December 30, 2011

Summer in Cuenca?

Cuenca in the summer has been a bit cloudier and chillier than in the winter, if that’s possible. For some reason we thought it might be warmer in summer here than in the winter; not sure what gave us that idea.LOL

It is summer in Cuenca and it has been cooler and rainier than winter! We think it is important to let our readers know how the weather REALLY is here in the Andes of Cuenca. Perhaps it is a fluke of nature and we’re just experiencing a rainier summer this month, but you would think it be dryer in the summer than in the winter and spring.  And it is probably cooler because of the cloud cover. Without the sun coming out it stays in the 60's.

If you don’t mind mostly cloudy days with periods of rain and drizzle, in the mid to upper 60’s, and when the sun peeks out of the clouds, low 70’s, then Cuenca is it. If our readers are coming from say, Washington, Oregon and even Northern California than this weather will be wonderful for you—it will be pretty much the same as you are used to, although we would venture to say the sun probably shines in those northern states more than in Cuenca.

They all say the weather in Cuenca is spring-like. Well, they are partly right. The weather is not cold and snowy like Minnesota and it is not hot and humid Houston Texas. No, Cuenca weather is not snowy or humid, so in that sense it is quite mild. It is NEVER too hot, but it is usually chilly in the mornings and if the sun doesn’t come out from behind the clouds, the house never warms up.

We have intently watched the weather in the month of December because well, it’s summer time here now and we wanted to know the difference in weather patterns. In the month of December Cuenca had about 25 days of cloudy, rainy, drizzly days and about four, maybe five days of sunshine.

For some people this kind of weather is spring-like. It usually rains more in the spring in North America, so yes, it is spring-like here, even in the summer. Right now at 10:30 in the morning, the sun is peeking out of the mostly cloudy sky and Frank is sitting outside on his Adirondack chair trying to warm up. He even took his flannel off for about an hour this morning, but now has it back on. I have my two little portable heaters next to me wherever I happen to be in the house, (I’m always cold here) and with that I have adjusted to the change in weather; that being from southern, eastern U.S. 

BTW, our two portable heaters in the month of November really brought up our electric bill from about $35 to $100. So if you want to stay warmer in your house, apartment, or condo, and you use electric heaters you will have a dramatically higher electric bill each month.

Wood stoves are not normally used here; we haven’t even seen them for sale. But if we had a wood stove, we would probably load it up every morning just to get the chill out of the house. As of this writing the sun went back behind the clouds and it looks like it is probably going to rain again.  This is to be expected when you live in the mountains of Ecuador.

December 29, 2011

White Rice and the Almuerzos (lunches) of Ecuador

No matter where you eat at throughout Ecuador, if you dine in an Ecuadorian style restaurant during Almuerzo time, they will serve you rice. Problem is it is white rice, which means all of the whole grain goodness has been stripped out of the rice, leaving a pearly white, nutritional-less rice.

White rice may not be as unhealthy for you as white flour products, such as white bread and pasta, but it still has no value, except to help fill you up. Unfortunately white rice is a staple here in Ecuador and it is part of the Ecuadorian fare and it is not going to go away any time soon. 

A lot of people in North America, even when they learn that white rice has no value to your health continue to eat it over the whole grain brown rice. And we’re sure the same holds true for people anywhere in the world where it is milled and polished. It's true, it is difficult to get used to eating brown rice if you've been eating white rice for so many years, but it could mean your health and that should be more important.

We have found one Almuerzo restaurant in Cuenca (so far) that serves half brown rice mixed in with the white rice. This restaurant is listed in our “10 Best Restaurants in Cuenca for under $3 Guide”.

The restaurant is called Good Affinity Vegetarian Restaurant.  And funny thing is this restaurant is owned by a Taiwanese family. Frank and I have thought about talking to some of the restaurants in Cuenca and asking them to please serve brown rice as well as white rice for those people who would prefer brown rice, but we’re not sure how to go about it without offending anyone.  Obviously with the influx of new gringos coming into town there is going to be other folks that also would prefer brown rice served, or at the very least half and half.

White Rice vs. Brown Rice

First of all, before we get into nutritional value, let’s just say, brown rice in our opinion, when cooked right, has much more flavor than white. White rice is quite bland. Brown rice has a kind of nutty, chewy, earthy goodness to it that compliments any meal. We’ve been eating brown rice for over 25 years! 

