Day 223: Cuenca, Ecuador
Since I started traveling the one thing that has plagued me the entire time is dry skin in hot weather. As a kid I had ezcema when the seasons changed yet like most people I grew out of it as an adult.
At least I thought I had grown out of it. Perhaps it’s the humidity or the hard water or the changes in altitude. Whatever it is, my skin doesn’t like it.
The cold in Bogota didn’t help but in Cuenca a scaley mass slowly invaded my body. I will save you from any gross photos to illustrate the point, simply trust it was disgusting (aren’t you glad you read this post!)
So yesterday when an Ecuadorian friend asked if I wanted to try a drink that cures all ailments I jumped at the opportunity.
Outside the Carmen de la Asunción Monastery, tucked in beside a flower market there was a mass of people waiting to buy agua de pitimas, a drink made by the cloistered nuns inside to pay for their expenses.
The Carmelites started making the drink over 300 years ago with the creation of the monastery and it’s become so popular that doctors often recommend it to settle nerves and ease headaches. But more famously, it was quoted in Don Quixote when he needed to heal his broken heart.
The drink, which literally means ‘a bit more,’ is most often purchased by those coming out of mass. I’m not a church goer but I am technically Catholic so I decided to give it a go.
Agua de pitimas isn’t great, made from herbs such as chamomile, lemon verbena, lemon balm and other secrets specific to the monastery, it tastes a little bit like dandelion water. I drank the whole thing hoping that the curative properties were not only for god fearing Catholics.
Today, my skin is 75% better and most of the ezcema is gone. A modern day miracle?