November 30, 2011

Gringo Inflation in Cuenca: Comment from an Ecuadorian

I was watching your videos about my city. I'm from Cuenca and now I live in New York City. I'm glad you love my city. Just one thing about you guys comment on how cheap the prices are in the Mercado in Cuenca for example.  $0.50 per basil it is good but for the people who makes an Ecuadorian salary is normal because the income in my city is not like in USA. This is just a comment to make you guys think a lot of us have to emigrant here to your country trying to make a better living for our families there. Why don't you make a new video with how the rest of families survive in Cuenca Ecuador. Thanks and enjoy my city. 

We did make a video and here it is. 
Thank you for reminding us to keep Cuenca livable for everyone!


November 28, 2011

We Found Another Great (Almuerzo) Lunch for $2.40!

We love to eat out, can you tell? We also love eating out and not having to worry about weight gain too. We love to eat out for lunch because it's fun and we don't have to cook, and well, eating out Almuerzo really is not that bad for you. It's not like eating out at, say, Macdees, or golden coral where the food is boxed, greasy and fattening.

Most Almuerzo's as you can see in the video, are  home-cooked, wholesome food, except for the white rice. We're going to talk more about this white rice thingy in an upcoming blog post. We have found one restaurant in Cuenca that serves half brown rice in their Almuerzo and it is owned by Asians. It is in our Free Cuenca Restaurant guide on this blog.

"El Nuevo Paraiso Vegetariano" means "The New Vegetarian Paradise"
The New Vegetarian Paradise in Cuenca serves you a lot of food for the buck! Amazing! It was tasty too. 

November 25, 2011

Cuenca Carnival and Machette Juggler

Remember a few weeks ago when we told you about all the festivals and carnivals going on in Cuenca? Well, this video shows more of the festivities going on. Cuenca celebrated their Independence from Spain with traditional dances, food booths, fireworks, bands, and the artisans displayed their beautiful crafts. This video is of the carnival. At the end of the video is a street juggler who juggles perhaps for a living?

November 23, 2011

Supermaxi Grocery Store in Cuenca Ecuador

There are four Supermaxi locations in Cuenca. This particular Supermaxi is on Avenue Las Americas. You can find some local brands here that you cannot get anywhere else. Supermaxi has some great prices on produce when in season as well. We shop more at Supermaxi now after learning they carry more local brands. If you shy away from the imported foods, you'll keep your grocery bill down by 50%!

November 21, 2011

Web Cam of Parque Calderon in Cuenca

Parque Caldron is the main city center park in downtown Cuenca. It's a nice little park with lots of plants, palm trees, and a huge water fountain. This neat park is where many of the festivities go on in Cuenca. Enjoy the five minute web cam of Parque Calderon.

November 19, 2011

Taking the bus to Kywi Hardware Store in Cuenca

Kywi and True Value Hardware store are the two main hardware stores here in Cuenca. You will not have any problems finding what you need for home remodeling, repairs, or projects around the home while shopping at these two stores, but tools are a bit more expensive here.  Kywi is located off of 



To see prices of some tools here in Cuenca see our video of shopping for tools at Kywi here.

November 18, 2011

Another Frugal Shopping Day in Cuenca

We love shopping in Cuenca! Frank loves to bargain with the vendors. In this video we're shopping at Feria Libre and also downtown Cuenca. Just to let our readers know why we aren't telling you prices on food when in the grocery stores it is because you aren't even allowed to take pictures or videos in these grocery stores. Last time we were at Coral Centro the security guard told Brandon to put away the camera. In other words, there is no time to linger at the food items and talk about prices. Sorry. We'll post some popular food items from Coral Centro in an upcoming post soon. If there is a particular food item you are most interested in knowing the price on, let us know in the comments area.

November 17, 2011

House Hunters was in Cuenca in 2010

We had no idea that House Hunters International had already been to Cuenca in early 2010. A reader of our blog emailed us with this information and even sent us the link to this very first showing of HHI in Cuenca. It is banned for watching in Ecuador, we think that’s REALLY odd that a video promoting Cuenca is banned for viewing in Ecuador. But with our trusty proxy server we were able to watch the video.