White rice, like white bread products contribute to many kinds of health afflictions, one being diabetes and at the very least, two being whacky blood sugar levels. Is it any wonder that Cuenca has a huge diabetes center? White rice, unlike the whole grain brown rice makes you constipated and that will make you feel and look very unhealthy overtime.

Whole Grains such as Brown Rice Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a clean colon, and white rice only clogs you up and causes unnecessary health issues, besides weight gain.  Many people are unaware of the real differences between polished white rice and whole grain brown rice.

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

  • twice the manganese and phosphorus of white.
  • 2.5 times the iron.
  • 3 times the vitamin B3.
  • 4 times the vitamin B1.
  • 10 times the vitamin B6.
  • and no blood sugar spikes like white rice
  • gives you much more energy
  • makes you feel and look healthier
It is a great source of manganese, essential for energy production, antioxidant activity, and sex hormone production.

Essentially, high fiber foods help you go to the bathroom, rather than keep you constipated.  Whole grains such as brown rice helps to move other unhealthy substances that you may be eating in your diet, out of the colon, rather than letting it sit and ferment in your body making you feel sick and tired, literally.

So with all of that said, we still like to eat out for almuerzo once in awhile, but we have become pickier about where we eat and what we eat. After eating the white rice in the almuerzo’s for a few months you can tell the difference in how you feel. Govinda’s vegetarian restaurant makes some great lentil and soy burgers too.

Refined Flour Products Unhealthy

On another note there are also numerous Panaderia’s (bakeries) here in Cuenca that serve refined flour products from pastries to rolls and breads. When we first got here the wonderful smells of bread baking was hard to resist, and we’d give in and buy some dinner rolls or pastries, but after awhile you have to go back to your normal way of eating or become sick and unhealthy.

It’s not that we never have a pastry or a roll from these shops, but we do not do it often or even every day—we can tell the difference in how we feel. We have been milling our own grain from the wheat berries for over 25 years and we can’t let the Ecuadorian almuerzo and wonderful smells of bread baking stand in the way of our health! How about you? I still eat white rice occasionally when we eat out but Frank won't touch it.

We’re still searching to find more restaurants in Cuenca that serve brown rice in the almuerzo and we will keep our readers posted when and if we do find more.

BTW, there are some bakeries that will make you “Integral” whole wheat bread and rolls here in Cuenca. Coral Centro on Avenida las Americas is one such place, and the other one is called Superstock on Avenida las Americas. You may have to let them know ahead that you want whole wheat bread and they bake it fresh in the morning and the next day you can go and pick it up.

December 28, 2011

Cuenca Ecuador Photo Album

December 27, 2011

Cuenca River Walk on Tres de Noviembre to El Centro

We took another beautiful 2-mile walk along the river going toward El Centro (city center) of Cuenca. This river walk is a most enjoyable way to go downtown if you're not in a hurry. Enjoy the walk!

December 26, 2011

We Built Bird Houses with the Children

The children really enjoyed making these bird house, although they ended up creating real people houses instead. We ended up with about 7 or 8 houses. Next time we're going to help the children make some puppets.

December 23, 2011

D' Liz - Picadas, Dulceria, (Sweetery)

Today we were exploring the outskirts of El Centro Cuenca and we came upon a quaint little French style coffee shop and sweetery.

The coffee was $0.50 a cup and the cocoa was $0.80 a cup!

They served the coffee and cocoa in a beautiful coffee set.

They had homemade cheesecake and Mousse for just $2.

It's amazing the neat shops and little restaurants and cafe's you can find in Cuenca even when you walk out of the city center.

We liked this quaint little cafe and we will definitely go back and try the cheesecake one of these days very soon!

D'Liz Picadas and Dulceria is located on General Torres just up the hill about 8 blocks from downtown Cuenca.

If you look off in the distance in the picture below you can see the domes of the main Cathedral downtown, and this is how far we walked up the hill when we came upon this wonderful little sweetery and coffee shop.

December 22, 2011

Buying Clothes in Cuenca

You will not have any problems finding clothes in Cuenca. There are more clothing and Jewelry shops in El Centro than we've ever seen for the size of what Cuenca is. Cuenca is just a bit shy of half a million people. Here's some snapshots of a few retail clothing shops that we took today as we were walking around downtown. There are sales all over the place because of the Christmas season.

Cuenca is in the Andes mountains so much of the clothing is sweaters, pants, jeans, jackets, hoodies, and long sleeve shirts. Although we have seen swimming suits and shorts for sell, probably for the warmer coastal regions.

