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A Taste of Southern India: Shopping, Hindu Temple, Beach Walk & Resort Tour – India Part 6 (Episode 99)

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We did all sorts interesting things on our first full day in India. Chinnu picked us up right after breakfast and took us shopping in Trivandrum for wedding and hot weather clothes. Amelia also bought some jewelry for the wedding and a beautiful lehenga dress.

For lunch, we had some delicious southern Indian Thali before heading over to a famous Hindu Temple in the heart of Trivandrum.

We didn’t return to our resort until 8:30PM, 11 hours of shopping and driving, so we turned in for the night and slept for 11 hours!

The next day we went for a walk along the beach near our resort. It was so beautiful and relaxing.

Other videos in this series:

  1. Our Journey from Cuenca Ecuador to South Beach Miami – India Part 1 (Episode 94)
  2. Drama at 35,000 Feet + AirBnB Apartment Tour – India Part 2 (Episode 95)
  3. Amsterdam In Spring 2019 + Canal Tour – India Part 3 (Episode 96)
  4. Keukenhof Tulip Garden Spring 2019 Amsterdam – India Part 4 (Episode 97)
  5. Dinner With Chinnu’s Family in South India // From Amsterdam to India – India Part 5 (Episode 98)

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Ecuador Day In The Life + Lunch at Origami Sushi Cuenca (Episode 91)

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We’re back to business as usual with this Cuenca Ecuador Day In The Life video. Several people have asked us about organic or natural stores here in Cuenca, so we show you two of them in this video. Plus, we had some delicious vegan sushi for lunch at Origami.

As a reminder, we’re leaving for Amsterdam and India in a few days so our posting schedule will be a bit erratic. Please sign up for our newsletter and I’ll do my best to let you know when we’re going to post our next video.

La Chakra Mercado Natural

Our first stop was at La Chakra Mercado Natural on Doce de Abril near La Universidad de Cuenca and next to Samsara Yoga. They have all sorts of natural food and beauty products. They also have a La Chakra Facebook Page.

La Chakra Cuenca

We bought a bag of organic, locally sourced maca powder that we put in our breakfast oats. We also bought a protein snack bar from Panda Cakes Cuenca. My vegan rock climbing friend, Pietro, makes those and sells them in natural stores around Cuenca. Amelia also bought some cruelty free natural deodorant, which is quite a bit more expensive in Ecuador than back in the states.

La Chakra Snack Bar

Museo Del Sombrero

Our second stop was at Museo Del Sombrero to get my hat repaired. It got really wet while Stephen was rock climbing, which caused the band to come loose. We love our panama hats and it’s really nice that they keep them maintained for free.

Museo Del Sombrero

Amelia and I tried on several hats while we waited just for fun.

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca Amelia Hat

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca JP Hat

We also went upstairs for a cup of coffee and beautiful views of Cuenca.

Museo Del Sombrero Coffee Shop

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca View

La Primavera Cuenca

There are several La Primavera stores around Cuenca. They carry a variety of health foods, like protein powders, nuts, seeds, vitamins, etc.

La Primavera Cuenca El Centro

Our friends Jimmy and Sharon told us the one on Mariano Cueva y Calle Gran Colombia sold Mate de Coca or Té de Coca, which helps with altitude sickness.

La Primavera Cuenca El Centro Map

Sometimes I get a little light headed and short of breath when the weather changes, and this tea helps alleviate the symptoms. Unfortunately, they were out of the tea so we’ll have to try someplace else.

Mate de Coca

Origami Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar Cuenca

We like going to Origami Sushi in Cuenca because they have a lot of vegan options and it’s far less expensive than Noe Sushi. Origami is located on Calle Larga y Mariano Cueva. They have a tiny storefront that’s easy to miss. Just look for the Origami sign on the door.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Door

They have an entire page dedicated to vegetarian (it’s actually vegan) sushi rolls and options. Plus, their Miso Soup is also vegan and they don’t use oil in any of the rolls or the soup.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Miso Soup

We ordered the Yasai Combination plus a Mango Roll.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Yasai Combo

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Day In The Life + Vegan Lunch at YuraVeg & Shopping at Sukasa (Episode 84)

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Let us know if you’d like to see more of these Day In The Life videos. They’re a lot of work to film and edit, but we really enjoy making them.

In this video, we walked over to YuraVeg for vegan lunch and then on to Gringolandia and Sukasa. We hope you enjoy the beautiful scenery and the interesting people we see along the way.

Amelia’s Bruises

I wanted to get this out of the way first! No, I’m not abusing Amelia! She started taking pole fitness classes again at Samsara Pole & Yoga, which gives her bruises from head to toe, but especially on her arms and thighs. We’ve already had some friends comment about them. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Amelia is a total kid-at-heart. She loves to play, even if it gives her bruises 😂

Amelia Bruise

Vegan Lunch at YuraVeg

Our friend Olesya recommended YuraVeg for some delicious, low/no-oil vegan food so we decided to give it a try. It’s about a 25 minute walk from our house in the Sucre neighborhood near Loja y Remigio Crespo Toral.

YuraVeg is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant so be sure to tell them no queso, no huevo y no mantequilla.

YuraVeg Sign

We had the Arepas Veganas, and they were AMAZING! For $5 per plate, we each got two arepas with 4 different sauces. Yum! We will DEFINITELY be adding this place to our regular rotation!

YuraVeg Arepas

Helado Vegano en Fratello (Vegan Ice Cream at Fratello)

It seems that a day in our life wouldn’t be complete without some helado vegano en Fratello! Clocking over 20,000 steps (that’s 10 miles) really works up an appetite! Although we don’t need an excuse to eat Rene’s delicious vegan ice cream 😋

I had the helado fruta rojas and Amelia had the helado chocolate, as per usual.