The video is of a local Cuencano and his wife, who after living in the states for years finally moved here and retired. We think they were smart for coming when they did. Let us know what you think of the property prices of these three homes in the video. We’re curious to know what they actually paid for the 85k house that they chose out of the three. What do you think? Here is the video link, (you'll need a proxy to view the video), it is pretty interesting. http://youtu.be/Ce5qNxBvJ_o

BTW, we know where the home is that they did end up buying—it’s not far from where we live.

November 16, 2011

What Kind of Impact Do Shows LIke HHI Make on Small Cities LIke Cuenca?

Hold on to your hats! House Hunters International is coming to Cuenca! An expat family from a well-known, popular blog, that has been living in Cuenca for the last three years, just did a casting shoot for “House Hunters International” promoting Cuenca as the next undiscovered paradise. 

Between House Hunters International and International Living Press it won’t be long until house prices in Cuenca start sky rocketing out of this world.

Yes, it is true there are already pricey condos all over Cuenca, but there are still good rents and real estate deals if you know what you are doing and how to go about getting them. $300 Dollar Cuenca Rentals finds great rental deals all over Cuenca! 

(UPDATE August 2013) Rental prices are rising considerably. We're seeing OLD, (not updated) homes going for $500 to $1200 now. This kind of price hike has happened only in the last year or so. What is happening to Cuenca!! 

Well, here's part of what's happening. Ecuadorians are seeing the swarm of gringos moving here and they are renting out their OLD homes, without remodeling/updating them at outrageous rental prices....we walk away from these kinds of deals and you should too!!!

We have posted about rental inflation happening to Cuenca... popular reality shows like this will hurry up the process. Don't ya think? We want to hear from our readers about this. Do you think that a can of worms has been opened up, and Cuenca is going to explode with gringos moving here, or do you think nothing will actually come of this House Hunters show about Cuenca? 

(UPDATE 2013)  Cuenca is EXPLODING WITH GRINGOS and gringo-cuencanos! It used to be that we would go downotown and maybe see one or two gringos on the streets and that was a lot. Now, we go downtown and see gringo's on every street corner, in every bus, and living all over the city of Cuenca.  LOL...just saying...

 Cuenca has been discovered!

You can keep prices down when you come to Cuenca and not pay gringo prices.  A good rule of thumb is when in Ecuador live like the Ecuadorian's…learn to speak Spanish so you can haggle with the locals and be WILLING to WALK AWAY!

Read our story about why we declined to do the House Hunters International Show! 

November 15, 2011

Do Not Move to Ecuador only Because It’s Cheap (Part 2)

If you have not read Part 1 of this commentary please click here.

Is Ecuador the Best Place to Live?

Is Ecuador the best place to live just because the cost of living is cheap? Absolutely not!

Is Ecuador the best place to live just because the cost of living is cheap and it’s beautiful? Absolutely not! 

Is Ecuador the best place to live because of cost of living, beauty and mild weather? Absolutely not!

We like International Living. We've been reading their magazine for over 20-years! And we will continue reading their magazine and watching their videos. We like that they do a big part of the footwork about a new undiscovered place, so then we can actually do our own research about a place they are boasting about to see if we will like it too.

When International travel magazines boast about the wonderful character traits of a country or certain city, such as the weather, cost of living and beauty, these wonderful things are all very subjective, based on personal preference. Yes, even the cost of living is subjective. 

We've been on blogs where people were complaining about how expensive it is to buy things and to live in Cuenca!! They were complaining because for two people their expenses were $1700 a month. But whose fault is that?  That figure is almost twice as much as what we (family of five) spend on our cost of living.

Our two cents about lifestyle and living expenses is this: There are certain things you can do, and ways of doing things that can drastically change your cost of living without being in need, but most people don’t want to be economical or frugal. This is because they confuse needs with wants, but most “wants” are based out of fear—fear of being in lack of something you only think you need.

