A couple weeks ago we covered Gringo Tree – a sort of online thrift store for the tangible and intangible needs of Cuenca expats.
But it seems that the needs to communicate, interact, and connect go far behind the practical, mercantile impulses. People who move to a different city or country have things to say. They need to express themselves and tell you how they feel, what they have discovered, and who they have met and how their lives have changed.
Reviewing the Cuenca blogs that have sprung up in recent years it would almost seem a primal necessity to comment on expat experience.
From the curious discoveries of cooking at high altitudes to the sober experiences of losing a pet; from the sarcastic remarks about cultural idiosyncrasies and advice about how to cope (even if it’s just a dose of American food they need), the content on Cuenca expat blogs is at once unique and ordinary, full of joy and frustration. Some is thought-provoking, some insensitive. But it is all honest and it suggests a communal empathy grounded in shared experience – an expression of the spirit of Cuenca’s foreign residents.
…We have not made too many changes in our lifestyle since we first moved here. We still walk alot but now we also have motorized transportation for each of us. Our daily schedule remains "fluid" and we enjoy meeting all the new folks that stay in the Penthouse rental or we meet out on our walks through town…
There’s an interesting ritual in which I sometimes participate just like a local. Bus drivers are loath to give you change. All you’ve got is a 50 cent piece. You tap the shoulder of the person in front of you, show him your coin, and if he has a quarter he gives it to you, takes yours and pays for both of you. No Spanish required. How cool!
After having been here for almost 5 years now I sometimes crave a little bit of "American" food. So, for those who just can't go without fast food, the following restaurants are available in Cuenca:
Subway, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns.
Just FYI :)
The reality of my experience in Ecuador was that, while not in Cuenca, I never felt 100% secure and safe. I almost always felt that I had to be consciously aware of my surroundings while backpacking in Ecuador. This can be wearing, causing stress and anxiety. While living in Quito, I felt this way significantly more than while in Cuenca…
Ecuadorians live in the now and they give you their full attention when they are with you; this means if you are in a meeting and it goes way over, they will never interrupt it to call their next appointment. They are with you 100%... of course, the problem is when you are the next appointment.
The final stages of our immigration process are now in sight. Six visits to the immigration office for a single, stamped form from the National Police was finally in my hand this last Friday. I felt like hiring an armed guard to take the papers to my attorney. This office gets only 100 forms per day to allot. They are necessary for most VISA applications whether it be business or work related, student VISA’s or tourist VISA’s. It really took five visits to understand the process and how it worked. I have had a translator with me as well so it’s not entirely easy to grasp even in Spanish.
Police drive around with their overhead lights spinning and no siren. There's no emergency. Everyone ignores them. I can only assume they are letting the neighborhood (and crooks) know they are there. Hmmm....an AWS (Advanced Warning System)...stop whatever you're doing because here we come, then go back to what you're doing after we pass by
It’s almost May! Seven months in Ecuador and life just keeps getting better & better. This morning, I attended my first Shambhala Buddhist Meditation at the Windhorse Cafe — presentation & guidance were given by Craig and Lucy, my Returned Peace Corps Volunteer friends. There were about 13 of us & our intention is to continue meeting on Sunday mornings. I would never have imagined I would find Buddhist meditation in EC.
Ginger and I have both had to adjust to the sounds of living in a city. Car alarms, backfiring motorcycles and the whoosht when the diesel buses apply their brakes, really frightened Ginger at first. But she’s adapted very quickly. I am sooo grateful I brought her with me. Under artificial light, her eyes will glow an eerie red. When we arrived at the Miami airport at 5:30 a.m., the guy who was wheeling the baggage cart remarked that she was a “perro diablo.” A devil dog. Now if YOU were gonna move to a third world country, wouldn’t you want to have a devil dog with you? Or at least one the locals believed was a devil dog? Sometimes even when I walk her in the daytime, people step off the sidewalk to let us pass.
What made us pick Cuenca? Here's the quick list of the things we really like:
Friendly people, Old fashioned Values, Colonial architecture, Beautiful scenery, Personal-quality-affordable health care, Public transportation, Parks and plazas, Moderate climate, Abundance of community and cultural activities, Beauty and diversity of country
There are no Home Depot's or Canadian Tire's here so finding the right tools or construction materials is an adventure. Not far from the airport there are two large hardware stores called Kywi and Mega Hierro. You will find a lot of items there. Since everything is done in concrete and/or tile, lumber is in short supply and not in nice and neat straight dimensions. Lumber here is generally only to use as supports for concrete construction
Gotta love the Cuencanos, from the well-behaved children to the serious-looking Quechuan indigenous people. Overall they are very clean, happy, and most eager to please… You will see very few beggars or drunks as they have the best work ethic of any country. Everyone works, even if it is to sell you a water bottle at a stop light. Gotta love the Cuencanos!
Radio Station 97.3FM. I love this station. It is a Spanish station with a Spanish D.J., but they play a mixture of songs, both in Spanish and English. The Spanish songs are beautiful and very relaxing. The English songs are amazing -- country western, easy listening, rock and roll.
Such excitement! We were treated to the grand spectacle of a group of celebrities who were staying at the Hotel Oro Verde last night, right outside our windows. Police escorts, helicopter hovering overhead, and fans, fans fans chanting, waving flags and full of jubilation. The Barcelona futbol (soccer) team is in town to play against Deportivo Cuenca today in what is a sold out game, and their fans were waiting for their arrival into town last night!
Today we went to a video store in “centro”, the proprietor is a nice guy and speaks some English in case my Spanish fails me. We were looking for a couple of titles he didn’t have so he said “come back in 30 minutes.” We had some other shopping to do so, no problem. When we returned he had our videos.