Dengue: Uninvited and Unwanted, Came to our House

Well I finally got dengue, I knew the chances were good, the numbers for Manabi were high but we hoped that we had taken all the precautions necessary to avoid these mosquito borne diseases.  We were wrong and I am now part of the growing statistic for the disease here in Ecuador.

My symptoms: first for about three days prior to the first big symptoms I had this awful feeling that I had bad breath, had not changed toothpastes, or eaten anything different but my mouth taste/odor was not right.  On Tuesday I had this headache pain right about my left eye…a sharp pain that lasted only a few seconds, it happened a few times and it was gone so I basically forgot about it. Early morning Wednesday after 1am I got up with the chills and a fever, had a terrible headache and pain in my eyes. I got up added another blanket and attempted to sleep.  Early the next morning I felt even worse, could hardly get out of bed, but assumed it was some sort of flu and was going to ride it out.  After sleeping on and off during the day on Wednesday, Joe was taking my temperature which stayed around 100-101 all day, he gave me Tylenol and as much water as I would drink.  I finally gave in and called my friend Eva around 6:30 pm to call Dra. Christina for me.  Dra. Christina arrived within 30 minutes, along with mi amiga Eva as my translator, and assessed my symptoms and diagnosed dengue…She gave me three shots, two in the backside and one in my arm, left a prescription for three items to get and to start taking 2 Tylenol every 6 hours starting the next morning…Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest.  Within 10 seconds after the first shot I could feel the difference and the headache started to dissipate.  No chills or measurable fever during the night.

Woke Thursday morning feeling beat up but with only a slight headache, tired and a slight fever.  Several things can happen over the next week or so – I can get a rash over my body, get the chills and fever back, and watch it doesn’t progress to something worse.

I guess the reason for writing this is to let folks know that it is not easily going to go away by itself.  As soon as you feel any of these symptoms go to your local clinic, call your general practitioner and please DO NOT TAKE any ibuprofen type products……..

We are pretty proactive people and when it comes to dengue, hemorrhagic fever from dengue, zika and chikungunya we take what I consider good precautions. Our yard is kept neat and all low hanging branches, bushes and flowers are kept cut back. We use Detan repellent every day, Joe fumigates the yard and house for mosquitoes every week and we walk around with cans of spray when we are outside.  We rake up leaves each morning and have no standing water around.  I do attempt to water early mornings so that the topsoil is not wet during the night hours. But none of those precautions help with this one mosquito. I could have been bitten while taking my morning walk but again I put on Detan before I leave the house, I could have been bitten at a local restaurant on Saturday night while out for dinner but again I wore Detan or I could have been bitten in my own home or yard where I always use Detan.

Everyday seemed to have a different symptom, first the headaches and eye sensitivity, next the fever and chills, next just sweats, total exhaustion, sick to stomach with diarrhea, after 12 days I finally feel back to my normal self.

Joe did get fresh papaya leaves from a producing tree and put them through the juicer added lemon juice and sugar and I drank that three times a day towards the end.  this was advice from a friend in Panama. I do think it helped.  World, look out. I’m back!!

Recovering our Couch

About a year ago Joe and I purchased a couch in Portoviejo. It needed to be love seat size because our salon is not very wide. It was expensive at over $600 and we had to pay for delivery as well.  After just a few short months the leather type material started to flake off.  We would find it clinging to our arms, legs and clothing as well as all over the floors in the house. What a pain!

IMG_3000It really looked crappy and covering it with a throw made it even crappier.  I remembered that Patricia McKinsey had introduced me to a man in Charapoto that recovered the cushions from her patio. I had my neighbor and friend Helena Zambrano, David’s wife, take me over to help with the translation and to pick out the new covering.  He agreed to recover the couch for $250. and would be completed by August 15th.  Today it was delivered way early and we have our couch back and it is beautiful and it is RED.

IMG_3018What a professional job.

Vendor Part 10: Jimmy – Pan Man in the Morning, Sweet Treats Man in the Afternoons

IMG_3016Almost every morning early around 6:30 am Jimmy comes by on his bike carrying this mornings fresh-from-the-oven rolls. 10 cents apiece for a great start to your morning.

Then some afternoons he comes by, today it was around 3:30 pm, with that same basket filled this time with sweet treats.  These are 15 cents.

IMG_3015Some of today’s choices were chocolate sweet rolls, a lovely sandwich cookie with a dulce de leche filling, a corn type muffin, a filled sweet roll with what I think is guayaba (guava) filling.  We have our favorites but honestly any one of them will pacify the sweet tooth in all of us.