Beauty of a City is only an Opinion

We think there are some beautiful cities in the states. Northern Idaho, for example is one of the most picturesque and beautiful places to live in the U.S; the Oregon coast is the most beautiful of all the U.S coast lines but I wouldn’t want to live there because it's too cold and rainy, a lot of the time. We even think South Carolina, especially the coast is beautiful. But guess what? This is our opinion, not yours.

Remember: what one person finds beautiful, another may find plain. If you are coming from a mountainous state such as Idaho, Montana, or Utah, the mountains here might not be that picturesque for you. On the other hand, if you are coming from a state that has no mountains such as Kansas, and even parts of South Carolina, you’ll find the scenery here to be really neat for the first couple of months that you are here. We think the Andes Mountains are great but we also lived in Salt Lake City Utah and the mountains there seemed greater than the Andes Mountains. But this is our opinion.

We say, “Come here and check it out for your self”!

There is a lot of hoopla right now about Ecuador just like there was about Costa Rica in the 80’s and 90’s and then Panama in the last 10 years and now it is Ecuador’s turn? Costa Rica is probably just as nice as Ecuador, and so is Uruguay, Argentina, and Panama, but right now most people are VERY interested in Ecuador.

What makes Ecuador so special? Ecuador is special right now because it’s still cheap, subjectively speaking anyways. Food can be cheap, if you know how and where to shop; and rents can be cheap too if you know how and where to shop. We’ve told you some of our money saving secrets, but our new eBook called “DIY Cuenca Landing guide” is a life saver for those people who want to be more resourceful and frugal and are on a budget. We’re leaving nothing out of this eBook!

Even International Retire Abroad Magazine Writers Have Annoyances

When we ask most people why they moved here it is always the same answer: Cost of living. But then they complain about stuff. It’s true we have our annoyances too, just like everyone else, because Ecuador is not perfect. Even International travel writers complain. They complained about the town of Ibarra in one of their videos saying it is crowded, noisy, and smelly. Guess they aren’t trying to sell real-estate in that town?

Bottom line, don’t come here because it’s cheap and pretty; don’t come here for the mild weather because you may be disappointed; don’t come here with the intention of wanting to make it big in the real estate market because there is far too much of that here already; don’t come here to flaunt your retirement money around the Ecuadorians (you’ll only be making yourself a target); do not come here if some of the ways of the Latin American culture is offensive to you; don’t come here because IL ranked Cuenca the best city to live in 2011! These are all the WRONG reasons for moving to Ecuador or any South American country.

***Do come here because you’re tolerant of change; do come here if you need a lower cost of living standard; do come here because you like the Latin American slower pace of life; do come here because you are already happy with your life, but just want a change of pace; do come here if you want to slow down your lifestyle and start enjoying the life around you; do come here if you want to become a part of the Ecuadorian experience and allow the live and let live attitude and laid back lifestyle become a part of your personality; and do come here if you did your due-diligent research first.***

And you know what, if you come here based on those reasons, you will end up loving it here and anywhere in South America. 

November 12, 2011

Coral Centro "One Stop Shopping" in Cuenca

Coral Centro is a huge department store just like Walmart--Coral has it all and there are three locations in Cuenca. It is a huge department store with hardware, tools, kitchen ware, furniture, clothes, sporting goods, office supplies, groceries, bakery, electronics, and much more! Coral Centro is your Walmart of Ecuador.

November 11, 2011

Banos Mineral Springs and Spa in Cuenca

On the outskirts of Cuenca, about a 15 minute bus ride from Coral Centro on Las Americas, is a quaint little town called Banos. There are actually two towns in Ecuador called Banos, the other Banos is near Quito. 


A couple of weeks ago we rode the bus to these mineral springs to check it out for ourselves. Banos is right below a mountain where natural warm mineral water flows into the valley. The people of this quiet little town took advantage of this natural resource and created three different mineral spring parks where one can go and bathe in the mineral pools.  


