99 at Ross or Marshalls. We have two thin and two thicker ones which are wonderful, along with an extra thick mattress pad (x2). We are comfortable all year long in our condo, but after ten days of rain (yes, it will do that in July/August), it’s nice to cuddle up with your comforter.

*Bring your pet! We left our “Bianca” (snowshoe cat, part Siamese and Burmese) in the States with good friends, but then we said, “We’re never going to own a pet again!” It was horrible saying “goodbye” and yet what did we do? We adopted a Shih-Tzu puppy after we arrived in Cuenca. I won’t go into that story, but it’s like trying to replace a child; you can’t do it! Although Mocha has now become our surrogate “son” and we can’t imagine our life without him, it would have been a lot easier on our emotions to have put “Bianca” in our suitcase!

*Underwear. How could I forget the most important thing? Let me say this; you can buy whatever you want here, but it may not be what you’re used to. Whether you’re a Victoria Secret girl or a Jockey guy, I’m sure if you look hard and long enough, you can find what you want. But wouldn’t it be easier to just bring your favorite “undies” with you! You’ll thank me later (trust me!).

*Swimsuits. Oh yes, I almost forgot…I brought three of the same design and color, and while you’re at it….bring the beach towels and the cover-ups too. I got my swimsuits for $14.00 at Marshalls and I love them. I got plush beach towels (I adore them), and two bathing suit cover-ups, which I wouldn’t trade the world for. The sizes are smaller here and I have a hard time buying a size 10 when I’m really a size 6, so if you have a problem with “size,” then you might want to bring “three” of everything from the States. Oh, did I mention the sizes run smaller here as well and if you’re especially tall, you might be disappointed in the selection.

This is by no means a complete list, but remember…we only brought four suitcases. There are two ways to do it: bring a container or crate or just “pare down your life” because as we all know, we can’t take it with us. We look at it this way: we did our children a huge favor. They won’t have to go through the misery that we did sorting through 35 years of marriage; they just get to collect the money!

Oh, yes, that’s the other thing. I wish I would have brought... more money!

Until next time…hasta luego!


Clarke said...


Come on Connie ........ get your priorities straight !

Connie Pombo said...

Absolutely, Clark! What in the world was I thinking?!?

Karen Kimbler said...

Awesome list Connie! Now I don't feel too whiny about my 800 count sheets I brought.. I am with you on the blankies... we brought our down pillows too! Nice to snuggle around those breakables on the way here.

Connie Pombo said...

I'm with you girl! I love to cuddle with my duvet on a day like today when it's raining, raining, raining. At least Mocha got in his long walk before the skies opened up! Wow, 800 count sheets (that must feel like heaven!). ;-)

Capi said...

Connie, you should tell people to skip the leather jackets and have one custom made in Cuenca. My parents brought one to me after they spent 6 months there and they wanted to thank me for paying their bills while they were gone.

Did you go to the actual hat factory out on the edge of town? Just think...Panama hats are really from Cuenca.

Abrazos, Capi

Connie Pombo said...

Hola Capi,

Yes, Mark had a really nice leather jacket made here to the tune of $300. I bought mine at Goodwill for $12 (San Mateo, CA). Go figure! One of mine was brand new with the tags still on it.

The photo above was taken at the hat factory at the edge of town; I need to do a blog on it. There are several, but this one was "Barranco" with the Panama Hat Museum. It would make a good trivia question: Where is the Panama hat made? I know at least two people who would get the answer right! ;-)

Great to hear from you! ~ Besitos y abrazitos (Consuelo)

The Traveling Teacher said...

I love it! And I love you guys! Nice hats :D

Connie Pombo said...

That was so much fun; we have to actually take the tour! Un abrazo fuerte!

Victoryperfect said...

Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

Jacketed Kettlesstock

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