Helado Vegano 1

Helado Vegano 2

Shopping at Sukasa Cuenca

We were hoping to film inside Sukasa, but the guard at the front door said they have a store policy against it. I told him it would be promoción gratis (free advertising), but he said it wasn’t his call. El gerente (the manager) makes that call. Oh well. Their loss.

Sukasa

We did find the queen-size mattress cover Amelia was looking for. The price on the package was $28, but it rang up en venta (on sale) for $18. What a bargain!

Believe it or not, that’s not to protect the mattress from me. I rarely sweat. Amelia, on-the-other-hand, is experiencing hot flashes and night sweats. She’s only 50, but her mom also went through this phase of life early.

Sukasa Mattress Cover

Sukasa is located in the same stripmall next to the Supermaxi in Gringolandia.

Supermaxi Gringolandia

Cuenca is a Big Little City

Every time we leave the house, we bump into someone we know. That RARELY happened in Denver. That’s one thing we love about Cuenca: it has all the amenities of a larger city, but it still has a small city feel.

Pam (on the left) and her husband were the previous renters of our house. Amelia met Susan doing Belly Dance at The Tribal Fusion House.

Pam & Susan

Samara and Samantha are Xavier’s wife and daughter. You met Xavier in our Apartamentos Otorongo video.

Samara y Samantha

Watch Where You’re Walking!

Ecuador is not a safety minded country. They follow the Jeff Foxworthy philosophy of “Let ’em break a bone! They’ll learn!”

There aren’t a lot of handrails in Ecuador and the sidewalks are a walking hazard. You ALWAYS have to pay attention when you’re walking.

These post holes were on a relatively new sidewalk in Gringolandia near Sukasa. You could break your leg or ankle if you stepped in one of these!

Holes

The retaining walls on the sides of bridges rarely have rails, so you could easily step off one of them and fall 15 or 20 feet, sometimes into a raging river.

Tomebamba Bridge

Other Stuff from the Video

Dog Wash

You may have noticed the Dog Wash in our video. It’s located on Calle Federico Proaño, La Salle 2-21. We took Daisy there a couple times before Jessica at Maxi’s Pet Care started offering grooming services. We were very happy with Daisy’s bath and it was very affordable. The sign says a wash starts at $6, but that’s for small dogs. I believe Daisy was $10.

Dog Wash Cuenca

Cuenca’s Bike Lanes

One of our regular viewers asked us about bike lanes in Cuenca. You’ll notice a LOT of them in this video. Cuenca has been adding them throughout the city for several years as part of a health and environmental awareness campaign.

Cuenca Bike Lanes

Pacha Kuna Organic Market

Pacha Kuna is an organic market located next door to YuraVeg. It’s closed on the weekend so we’ll have to go back another day to give you the full tour.

Pacha Kuna

Chakana Coworking

Coworking spaces are very popular here. Chakana Coworking is located in the same building as YuraVeg and Pacha Kuna. Ecuador is a bit behind the technological curve, but they’re working hard to catch up and I’m guessing coworking places like this are helping.

Chakana Coworking

Cuenca Fashion

We video a lot of clothing storefronts to show that Cuenca and South America is a modern city with modern fashion. Weddings are also a huge thing here, so there are lots of bridal shops. I can’t find a website for this one, which is common in Ecuador. Most places at least have a Facebook page, but I couldn’t find one of those either.

AD Bridal Cuenca

Street Performers

Most major intersections in Cuenca have entertaining street performers. You’ll see everything from guitar players to firebreathers to jugglers with clown noses. And they’re extremely talented!

Juggler

Juggler 2

First Tranvía Sighting

We don’t live near the new Tranvía rail system here in Cuenca so we haven’t filmed it in operation until recording this video. We’ll take a ride on it at some point to give you the full experience.

Cuenca Tranvía

Gas Truck Sighting

We’ve talked about the gas trucks in a few of our videos, but we were able to record part of the song today. If you’re curious about the song lyrics, I spent several hours one day translating them: Cuenca Gas Truck Song Lyrics & English Translation.

Gas Truck

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Museum of Modern Art in San Sebas + Marc’s Consignments Tour (Episode 77)

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This day in the life video is a walking tour of the San Sebas (or San Sebastian) area of Cuenca Ecuador.

Marc’s Consignments Cuenca

Our first stop was at Marc’s Consignments. One of our very first subscribers, Marla, will be moving here to Cuenca in June and she requested a tour of one of the consignment stores.

Marc's Consignments Cuenca

Marc’s Consignments is located in the San Sebas area of Cuenca just a couple blocks from San Sebas plaza. In addition to brokering furniture sales, they can also help with relocation services. And if you need something special that they don’t have, they can find it for you. Their stock rotates about every 2 months and they get new items every week so check back often.

Marc's Consignments Cuenca Store

There are two other consignment stores that we know about that are popular with gringos: Cuenca Consignments and JD Muebles. We’ve never been to Cuenca Consignments, but JD Muebles is very similar to Marc’s Consignments.

San Sebas Plaza Cuenca

One of the prettiest, old-world plazas in Cuenca has to be San Sebas Plaza. Locals and gringos alike are often seen relaxing near the fountain, surrounded by flower gardens. Café San Sebas is popular gringo hangout with a nice patio and views of the plaza and the Museum of Modern Art.

San Sebas Plaza Cuenca

Cuenca Museum of Modern Art – Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno de Cuenca

We’ve been to Cuenca’s Museum of Modern Art several times. It’s a beautiful, quite and relaxing art museum with several colorful gardens.

 Museum of Modern Art Cuenca

Museum of Modern Art Garden

However, on this day, there weren’t any art exhibits. The museum is in the process of doing a comprehensive renovation so none of the art was on display except for the outdoor sculptures. We still enjoyed ourselves none-the-less.