Two of these mineral springs are geared for families with small children and there were quite a few small children playing in these pools. There is no chemicals in these pools, you know like chlorine, and well, all the little kiddies in the warm pool just didn't make for going into these mineral pools very tempting, if you know what we mean. 


Family mineral springs $6 to $8 for whole day 
(forgot name of these mineral springs but Banos is small and all three mineral springs are close to each other)

Piedra De Agua
Mineral Springs & Spa

Admission of $10 to spend the whole day in these mineral pools
There were no children in these pools, in fact we didn't see any children here at all. These mineral pools may be no children allowed for the simple reason we mention above. Remember, there is no chlorine in these pools--they are all natural






They say that natural mineral spring water is very good for your health and bathing in these natural pools are good for joint pain, arthritis, and other physical ailments. 

Mineral springs are made up of rock formations in the mountains and have minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, manganese, sulfur, iodine, and bromine. The exact minerals and trace elements of the water varies from spring to spring, and many spas post the exact minerals in the water.  Different waters are considered beneficial for different ailments.

November 10, 2011

Why We Think the Food Tastes Better in Ecuador

                          

Ironically, before we moved to Cuenca we were reading blogs about how the food was bland, not spicy enough, or not enough of a variety. The fact is, we think the food tastes better / fresher here than in the States, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos islands and even Mexico. The butter, milk, and eggs don’t even need to be refrigerated here because they are so fresh. 

One of our deciding factors for moving to South America was for the abundance of fresh food! Produce, meat, dairy, it’s all fresher and cleaner here, and you know what that means don't you? Better tasting and more flavorful food!

In fact we all agree, the chicken here in Cuenca is the best we’ve ever eaten before and we’re all really picky chicken eaters. Back in the states the dark meat always tasted really strong and roast chicken had a strong flavor to it also that we didn’t like, but here, it tastes like chicken should taste like—it’s truly amazing! 

On another note, do you remember when we told you we were losing weight? Well, what we lost was body fat. Any body fat we had on us before we came here is virtually gone!

We know we’ve told you this before but the food here does not make you fat because it does not have hormones in it. Hormones (estrogen) injected into the chickens and cows in the states cause them to get big and fat and that way there is more meat on the animal, more money for the farmer.  But when you eat that chicken or beef, you’re getting some of those hormones too…unless you can afford to buy organic of course, which in South Carolina, we checked, and one organic chicken cost like $18 to $20, which was not in our budget.

The point is...hormones make ya fat! 

Please do not mistake this blog post to mean anything other than our excitement about the healthy food and the natural flavor of the food here in Ecuador. We are just so happy and thrilled that we can afford to buy hormone free chicken and have an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies now…back in the states you couldn’t even look at an organic apple—it was like $0.75 for one apple!! We don’t know how some families are getting by with the prices of produce in the states. 

Besides that, it is so hard to contain ourselves...its unbelievable, you can eat here and not gain weight!

We would hope that our readers who are thinking about moving to Ecuador or another South American country (where the food is fresher) will be able to make their goals and aspirations come alive for them and make the adventurous move, just like we did and our doing. No one deserves to be forced to eat polluted food, which most people are forced to eat, since organic meat and produce truly cost an arm, leg and nose in North America!

We just hope that Ecuador doesn’t start to get all gung ho about fattening up their livestock and poultry with hormones and antibiotics because if they did, it just wouldn’t be that great of a place for us anymore. We have read that Ecuador is against injecting their animals with drugs, but for how long? We’re hoping it’s a long ways away.



November 09, 2011

Spray Paint Artists, Mimes and Traditional Band of Cuenca


The festivities for Cuencas Independence from Spain went on last week from November 3, 2011 Through Sunday November 6. This video is showing some of the traditional festivities Cuencanos celebrate during this Independence weekend. Many of the artists come out and perform a creative art they enjoy. There are lots of food booths, music, carriage rides, fireworks, carnival rides, and traditional dances as well. Some of these festivities we have already posted on this blog.