Most of these Clothing shops were on Gran Columbia

Click on the photes to enlarge

They like leather jackets here. The people of Cuenca like to dress nice and many of them wear fashionable clothing.

They also have a lot of shoe stores downtown. Here's one that you will recognize.

Here's Mrs Clause passing out pamphlets to the clothing store she is standing next to.

It was flooded with shoppers in downtown Cuenca today. Here they are gathering around Christmas wrapping paper for sale at "Tia".

Across the street from Park Calderon central park of Cuenca)there were vendors under tents selling EVERYTHING relating to Christmas. They really love the Christmas season in Ecuador!

Here's another area in Cuenca with more vendors. Here they are selling their artistic creations.

December 21, 2011

$1.70 "No Name" Restaurant in Cuenca

The other day we're walking around in El Centro Cuenca and we passed this quaint little restaurant. It was almost almuerzo time after all, so we walked inside and the owner greeted us with open arms and she explained to us what the special of the day was. The aroma of home cooking smelled so good and so we sat down and took a break from walking. The meal was delicious and the owner was very accommodating and pleasant. Even though this restaurant does not have a name, we still would recommend it. We've eaten here twice and both times we've been happy with the food. At the end of the video it says what street this restaurant is located on.

December 20, 2011

How Can I Find a Good Rental in Cuenca Ecuador?

Everyone wants to know about rentals for short term stay or long term stay while visiting Cuenca and we got you covered on both accounts.

Will be arriving in Cuenca and staying for 10 days and would like a nice safe place to stay. A hostel is ok, as long as it has a private bath and kitchen in the hostel. Any contacts or numbers you can give us would be a blessing, thanks.

How can you find a good rental property in Cuenca?

Whether you’re going to stay 10-days or 10 months you’ll find the right rental just for you in our eBook soon to be published called the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide. In it you’ll find EVERYTHING you should know and will want to know to make your Cuenca stay easier, more fulfilling, and less expensive!

This is a sneak peek into our new eBook written for the diyselfer, who does not want to over-pay or be gringo-targeted on their first visit to Cuenca to see if they like it for a future retirement home.


Hostels are a big deal here in Cuenca. When most people think of hostel living they automatically think, “shared rooms” and “shared bathrooms”. The truth is a hostel can be those things and so much more.

The hostels we list in our DIY Cuenca guidebook have private baths, free wifi and other such amenities, just like a hotel!

The hostels we list are nice, comfortable and clean and will not break your travel budget.

Most people when they first come to Cuenca end up throwing hard-earned dollars down the drain because they don’t know where to stay, or they stay in a hotel or hostel that is too expensive because they were in a hurry.

This is what Frank did when he first arrived because we booked a hostel online that was $50 a night!The Internet is not always the best place to look for places to stay.

Now $50 dollars may not seem like not a lot of money, but we have to compare apples to oranges here. This was a $50 a night hostel, not a luxury hotel, and this is Ecuador, not Europe!   

For $12 a night hostel you can have the same amenities and comforts as the $50 a night hostel. We know this for a fact because we’ve been INSIDE the hostels we list in our DIY Cuenca guidebook—we’ve talked with the owners and looked inside each room! We even have pictures of the hostels we list in the DIY Cuenca Guidebook.

Long Term Apartment, Condo, or House Rentals

We’re coming to Cuenca in March 2012 and were wondering if you know of any good apartment or house rentals? We prefer a furnished 2 bedroom with washer and dryer, and security, but do not want to pay more than $500. If you have any information please let us know.

We have a lot of information for you. We list in our DIY Cuenca guidebook, the best of the best resources for finding good long term rentals. Needing a rental is probably the most popular question that potential expats ask us. Of course we can’t actually book you are rental without knowing all of your particulars and preferences, but the resources found in the DIY guidebook will most certainly make the process much easier and hassle free. It lists several of the best places for finding a rental here in Cuenca. 

We highly suggest that you make your first five days stress free and book yourself into one of the many hostels we offer in the Cuenca guidebook, and during that time look for a longer term rental by looking though the excellent resources we have laid out for you in the eBook.

This way you will not be rushed into renting something that was actually not right for you. We know this happens. When people are in a hurry they end up over-paying and really not liking the place they have just signed a 6-month lease on.  Don’t let this happen to you.

So it is important to take your time while looking for a longer term rental that meets your budget and personal preferences.

If you don't feel like finding a rental when you get here then you can always check out $300 Dollar Cuenca Rentals where they do all the searching, viewing, photo and video taking, negotiating for you, and they can even have your new place ready and waiting for you when you arrive in Cuenca! Click here for more information. 