Pho Vietnamita Restaurant

After we left the museum, we walked a couple blocks to Pho Vietnamita for lunch. As far as we know, this is the only Vietnamese restaurant in Cuenca, and it’s muy delicioso.

Pho Vietnamita Cuenca Sign

We met Rick, the head chef and owner, during our Visa process. We rode to Machala together to file our paperwork soon after we arrived in Cuenca.

Pho Vietnamita Rick

Rick made us some delicious vegan rice paper spring rolls as an appetizer.

Pho Vietnamita Vegan Spring Roll

We ordered the Vegetarian Pho, which is actually vegan, for our main course. The Vegetarian Ramen uses egg noodles, so it’s not vegan. The Pho bowl was very flavorful and filling.

Pho Vietnamita Cuenca Bowl

INTI-RAYMI Galeria

After we left Rick’s place, we walked down Simón Bolivar toward Parque Calderon. If you’re in the market for unique furniture and home decor, the INTI-RAYMI Galeria might have what you’re looking for. They have more furniture on the upper level so be sure to check that out, too.

Home Decor Store

The Cuenca Flower Market

A walk through El Centro wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Cuenca’s world famous Flower Market.

Cuenca Flower Market

Cuenca Flower Market Lilly

Fogón del Zorro Peruvian Restaurant

After we left the flower market, a dark cloud appeared from out of nowhere (as they often do here in Cuenca) and the sky opened up. We stepped inside Fogón del Zorro just as it started pouring rain. They do have a few options on the menu for us vegans, but since we had already eaten, we just ordered a delicious Peruvian beer to sip while we waited out the storm.

Fogon del Zorro Beer

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Plaza Rotary in Cuenca | Outdoor Marketplace (Episode 60)

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While Amelia’s back in the States, I filmed el Mercado de Artesanias Rotary here in Cuenca. It’s usually just called “the rotary” by the gringos and it’s located at Vargas Machuca y Gaspar Sangurima just one block East of Mercado 9 de Octubre.

The Rotary has lots of mostly indigenous vendors selling furniture, metalwork, hand-woven baskets, pottery, kitchen utensils, clothes, bags, rugs, souvenirs, etc. It’s a great place to find unique gifts for your loved ones, or obscure items for yourself.

One of our viewers from the other side of the world (Taiwan) requested a video on this outdoor marketplace and filming it was a good use of my alone time. If you would like us to film something in particular, please let us know. As long as it’s relevant to our audience, we’ll be happy to record it!

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Pharmacy Tour and Paying Bills + Beet Burgers Cooking Video (Episode 54)

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If you’ve never been to Cuenca or a South American country, you may be curious about basic things like paying bills and shopping at pharmacies. In this video, we’ll show you the unusual (by American standards) way of paying bills and perhaps reassure you about the quality of pharmacies here in Cuenca.

We’ll also share our Beet Burger w/ Black Beans & Quinoa recipe in a cooking video. You can find the full recipe on our sister recipe website, LottaVeg.com.

Beet Burgers

Paying Utility Bills

The process for paying our utility bills here in Cuenca has been a constant learning process. We used to pay for our water, electric and landline at the Farmasol pharmacy near our house, but they stopped accepting utility payments for some reason. Now we go to JEP Cooperativa, which is a co-op bank here in Ecuador.

Paying for Electric, Water and Phone at JEP

JEP

JEP only accepts cash and they don’t accept our American ATM bank cards, so we have to go to a regular non-coop bank first to get cash. We prefer Banco Pichincha because they don’t charge ATM fees.

Banco Pichincha

Our utility bills run about $60/month: $40 for electric, $15 for water and $3 for our landline phone that came with the house. For reference, we have a single family 2-story home that’s about 1,500 square feet. Some landlords include the cost of utilities in the rent, but ours doesn’t so we have to pay them ourselves.

Our Internet with Puntonet

We use Puntonet for our Internet access, which costs us $35/month for high-speed, fiber to the curb. It’s FAR better here than our crappy Comcast service back in Denver. We pay Puntonet with auto-pay using a credit card (no international transaction fees).

Our Mobile Phone with Claro

We use Claro for our Ecuadorian mobile phone. It only costs us $17/month! We bought a cheap Samsung phone for $170 when we setup the account, but it was awful. We still have iPhones with Verizon back in the states (we both still work, Amelia for a company in Denver and I have web design clients) so after we upgraded our iPhones, we swapped the SIM card from the Samsung to our old iPhone and it works much better.

Claro

We’ve tried setting up auto-pay at Claro using our credit card multiple times, but it never works so we go every month in person to pay. When you go in the front door, you have to get a number and wait your turn.

Claro Number

They ask for your Claro phone number at the front desk, but it doesn’t get recorded on the ticket so you have to repeat it to the clerk who takes your payment. It usually takes less than 15 minutes to pay.

How Our Electricity Got Shut Off

In the video, Amelia mentioned that our electricity got cut off one month. That was due to the confusing nature of bill paying here in Ecuador. There is no online access to bills, so we don’t know what the amounts due until we go to JEP. Furthermore, the bills are only available after a certain day of the month, which has been changed several times in the year we’ve been living here.

The bill available dates are currently between the 1st and 5th of the month (it varies). However, they used to be available between the 19th and the 24th, then the 24th and the 29th. If you go before that date, the bills aren’t available so you can’t pay them.

That’s where the confusion arose with our electricity getting shut off. We went to Farmasol to pay our bills (before they stopped accepting payments) and the electric bill wasn’t available yet because they changed the available date. We figured we would save a trip and just pay for it next month after several friends told us paying a month late wouldn’t matter. The next month, we paid our bills after all of them were available, but they cashier didn’t charge us for the previous month’s electricity.

The next month, Farmasol stopped accepting payments and our payment dates changed AGAIN when JEP took over. The missing month still hadn’t been paid so on our first trip to JEP, they charged us for the missing month and the current month, but when we got home, our electricity had been shut off already for non-payment of the bill three months before.