                            

November 08, 2011

Expat Family Builds Patio Furniture: Adirondack Chair


You're not going to believe this, but we haven't bought one piece of furniture since living in Cuenca! This has saved us a bunch! We built all of our bed frames, two couches, dining table with chairs and benches, computer desk, kitchen island, and now Frank built a Adirondack chair for the patio. We're going to build another one just like it. Here's the video of the Adirondack chair.

                              

November 07, 2011

Horse Drawn Carriage Ride in Downtown Cuenca


During a festival or celebration Cuenca brings out her horses and buggies for rides around the city center. Since last Thursday, November 3, Cuenca has been celebrating her independence from Spain. For $2 per person you can enjoy a 25 minute carriage ride around the city center of Cuenca. The ride starts in the El Centro Parque and that is where the ride ends.

                     

November 05, 2011

“Cuenca’s Independence from Spain” Celebrations Traditional Dance and Ecuadorian Music


There are a lot of festivities going on in Cuenca right now until next week. Cuencanos have been celebrating their independence from Spain with festivals, carnivals, traditional dance and food, fireworks and all kinds of creative arts. We’ve gone to many of these festivities and had a great time. This week and next week we’ll be posting some of the festivities that have been going on around Cuenca.

The biggest festivals are going on in the center of the city downtown in El Centro Parque. On November 3, they had some wonderful dancers performing some traditional dances and an Ecuadorian live band. The dancing ended off with a grand finale of fireworks. Enjoy the video!

                          

November 04, 2011

El Paraiso Parque in Cuenca Ecaudor

This is the biggest park in Cuenca. There are some really neat walking trails by the river and secluded green spaces for bringing your picnic lunch and enjoying the scenery with your family. Part of the walking trial in the woods is on a home made wooden bridge and the river extends all the way through the park. There is a pond or small lake with ducks and paddle boats for renting. Also there are bike trails if you want to bring your bike. Lots of green space for playing ball and other sports and several different playground areas for the little ones. The scenery in this park is really nice and the grass is thick and green. Enjoy the video--we'll most definitely go back to this park again.

November 02, 2011

Ecuadorian Traditions - Music, Flutes, Puppet show and Feria Libre

Today we're going to post a video about some of the different Ecuadorian traditions here in Cuenca.

                   

FYI: There are many festivities going on in Cuenca starting tomorrow (November 3rd) and going on through next week. Many businesses will close, streets will be barricaded off for shoppers and the artisans will display their handicrafts--lots of food booths, dancing and music. It is a celebration of the independence of Cuenca from the Spanish. On November 3rd, 1820, Cuencanos achieved their freedom.

November 01, 2011

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Cuenca Ecuador

It is a pleasure, as I sit here working in my cubicle in the U. S., to learn about another culture through your eyes. Your post has made me wonder about the sounds and smells of the city. Are there boom boxes or loud music, either from passing cars or shops? Is it stinky from the public urination? Is there a floral scent in the air? I'm also curious about the public restrooms: are they clean, and are there toilets or just a drain in the floor, as I found in Paris? Is it like Mexico, where you have to throw the tp in the trash because the septic system is bad? And one more, any thoughts about doing laundry there? My questions would be inappropriate at a dinner party, and I'm a little reluctant to ask, but this is what I am curious about. You have been so forthcoming with practical information; I hope you don't mind my asking plumbing and sanitation questions. Thank you.

All of the above questions are perfectly normal questions and concerns to wonder about. We too, before moving here, thought about all of these things, and the truth is even though someone tells you what it’s like here and they answer all of your concerns and questions, it’s nothing at all like experiencing these things first hand.

Downtown Cuenca
Depending on where you are in Cuenca, the sounds, smells and sights are different. Let’s take a stroll to downtown Cuenca first. We were all awe-struck when we first got here and experienced walking around downtown. Frank came to Cuenca first to set up a house…we’re a family of five and we didn’t want to wrack up huge hotel and restaurant costs so it made sense for us.

