Where to start?

We are near retirement and thinking about living in a beautiful place that has good healthcare; clean, quiet and furnished rental apartments or condos; good food and coffee; food and water safe to eat/drink; no car; REAL information other the hype that realtors try to sell us or money-making blogs/newsletters. We are trying to find an online community that presents both the good and bad aspects of where to live in Ecuador. ILL and other mega sites give only the positive sell and real estate deals. That is NOT what we want to know. We are interested in learning the real stories of potentially retiring to Cotacachi, Otavalo, Cuenca, Vilacamba, beach villages, or other places people recommend, but near enough to a hospital and airport. We live in quiet rural mountains with beautiful views and quiet all around. We would like some of this but at an affordable price and walking distance to to shops, outdoor markets, and safe-to-eat restaurants. We want safe living, to learn the language, and a life better than the one we already have known. We would like to know which airport to fly into, if there is a travel route from a target airport that is best to check out the places we are interested in, find people to give advice and answer questions by email, and to get an idea of where we want to go before paying for the expense to explore Ecuador before landing arriiving. Mainly, we want people to write to who can answer our questions about particular places/villages/small cities, etc. We want the reality version and to know what the real expenses are. For a full look at Ecuador, which airport should we start at and which direction should we travel from airports (Quito? Guayaquil? Cuenca?)? We do not want jungle areas, large noisy cities, or smaller villages who do not like foreigners. We try to fit in with new cultures and learn the ropes. We also need contact information. I hope this gives an idea of what we are looking to find and someone who is willing to answer our questions. At this point, we are interested in Cotacachi because it is near enough to Quito, yet small enough to be tranquil and interesting.
Thanks for any responses we can get.

(Moderated: pls no free ads in the forum)

Hello, Victoria,

Thank you for the first bit of information of planning a "scope out" trip to Ecuador. ANY suggestions would be appreciated for figuring how to explore Ecuador in a logical manner. We do not want to live in a large city (too much noise and activity for us home folk), but do want to know about really nice places to live that are within a half hour of an airport and hospital.

We have so many questions about how to even approach a trip though Ecuador that is not based on people selling information or real estate agents who want our money We'd just like to find someone to write to with our questions and be able to plan our trip to get the most out of it. We are exploring the idea of retiring to Ecuador, but so much of what we hear seems "too good to be true," so we want the truth!

Thanks again,
Nancy

Hi Nancy,

We just returned from a short but sweet jaunt to Ecuador. We bought a house in Cuenca, have returned home, and are working as fast as possible to return there permanently.

We hated Quito as it was way too large, dirty, smelly, noisy and crime ridden - I was pick-pocketed on the very first day and lost my brand new camera (maybe that biased us but we don't think so).

We also didn't like Cotacachi, even though you hear so much about it. It is too small and too far away from everything else.

Flying in to Cuenca we "just knew" it would be the city we were going to retire in. It is beautiful, clean, quiet, and very peaceful. We had plans to also see Manta and Salinas but cancelled those and stayed in Cuenca for the extra four days.

We bought a brand new house (still being built) and researched appliance stores, furniture stores, and hardware stores. We have decided that we are not taking anything with us except items which have sentimental value (such as photos or stuff made by other family members). We have seen enought to know that we can get better made higher quality stuff for much less in Ecuador that we could in Canada. The furniture is exquisite, made from solid timber, and about 1/3 the price of particle board equivalents in Canada. Appliances (which you will read are much more expensive) are actually about the same price as in Canada.

Meals are very cheap. We had lunch (for 3 people) of pasta, and  sandwiches, including two milkshakes and two beers for $14. We also had an evening meal of lasagne, sub and salad, drinks including a 22 oz beer, and dessert for $18.

The people are very friendly and very willing to help especially if you try to address them in spanish. The city is very safe and we had absolutly no concerns strolling around the beautiful parks even at night.