Thankfully, our landlord happened to drop by and we told him what happened. He took our JEP payment receipt to the electric company showing that we had just paid the late bill and our electricity was turned back on a few hours later.

Paying Rent

We didn’t cover how we pay rent in the video, but it’s worth a mention. This is a cash society. We haven’t seen personal checks, online bill pay is still in its infancy here, and most individuals and small businesses don’t accept credit cards.

So in order to pay the rent, we go to the bank, withdraw cash from the ATM and deposit it directly into our landlord’s bank account. He gave us his account information and we use it to fill out a deposit slip.

Paying the bills and the rent is a great way to get our 10,000 steps in for the day!

Cuenca Pharmacy Tour – Pharmacy’s

Farmacias

Pharmacies are abundant here in Cuenca and throughout Ecuador. For some reason, Ecuador hasn’t gone through the corporate consolidation process like the states has so there are lots of consumer options here. Within walking distance from our house, we have a Cruz Azul, Pharmacy’s, Fybeca and Medicity. And we’ve seen others.

In the video, we toured a Pharmacy’s, but most of the larger pharmacies are pretty similar. They’re a lot like a Walgreens or CVS back in the states and they have a lot of the major brands.

Lubriderm

Most of the beauty products are a LOT more expensive here. My physical therapist has us bring back Cetaphil for her because it only costs $11 in the states compared to $41 here.

Cetaphil

Most of the packaged medicines and vitamins are kept behind the counter so you’ll need to ask for them. In the smaller pharmacies like the Cruz Azul in our neighborhood, nearly everything is kept behind the counter.

Cruz Azul

If you would like us to look for something in particular, just let us know.

Núcleo Nerve Medicine

Núcleo

Núcleo is a drug that’s available in most countries, but not the United States. This drug helps regenerate damaged nerves and the protective sheath around nerves. It also helps with neuropathy from nerve damage or diabetes. And from my experience, it actually works without side effects and only costs me about $45/month.

Due to my spinal issues, I have nerve damage in my hands, legs and feet. The neuropathy in my feet was really bad before I started taking Núcleo several months ago. I’ve also regained some of the lost feeling in my hands and legs. It’s difficult to say for sure if this is solely due to the Núcleo or if part of the improvement came from my stellar physical therapy here in Cuenca or the natural healing process.

Regardless, it’s unacceptable that this isn’t available in the states when it’s available in most other countries. It could help millions of people suffering with nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. I was prescribed Gabapentin following my surgeries, but the side effects, especially depression, became unbearable so I had to stop taking it. Núcleo would have really helped me.

Tosta Sourdough Bread

On our way home from paying our bills, we stopped by Tosta for some delicious sourdough bread. We timed it perfectly because it was straight from the oven and still warm! Yum!

Tosta

Tosta Inside

Tosta Bread

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Video Transcript

Hi veggie lovers! I’m Amelia with
Amelia And JP. JP is behind the camera.

Today we are going to go pay our
utilities and our cell phone bill.

We also need to go to the pharmacy,
which is perfect because we had a viewer ask us

to do some video of the
pharmacies here in the area.

We will post these videos, all of our videos,

at 2 p.m. Eastern time every
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

and we do stick around for about an hour to answer any questions or comment on any

of your comments so please join us and
remember to subscribe and ring that bell

so that you get notified on all our
latest and greatest.

♫ Upbeat Music ♫

I’m standing outside Claro. Amelia is
inside paying our bill. We’ve tried to

set up automatic payments
with our credit card at Claro several times,

but for some reason it never works correctly.

So we just come down here once a month

and pay in person. It’s $17 a month
for our mobile phone bill here in Ecuador.

There is another company called
Movistar, but most of the people we

talked to recommended Claro
so that’s why we went with them.

And after we leave here after Amelia pays our bill we’re gonna head down to JEP and pay our utilities.

Now that we could also pay
online if we had a JEP account, but since

we don’t we just go pay it in person, too.
And you have to pay that with cash.

They don’t take credit cards there so we’re
gonna go do that next and then go down

and tour a couple pharmacies.

JP: Still waiting?
Amelia: Still waiting.

It actually hasn’t been that long.

I’m going into JEP now to pay our
utilities, which is the water, electric

and we pay I think $3 a month
for a landline that just came with the

house that we rent so it just is part of
rent as far as I’m concerned.

As another thing we do pay our utilities in cash here.

Umm.. I’ve heard that you can set up a

JEP account pay some of these online
but we haven’t tried that.

If somebody knows let us know.

I’m standing outside of JEP
waiting for Amilia.

You can’t use your phone or any
electronics while you’re in the banks here.

They all have security guards. The security guard will come up and yell at you and tell you to

put your phone away or leave. So I’m just
standing outside under a shade tree next

to this woman selling delicious looking
cherimoyas and cherries.

They have the most amazing dark cherries here!

Oh my God they’re like candy!

A: Success!
JP: All paid?
A: All paid.

JP: So they aren’t going to shut off our electricity again?
A: No. [chuckling]

We’ve had some issues figuring out
when we’re supposed to pay bills

and they changed our due date and they changed the location where we can pay them,

but luckily our landlord helped us through all of that.

We only had our electricity shut off for what, nine hours?

JP: Yeah [laughing]

That was embarrassing. [laughing]

And the funny thing is we had just paid it that morning!

But we didn’t realize we
had a short window and somehow one month

apparently didn’t get paid when they
made the bill switch. I don’t know.

Now we are heading over to the pharmacy
right down the street

to get JP’s prescriptions.

We decided to stop on the way home
and get some bread from Tosta.

We timed it perfectly, although
that was an accident and they had just

pulled some fresh out of the oven. Yay!I

[sounds of cutting bread]

JP: Yummy bread.
A: I know. I’m hungry and I could not wait for a piece.

