Saturday, January 19, 2013


I know when I was researching information about Ecuador and Cuenca, I appreciated seeing some of the photography some bloggers captured because I am a visual person.  The success of this blog is in delivering to our readers what it truly is like living in the heart of this unique and active city, and to portray a true flavor of the Ecuadorians, their lifestyle, and how they earn their living or live and shop on the streets of Cuenca.

I wanted to photograph the vendors and the people on a typical Saturday in El Centro.  Because I am sensitive to the people I am photographing, I decided to use my 70-200mm telephoto lens.  This way, I hoped to capture some unique city and people-shots without being intrusive or invading anyone's space.  It was a busy day on the streets of this city, and there was much to see and capture.

I received many stares today as I photographed the city because Canon telephoto L lenses are big and white, and they attract a lot of attention.  Also, few people here walk around with such expensive and eye-catching camera gear.  I don't have it to flaunt but to capture life wherever I go.  I'm a photography junkie, so being a foreigner in a new land is heaven for me in the photographic arena.  It is my passion and my joy!!!  I'm thankful I have my bodyguard to protect me when I'm swept away into another world behind the lens.  Only a true photographer will know exactly what I mean - it's as if no one else is around - only me, my lens, and my subject.  If not for Bo, I wouldn't be able to relax and shoot.  I'd be too concerned for my equipment and my safety.


A mother and her three children shopping on a Saturday in the city!  Ecuadorian mothers carry their babies on their backs tied to a shawl.  One rarely sees a stroller or baby backpack.

Many of the younger and older women dress traditionally and scurry along carrying their wares to their street locations or to the mercados.

It's interesting to observe their traditional attire and how it differs from person to person.

In front of the churches are vendors selling religious paraphernalia.  Is this vendor praying or sleeping?


Vendors who do not have a rented space in the mercados set up their produce or wares along the sidewalks.  Many of them sit in a kneeling or squatted position waiting for a sale.  We're finding that their produce sells for considerably less. 


Some street vendors have many different produce selections, while others sell only one particular kind.  This vendor has her entire brood of young ones along side as she markets her bags of grains.  Notice the mother's attire - some is traditional dress (hat, skirt) and then the common AĆ©ropostale brand shirt that most Ecuadorian youths sport as their daily attire.

This beautiful old Cuencano woman was shopping and came out of one of the "tienditas" with her purchase strapped to her back.  The aged here are active and still shopping the streets of the city.

Some street vendors sell only toothpaste, toothbrushes, and toilet paper.  I buy 4 rolls for $1, and the next time I need toothpaste, I'll purchase it from a street vendor.

This young vendor was selling potatoes.  Many of the vendors protect themselves from the equator sun by holding umbrellas all day long......

Other outdoor vendors will wear a folded shawl over their heads to block the sun.  This vendor is selling small bags of grains and also crocheted apparel.  She's busy working away on another project.

Along the city streets, we come across people whom we have no clue what movie they're making?  What's his story?  What's in his big box?  Where is he going?

This begger was eating a bowl of soup.  After he finished, he got right to work, extending his hand for some coins.

On my photography excursion, I caught a shot of Sr. Diaz heading down the busy streets.  I wonder where he was heading?  Last night, we got three chocolate cones, and stood with Sr. Diaz in the cool evening licking our cones and catching up.  He continues to be someone we visit daily and spend time with.

Young school girls dressed alike head down the streets of the city.

Ice cream is a big thing here in Cuenca.  Every day city dwellers walk by with ice cream cones, popsicles, or some sort of "helado."  This vendor seemed to be doing well at his "San Francisco Flower Market" location this warm sunny Saturday afternoon.  (No, that's not ketchup he's putting on the ice cream cone - it's some sort of sweet dollop of syrup.)

A picture of street vendors selling to some passerby shoppers.

While some are selling, others are waiting.  This street vendor had beans (which she shells and bags) and corn.

While a flower vendor sorts through her bundles, a city dweller sits nearby.  Notice the contrast in the vendors attire and the woman in black?

Daily, the bus stop on Calle Larga by the mercado is crowded with people waiting for their ride.

There are lots of vendors with carts selling sugary treats.  This vendor sells candy coated apples.  He also has his son with him all day long.  This is the norm for many of the vendors - to have their children right by their side as they wait for the day's sales and provision.

These children were waiting for a cotton candy vendor to hand them their big pink sugary treat.  Sugary treats, cola, candy, cookies, ice cream, cotton candy, etc. are a daily common vendor sight on the streets of this city.

Vendors pushing wheelbarrows and crying "Cerezas" (cherries) is common on the city streets.  This young vendor is hoping to bag some cherries and make her next sale soon!

Many of the street vendors are older women - yet they continue to work and sell!

The "Panaderias" have many varieties of Ecuadorian breads which are soft and airy.  I long for Great Harvest bread!!!!

Along the city streets are many "Tiendas" selling their variety of wares and foods.  Nothing makes sense in what is being offered, and it takes time and a curiosity to explore and know these shops.

Always, my favorite place is the mercado!  the abundance of produce and the colorful mounds of fruits and vegetables still make me happy when I walk through the aisles.

