WHAT I LOVE:
1 - I LOVE Cuenca. It's an interesting and beautiful city! I have never been a city girl. When my husband was a traveling corporate guy, I would join him on many business trips to cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, and even New York. I'm from New York and never liked going into the city as a young girl. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful and happening cities you could visit. Portland, Oregon is another dynamic and amazing city. Yet, never did I want to live in any of these cities nor be a city dweller. I love Cuenca. It's a large city with a small city feel and a historic charm and beauty which one must experience for themselves. Yes, I'm loving being a city girl!!!
2 - I love the mercados in Cuenca. There are several that we can visit and shop at daily, but my favorite is 10 de Augusto because we have had heart connections with several of the vendors and love visiting them. They are always so helpful to us, and most of them know exactly what we want now and seem to enjoy helping us. We also enjoy visiting the 9 de October mercado because it is very clean and organized. However, we haven't shopped there enough on a regular basis to get to know the vendors personally. For us, it's about the people we meet and can frequent and support financially when we're shopping.
3 - I love living in the heart of El Centro! We enjoy exploring this historic city daily. If we want to take a break, home is a few blocks away. We can walk everywhere and get lots of healthy exercise that way. It's fun entering the unique and amazing shops and finally discovering one that has just what we need. We can also shop FRESH for our daily food and only blocks away at the abundant mercados!
4 - I love the Ecuadorian people. Most are humble, loving, and very friendly when we begin to engage them and they realize I can speak Spanish. They light up when they hear Bo attempting to speak to them in their language. One little Tiendita's workers smile when we walk in because they attempt to speak English to us and we can laugh together and have "our lesson and word for the day" together. We've only been here 6 weeks, yet our daily walks through the city have made us familiar faces to many of the places we frequent, especially in the mercados.
5. I love having the opportunity to speak a second language and improve my Spanish. It is my personal desire to perfect my Spanish and be able to speak it fluently and accurately. I've had no opportunities back home, except when visiting my mom, to speak this beautiful language, and every day I purpose to struggle through and trip over my tongue until one day it will flow!
6 - I love the weather in Cuenca! In the short time we've been here, for us the weather is PERFECT! Coming from the RAINY Willamette Valley of beautiful green lush Oregon, we have desired to move for a long time and to live somewhere mountainous, green, lush, SUNNY and beautiful, but not too cold and not too hot! We do not like humidity, mosquitoes (they seek me out and I swell up), continual rain, ice, snow, extreme cold or months of lack of sunshine. After living in rainy Oregon for 39 years, it is refreshing to see blue skies and sunshine every day since we've been here. Yes it rains, but not like the Willamette Valley. Yes it is overcast, but the sun shines every day. Yes, daily the weather is unpredictable, but we love not sweating and being able to layer and wear sweatshirts and long pants.
7 - I love the taxi and bus system here and not having the expense of a car! Come on - really!! Buses that run every 10 minutes and cost 25 cents and Taxis that are everywhere and cost $1.50 to $2 a ride around the entire city (unless you're getting Gringo'd - which we're not!!!!). There are buses that will take you outside the city to far away outlying areas for a few dollars. When we went to Yunguilla, it cost $1.50, and that was a 2 hours trip in a comfortable Greyhound-type bus. We don't have to pay for gas (which, by the way is only $1.48 for regular) or car insurance or car maintenance. Yes, it takes getting used to not having the independence of having our own transportation, especially for Bo, but for now it works and it's fine. That could change (and probably will if we continue to live here), however, walking, taxi rides, and buses are a good thing!
8 - I love walking everywhere and losing weight! Not that I was that much overweight, but aging tends to contribute to extra pounds and rolls, and since living here it's noticeable that my pants are falling off me! Bo too - and he does need to shed some unhealthy baggage - which he already has in 6 weeks. It's a fact that walking is healthy! Eating lots of fruits and vegetable which are abundant and so inexpensive here is also contributing to this daily weight loss.