A: We are back from running our errands and
enjoying our delicious bread from Tosta.

A: Sitting outside and
enjoying the wonderful weather.

JP: I know. It’s beautiful here today it.

A: It is. We had…a viewer asked us
to record the pharmacy’s,

which we were happy to do so

since as I mentioned we needed to go
anyway. There are many different

pharmacies out here they’re super easy
to find. Umm, there.. I think they’re pretty

similar to like a Walgreens or a Rite
Aid. What do you think JP?

JP: Yeah they’re very similar to like Walgreens,
except a lot of the stuff is behind the counter.

JP: Things that you don’t actually need a
prescription for but they still keep it

behind the counter anyway.

A: Just obviously to minimize theft.
JP: Yeah.

A: Especially the little stores everything in the little
pharmacies are behind the counter so you

have to know what you want because most
of the people working there do not speak English.

JP: So the pharmacies are the ones
that we know of are Farmasol, Medicity

No, that was Fybeca.
Fybeca, Farmacias, Cruz Azul,

which is Blue Cross in English.

A: Yes and I think..
JP: Is that it?

JP: There may be more there’s a lot

of pharmacies and a lot of little ones like
the little one in our neighborhood.

JP: The Cruz Azul. It’s really tiny. They..
Almost everything is behind the counter there.

A: Yeah, but they’re really helpful so we’ve
gone and gotten prescriptions there

before and they have had to order them
but they get them the same day usually.

JP: Usually the same day or the next day.

A: But if you’re in a hurry I would definitely

recommend going to a larger pharmacy

or if you actually do want to
wander up and down some aisles..

JP: And see all the stuff.
A: Yes. Go to a larger pharmacy.

A: The interesting thing, I mentioned
prescriptions. JP, you want to..?

JP: Oh yeah I’ve got my
prescriptions here.

This is Núcleo. And this is a drug that
helps with the regeneration of nerve damage

and the protective sheath that coats nerves.
And this is not available in the United States,

but it is available here and it
doesn’t even require a prescription.

I’ve been taking this for a few months and I
definitely think it’s helping with my

nerve damage from my spinal issues
and I don’t feel any side effects from

it so it I feel better I’ve got more
feeling back in my hands and legs and

feet and there’s no side effects.

A: Yeah and it’s very affordable so a lot of

the stuff here is really affordable um
the doctors will write you a

prescription so that you know what to
get from the pharmacist, but then we can

go back and just buy them normally.

JP: Yeah, we just show them the box.
A: Like the B vitamins, for example.

JP: We got these B Vitamins, too. My neurologist

here recommended I take these
every day as well

because that’s also supposed
to help with nerve damage.

A: So not everything
is available over-the-counter.

A: I think that they have changed their
policy on antibiotics

and that you do need a prescription for that.

[loud car alarm; laughing]

JP: Car alarms galore. It’s non stop here.

A: Anyway, not everything is available over-the-counter.

A: Some prescriptions..
[loud car alarm]
JP: It’s never-ending.

A: Not everything is available over-the-counter.
Certain things like antibiotics require

a prescription now.
I would assume opioids probably.

JP: Probably. You used to be able to buy
antibiotics without a prescription

You could just walk in and tell them
you want some and they give them to you,

but because of the over over prescribing of

antibiotics and all the antibody
antibiotic resistant bacteria or

whatever now they’re.. they require
prescription now, thankfully.

[chewing sounds]

JP: Anything else?
A: I was hungry.

JP: Amelia’s hungry. I’m hungry, too.

JP: All right.
A: The bread is delicious.

JP: All right. So now you’re gonna go do yoga?
A: Mm-hmm.

JP: I think I’ll do my workout and then we’re
gonna do some cooking this afternoon.

A: That’s the plan.
JP: All right. See you soon.
A: See you soon.

I decided to make Beet Burgers
because JP and I have not had them in..

..ages I think a year, year and a half maybe.
And they sounded really delicious.

The beets here are really good and it’s
pretty quick and easy to make.

Although, I had to review my notes a
couple times because, like I said,

I haven’t made him in a long time.
So let’s run through our ingredients.

OK. So I have two beets, which I have to grate.

These are raw. I have peeled them.
I have 1 cup of black beans that I have rinsed and

drained.. or drained and rinsed.
I have 2 cups of cooked quinoa.

One onion that I need to chop still.
1 teaspoon paprika.

1 teaspoon cumin.
1/2 teaspoon mustard.

1/4 teaspoon salt (kinda hard to see in there).
I have 3 tablespoons minced garlic.

And then I need to make a flax egg.
That’s first thing I’m gonna do and to

do that I’m going to grind up two
tablespoons of flax.

We use a coffee grinder to grind all of our seeds.
We actually do not use this to grind coffee, FYI.

Alright so this is super simple. Just
putting in my two tablespoons of flax

seed which is going to make us some flax meal.

[coffee grinder sound]

So I actually have a little bit more than
two tablespoons.. once it’s ground.

A: You can buy ground flax meal we just did not.
JP: It’s better if you grind it fresh.

JP: It loses its nutritional value as it sits.

A: So I am going to measure out the two tablespoons

and the rest of this we can use for our
breakfast tomorrow and I’m just gonna

give this a quick stir with my teeny
tiny little fork.

Alright and that just needs to sit and
it will kind of turn into this

jelly-like consistency, which will be our
flax egg. So we will set that aside and

then the next thing I need to do is
grate these beets. So I need a cup of

grated beets and I’m not exactly sure
how much that’s going to be, so..

JP: Those are raw, right?
A: Yes. Raw peeled. Please make sure you peel them.

I don’t think the peel of beets would
taste very good.

I did slice these up so they will fit
into our little tube here.

[food processor sound]

So we need a cup of grated beets.
Boy these look delicious don’t they?