What more can I say, we are moving there as soon as we can. If you need further information or have questions you can contact me at bruce.holtby[at]gmail.com

Thanks
Cheryn and Bruce

Hello,

My name is Vinny and I live in Cuenca, I used to live in Quito like 12 years ago, For me, it was a really nice place to live but now, when I come back I found a city too big, too noisy and it loose all the charming it has.
So I decided to live in Cuenca.
I can't tell you anything about Cotacachi or Otavalo, I don't know how they're now. And the same about the coast, The decision comes if you prefer the beach or the mountains.

Vilcabamba is a nice place, small, very quiet and peaceful but ther's nothing much to do there but enjoy the weather and rest.
The real state market there is big and the prices are high due the demand for houses, there,s no condos or apartments only houses around the hills of the village, that is tiny.

For me Cuenca is the prefect place, is a city but not too big, yet. Easy to walk around, nice downtown and close to many amenities. People is nice and helpful and here is cheaper than other ecuadorian cities. 
Problems: smog, crazy traffic, people try to profit from foreigners but this are problems you find in the other places too.

The airport is in the city, health system is good, there's many restaurants.

The exploration route could be arrive to Quito, expend few days there, then, by road visit Cotacachi and Otavalo, 2-3 days there will be enough.
Back to Quito and fly to Guayaquil, from there road trip to Salinas, Ancon and other beach towns around.
Back to Guayaquil and then you can fly to Cuenca (Ticket cost around $100) or by van service ( $12 and takes 3 hours)
In Cuenca you can stay for a week and visit Vilcabamba ( 2 hours by car)

Hope this info will be helpful and if you need more specific info about Cuenca and sorrounds let me know.

Vinny

Hi Nancy,  Up till about 2 months ago I was hell bent on retiring in Medellin, CO but since then I have been hearing more and more and more...GOOD things about Equador.  My interests are somewhat similar to your's and your husband's.  You are definitely on the right track on obtaining and collecting information in prepartion.  For me, I have been to Cali, Medellin, LeVega, Via de Leyva, and Bogota.  Equador appears to be somewhat cheaper in that it might mean that is not as popular as Colombia or Costa Rica. From what I have seen on IL re: Cost of living Equador is number 1. Check it out!  I made you one of my contacts so that I mght see what additional infor you might collect. My fried Linda and I will be going to Medellin on the 3rd of February to look for an apartment or house for the month of May. At that time I would like to go to Equador and look at Cuenca.  Keep in touch!

Hi All,

I wasn't sure how to respond to each post individually, so they are all here for Cheryn and Bruce, Vinny, and Carl. Thank you all for your welcome input.
Nancy and Gary


Dear Cheryn and Bruce,

Thank you so much for your frank reply. This is what we are looking for: REAL information. What you said about Quito is what we thought it would be: too much noise, crime, dirt, and hustle bustle. We now live just outside a town of 25,000 people, counting part of the university population. Very livable, quiet, and nice, andsurrounded by mountains.  We also had the same concerns about Cotacachi being too small and too far from the airport or hospital.

Eventually, we thought Cuenca was too large and someone posted somewhere that there was constant noise and that you have to take your life in your own hands to cross a street. We also don’t know Spanish. How much of a downside is that at first?

We would be looking to rent a furnished apartment or condo with high speed Internet, hot water for showers and washing machine, drinkable water (can be alternatives we are willing to live with though), peace and quiet, beautiful views of the mountains, good weather, enough places to eat or go to so that there are enough good places to go that we don’t get bored with the same places over and over and might as well be home instead when they get to be boring.

So, we would like to know if there actually are furnished apartment rentals fairly available, what drew you to Cuenca—what good, bad, or ugly aspects? We anticipate slower resolutions to everyday life experiences such as banking, electricity, Internet, tech support, being without a car, and whether the savings of living there for 4-6 months at a time (or full time) would still offset the roughly $3,000 airfare for each back and forth visit to the US to see family.

Could you tell us more about exactly what drew you to Cuenca and let us know when/where expats meet so we can meet and ask our questions once we’ve been there, how to find a reliable rental realtor or contact who helps with this, how to avoid being misled or ripped off, etc.