In two weeks time, with the DIY Cuenca guidebook in your hand, you’ll be sharing what you know and have learned with other newcomers to Cuenca! We know you’re going to appreciate all of the useful and practical information the DIY Cuenca guidebook has to offer. 

Here is what we cover in the DIY Cuenca Guidebook.

Clear Instructions and maps to:
  • Where to stay short term and long term
  • Pictures, names, numbers to recommended hostels
  • Walking distances to almost everything
  • How and which bus to take to certain places
  • Pictures so you’ll recognize where you’re at
  • Our personal experiences and recommendations
  • Rechargeable cell phones and Internet access
  • Maps and directions to museums, Mercado’s and more
  • Where to meet up with other expats
  • What stores to shop at within walking distance of your hostel
  •  Immigration offices – Visa Renewal
  • Everything you need at your fingertips, plus free email support!
We Talk About…
  • Gringo Targeting
  •   How to negotiate with the produce vendors at the Mercado’s
  • Weather – what to bring with you
  • Staying safe throughout your visit
  • Check list for when renting long term and how to negotiate on the rental price
  • Recommended restaurants and other neat hang outs
  • Post office -- Sending and receiving packages
  • Gringo hang outs; names and directions, all walking distance to your hostel
  • Locations and what bus to take to Coral and Supermaxi
  • We got you covered
  • We don’t think we left anything out
  • But if we did, please tell us so we can include it in the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide
This eBook will be published mid January and available for instant download.
We want to ask our readers what they think they would like to see in this Cuenca guidebook that we have not covered. Your feedback is valuable to us and helps us to help you and all others who will be coming to Cuenca in the future.

So take a moment to let us know if there is something you would like for us to cover about Cuenca and we will devote the last chapter to our reader’s questions and suggestions.  

UPDATE*** It's published!! Here is the latest 'Third Edition' of the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide. 

December 19, 2011

Taking the Bus from Downtown Cuenca to Ave. Las Americas

We take the buses all over the place in Cuenca. Seldom do we take a taxi unless it is after dark. The buses take you anywhere in the city for just a quarter. The buses seem very safe during the day--we've never had any problems. The bus ride in this particular video starts downtown and ends on Avenida Americas, which is a very important and busy cross street of Cuenca. Enjoy the bus ride!

December 18, 2011

Getting a Taxi in Cuenca

There are over 4,500 taxis in Cuenca alone! That’s a lot of taxis. There is never a problem getting a taxi when you need one, at least most of the time. The taxi service in Cuenca is quite efficient except during holidays and festivals. We have experienced a much longer wait during these times.

Downtown Cuenca is very busy this time of year (Christmas) with people bustling about doing their shopping and visiting with friends and family from out of town. Ecuadorians really love the Christmas Holiday Season and the love of this holiday is seen with all of the elaborate decorations adorning the beautiful colonial city. And all of the shops advertising toys and other wish-list products that people give to one another during this time of year.

In fact, it is so busy downtown Cuenca that you can’t get a taxi! And if you live away from the downtown area, like we do, the taxi driver may even refuse to take you home because he doesn’t want to leave the two mile by four mile city center area because this time of year downtown is where all the fares are.

The two times that we’ve experienced a problem getting a taxi, both times was downtown and during a holiday or festival. When you finally hail down a taxi that is not full of passengers he may not want to take you home! That is, if you live out of the city center of downtown Cuenca. We live about 3-1/2 to 4 miles from the city center.

Last night it took us about 40 minutes to hail down a taxi and finally find a driver who would leave the city center to take us home! Now normally this would not be a big deal, but last night it was raining, it was late, and Frank hurt his foot earlier in the day playing soccer with the kids at the children’s home.

Here are a few suggestions if you decide to go out in the evenings during holidays and festivals. Bring an umbrella (it’s been raining a lot here lately) in case it rains. Bring a good pair of walking shoes in case you decide to start walking home, like we did, and be prepared to wait for a much longer time for a taxi, and, if you live outside of the city center, be prepared to wait even longer for a driver that is willing to actually leave the downtown area to take you home or where else you may need to go.

Last night when we hailed the taxi, the driver told us $3 to take us home, and then once we were in the cab and he looked in the back and he saw five of us, he changed the fare to $4. This was one night that Frank did not balk at the price because it was raining, we were tired, and his foot was hurting so, that we just paid the $4 bucks; but not without letting the driver know that we knew he was overcharging us.

