OK, so how many of you have even heard of Cuenca, Ecuador? Until a few years ago I hadn’t heard of it either. Located in the Andes Mountains south of Quito at an altitude of 8200 ft. it is about 1000 ft. lower in altitude than Quito and a short 40 minute flight away, The driving distance is about 450 miles and can take an arduous 7.5 to 9 hours due to the rugged terrain through the Andes Mountains. We took the easy way out and decided to fly. You might wonder who exactly “we” refers to. I am in a group of 12 people mostly from the USA who are taking a 4 day tour to the cities of Cuenca, Loja and Vilcabamba in Ecuador under the auspices and guidance of a tour company called ecuadorexpatjourneys.com. That outfit is designed to give people who are considering a permanent or not so permanent move to Ecuador. After this tour we will all return to Quito to attend a conference put on by a group called International Living and titled “Fast Track Ecuador” which will entail 3 days of presentations from all sorts of people including expats living in Ecuador, attorneys, real estate advisers, financial experts, healthcare experts, business people, etc. to give a rather thorough idea of what a move to Ecuador might entail. In the end however, no amount of conference presentations is a substitute for “boots on the ground” which means spending some time actually being here and actually experiencing life in Ecuador or anywhere else for that matter to which, one might be considering moving.
I have been a member of International Living for about 5 years and I have attended more extensive conferences in the US devoted to potential expat destinations around the world and in addition, I have attended a conference devoted only to Costa Rica. In my investigations I have visited the Mexican Riviera, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and now Ecuador. In prior travels I have visited most of the countries of Western Europe, many countries of Southeast Asia, Australia and Argentina so I feel that I have at least a fairly broad idea of what a variety of cultures and countries might have to offer an expat. Many potential expats seem to relish lying in a hammock, next to a tropical beach, sipping a cold drink and taking a nap or reading a book. That is not a life for me. I do not enjoy the heat and humidity of the tropical beach environment not to mention the insects!
Well, back to Cuenca. I am somewhat apologetic because we took a walking tour and double decker bus tour today and I did not bring my camera! No bueno for one who fancies himself a photographer but tomorrow we will be doing more walking tours and another bus tour and I will definitely have my camera because Cuenca is a very photogenic town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The centrl square, Park Calderon is fronted by the “new” cathedral with it’s three blue and white domes serving as one of the iconic vistas if this beautiful city and the people are polite, welcoming and friendly so it is an easy city to like. One of our presentations today was by an expat Thai woman, married to an American. The couple had lived both in Thailand and the US and when she described her joy at realizing that Cuenca was the place for her and her husband, she was moved to tears.What better recommendation than that can be given to recommend a new place of residence to a group of potential expats?