We like the sound of prices for almost anything there. We’ve heard that many fruits and veggies need to be gotten with skins on because of tainted food and water, to avoid street food vendors, make sure we get hot water, and have reliable Internet service and reasonable phone or Skype ability.

We live in very rural mountains now, a 20-minute car ride to town, even for groceries. There is nothing where we live but some other houses that are quite far apart, so we have a great deal of privacy. We would love to have the beauty and quiet, PLUS good food and scenery, good weather, and new sights and people, and a bit of privacy. We are mostly homebodies and amuse ourselves. We are not consumers or shoppers, but do so like our Netflix capabilities to watch excellent TV series. Also we are night life people or bar hoppers.

We were also told that Guayaquil airport is a crime trap and to avoid it. Which gets to the question of beach towns. My husband and I both grew up near the beach but usually prefer the mountains. Have you been to Salinas or other beach towns that have more than two restaurants, but a village type of setting with more to do? Or, is Cuenca the place to be, because it is just the best place to be in Ecuador? Please list any beach towns and if there are weather issues, storms, bugs, humidity, etc.

If there is anything else you could tell us about the reality of Ecuador in general, or Cuenca in particular, we would really appreciate it. We want to make sure we are
not off in fantasy land. We are looking for Paris, Switzerland or Aspen at one-quarter of the price. Is this what we will find in Ecuador, or is this just how Ecuador is represented by people selling things? Are there bugs or other menaces we should know about? Crime? Healthcare? Learning the language?

We wish you well on your new home and move to Cuenca. We are thinking of going in May and aren’t sure how long to stay, since we’ve come to realize that places like Otovalo, Cotacachi, Vilacamba, etc. are too small and far away from airports and hospitals (not that we hope to need one!). Are there specific “neighborhoods” to look at that are quieter, newer, more modern conveniences with up to date plumbing/electricity, but still in walking distance of cafes and coffee houses? Can one get good espresso or just plain coffee? What things are surprises as far as costs or differences in what you expected? Vinny mentioned smog, which we hadn’t even thought of. How bad is the smog? Is it like Los Angeles or Mexico City? How many days of the year are smoggy? He also mentioned a travel route for exploring even the cities we probably wouldn’t choose to live in, but visit.  Even if Cuenca is where we should settle, we thought we should use our exploratory trip as a vacation also and see areas of Ecuardor or neighboring countries once we have spent the airfare to get to Ecuador. We are leery about what we heard about the Guayaquil airport, but may want to check out a few beach towns and perhaps the Galapagos, as long as we’re there (IF we don’t get cold feet about paying for such an expensive trip).
Do you have a suggestion for traveling to the Galapagos? Is there a downside to “living” at the beach? Not enough to do to keep from getting bored at the same two cafes and three shops?

Is it better for just a couple of weeks to stay in a “hotel”? If so, is there a nice quiet one that is near enough the center of Cuenca to walk to safely? Are there some where the proprietors speak English and can help direct us? Can one walk in the dark? Are siestas part of the culture when shops and restaurants close down in the afternoon?

We live in the western US in the Rocky Mountains, so travel is expensive,. We will be  going to Florida first to visit family, then on to Quito. I don’t know if there are better routes to get to Quito, but that’s what comes up when I Google airfares. Any inexpensive routes or airlines that you know of for getting there directly from the
West? It’s a long haul, but hopefully worth it. My husband may have another year left teaching at the university before we would be able to do even a partial year in Ecuador if we feel comfortable there. We aren’t sure whether to wait until he is finished teaching at the university and ready to actually retire or to come now to check Ecuador (especially Cuenca) out, since we have to go to Florida anyway. So, you can see, there are many issues to consider, as most of you well know. Also, we have winter at least 7 months of the year, like the snow, but could see that perpetual spring could be very nice as we age (we are in our mid 60s) as far as walking and even having a garden or flower pots! However, where we live now is truly beautiful, so I should say the bottom line for us is that we are looking for the same quality/beauty of life at a quarter of the price and without third world problems. Are there any we should know about? If retiring to Ecador is more hype than reality, you would be saving us a great deal of heart ache and money by letting us know now. The other issue is that we have children living all over the US who soon will have families. Are we going to spend most of what we save living in Ecuador buying airfares back to the states to visit family?