JP: Wow, they’re so red!
A: I know.

A: I think we’re gonna have plenty.
We have extra quinoa because I

made a little extra intentionally so we
can have that for breakfast in the

morning and we’re gonna have a little
bit of extra beet, grated beets which is

delicious in salads, which we’ll
also have tomorrow.

I still need my food processor so I didn’t rinse it out.

I did change the blades so we’re now using

this one not the shredder one. We’re
going to put in our grated beets, one cup.

Black beans. I think I’ll go ahead and put our spices
in so that I don’t end up making a mess.

Quinoa is going in here as well. This is
gonna be a very hearty burger JP.

And very pretty. And then lastly we want to
put our flax egg in and in case you have

not made one yet you can see this is
your end result it’s kind of gelatinous.

I’m just gonna pulse this until
everything is blended. We don’t want

things to be mushy we want them
still to be a little chunky.

[food processor sound]

Yeah I think this is good.
Oh my gosh it smells really good.

I’m really excited to eat these!

I’m going to set this aside for a moment,
chop my onion, and I’m going to sauté

the onion and garlic and a little bit of
veggie broth until the onions are translucent.

All right, I’ve heated a quarter cup of veggie broth.

And to that I’m going to add
my three tablespoons of minced garlic.

That spoon’s a little too big to get in there.
I can keep trying but it’s just not gonna work.

And….. Whoops. Our onion..
So in my, on the website we say

to use a yellow onion, which I did not have.
I think any onion will do.

JP: I agree.

A: I love these red onions. I love white onions and I love yellow onions.

They’ll all be delicious, but we can only use one so purple it is.

Ok. And like I mentioned before I’m

just gonna sauté these until they are translucent.

JP: And over here, we’re making some
green beans to go with our Beet Burgers.

While the onions are cooking, onions AND
garlic are cooking, I am going to

transfer our beet mixture to a bowl
because we are going to add in the

onions and garlic along with two
tablespoons of whole wheat flour to this

mixture and then we are going to form
them into patties.

And then we’re going to bake these.
I should mention that.

We are going to bake them in a 350 degree oven.

Wow looks really good.

Alright, I think our onion and garlic is looking good.

So veggie lovers it is dinner time for the
dogs and they are right underneath our feet,

waiting to be fed. They’re gonna have to wait
a couple more minutes. Sorry babies.

Last up before we form these into
patties is to add in two tablespoons of flour.

And I am using whole wheat flour.

All right, now I just need to grab, grab our baking sheet

and then I will make our patties.

This should make six patties.

And you can see I’m just molding them.
They’re kind of fragile.

A: But boy they really look good, don’t they?
JP: They sure do.

A: I love the color. I’m glad I decided to use a red onion.

Fate intervened. Umm.
The nice thing.. these are fragile..

You don’t have to flip these though so
we’re going to bake these now

for 30 to 40 minutes until they’re nice
and done and a little crispy.

Alright..

A: Mmmmm..
JP: Wow! Those look yummy!

A: I know! They look really good, don’t they?
JP: They smell good, too!

A: They DO smell good! Oooo! This is quite hot!

Dinner is ready!

Perfect!

A: This looks delish, JP.
JP: Wow, that does.

A: Uno más.

A: Do you want lettuce and tomato?
JP: Yes, please.

A: I’ll give you two slices.
JP: Thank you.

A: Well you’re very welcome.
JP: That’s so red!
A: I know.

A: Pile that right on top.
JP: Wow! Looky there! Looks so good!
A: I know it’s so pretty!

And then I’m gonna do ketchup and
mustard on mine.. and then I’m gonna eat!

JP: What kind of mustard?

A: Well I’m gonna use regular yellow mustard.

I know you like the spicy brown mustard.

Any of your favorite condiments will do.

A: Avocado would be really good with this, too.
JP: Oh, it would be good.

JP: All right, let’s eat.
A: Next time. Let’s eat!

That’s all for today veggie lovers.

I hope you enjoyed our day in the life
video and I hope you found the pharmacy

information helpful. And I also hope
that you give our beet burgers a try.

Please remember to subscribe. Ring that
bell so you get all the latest and greatest.

And we will see you next time.

Caught In The Rain + Organic Food Shopping in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode #23)

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Today we ventured down to Tienda Néctar located in El Centro, one of our favorite organic markets. They carry a few things like tahini, dates and organic soaps that can be difficult to find. They also get Braggs Liquid Aminos on occasion.

After Néctar, we came back home for lunch and then left again for Jungle Gym back in El Centro on Calle Larga. On our way back home, we got caught in a rainstorm. We waited for about 10 minutes in the ATM kiosk at Banco Pichincha and then under the awning at the Valgus Hotel.

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Tienda Néctar in Cuenca Ecuador

Tienda Néctar Cuenca Ecuador

There are lots of little organic markets in Cuenca, but unlike some of them, the owners at Tienda Néctar speak fluent english. That means they can help you find things more easily, and they’ll even special order some things for you.

They offer a variety of organic products, from nut butters to soaps to wine. It’s not a vegan market so they do carry a few animal based products, but not many. They also offer therapeutic massage and juicing protocols, if that’s your thing.

Chinnumol from Namaste Indian

Unlike back in Denver, we run into people we know on the street nearly every time we leave the house. Since everyone walks here, it’s much more common to pass someone on the street. That means we actually get to interact with people a lot more.

Chinnumol from Namaste India Restaurant Cuenca Ecuador

Chinnumol is the hostess at Namaste India Restaurant on Calle Larga y Benigno Malo, one of our very favorite restaurants in Cuenca. And one of the reasons we love going there is Chinnu’s happy demeanor and infectious smile. She always makes us feel right at home.

Namaste has a sizeable vegetarian menu with several vegan items on it. If you tell them you’re vegan and ask them not to use any animal products in your food, they’re happy to oblige. They will also cook without oil and coconut milk, if you’re concerned about high cholesterol, like me.

