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Import to Chicago

We talk back and forth a lot about what we miss – outside of the big ones of friends and family. And we will address those things next, but we wanted to take a moment to talk about ways of life that would be great to import to Chicago – bring back to our hometown.  So, without further ado, we present you with 8 things or ways of life that need to be introduced to the U.S.

1. Wild Cats & Dogs

I suppose some people might absolutely hate the idea of a bunch of dogs and cats running around.  And yeah, they can definitely be annoying (barking in the middle of the night, chasing cars) and gross (smelly, injured) – but..for the most part, they are functioning as rent-a-pets so long as you provide what a traditional owner would provide. For us that is either some type of snack or just a little loving. It’s really nice to have an unlimited supply of potential pets at your disposable. We miss our Mr. Tripp and this is a good substitute.  Full disclosure though …we are weirdos. We haven’t seen any other person be so affectionate to wild animals.

Don’t tell Mr. Tripp, but Lindsay found a new friend….




Just an uncomfortable photo for both the dog and Jeff.


2. Affordable Wine at Restaurants

Surprise surprise, booze made it onto the list …and it won’t be the last thing in this category we want back in the states.  I’m sure there is a reason for why the prices are so jacked up in the states, but it has got to be a terrible one. We have been to some fairly remote places in South America and the most expensive wine we have seen on a menu has been $75. I think there are a dozen restaurants in Lake Zurich, IL that have more expensive wine on their menus and it’s all the same for the most part. Here..while you don’t know what you are getting, at least it’s kind of fun and you don’t feel a lot of pressure for the wine to blow you mind when you’re only paying $8/bottle.

3. Fresh, Unique Fruit Juices

That is Lindsay eating soup….with the fresh juice next to the soup.

I had read a brief article (for the life of me I cannot find it) before we left that essentially said “listen, when you go to South America you are going to try and fall in love with a bunch of fruits that you have never seen or heard of in the States…”  I wasn’t sure about that. I kept thinking..”c’mon, we have everything. If you want it here then you can get it.” What I have learned is that if the product doesn’t have a good shelf life and isn’t sturdy and able to withstand transportation than no, you won’t get it.  The fresh juices were served with every meal in the Galapagos. We tried and loved juices from the tomato tree (think watermelon meets tomato), guanabana (aka soursop) & papaya (yeah, we know..available, but this was being served like water here) & guava (see comments from papaya).  They make their fruits so accessible too which makes it different. Tons of little roadside shakes making smoothies for cheap.


4. At Your Own Risk

This isn’t a thing, but a mentality or a way of life. In some situations it can get you into trouble or hurt – but, hey – it’s at your own risk. I’m talking about people’s general attitude towards things like riding in the back of a cabs pickup bed. You want to do it cause you would like some fresh air? No problem. However, if you fall off and hurt yourself that is completely on you. Want to go on a horseback ride that hugs the edges of a mountain 1.5KM above sea level? Just be outside on the road at 9am. In the states we would have needed to show several forms of ID, sign our life and rights away through various waiver, taken a training course on how to manage horses and taken a test run to get acclimated to the gigantic beasts. In Ecuador we showed up outside a guys house/stable and within two minutes were on the horses back riding through their downtown! And I kind of like that. Scary as shit…yeah, but…I like it.

This trip was so at your own risk it was terrifying. One misstep by the horse and “Big gulps…nice! Well, see you later!”


5. Warm Milk with Coffee

You your coffee doesn’t get cold! Heck, I drink my coffee black and think this is a great idea. So simple too. I was skeptical that this did exist in the States but I never noticed because I never ask for coffee. But my beautiful wife confirmed that this is very rare back home.

cafe con leche

Warm milk in coffee is just smart.


I am slowing becoming addicted to ice cream. It’s everywhere. All the little stores have their version of a Good Humour freezer case filled with mostly over-rated (but I still buy them all the time) ice cream bars. There are tons of ‘Heladerias” in each town that are doing their version of artisan ice cream. Some better than others, but all of it pretty good. Some places even had competing ice cream shops next to each other sharing an out front seating area. That I didn’t get it, but whatever. Ice cream is arguably easier to get in some places than fresh drinking water and definitely was easier to get in the Galapagos than Coke Light (aka – Diet Coke). It’s hard to imagine that we could use more ice cream in America, but it’s true!

This shot was taken from a mall in Cuenca. There were 3 of these stands.

7. 1L Bottles of Beer

I know I know – we have this. 40oz’rs!  Whooo! So I guess what I am really staying is I want to bring back the lack of a stigma associated with large format beers. You’re either a 19yr old at a college party or a deadbeat walking the streets with the beer in a paper bag (I’m sure there are other scenarios too, but…) Here those size beers must outsell their 12oz (or similar size) counterparts 5-1. And what a value! LET”S GO! More large format beers in America.

Yum yum yum yum.


8. Public Exercise Stations

This isn’t suppose to help combat America’s “battle with bulge” or any of that type of BS (not saying it isn’t true, we’re just not on a mission to correct it with public exercise machines). These things are just straight weird and cool — and used by a lot of people. Every other mile or so along the beach in Punta Del Este there is a small section with a variety of exercise machines that the public can use. Think something like the local government challenged Tony Robbins to create a playground for adults and these were finished products.

Not a bad view while getting your exercise on.


Every 2 or 3 miles there is a group of exercise machines along the waterfront.


2 thoughts on “Import to Chicago

  1. Pingback: Export from Chicago - Jeff & Lindsay's Travel Blog

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