It was a pleasure hearing from you and getting more straight information about the real Ecuador and Cuenca. We don’t even know for sure if it’s worth the $3,-5,000 trip to check it out. We plan to visit in May/June (if we do at all) and would like to meet people like you who have been so helpful. Oh, did you bring a translator with you and, if so, do you recommend one? How do most foreigners learn the language? Take classes, get CDs, tutor?


Thanks for everything,
Nancy and Gary



Dear Vinny,

Thank you for your honest response to our questions about various cities in Ecuador. I agree that we would not want to live in Quito. We are not cosmopolitans who need an active nightlife, bars, dancing, etc. We like a simple, quiet life, with beauty and friendliness. In fact we moved from a very large city to a very rural small town (~25,000) about 15 years ago and do not miss city life. Our main reason for considering a move is that the idea of living the same quality of life we have now at a quarter of the price is very appealing. Of course, also living in a beautiful and new environment with a wonderful climate is a huge plus.

What causes the smog in Cuenca and how bad/often is it? Somewhere we heard it was noisy all the time with traffic, sirens, airplanes, etc. Can you tell us about noise and more specific details about Cuenca? Where are there nice, clean, more modern furnished apartments, if any? How difficult are they to get? Who do you go to for finding a place? If we visit for 2-4 weeks, is it better to stay in a “hotel”? If so, are there nice quiet ones that are near enough the center of Cuenca to walk to safely and where someone at the hotel speaks English? Can one walk in the dark? Are siestas common when shops close down? How safe is Cuenca? We are now living in a rural area where the crime report is usually about a neighbor’s dog barking.
Where we live now, we have to drive 20 minutes to town for anything. There is nothing right were we live. The town is very nice and has anything we really need, but there are 7 months of snowy winter. Though we love the snow, as we age, we can see some perks of year round spring weather where we might finally learn to garden of have potted plants! We do not want to buy a house or condo at this point in our thinking. We also have to decide whether to move permanently or half the year.

Anything REAL you can tell us about being from the US and making the move to Cuenca (if even for part of the year) will be really appreciated. We want to thank you for answering our first post so quickly. We plan to visit in May and maybe part of June (if we do at all) and would like to meet the people like you who have been so helpful.

Thanks again,
Nancy and Gary.


Hi Carl,

Good luck on your travels to your many destinations. We plan to go to Cuenca in May and maybe part of June (if we don’t get cold feet or find the airfare is not worth the trip at that time). If we do get there, we would love to meet the people who are helping us out and ask more and more questions. We are happy where we are, but it is winter about at least 7 months of the year. Spring, flowers, gardens would be a treat!

Keep in touch and read the questions in my other posts if you like.

Thanks so much,
Nancy and Gary

Hello,

I will try to answer all your questions.

- The smog is caused mostly by buses and trucks, it supose the City controls the polution but in fact they don't enforce it.
this problem is bad in the downtown because the traffci is heavy there.

- The noise is not that bad, and again, is more evident in the downtown, cuencanos love to honk all the time. Planes noise is not a problem. Another common noise is home parties and fireworks. If somebody is making a party in his house with loud music you can't do nothing about it. The police is not going to help you, is part of the culture.
Where I live I have a lot of barking dogs and rosters but you use to it.

- You can find nice, modern apartments, homes and condos here. They're building a lot of apartments now just for expats.... and with expats prices.   
But there's a lot of options, prices and areas in the city. Most of the new apartments are in Av. 1o de Mayo not very close to downtown but many expat choose to live there. Usually the expats who whant to blend with the locals choose the downtown or other areas. Ones who what to be close to other expats choose new apartments and gated condos far from downtown.
I just get a nice hotel for a single american. He's going to stay two weeks, he will pay $65 for night double bedroom with a nice view of the city in downtown and with english speaker staff.
You can get cheaper hotels or expensive ones.

- You can walk at nigh in some areas if you see there is people around, usually people walk around until 9 PM. Cuenca is a safe city, just take the basic precautions and it will be fine.