Recipes on LottaVeg.com

Beets Radishes Cuenca Ecuador

Our other website is LottaVeg.com where we post our plant-based, vegan recipes and meal plans. I mentioned two recipes in the video: Ginger Vinaigrette Beets and Sauteéd Radishes. They’re a very tasty way to eat veggies that a lot of people don’t like. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

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We hope you enjoyed our trip to Tienda Nectar in Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video

Cuenca Days 2018: Celebrating Cuenca’s Independence (Episode 22)

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This weekend is bustling with activity here in Cuenca, Ecuador as we celebrate the annual Cuenca Days 2018 event. Cuenca achieved its independence from Spain on November 3rd, 1820 and they pull out all the stops to celebrate Independence Day with art fairs, food festivals, parades, concerts and fireworks.

Thousands of people descend on our little Andean mountain city this time every year, while many of the native Cuencanos head to the coast to escape the chaos. The streets, parks and restaurants are packed with people, and everyone seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

We hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful scenery, and the interesting people during Cuenca Days 2018 here in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video

Cuenca Flower Market + Fresh Tea & Cold Beer in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 20)

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Today we did another one of our Sunday afternoon city walking tours. On our way to the Cuenca Flower Market, we stopped by Télicioso Tea Room to get some of our favorite tea. Then, after we bought Amelia some new earrings and some beautiful flowers at the flower market, we went to Simón for some papas fritas y cervezas (we recorded this in March 2018 before I realized I still had high cholesterol, which you can read about in my blog post on LottaVeg: Can Vegans Get Heart Disease?).

We hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful scenery in Cuenca, Ecuador, and the interesting people we encounter along the way. We’ve also included some Spanish language learning opportunities for you.

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People & Places

Télicioso Tea Room on Calle Larga in Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia read an article stating that most commercial tea bags contain plastic, so she decided for our health and the environment, we would start making our tea from fresh tea leaves.

We first went to Sukasa to get a teapot. It’s a very “American” store located in Gringolandia. We’ll do a video of Sukasa and the surrounding area at some point. Gringolandia is the area where most of the older gringos live in Cuenca.

The next stop after we acquired our new teapot was Télicioso Tea Room. It’s located next door to Café Libre, one of our favorite plant-based, vegan restaurants in Cuenca. Télicioso has a wonderful assortment of fresh tea leaves.

Telicioso Tea Room Cuenca Ecuador

The owner, Katherine, speaks fluent english and is very knowledgeable about tea. She has some of the same flavors and a few new ones each time.

Telicioso Owner Cuenca Ecuador

You can reuse your tea bags so be sure to take them with you. She’ll also tell you how to measure the tea and how much to use of each kind.

Telicioso Owner Tea Bag Cuenca Ecuador

While you’re waiting, you can channel your inner child and enjoy a little swing time like Amelia is doing in this photo.

Teliciouso Swing Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca Flower Market

One of our favorite places to visit in Cuenca is the Flower Market located across the street from the New Cathedral. It’s so beautiful that it topped the worldwide list of National Geographic’s Top 10 Outdoor Flower Markets. It truly is breathtaking.

Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

Many of the booths at the Cuenca Flower Market are run by indigenous Ecuadorian women adorned in their traditional garb as you can see in the video. But many of the younger women wear western style clothes consisting of jeans and long sleeve t-shirts, like the woman in this photo.

Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

You can buy all sorts of flowers by the bundle or in premade arrangements at the Cuenca Flower Market. The women who work at the market are always busy making new arrangements, but they’re eager to help you pick out the perfect flowers for your home or special occasion.

Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

Ecuador is the world’s third largest exporter of cut flowers and they’re incredibly abundant here…and reasonably priced. A dozen roses typically cost less than $5, and they’re ridiculously beautiful. The buds are huge and they’ll last for as long as two weeks. Place them in a central location in your house and their aroma will welcome you home when you open the door.

The lilies that Amelia bought in the video also smelled fantastic. We could smell them all over the house! That bundle cost us $8, which is more than we usually spend on flowers, but they were also more exotic than the roses we usually buy. On the day we went, the roses looked a little wilted so we opted to try something new.

A lot of street entertainers gather near the New Cathedral and the Cuenca Flower Market, like this father/daughter duo. You have to watch the video if you haven’t already. Her little dance is ADORABLE!!!

Daughter & Father Playing Music Cuenca Ecuador

Simón Restaurant

When we visited Ecuador on our exploratory trip, Simón was the very first restaurant we tried for dinner. They don’t have much in the way of vegan options, but they do have a delicious vegetable soup and a vegetarian panini that can be veganized by leaving off the queso y mayonesa (cheese and mayo).

Simón Cuenca Ecuador

They also have some of the best papas fritas (french fries) in all of Cuenca. Most of the papas fritas are pan fried in Ecuador, rather than deep fried. That means they aren’t nearly as oily. Plus, the papas are far more delicious here, which means the fries are muy delicioso.

We know these aren’t healthy, and neither is the beer, but we’re not perfect. We eat a whole-food plant-based no-oil (WFPBNO) diet at home, but we like to enjoy some delicious papas fritas and cold beers on occasion (at least we used to before we found out about my high cholesterol). It probably looks like we enjoy it more than we actually do since we tend to record videos when we go out to restaurants, but these are (were) a rare treat for us.

Besides, we want to show people that you can still enjoy your favorite food and drinks, and still be vegan. Our friend Rosy from Fratello Vegan verified that all of the Club beers, as well as Pilsener beers, are vegan…so bottoms up!

Simón Papas Fritas Cuenca Ecuador

Every place we’ve ordered papas fritas in Ecuador serves them with mayonesa, and most of the time it’s in a small condiment bowl. That means it probably (hopefully) gets thrown out when we don’t eat it.

