Friday, March 11, 2011

What's Hot and What's Not!

You can get some really hot deals in Cuenca and you don’t have to look too far—like flowers (I never spend more than $1.05 for a bouquet that lasts more than a week (Coral Centro) and a “almuerzo” at a place I’m still not going to mention because it’s worthy of an entire blog. For $2.00 we can enjoy a beverage, appetizer, soup, main meal and dessert on a white starched tablecloth.

Simply amazing!

We realized we can eat out five days a week for $80 a month. Now that’s a hot deal and I couldn’t even begin to buy all the ingredients at SuperMaxi to make even one $2.00 meal at this place.

And then there’s the not so hot deals…you know…when you get the Gringo price for something you wouldn’t pay that much for in America. I have finally realized that I need to take matters into my own hands regarding my hair. Mark can’t relate to my dilemma because he’s “sin cabello.” Probably a good thing. In the States, I had no problem: shampoo, trim and highlights would set me back $30. I had been with the same person for nearly 20 years, so I guess I got the “faithful” client discount.

Not here. I can’t get out of “la pelaqueria” for less than $65. I’m sorry, but I can eat out for a month on that kind of money. I’m trying to get back to my natural color (whatever that is) and I just can’t seem to communicate in Spanish or English exactly what it is that I want. I’ve gone from blonde, to brunette to a redhead in a matter of hours. Yes, it was their “goof” and I still paid for it. Maybe I need a "varita de virtud" -- (Spanish word for the day!).

It seems that anything that has to do with beauty is going to cost you in Cuenca, except maybe a $5.00 manicure. The women here always look so put together and now I know their secret: They go to the stylist to have their hair done, their makeup put on and they’re not even going to meet the public! I brought a stash of mascara with me from the States because I heard it was expensive here (and they were right). Maybelline Big Lash may set you back $14.00 (anything imported carries the I.V.A. tax). So if you’re moving to Cuenca, be sure to stock up on your favorite makeup items. Yes, they do sell Avon here!

Another hot item for those traveling through Cuenca is the availability of prescription drugs that don’t need a prescription. I’m not sure if you can call Retin-A or Renova a prescription drug, but I know that my medical insurance in the States sure wouldn’t pay for it. Actually, it’s supposed to make the wrinkles disappear, but I think you have to start using it before you actually get them. The price for Retin-A is $11.00 and it’s sold over the counter at many of the pharmacies in Cuenca.

And then there’s something that happens to all of us in a foreign land where we live somewhere between guilt and thankfulness, especially when a craving for Mexican food takes over. We were going to have pizza with some friends at Chicago Pizza and right next door was “El Pedregal Azteca.” We found out that we weren’t the only Gringos on the block craving Mexican because within a matter of minutes, the entire place filled up. I watched as they made tortillas (hecho a mano). I give this place a 4-star rating.

Next time, reflections on Carnaval (a not so hot holiday for me!).

Until next time…hasta luego!

El Pedregal Azteca
Gran Colombia 10-29 y Padre Aguirre
Cuenca, Ecuador
(across from Santa Domingo Plaza)

Guacamole Dip

Hecho a mano -- tortillas!
The prices are decent.

One of the dining rooms -- love the blue!
Did someone say "tacos"?


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post, Connie. I have had the same hair person for more than 20 years myself and I am dreading the change when I'm in Cuenca. I plan to come back to Seattle several times a year and she has promised to keep me stocked up with the products I need to keep my color touched up in between trips, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Connie Pombo said...

My first mistake was to ask for "caramel highlights" which is interpreted as "blonde" here. And then it went downhill after that. I think I'm almost back to my natural color and I've decided that they just cut and color hair differently here; my hubby just can't relate. Looking forward to seeing you in April! Un abrazo fuerte!

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