I know is a dificult decision and every person react in different ways to this city. So far I didn't find anyone said it hates or dislike this city. Most people really like it and loved. from this, ones decide to buy a place to live, others choose to rent, some ones buy an apartment and then they rent it and live half of the year in the states and the other half here.
Someones like to life in downtown, others in the country side like 15, 20 minutes from the city.
There's many options and the only way you truly find out is Cuenca is the place for you is to come and see.

I will be glad to see you when you come and let me know if you need more help.

Vinny.

Hi Vinny,

Since we started thinking about retiring to Ecuador, we are also looking into Panama and Belize. My husband is thinking we should think about renting a furnished apartment or condo on or near the beach, since we already live in the mountains. Are there beach areas you can recommend? Is the weather more problematic and are there bugs, rain, storms, or other disadvantages we should consider? We would still like a village or town where we can buy groceries, find restaurants/cafes, coffee houses, etc. We still do not want to need a car. You mentioned Salinas and Ancon. Do they have what we would like? And, how far would it be to a hospital or airport? We are still trying to figure this all out before we plan a trip in May. If you know anything about Panama or Belize, please let us know about those places as well. We really appreciate your feedback, since it is difficult to know another country form afar. We have much research, but want to hear from real people like you rather than people trying to sell us things.

Thanks again, Vinny.
Nancy and Gary

Sorry I take so long in answering you,

I have been busy, what is good.

I can't tell you much about the coast, I only have been there a couple of times and it was long time ago. Try to contact to oceanhideaway, she is posting in expatblog too and she actually live in the coast.
I lived in Panama like 15 years ago so I don't know how it is right now. Panama had a few U.S. military bases and they told me that now are full of condos ans houses for expats.
I lived there for 5 years and I didn't liked, too humid, too hot, crazy trafic and very insecure. I don't know is different now.

Keep in touch and let me know you have more questions.

Vinny

Thank you again, Vinny.

I wrote to oceanview as you suggested. After reading the US state department reports on Ecuador, Panama, and Mexico, we are rather discouraged about the quality of life in these places. We will keep on researching, though, and will keep in touch. You have been a wonderful resource!

Take care and thanks for the information.

Nancy and Gary

Hi Nancy,

You mentioned 1/4 the cost of living a few times then talked about wanting to be in an expat community. Being in an expat community means higher prices to start with as opposed to blending in with the locals and getting the same prices that locals do.

As for the smog in Cuenca all you have to do is look at a satellite view to see why the smog hangs around. It's in a valley so it's not constantly blown out. If you want the views of a family that moved there from South Carolina and has been there for 1 year now then you'll like this blog:
http://livingfrugalandhappy.blogspot.com/

They tell both the good and the bad. I think you'll find that they answer most of your questions and even give a "FREE Cuenca Restaurant Guide,  10 Good Restaurants in Cuenca for $3 or Less".

They are not trying to sell ANYTHING, and even passed up an opportunity to do a show with "House Hunters International" because of how HHI would twist the truth.

I can't tell you about Ecuador from personal experience since I'm in the researching phase myself just like you are, but the livingfrugalandhappy blog is the most honest info. that I have found so far.

Best wishes, and good luck deciding.

Grant,

Thank you for the information. We went to the website and checked it out. We appreciate that you gave us a way to find out REAL information that we can consider as we do our research, which is often the "too good to be true" version. I appreciate your comments and will look for you again on future postings. If you find out more, we would be really happy to hear from you about your findings.

Thanks again,
Nancy and Gary

N

Nancy and Gary,

You're welcome. By the way Grant is a location which is neither my user ID or my name...lol. Couldn't resist.

Real time radar for Cuenca, and the rest of Ecuador, or the world for that matter.

Weather history for most locations in the world including averages, record highs, and lows, etc.

It should take you a while to digest all of that info. along with the blog.

Enjoy

Well, it's time for an update I guess. There is so much to tell and so many questions to answer so here goes.