 

Vendor Part 9: Torta, Torta, Torta

IMG_2954 Yet another vendor that comes around occasionally, delivers these beautiful chocolate or vanilla cakes.  They are probably a 6″ or 7″ cake for, you will not believe this, $1.50.  It is a really nice cake for $1.50. The chocolate one I purchased had a very thin white icing, it was not too sweet yet it really hit the spot for an afternoon snack. You can see it did not take us long to cut into it.

Vendor Part 8: Donicio AKA the Whistler

Donicio comes by on his motorbike every day. He has this high-pitched whistle so you know exactly who is driving by, plus his motorbike is pretty loud. Obviously his whistle is why I call him the Whistler. Today he had fresh cilantro, choclo, lemons, long beans, green peppers, tomatoes and an assortment of fresh beans.  I assume he has a farm as the items change daily, are of limited quantity and all are fresh fresh fresh.

IMG_3010He was fascinated when he saw the picture I had taken of him. Sometime this week I will print a picture out for him and when I stop him again I will give him his photo.

 

Kofta Kabobs and Tzatziki Sauce Come To San Clemente

Another great recipe to use with the Pita Bread recipe from a few days ago are kofta kabobs with tzatziki sauce.  Most recipes for the kabobs I have seen and my original recipe were made with lamb.  Because we cannot find lamb very easily here I have modified my original recipe to use part ground pork and part ground beef. It worked well and tastes great.

Kafta Kabobs

  • 2/3 pounds ground pork (needs a good bit of fat)
  • 1 1/3 pounds of ground beef
  • 4 stems of parsley or cilantro *
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped *
  • 3 cloves garlic, roasted, peeled and chopped *
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Small pinch of clove
  • Small bunch of mint leaves, very finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • dash of chili flakes to taste

*Note: if you are grinding your own pork and beef add the onion, garlic and cilantro to the grinder, it just makes it so much faster and then it will be blended completely into the meats.

Roast the cumin, coriander and clove in a frying pan until they release their aroma, about 1 minute.  Cool slightly and grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.  Add all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl mixing well and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Shape the meat into a 6 inch tube shape like a sausage.  Gently cook for 3 minutes on a side, the meat will flatten out a bit but continue to cook until all sides have taken on a nice brown color and are a bit crispy.

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded and grated – then squeeze out excess liquid
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup thick yogurt or Kefir
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated fine
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • for garnish, chopped dill or cilantro and a dash of cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together and sprinkle with garnish and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make your pita bread (or use rolls) and place one kabob in the center of the pita and liberally cover with tzatziki sauce.  You can also use hummus or hummus and tzatziki together for yet another taste sensation… Beyond Yummy!!!!

Pita Bread and Hummus

We are cooking again in San Clemente.  Today I am making the easiest pita bread you will ever find and hummus that will make you want to cry.  Well maybe smile, not cry.

IMG_3007NO Bake Pita Bread

Heat water and mix with yeast in the bowl of your mixer along with the 1 cup of flour.  Mix with the whisk attachment until completely blended.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes until bubbly and starting to grow.  Add balance of ingredients and mix with the dough hook for 8 minutes until the dough is soft and has formed a ball on the hook.  Take dough out, shape in a ball tucking the ends under and add a few drops of olive oil to the bottom of the bowl as well as the ball of dough.  Cover with cling film and a dish towel and allow to rest and grow for the next two hours.

When double in size take out of bowl, pat down to a disk and cut into 8 same size pieces. Roll each piece into a ball tucking the ends under and sprinkle with flour.  Allow to sit for a few minutes while the cast iron skillet heats – do not add oil.  Roll each ball into a flat disk and gently lay into the bottom of the skillet. Lower the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes. It should start to puff up and get nice brown spotted on the underside. Flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Now turn over once again and cook for a few more minutes. Place on a dish towel in a basket while you finish making the others.  If at this point you do not want to make the rest you can refrigerate the dough making sure it is covered completely with the cling film and when you go to use the next day just allow the dough to warm up a bit before cooking.

IMG_3003IMG_3004IMG_3002Hummus

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup cooking water from chickpeas or fresh water
  • 1/2 cup Tahiti (sesame paste) include some of the oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated fine
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh cumin, ground
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • extra olive oil and cilantro for garnish

In a food processor add chickpeas, tahini and olive oil  Start by pulsing and drizzle water until you get the right smoothness and consistency.  Add the balance of the ingredients and mix until completely blended.  Taste for salt, pepper and olive oil and add more if necessary.  Blend again, remove to a serving bowl, make a deep impression in the middle of the hummus and add your garnish of olive oil and cilantro to that indentation. Serve at room temperature with the pita bread.  Refrigerate any left overs for the next day. In our house, there were no leftovers!  Yum.