We're beginning to explore the street vendors more, and we continue to learn the prices charged to the locals as we watch and listen.  These already-bagged assortments of produce usually sell for $1 a bag.  Avocados are five for $1.

 I hope you enjoyed this photojournal posting of the city people, and a Saturday vendor's world in Cuenca.  The people are beautiful, the city is happening, and the vendors are one of the true joys of being here for us.

Hopefully, it has been informative and a good visual of what to expect if you visit or move here.


  1. Your pix are TERRRRiFIC!! I do enjoy the reality that you have brought to all of the hype that the bulk of bloggers post. The advantage of understanding the lingo stands you head and shoulders above the expatese that is commonly shoveled here as REAL Cuenca/Ecuador. Please keep the frank, open honesty in the forefront of your blog. It is so much better for us wannabe's. Sincerely

    1. Hi Anonymous "Wannabe" -
      Welcome to our Blog - and thank you for commenting. So glad you are enjoying my photography. It is one of the highlights of being here for me, taking photos of the people and the lifestyle and culture. I can't even imagine living here without being able to communicate with the Ecuadorians, and it's opened the door to Ecuadorian friendships and celebrations. I hope you continue to journey with us through our blog postings, and please do let us know what you'd like to hear or see more of.

  2. The lack of government control is evident and refreshing.

    You mentioned you miss Great Harvest bread. What else--besides you Tempurpedic bed??

    1. I miss my mom, Shadley. More than anything else!!! I'm thankful for Skype and being able to see her and talk to her often. I miss my home, my Oregon life, my people, my car, blah, blah, blah - whine…..sigh…..tears! I miss so many things, I can't even begin to enumerate them. However, the reason for being here goes beyond everything I miss - it's about a new phase in our lives, letting go of the predictable, the comfortable, the material, the ordinary, the security, the boredom. It's about another adventure for Bo and me. So, although I miss so much, I can be here and smile and know that each day has something new and refreshing, which I'll continue to blog about. The day may not always be diamonds, but even in the dust we can learn and embrace whatever we're experiencing that is refining and changing us. By the way, we finally came across a bread in a hole-in-the-wall panaderia that is delicious and baked wholesomely. Yea! Not Great Harvest but delicious! Our bed is still too hard though (LOL)....

  3. Hello, Linda!
    I'm MJ from near Portland. I agree with the response above--the "reality" you show in your blog is both informative and refreshing. I think one gets a more honest picture of life in Cuenca from your pics and writings than some of the more idealistic blogs.

    Your NY's celebration with the family who lives mainly outdoors on farmland was really wonderful. It shows how natives from lower economic strata actually live in the countryside. Most of us from the U.S. cannot imagine a life this challenging. We have the modern convieniences, but perhap, s give up a lot in terms of simple human connection to live that lifestyle. Both parents work long hours, kids are in daycare and eating a lot of convienience foods, parents are stressed out. Kids have all the latest clothing, video games and computerized gadgets . . . but as we work to give them all this, we lose out on spending actual time with them.

    I am reading all I can get my hands on about the country, as I may decide to retire early in three years. Cuenca is at the top of my retirement list. I will not be able to live comfortably on just over $2K monthly here, mainly due to having to pay exhorbitant costs of hundreds monthly for medical insurance. The gap between 62 and 65 until medicare and even the co-insurance required here after 65 is prohibitive. The cost of living in the US is causing many of us to "work until we drop" to continue medical coverage, our huge house payments and in general, a lifestyle filled with stress.

    I think I'm ready for a major change! I would love to know more about how you came to the decision to move to Ecuador . . .

    1. Welcome to our Blog MJ!
      So glad you found us and are enjoying our story. Yes, we'll write in the reality and truth - and even then, I'm not expressing every detail of the ups and downs because such is life, no matter where we are, right? So, it is my hope to be able to use my love of photography and give a photo journal visual for those who have never been here and are hoping to come, and also to share our personal journey as we experience it day by day.

      What you wrote really spoke to me - you expressed it so candidly, brilliantly and so truthfully. Thank you for that! With your permission, can I quote some of what you wrote should I need it for one of my blog postings?

      For $2K a month, you can live comfortably here, currently! Bo and I are tracking our budget since we've been here and we are amazed at the difference in lifestyle and spending here. Of course, many things take getting used to - and we've only been here a few weeks. Like you, we were ready for a major change, and are we ever in one.

      I blogged how we came to the decision - so if you read "How this all transpired" you may have some of your questions answered. Write me if I can answer any others.

      Hoping all your desires and dreams become a reality,

  4. I vote for more photo essays! Nice job and it shows the life of Ecuadorians really well. One picture and a thousand words, they say. Especially like the one of the old lady in front of her candles and beads, dozing, dreaming of an earlier time, perhaps.

  5. Yes Terry,
    I agree - Pictures truly tell a story. I'll work on posting more photo essays in the near future. It's actually my passion - going out with my camera and capturing the day through my lens.
    Glad you're enjoying my photography.


Leave us your comments and I will respond with any questions you may have. Enjoy our Blog! Linda (y Bo)