So far, except for last night we have never paid more than $3 dollars for a taxi to take us anywhere in Cuenca. But, like we said, other than holidays and festivals, getting a taxi usually takes less than 10 seconds. And the only other time we’ve seen across the board over charging was around festivals and holidays.

December 16, 2011

Another Day at Tutto Freddo's

During the festivities going on in Cuenca celebrating "Independence from Spain" it started raining. So we decided to wait out the rain in one of our favorite hangouts, Tutto Freddo's. They are located downtown Cuenca right across the street from the main square, Park Calderon. Tutto Freddo's has delicious desserts and the best ice cream we've ever eaten! It is a bit noisy though.

December 15, 2011

Giving up ALL Your Possessions to Move to Ecuador

See video on the costs of setting up a house in Cuenca. This is assuming you are buying NEW furniture. We have shown the cost for high-end furniture and budget for a 3 bedroom home.

Most people that move to another country give up all of their worldly possessions before they can make such a move. Giving up your stuff can be difficult to do, especially if there is special meaning to a item and you cherish it for personal reasons. Each person/family is different about what they treasure and how much they can’t let go of something; it doesn’t matter whether those things are expensive paintings, famous figurines, Grandmothers fine china, furniture, vehicles, or simple things such as your favorite chair, or a homemade quilt. 

It can be difficult to give up your stuff because over the years you grow accustomed or attached to having them and some of your things may have a personal significance to them such as antiques or hand-me-downs from close friends and family. The best way to deal with giving up such items is to give them to family members rather than selling them—in a way this keeps the significance of something alive because it is still within the extended family.

For those things that have special meaning give them away to brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces or nephews before you leave. Whoever you give your cherished items to in the family they will truly appreciate you thinking of them and giving them your favorite household items. 

Photos and Albumns

We literally had boxes and boxes of pictures and about 15 photo albums of the boys growing up, family trips and outings.  I had tears in my eyes thinking of not having my photos. The solution was to put them on disks, and that is what we did. We spent one whole day at Wal-Mart with all of our photos and I put them on several disks. It is wonderful to have services like this. And all of our photos are here with us in Ecuador. When we feel like reminiscing, all we have to do is put the disk into our computer and there are all of our pictures!

Knick knacks, China, Figurines 

Personal items that have been given to you are the most difficult to give up. We had a Norman Rockwell set that my mom gave to us and we didn’t want to sell, so we gave the set to a family member who we know will also enjoy them; Our thinking was this way at least they will stay in the family. Some things you’ll just want to keep within the family. You’ll know what those things are as you begin the packing and organizing process. 


We had a lot of books. We stuffed a few in our ten suitcases and the rest we gave to friends and family or gave to the Good Will. Frank had a really difficult time thinking of giving up some of his very favorite books (about 30 books) so he spent weeks, maybe even months, I don't remember, it was 4-1/2 years ago, scanning his books into the cloud. A lot of time it took, but he opens them and reads them whenever he wants.

Vehicles, Boats, and Houses 

Of course this is a no-brainer. Big things must be sold before you leave. No one leaves behind their house unless they are willing it to a family member. You cannot ship used vehicles into Ecuador so they must be sold before you leave, unless you rent it out, which some folks do just that.

Good Will, Thrift Stores, Charities, ETC 

As you start going through all of your things you’ll come to see that a lot of it simply just needs to be donated because some things are just more difficult to sell. And some things take longer to sell and if you don’t give yourselves enough time before your departure date, you’ll have to donate it somewhere! As you begin to get more organized you’ll fill box after box that will end up at your favorite Good Will or other Charity.

Small Items, Jewelry, keepsakes, etc

Small items like jewelry you can just bring with you in your suitcase or carry on. We brought two extra suitcases with items we knew we could not replace here in Ecuador or that we didn’t want to replace. You’ll figure out real fast that two extra suitcases is not that much room, so be diligent with what you think you might need when you get here and pack those items. FYI, laptops, game consoles, etc, need to be in your carry on, not in your suitcase.

Furniture and Household Items 

Let us give you a little suggestion. We started selling our stuff on Craigs List and the local paper about two months before we were to leave for Ecuador, but this was not enough time. We were able to sell a lot of our things, but some things are harder to sell and it takes time because people want to come over and look at the item and negotiate prices with you, and they still may not buy it, and so you’ll have to wait for another buyer.