Our house is supposedly completed. We have seen some pictures but are expecting others soon. It is a 2000 sqf 2 storey concrete and brick house with 4 bedrooms and 2 and 1/2 bathrooms. It has tile floors on the ground floor (living, dining, kitchen, den, social washroom) and hardwood floors on the second floor. It has granite counter tops and lovely cupboards in the kitchen as well as stunning built-ins in all the bedrooms. It has a small enclosed patio out the back and we have a small side yard plus private driveway. If you would like photo please send me an email at bruce.holtby[at]gmail.com

Our house here has finally sold (conditions come off next week) and we hope to be in Cuenca in the first week of May!

Hi Nancy and Gary: we don't know a lot of Spanish yet and we had no problems really. It is amazing what pointing and hand mimes can achieve. We were able to order meals, ice cream, and buy fruit with no problems. In most of the bigger stores we went into (the furniture store, Kywi) there was someone who spoke enough English to help us out. We plan on taking intensive Spanish lessons when we get there.

We liked Cuenca as soon as we landed at the airport. The city is very pretty, full of many green spaces and waterways and surrounded by hills. The streets are clean and traffic is not as bad as people make it out to be. We were there for 5 days and saw no smog, didn't hear too much noise and had no problems with the traffic. The buses are a bit big for the streets and are noisy and smelly but they pass very quickly. We saw only one big bug which was a beetle about 1 and 1/2 inches long but it was dead and on its back (lol).

Yes there are very good more modern places just outside the city centre to live. We bought in one. It is about a 5 minute walk to the bus routes and we can go anywhere in Cuenca from there for $0.25 or we can go to the local supermarket and hardware store for about $2 in a taxi.

We stayed in a hotel while we were in Cuenca. It was the Morenica del Rosario and is on Gran Columbia virtually in the middle of the old part of town. It was about $55 a night as I recall. Most of the people at the front counter in the hotel spoke enough English to help us when we had questions. If you try to address them in Spanish then they try even harder to help. They are wonderful people. We were out every evening until at least 9PM and there were always people around, walking the streets, sitting in the parks and squares or in the restaurants and bars. All the streets were well lit and there are full time security people in most of the public places as well as overnight in the banks and jewellery stores etc. We were impressed. Yes a lot of the places close between 12 and 3pm for siesta but not all of them. It is just something you get used to and avoid trying to go to the stores in that time period.

We live in Edmonton way north of you and both Cheryn and I know what you mean about the winters. We didn't wait until we were ready to retire before deciding to move. After all the research we have done and our trip down there we knew we would go as soon as we could. I am a sucker for flowers too and have always had a garden. I'm looking to learning about new flowers (400 varieties of orchids alone) many of which flower all year in Cuenca. The only "third - world" stuff we saw were local women doing their laundry in the river, and local cows and pigs tied up in some of the public green spaces. We saw most of Cuenca and so some lower class areas but nothing like the slums of other third world countries such as China and India. Actually, if the people in Cuenca looked like gringos and spoke English you would swear you were in a city somewhere in the US or Canada.

I would ignore the US state department reports on Ecuador as they are typically blown way out of proportion. According to international crime statistics (Interpol, UN) it is actually 87% SAFER in Ecuador than the US. A lot of the stuff you see and hear about these places is because of one person ranting about it. One lady in the hotel told us she had been there several days and had not been out of the hotel because it rained everyday. True, it did, but not more than 60 - 90 minutes. The rest of the time the sun is shining. We actually got burnt on our first two days in Cuenca. Another lady told us not to buy appliances in Ecuador such as stoves as NONE of the thermometers work!

If you are in Cuenca in late May or June please feel free to look us up (bruce.holtby[at]gmail.com).

Hi M&MJ from Montreal: We have just about thinned out everything we are taking to Ecuador with us. We are taking a piano, big-screen TV, and a desktop computer as well as a bunch of boxes. In total it is less than 1/4 of a small bedroom. Actually my first estimates were about 1500 pounds and 170 cubic feet (a small bedroom is about 800 cubic feet and a 20 ft container is about 1300 cubic feet). I have a few quotes for the shipping and it will cost us just under $5,000 (so I have a feeling there may be some more pruning done).