Rather than waste it, we order our papas fritas “sin mayonesa” (without mayo). The server always looks at us funny and usually still brings it anyway, but at least we try not to be wasteful.

Cuenca Planetarium

Cuenca’s Planetario is located in Parque de la Madre. We haven’t been inside yet, but the outside looks cool. They just finished giving it a fresh coat of Martian red. We’ll take you inside someday.

This photo was taken pre-paint job, but I thought it looked out-of-this-world with the crazy clouds mixed with blue sky behind the dome and the guy sitting on top of it. The bottom of that ladder wasn’t touching anything. It was tied to the top of the dome with a rope and dangled alongside while the guys climbed on it to strip the old paint and then repaint it.

Planetarium Cuenca Ecuador

They must not have OSHA here because we’ve seen some pretty crazy behavior from construction workers. While walking home one day, I saw a construction worker standing on top of a brick wall two stories high hitting the bricks under his feet with a sledgehammer to knock them loose. He then bent over, picked up the bricks and threw them down into a dump truck parked on the sidewalk below…all while balancing on a wall no wider than 5 inches! ¡Fue muy loco! (He was very crazy!)

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We hope you enjoyed our visit to the Cuenca Flower Market, Télicioso and Simón today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel to help us spread the word about veganism. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Spanish Words & Phrases

hola – hi/hello
¿Cómo están? – How are you?
Bien. ¿Cuál es su nombre? – Well. What is your name?
Bienvenidos a mi sala de té. – Welcome to my tea room.
Veinti tazas – Twenty cups
Necesitamos practicar mucho. – We need to practice a lot.
Naranja, jengibre y manzana té – Orange, ginger and apple tea
Algunas flores – Some flowers
Veinte dólores – Twenty dollars
¿Cuál es el nombre? – What is the name?
Los lilios – The lilies (the spanish word is spelled lirios, but lots of words are different here in Cuenca and in Ecuador)
Tengo hambre – I’m hungry
La macana – the scarf (this is a Cañari word, the language of the indigenous people)
Papas fritas y dos cervezas – French fries and two beers
Sin mayonesa – Without mayonnaise
Salsa de tomate – Ketchup

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video

Physical Therapy in Cuenca Ecuador + Riverwalk (Episode 13)

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Today, I went for my regular physical therapy appointment for my continuing spinal issues. My physical therapist (PT), Karina, specializes in neck and back physical therapy and she’s really good at it. She got her degree in Belgium where she had to learn English and Dutch at the same time.

In 3 months, Karina has helped me dramatically improve the numbness in my hands and feet, and I’m also much stronger thanks to the safe exercises she has given me. I showed her the exercises the PT’s gave me back in the states, and some of them she said are dangerous for me.

Every PT I saw back in the states specialized in sports therapy, not spinal injuries like Karina. In retrospect, their style of rehab was designed to get me back on the field or the court rather than to help me walk normally, reduce numbness or improve feeling in my legs. That makes sense considering sports gets more attention and money than anything else in the states. I was paying 5 times more for a lower quality of care and less individualized attention.

My ongoing medical care is one of the main reasons we left the states and moved to Ecuador. We simply couldn’t afford medical care or quality health insurance. My two spinal surgeries cost almost 1 million dollars and it almost bankrupted us even with Obamacare covering most of it. If I ever need another surgery, having it done in the states is financially impossible. Plus, my ongoing care expenses were costing us several hundred dollars per month in Denver. Now they cost less than a hundred.

If you have any questions about our experience with medical care here in Ecuador, please let us know in the comments or drop us a note.

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People & Places

Karina, My Physical Therapist

My PT’s name is Karina. She works out of her home office near Gringolandia on the western side of Cuenca. If you’d like her contact info, please let us know.

Laundry Day in Río Tomebamba

Physical Therapy Cuenca Laundry

The indigenous people can often be seen washing their laundry in the river. This struck us as odd when we first arrived, but we’re used to it now. Looking at this practice objectively, it would be more odd for them not to wash their laundry in the river since they’ve been doing it for thousands of years. Some of the rocks have been worn down from centuries of laundry.

La Universidad de Cuenca

Physical Therapy Cuenca Universidad de Cuenca

La Universidad de Cuenca campus is just like every campus I’ve been on. There are lots of young, beautiful people walking here and there. Lots of flowers and big trees. The university was founded in 1867 so they just celebrated their 150th anniversary.

This is where I go to swim for exercise and physical therapy. They have a nice lap pool and gym facilities that are open to the public. The pool costs $2.50 per visit. I’m not sure what the cost is for the racquetball courts or gym, but I seem to remember $5 gets you access to everything.

The pool area has lockers but you need to bring your own lock. I found a combination lock in a hardware store. We’ve since seen them at lots of places here in Cuenca. There are also changing rooms with showers and toilets.

RumiSol Yoga Studio

Physical Therapy Cuenca RumiSol

Amelia loves going to RumiSol Yoga, and I love her going there, too! In addition to being great strength training exercise, yoga helps her relax and puts a smile on her face. And a happy Amelia makes a happy JP!

Physical Therapy Cuenca Olesya

We bumped into Olesya, one of Amelia’s yoga instructors, on our walk home. She’s also very interested in a plant-based diet.

Computron

Physical Therapy Cuenca Computron

Our bluetooth speaker died! We listen to music around the house every day and we also use the speaker for the Anonymous for the Voiceless Cube of Truth events.

So we stopped by this new electronics store, Computron, that’s in our neighborhood to buy a new speaker on our way home from my physical therapy and Amelia’s yoga. The staff was very helpful and they had a good selection of speakers, as well as most other types of electronics. The speakers ranged in price from $14 to $34. I think I paid over $100 a few years ago for the speaker that just died, and our new less expensive speaker has a better sound.

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We hope you enjoyed our walking tour of Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video