Anyway, I remember when Frank called us the night he got in. He was so excited about the fact that the downtown area reminded him of Southern Italy. He kept talking about the cobblestone streets and the old world architecture—he was really excited and amazed about the beauty of downtown Cuenca.

You are surrounded by tall colonial style buildings with red tiled roofs, and the streets are cobblestone and very narrow. There is lots of traffic and loud buses and car horns honking. The sidewalks are narrow and you have to be careful and watch where you step because there are potholes and other objects jutting out of the cement; there are huge cracks and slants in the sidewalk too. And sometimes there is not even a sidewalk to walk on. You have to be careful because when a big huge city bus drives by, they are only a couple feet away from you standing on the sidewalk!

The only negative we have about being downtown is the buses exude a lot of exhaust into the air when they first accelerate and if you’re standing right there this huge whiff of black smoke goes into your lungs, often times we try and hold our breaths until it dissipates enough to be able to breathe.

There are mom and pop shops everywhere! They have lots of panaderias (bakeries) here and when you are near one of these bakeries and they are baking, usually in the morning, the smell is incredible. Imagine smelling bread baking and a burnt sugar smell…it is almost irresistible and when we first got here we were always wanting to get a freshly baked doughnut, cookie, roll, or pastry from one of the bakeries. After a while we realized our little habit isn’t that great for our health. We bake our own cookies and cakes at home using at least half whole wheat flour.

Ecuador is very family oriented and no matter where you are there are families everywhere! They stick together here, generally speaking. The younger take care of the older and the older take care of the younger...what we mean is they work together and support one another--they are like one unit even if its a family of 12! We've noticed lots of small children and lots of young married pregnant moms!

Some of the mom and pop clothing shops like to play loud Latin music through huge speakers to garner attention from people walking by. Their mannequins are different here, more realistic, and they really like to dress them up, especially the female mannequins. You’ll see some things on the mannequin’s here that you would never see in the states, well, I take that back, you might in California or NY.

There are public restrooms downtown and they charge $0.10 cents to use them. They will give you about two feet of toilet paper. We always bring our own in our back packs just in case we might need more. The public restrooms just off the street usually smell like they spray a flowery aerosol to keep down the odors. The plumbing is old downtown and they do not flush toilet paper down the toilets, however, on accident we have and nothing happened!

The public restrooms in the Mercado downtown always smell. These restrooms are very busy, and so imagine if everyone is putting their toilet paper in the garbage cans?? And if you don’t give the lady at the door a nickel she complains and keeps asking you for it, even if you bring your town toilet paper. We try not to use these restrooms because they do smell pretty bad.

Usually if we are downtown we eat out in one of our favorite almuerzo restaurants and the restrooms there are much better and cleaner. By the way, all of the downtown Cuenca restaurants we posted in our free eBook all have clean, fresh restrooms with soap and toilet paper.

We have to admit at first this way of dealing with the TP was a bit off-putting and it was one of the shocks of the culture for us, but when you think about it, they have been doing it this way for hundreds of years and to them there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting the toilet paper in the garbage can, and in fact, they may think it is weird flushing it down the toilet. The shock is gone for us and we’re adapting to this cultural aspect of old town Cuenca.

If you have ever been in a smelly outhouse, that’s pretty much what it’s like. In an outhouse, the toilet paper and other digestive material just sit there in a bucket for days, and days, and days… we do see them cleaning the restrooms all the time too, but it’s difficult to get rid of the smells when the bathrooms are so busy.

On a positive note, if your rent a newer house and or apartment/condo that is not downtown you can put the toilet paper down the toilet. This is just for the older plumbing downtown.

Parque Calderon
The park is a great place to sit in the afternoon and listen to the piped out classical music and have an ice cream cone for $0.25. It is a lovely little park with tiled floors and a big water fountain. There are beautiful palm trees and evergreen trees adorning the center of the park. People-watching is a pastime for most people who patronize the park. The governor of Cuenca lives right across the street from this park, and the tourist office is close by as well.