We are taking our two puppies with us. They will go in the luggage hold. The hard part with them is to get all the veterinarian paperwork done, translate it into Spanish, and send it to Vancouver to get stamped at the consulate. We have only 10 days to get this all done in. We also have to do the same with the stuff we are shipping. Everything has to be individually detailed including its value and what box it is in and then translated into Spanish and sent to the consulate. Thankfully we just have to do the list as the shipping company will do the rest (fingers crossed - lol).

Well that seems to be everything. If anyone has any questions or wants further information or wants to come see us in Cuenca then please ask away.

Hi Nancy and Gary,
In a couple of weeks, we will move to Ecuador to live and retire(the house is sold and we are liquidating the contents). We have been doing our homework for the last 6 months and are ready to do the jump without going for a test ride first. People on the blogs are so helpful by sharing their experiences. One other site that might interest you is GogoGringo (just for variety). W'll be glad to share experiences of our own once we live them. We have decided to spend 2 to 4 weeks exploring Quito and surroundings then we will do the same with Cuenca before we decide. One thing is sure, we will take our time before making any real estate investment...from what we heard, there are 2 sets of prices, one for newcomers...and one for locals! (am I being paranoïd?) See you in Ecuador :) Mitri

This is an amazing site with a wealth of information that people are willing to share. Nancy, I'm like you in the very early stages of my hunt for a country, then city and location to live in. For my part I know I am not going to be in Quito. I'm considering Cuenca, Manta, Salinas. I'm happy to keep you informed of what I find out

Nancy,

I am not a big fan of that big corporate run magazine that is pushing all the best places to retire either. Their agenda is perfectly clear to me. I am guilty of posting on their site just to get traffic to my blog... no harm no foul.

I had a difficult time my first couple days in Cuenca. My brainwashed American eyes and mind took a few days to adjust. I wanted the streets to be wider with more trees, and the lighting at night was not what I was used to. I loved the historic buildings but hated how everything was locked down at night. Those rolling shutters that cover the entire front of the buildings are very popular and so are tall wrought iron barriers with barbed wire at the top... Now add the guards with giant machine guns at all the banks and a few other "in you face" issues and it became very clear to me that I was not in Kansas anymore...

But then I stepped into the New Cathedral and just sat for a while. I am not sure what it was but this feeling of peacefulness came over me. The New Cathedral is a very special place. I started to notice the families as they came in. It wasn't just the older generation, this was a wonderful family event. Made me feel good. Then I went outside and sat in the park. Locals were walking and talking and smiling. Mom and Dad and kids were holding hands as they walked. I couldn't remember the last time I saw anything like this. People simply living, talking, smiling. When did this become so unusual and foreign to me.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at a little leather shop. The senorita behind the counter smiled as I practiced my very poor spanish on her. After a few minutes she called her husband from the store room. He came out and for the next 5 minutes we just talked. Their english was much better than my spanish. Then they called for their son to come out and they introduced him to us. He was happy to see us, and at 16 years old did not have an iPod permanently attached to his head. And there we stayed for another 20 minutes talking and sharing and laughing. This experience was so much more important to me than the wonderful leather bag I purchased. This shopping experience ended with a big hug from mom, dad, and the 16 year old son. That has never happened to me at Macy's. I like this place...

On the third day in Cuenca I was on my way to falling in love. I was finally looking at what I liked about the place, which was a lot of things, and the things I didn't like seemed kind of silly and unimportant. Warm people, warm weather, good food, smiling faces... what more could I want. 

Visit my blog if you want. I am preparing to move soon and we will probably have some of the same experiences. Take care.

George (ecuadorgeorge to my world traveling friends)

Hey George,
I'm so inept.... got a link or addy for your blog. As usuall, probably something that's there, and I'm just overlooking. I'm not that savvy to say the least!:cool:
Stay Well,
Neil

Neil,
Anyone who just Googles "Ecuador George" will find me listed right on top... but you can also click on the website icon just below my picture on any post I make or clicking on this link will be the quickest way... ecuadorgeorge.com/

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