As I already told you, I volunteered for a month with NDG -in antigua, guatemala. here is a link to my previous post – Volunteering with Ninos De Guatemala -the whole truth.
During my stay, I was provided with 3 meals a day at my homestay, except on sundays, so basically I needed to provide for myself only on the 4 sundays I spent in antigua.
But- being a health enthusiastic vegan, I realized quickly that my homestay-although being super nice and cooperative, were used to serving meat and dairy , and I would have to eat the “sides”.
Well I am not a “sides” person. I love food. I love to eat. food is a super important aspect of our lives, and I prepare my meals with a lot of thinking put into the nutritious aspects as well as respecting my tastebuds.
Where there is a will- there’s a way- I refuse to believe it is difficult to eat healthy vegan food on a budget even when you are out of your comfort home and kitchen, in a foreign and non-vegan enthusiastic country. (non enthusiastic is an understatement- many dishes consisted of meat or dairy products and the rest were gluten abundant- and I try to avoid gluten if I can.
MY SAVIOURS WERE THE FRUIT- OH SO WONDERFUL FRUIT OF GUATEMALA.
Guatemala has great pineapples, bananas, papayas, apples and melons, and this plate was my breakfast every day for a month.
But- at around 10 am- I began to feel hungry again-enter snacks from the antiguan supermarket-la bodegona.
For lunch – again- la bodegona saved my a** , I bought 3 packs of red beans, a pack of lentils and a pack of chickpeas, and simply brought it (along with a generous tip) to the lady in charge of cooking in the homestay , and politely asked her to prepare them for me as almuersos (lunch in spanish) from now on.
On sundays- the first two sundays I was away climbing the pacaya volcano and the acatenango volcano -so I ate my snacks.
on the third and fourth sundays- well…
I searched on line, and I did find a few places that got good reviews- one called “la bruja”, which is supposed to have great vegan burgers, and the other called “Samsara”, and I swear I started walking towards “Samsara”, but suddenly I realized I walked too far and I am near the lovely “la bodegona” supermarket….
So I got in and decided to have a picnic lunch in my room.
This is my picnic spread- i spread avocado and bean spread on my tortillas, added tomatoes and sprinkled some garlic salt- and had myself a tasty borrito -like roll. for dessert I ate some grapes. I was left with apples, tomatoes and grapes for the next 3-4 days, and all for 100 Q- about 12 $, the cost of one lunch.
I realized I didn’t “accidentally find myself near the supermarket”.
I already told you I am an introvert, and all the while I was searching the web for a good vegan place to eat, I was concerned about sitting in a restaurant on a sunday lunch in a foreign place, and eating .alone.
I’m not much of a restaurant person on regular terms, let alone on these terms….
I think I felt so uneasy, I subconsciously led myself to the supermarket, where another option- a great option- was open for me.
I don’t mind eating alone in my house-office.
I actually prefer it. I love food, I appreciate tastes, textures, colors, visuality, everything that has to do with food. I love eating. I don’t read or watch anything while eating, and prefer to eat alone and fully soak in the complete pleasure to all senses that food brings about.
What I was concerned about was sitting with no filters- such as a friend or family member- in a restaurant full of strangers- all sitting with their families or friends.
I am fully aware this could have been a great experience , but again- since I prefer not to eat out even when I am not abroad, the awkward feeling was intensified.
This picnic was such a success that I repeated it on my last sunday there.
This is a good opportunity to discuss traveling alone.
I have been traveling alone for a few years now, and I love it.
I know many people prefer traveling with someone- be it spouse-other family member- friend- group.
traveling alone is a whole different concept.
When traveling alone- all decision- for better or for worse- are yours- and yours alone.
You need to take care of everything , deal with every mishap , eat your meals alone- unless you hook up with people along the way- and have only yourself (and Instagram, of course) to share your adventures with.
This means- you have total freedom, and this freedom- can be frightening.
*I will most definitely not be the first to acknowledge that freedom is a frightening concept. I strongly recommend this book- a classic in my opinion.here is a link- erich fromm escape from freedom ( please try to get this at your local library first- read and then decide if it is one of the “keepers” that need to belong in your home library).
Try traveling alone once- maybe a short trip, maybe not abroad , but try to plan your trip-and execute it- all by yourself. maybe you will make mistakes, maybe not everything will work like a swiss clock- and maybe it doesn’t really matter- because that sense of doing it on your own is intoxicating.
In my experience- locals are much nicer to you when traveling alone, you are more likely to meet new people, enjoy museums (think about going to a contemporary art museum with a spouse that doesn’t appreciate art. what a disaster. think about the reverse situation -a disaster nonetheless. when alone- you get to decide if and when you go anywhere, what and when you will eat, sleep, and see. awwww freedommmmmmmm).
Give it a try.
So- if you are a vegan -frugal -introvert like me- I hope I gave you some ideas in this post. even if you fall into only one of these categories- or none of them- I hope you enjoyed reading.
It is possible to travel and enjoy healthy nutritious vegan food- in a frugal way!