Parque Calderon is where you will see most of the Gringos. There are many expat/gringo restaurants and hangouts across the street or nearby this town square, such as Tutto Freddos, which is a favorite dessert spot for us as well.

There are lots of taxis everywhere in Cuenca. You’ll never wait long if you need to hail a taxi and you have probably heard, they only cost around $2 to $3 to go just about anywhere. The buses only cost $0.25.

The Steps Leading up from the River into the Downtown Area
Cuenca downtown is up from the river and sits upon a hill. If your journey starts down by the river then you’ll have to walk several steps up to get into the city center. This area is known for public urination, especially in the corners of the steps on a landing. It reeks pretty badly, and even though there are public restrooms below the steps the men still prefer to urinate on the steps.

Anywhere around or along the river you may spot a drunken man passed out lying in his own urination and sometimes defecation and vomit. It is really sad, alcoholism is a problem here because they make a VERY strong fermented drink out of sugar cane—the factory for manufacturing this strong alcoholic drink is right here in Cuenca. It’s so cheap that virtually anyone can afford it. We’ve seen the indigenous Indian women also drunk on buses and passed out at their vegetable stands.

Supermaxi - Avenue De Las Americas
Away from the downtown area, there are many newer brownstone type condominium complexes popping up, mostly around Supermaxi. There is a lot of cars and buses here too and mom and pop shops but the difference is they are not in colonial style buildings here, but in new homes and offices. There are sidewalks for walking but some of them do need a little work.

Supermaxi off of Avenue Las Americas is in a neat little mall with about 15 other retail shops. There is a couple of clothing shops, kitchen ware, and household items shops in this little mall. The public restrooms outside of Supermaxi are super clean and never have a bad odor. We also see other gringos in Supermaxi more than we do at Coral (Cuenca Walmart).

Feria Libre – Avenue De Las Americas
The first couple of times we went to Feria Libre we were amazed at the size of the place…you might get lost. It is the largest mercado in Cuenca. This is where most of the farmers bring their produce and other items they are selling. It is packed with people on any given day, but mostly on Wednesdays and weekends. You can virtually buy anything here from food to hardware items to house wares. Feria Libre is where you will see most of the indigenous population.

The fish area can be pretty smelly and same with the meat area...ummmm, the restrooms at Feria Libre are pretty nasty. It is because there are so many people at this market and the restrooms stay really busy here. We recommend that you make sure you won’t need to use the restrooms while you are here and don’t drink any fluids until you get home, just to be on the safe side.

There is also a big rock wall that separates Feria Libre from the street...and well, it reeks of urination also...so we try to avoid walking anywhere near this wall. All we can say is, its an appalling cultural habit of peeing in the streets and now the people are bearing the consequences of the stench in some areas of Cuenca.

Apart from that, Feria Libre is an amazing place to go shopping and bargain for some great produce prices. You will pay about half as much for produce here compared to Supermaxi.

Parque  El Paraiso

Paraiso park is the biggest park in Cuenca. There are walking trails through the woods and a river runs through it. As you stroll through the walking trail in the woods by the river the scent of flowers blooming is in the air. This park has lots of green space for playing games and sports, several play grounds for the little ones, and even paddle boats for the bigger kids and adults. The sounds of laughter from small children is ever present as you stroll through this park. 

The smells, the sights and the sounds of Cuenca are so variable depending on where you are at. This park is a great place to go if you want to get away from the noisy traffic and exhaust of the city.

Doing Laundry? Oh well, they sell appliances here. You can find washers and dryers but you will pay more…they cost around $800 to $1500 for a good sized whirlpool washer and I think dryers are a little bit more than that. Or, you can do like some of the Ecuadorians do and use the sink outside to wash your laundry and then hang it on the clothesline to dry...or some of the Ecuadorians make a day of it at the river and do their laundry in the river and dry it on the hilly, grassy slope while they eat their picnic lunch.

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