Things you can’t buy

23 Sep

Things you can’t buy in Arequipa:

  1. Chocolate chips. This is a very serious problem. I’m really surprised that women, in particular, can live without such a basic necessity. Last week we splurged and bought a large chocolate of bar which can reportedly approximate chocolate chips. Vicki made a batch of chocolate chunk cookies and took them to church on Sunday. They were the first container to go empty, thereby confirming what we already knew about the universal value of chocolate…. Nestle sells coffee here. Why not chocolate chips?
  2. Jasmine rice. The local arroz is superior to plain white rice in the States, but it is not as good as authentic Thai rice.
  3. Brown sugar. The sugar here is blonde and the crystals are bigger. Further messes up chocolate chip cookies.
  4. Barbasol shaving cream for $1 (or any price, for that matter). Gillette is available, but expensive. Most toiletries are 2x to 3x the price we’re used to. Wal-Mart hasn’t come to Arequipa.
  5. Pumpkin stuff. Although they have other squashes.

Some things are available, but much more expensive:

  1. Peanut butter. Combined with #1 above, this represents a total lack of a major food group.
  2. Cheese. Cheapest we’ve seen at the local market is $3.50 / lb. and it’s strange. A lb. of cheddar might be $5. Fancy cheeses run up to $8 / lb.
  3. Salsa. $3 for a tiny jar and we’ve only found one brand (El Paso).
  4. Kleenex. $2 for a meager 80 off-brand tissues.
  5. Dijón mustard. $5 for a jar about the size of baby food. We were thinking of making quinoa salad but the mustard was expensive and we couldn’t find red wine vinegar. The latter could just be a language thing.
  6. Tortilla chips. We finally did find a good-sized bag of Doritas “Dippas” for $3.27, but we miss the $2 round Mission chips.

Now, for things that you can’t easily buy in the States:

  1. La Leche Gloria. The name says it all–the milk here is seriously good: evaporated, whole, 2%, it’s all just better somehow. Ditto for Gloria mantequilla (butter).
  2. Fresh, ripe mangoes for $0.40 each. Missionaries here don’t even bother with mangoes when they’re back in the States.
  3. Peruvian lemons. They’re somewhat like key limes, but better, especially in chica morada.
  4. Speaking of chicha, purple corn for boiling chica morada. It’s the sweet tea of southern Peru.
  5. Papayas the size of a small watermelon. I don’t think we like papaya, though.
  6. An apartment with a view of a 19,101 ft. volcano out the living room window! Stay tuned.

Moving from the ridiculous to the mundane, Steve Peat just called to let us know there will be a water cut tomorrow. I think the guest house has a tank on the roof, but in any case, we’ll need to keep the showers short and make sure the water filter is topped off tonight.

We have a few more houses to look at tomorrow. We saw a spacious, furnished 3BR apartment today, but it was on the first floor and security was poor. We’re looking pretty hard at the 3rd and 4th floor apartments above a house in Yanahuara. They are small and we would have to buy all the furniture and appliances, but together they could work. The owners have offered to install thermal heat to complement the solar water heater and to add bars to the windows near the stairs for security. The neighborhood is one of the nicest we’ve seen in central Arequipa. Still praying and seeking…

4 Responses to “Things you can’t buy”

  1. David M September 24, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Hey! – welcome to living in a foreign country! Sounds like you’re settling in well, finding out how local culture affects things like finding and contracting for a place to live, etc. Thanks for the good communication.

    True: you’re not in Kansas anymore!

    Here’s a coupla tips:
    A tablespoon of molasses or the local equivalent in a cup of regular sugar, stirred well, creates great brown sugar.

    I know of NO country in the world that has chocolate chips as available and as reasonably priced as the USA — maybe because we believe that they are a basic food group unto themselves. 🙂 Interpretation: no worker overseas has this available, either. Join the club!

    Whenever you find Asians or Asian restaurants, you’ll find a source for Jasmine rice. Every country and every major city has Chinese/oriental restaurants and pizza joints.

    Barbasol? Try shaving gel (not aerosol) or shaving oil. You might be surprised at how effective, inexpensive, and transportable it is. I’ll bet you a root beer float that there is a good local made brand of shaving cream equivalent to Barbasol and just as cheap.

    In general, finding and making the best local substitutes you can will serve you well for the long haul. PTL & glory in the GREAT stuff you have that you can’t get in the US. Your attitude and sense of humor will go a loooooooong way toward your embracing (and your family embracing) the culture & people. What a great opportunity to experience and express God’s grace!
    —- with love & prayers, David

  2. Paul Robyn September 24, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Great update, David! Praying the house hunting goes well.

  3. David H September 25, 2013 at 1:32 am #

    Personally, it’s hard to fathom a world without chocolate chips. Seems like a business opportunity to me. Maybe you should scrap your current business model and just become a distributor of choc chips. 🙂

  4. Juan December 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    There is a very reputable chocolate factory in Arequipa named “La iberica” ( ) , also there are other peruvian Chocolate suppliers like Negusa (‎ ) that also sell it as ingredient for bakery, dessert and crafts (think of chocolate like-sculptures).
    Peruvian cocoa is so well regarded that swiss chocolate makers buy them for their chocolate works.

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