9 - I love making new friends! We've met some wonderful ex-pat and we've met some precious Ecuadorians in our short time here. It's been fun getting together with new and interesting friends and learning from them, having meals together, and getting to know each other. Speaking English with our ex-pat friends is nice too, since the majority of our day is spent listening to Spanish all around us, including Spanish music and the constant chatter of vendors and residents on the streets of Cuenca. We've especially enjoyed our new Ecuadorian friends who are embracing us and helping us learn about their culture and the wonderful delicious foods they eat. Cooking and eating are two of our favorite pastimes. We now cook a lot of the Ecuadorian vegetables, soups, and meals.
10 - I LOVE THE COST OF LIVING HERE! I've listed this at the bottom of the list because it's not the driving reason Bo and I came to Ecuador. Yes, it's the main reason so many people are choosing to ex-pat and leave the USA and their families behind - because they cannot afford to live on their pensions nor afford the exhorbitant medical care. Bo and I are still able to work, and we are blessed with good health. However, to be able to live in a country that allows us to daily live so inexpensively is pretty fabulous. We like renting and living month to month here, we love shopping and coming home with so much for so little, and we enjoy living with less STUFF and feeling so unencumbered materially. We've learned how to live in a small place after traveling the US on two different adventures in a 40' motor coach. So, having repacked our bags to come to Cuenca does include being able to live on so much less, and it certainly is a big part of what we're loving here!
11 - MEDICAL CARE - I cannot comment on the cost nor quality of the medical care here, because we've been fortunate not to have to use it. We do, however, love having an outpatient medical insurance that costs us $4.65 monthly for the two of us through the Coopera Credit Union, and this is an 80-90% reimbursement coverage for any outpatient expenses for up to $400 a year! Since the cost of excellent medical care here is phenomenally less than the US and we are both in good health to date, this insurance can cover us for any outpatient care needs that come up in the near future.
12 - I love the pharmacies here and the cost of certain US prescription medications which we can get here over the counter for sooooooooooooooooooooooooo (not exaggerating!!!) much less!!!! One prescription Bo takes that costs over $150 monthly in the US will cost him about $15 here. Go figure!!!! I mostly love the natural and holistic approach of the pharmacists when I've needed something particular in the way of medication. I'm all about holistic, so this has been refreshing after living in the US and having doctors and pharmacists peddling their expensive and harmful drugs!
WHAT I CAN LEAVE:
1 - I don't like the uncomfortable furniture while renting! After living in a beautiful and ohhh soooo comfortable home back in Oregon, it's been difficult not having a home with comfortable furniture. Ecuadorian rentals have tiny little hard and uncomfortable living room sets. It would almost qualify as patio furniture for us, and even our patio furniture back home was more comfortable than what we've had here! We aren't buying furniture here until we know a longer-term plan (we're still living day by day here and checking it out), so what we rent is what we get! This really has taken some getting used to. We miss our ohhhhh sooooo comfortable Tempurpedic King Bed! If you've never slept on a Tempurpedic, you haven't slept! Yes, we found out they sell them here, but again, until we KNOW we'll be here a LONG time, the not-so-comfortable hard beds will have to do. The apartment we are currently renting is such a step up from what we had before, so we're thankful for this. Our Ecuadorian landlady seems to like quality compared to others, and we're not complaining - just spoiled and missing a few things.
2 - I don't like the cost of electronics here! Pretty spendy stuff! Because our luggage was over 50 pounds at the Eugene airport, I had to quickly pull some things to get the free check-in rate. One of the things I regret leaving are my Bose speakers. I'm an audiophile, and I love my music and it has to sound good! Since being here, I've looked and looked and have yet to find some quality sounding speakers that I'm willing to pay for. I'm roughing it playing my iTunes collection from the speakers on my Mac. it will have to do for now, and at least I have my music library to play! Wah Wah Wah!!!!!
3 - I absolutely do not like the Visa Process! Because it is our intention to stay and live here and not just be on a 90-day visa, we are applying for our investment visa. We do not qualify for a pensioner visa yet, so the process has been a bit more complicated - trying to open a bank account has been an experience for another blog posting (NOT FUN!!!) You'd think they 'd be happy to have our money come in. There are so many rules, requirements, and glitches that happen, and it's been very frustrating to date. We're hanging in there and hoping for the best outcome though, and through it all we will have learned MORE PATIENCE AND GRACE!
