10 Years of Blog Archive

Monday, July 27, 2015

5 Things We Missed the Most about Cuenca Ecuador When We Traveled to Panama

This is the five things we missed about Cuenca when we traveled to Panama recently. 

1. Abundance of fresh, clean food, namely fruits and vegetables! This aspect of life in Cuenca Ecuador is important to us because eating healthy keeps us healthy and feeling good.  It seems there is no other place we’ve ever been that has so much abundance of fresh (free of GMO) food at affordable prices!

2. Locally Grown and Prepared (ECUADOR) Food Brands. After spending five weeks in Panama we were ready to come back home to Cuenca and start eating again.  Of course, I am exaggerating just a bit, but healthy type foods were so high priced in Panama and other food so scarce or not found at all, that our whole diet changed for the five weeks we traveled in Panama. 

And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that since the USA is Panama’s main food supplier then much of Panama’s food source/supply is also fake-food, or better known as “genetically modified organism’s (GMO) that wreck havoc on health.

In Panama they call GMO "transgenic foods", which basically means gene transformation of the foods. For anyone who cares anything about their health and how they eat, it is a BIG disappointment, especially if one is thinking about moving there.

To find out more about GMO in Panama’s food chain, click here.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. These are plant or meat products that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. These genetic alterations occur in a laboratory and are not found in nature. 

It is important to understand what is happening in the world, so we can make better / smarter food choices in our lives, I think our health depends on it.

3. Health Food Stores – In Cuenca health food stores (naturistas) abound everywhere. You can walk into a shop and buy herbs, tinctures, healthy natural foods, health products, vitamins, and other health type foodstuffs. In Panama we did not see one health food store and we traveled the entire country!  

And we do not call GNC vitamin store a health food store for many obvious reasons but that is what is in Panama.  We don’t live in Panama so this is not a complaint but a reliable source of pertinent information that some people thinking of retiring there will want to know.

We think there are some great aspects to love about Panama, but reasonably priced, abundant produce and natural type foods is not one of them.

4. Healthy Food products such as FRESH HERBS - In Ecuadorian Mercados you are able to find and buy numerous different types of fresh herbs grown locally.  When you see fresh basil, dill, oregano, sage, etc in the grocery stores, it is freshly picked locally in Ecuador.

Frank loves pesto, but only a few stores sold fresh basil in Panama City; the store we first bought it from was out of fresh basil for three weeks. We kept going back but they did not replenish the shelves. Finally the last week we were in Panama City, Panama they had fresh basil, which by the way, costs three times as much as in Ecuador…oddly basil loves the weather in Panama so why the cost so high if it grows there? It’s difficult to understand, when something is produced locally, why so much?

5. Not Needing to Have a Car – Once you go outside of Panama City, it is spread out just like the USA and you will need a car. That is if you do not live right inside the city center area.  The other thing about that is, Panama is sizzling hot and you do not want to be out walking in the midday sun. 

Yes, you can live in Panama City and take public transportation everywhere and that’s fine, but the cost of living is very high in PC. In other towns of Panama such as David, Chitre, or Padasi, the buses are just oversized vans and if you are tall and have to stand up, which happens often, we don't fit in them, we're too tall! More about this later.

In Cuenca we find that we walk more than ride the buses or take taxis because everything you need is within walking (1 to 4 miles) distance. We have truly enjoyed so much about not owning a car that we’d never willingly go back to owning one again.

Although these are our five things we really missed when we traveled away from Cuenca, there is a lot more to appreciate about living in Cuenca Ecuador. Maybe someone else would like to add their thoughts in the comments below. Until we write again...

We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!  

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