4 - I don't like the wine selection here! I'm a Cabernet dry wine girl! My favorite wine back home is not available here. We haven't been here that long, but the wines have not compared to a $10-12 bottle of wine back home. I guess I'll have to keep exploring and trying some pretty yucky stuff before I come across my favorite. So far, Gato Negro is it and not to spendy for that occasional glass I love to sip.
5 - I absolutely do not like the uneven and unpredictable sidewalks and streets here. Even going into a store - like today. We were in an amazing antique shop and I about fell three different times because of the uneven stones and unexpected rises and falls in the walkways. The beauty of the cobbled sidewalks and streets are wonderful, but I feel quite unsteady at times - only because I'm a seer, and I love looking around and also taking photos. Bo is constantly catching me and has kept me from falling several times. He tells me to quit looking around and to pay attention, but I'm not heeding his warnings very well. So much to see and photograph!!!!
6 - I don't like the Ecuadorians' habit to just not show up! We've been stood up several times while here. No phone call, no follow-up! They just do not show up or are unreasonably LATE. Then, when we do hear from the Ecuadorian (friend, painter, landlady, internet guy, etc.) or they do finally show up hours or days (yes days) later, they never acknowledge it - and if it's mentioned, a giggle or a look of shock is the response. My favorite was when I was told that the internet guy would be at our place at 8 am one day. Bo and I were here. Three days later, my landlady said, "You weren't there!" No sense even going there with, "I was!" I just smiled……..
7 - I don't like the graffiti throughout the city walls. So much of the graffiti is an eye-sore - it's not artwork (although some is artsy and interesting on some of the city walls) and detracts from some of the beauty of the historic buildings and city.
8 - I absolutely do not like seeing the older Ecuadorian generation here all hovened over, still carrying heavy bags and wares on their backs, almost unable to walk the streets. It breaks my heart. I know it's their culture. I know they are a hard-working people. I know that this is how they live. But, it still absolutely brings me to tears to see the poverty, the broken worn bodies, and the tiny hunched-over people on the streets of this city.
9 - I absolutely absolutely do not like nor want to tolerate "Ex-Pat Know-It-Alls!!!!" - Yes, they are here, and Yes, we've had the pleasure of these uncomfortable encounters. My least favorite encounter, so far, was a loud, in-your-face ex-pat telling us how we should handle Ecuadorians and that they were this and that (I won't even go into this one!). I don't do well with people who bloviate or pontificate, and already we've experienced some uncomfortable situations with people who speak the same language as us - if you know what I mean!!!!
This is my own VERY PERSONAL list of my "Love it or Leave it"! Please, if you are reading this, know that life here is a very personal experience, encounter, and opinion. What some may love, hate, tolerate, or not be able to handle after time will be different from others. What some may perceive as whining or complaining may be understood completely by others. What some may misunderstand in my honesty may be completely understood by others who are experiencing or may have experienced the same things. So, I write this to share in all honesty what, in the past 6 weeks, have been my personal likes and dislikes. These can change, and probably will - maybe for the better, maybe for the worst. This is why I write and share - so that I can give my family, friends, and readers an honest picture of what's happening for ME!!!! My blog is not intended to hurt anyone, nor is it intended to paint a "Tip Toe Through The Tulips Experience" of life in Cuenca. I've read so many blogs and since I've been here, I've heard several people personally share , "I knew the first week here it was where I wanted to spend the rest of my life!" Wow! I was telling Bo today, "Sometimes, I feel there is something wrong with me!" How in the world does one know something so definite like that? I've never even been able to work at a job more than 3 years before becoming so bored and so done with the mundane and the predictable. So, all this to say, I'm bearing my soul, certainly not to be chastised. This is what's been real for me and my honest personal perspective in six short weeks. I'm willing to share more, but only after experiencing it from the very core of my being. I appreciate your comments and even your own personal perspective on the "Love It or Leave It" experiences that you've had since being in Cuenca. So, thanks for listening. I feel so much better now!!!!
Hey, now you know, "What's not to love in Cuenca?" from my own personal experience!!!!!
|Precious Ecuadorian women carrying their heavy wares through the streets of Cuenca. This is what breaks my heart!!!!!!!|