We lived out in the country so having a 'garage sale' was out of the question. And all of our family lived thousands of miles away from us so we had no one to give the items to that were taking longer to sell. We ended up donating good items like brand new Cannon printers, wool area rugs, art work, televisions, crystal, sporting goods, books etc to the Good will. Two days before we were to leave we still had a house full of stuff and we made like twenty trips to the Good Will!! Don’t let this happen to you. 

We recommend that you start getting rid of your things and or selling them at least six months in advance of your departure, if possible. Believe us, everything takes more time than you think it will, and snags do happen, so be prepared for anything and everything to happen.

It’s Just Stuff 

Remember, that it is only stuff. If you give your cherished items to someone you love before you leave, the rest of it is just stuff. It has no meaning! Oh, ok, maybe your mattress was really comfy, or you really loved your Kitchen Aid mixer or your custom kitchen counter tops, but if we sit and pout over the stuff we’re going to leave behind, we may never let go of it! We may never adventure further than the city we live in. Are you going to allow your stuff to control you like that?

Stuff can be replaced, after all. It’s not like you’ll never have a comfy mattress to sleep on ever again, or a Kitchen Aid mixer, or beautiful artwork to look at.  Many of us put way too much emotion into the things we own and we literally stress ourselves out over having to give up our possessions. We just have to set it in our mind that we will not allow our emotional attachments to our stuff control us to the point of stressing out over it. 

It’s not healthy, physically or emotionally. Remind yourself as you are getting rid of your stuff that it CAN be replaced. 

Shipping Your Stuff into Ecuador

There have been rumored horror stories circulating on forums about how some expats have had their worldly possessions shipped in only to have them stuck in customs in Guayaquil at a cost of $60 a day, for months. And they’re saying that daily rate is going up.

Why was the container stuck in customs to begin with? Problems happen because something did not match up correctly with the packing slip. Each item you bring into Ecuador must be tagged and match up to the packing slip. Bringing in forbidden items will surely get your container stuck in customs for some time. 

So, if you are sure you want to go through the hassle and risk of this happening to you and your stuff, than by all means go ahead and have your stuff shipped into Ecuador. We don’t believe it is necessary to have your stuff shipped into Ecuador because your stuff can be replaced with more stuff probably for the same amount it cost to have it shipped in.

December 14, 2011

How Not to Dress Like a Rich American in Cuenca?

 It would be good to have a video about how not to dress like a rich American. Although some of us are on severely restricted incomes these days, a lot of our wardrobes were purchased when we had good jobs and could afford more expensive items. What would be considered "normal," and what is considered "flaunting it"?

Hi there. Thanks for your question. We’re not sure if a whole video is needed about how not to dress like a rich American. Even if you wear jeans and a t-shirt many of the Ecuadorians think you’re rich. It is a position that continues to thrive here and this is why many gringos become targets to higher prices.

The problem is many North Americans pay the higher price because the cost of living is better here than compared to the states. When we compare we always will pay the higher gringo price. So you see, we contribute to this attitude. What we have to learn to do is not compare. This is not North America, it is a country that is still developing. Why pay almost North American prices in South America Ecuador? Is that wise?

We’re trying very hard to keep the cost of living at a reasonable standard and keep Cuenca livable for everyone. And if more Americans when they move here would do the same, it will catch on that this rumor that all Americans are rich is really just a fairytale.
We’ve already written a pretty detailed post about how Ecuadorians dress so newcomers can blend in better by bringing the same type of clothes with them when they come here. You can read this post here.

Flaunting? Flaunting is if someone is dressed flashy with lots of jewelry, flashy gold rings and bracelets, expensive looking watches, dangling earrings, gold chains, etc. Wearing flashy jewelry will make you stand out, and knowing that it makes you stand out and you still do it would be called what is termed “flaunting.”   It doesn't matter if the jewelery is fake or not, it still gets noticed by thieves; they don't know if it is real or not, and they might follow you to your apartment for it.  Flaunting is seen in the whole persona of a person, not just in how they dress but in their attitude—how they behave. We have not noticed any gringos here flaunting themselves with a bunch of jewelry.

It’s fine to wear a simple watch and a wedding band and even a pair of simple earrings. We’re not saying you can’t wear any jewelry, but don’t make yourself into a Christmas tree with a bunch of tinsel.  All of that flashiness will get you is more stares and some very negative attention from the thieves. Rumor has it that in Guayaquil they will kill you for your watch, so imagine if you're wearing a bunch of jewelry.

As hard as one tries to blend in here. there is no way a gringo will ever blend in fully, but when you dress like them, simple, conservative and casual, not a lot of flashy jewelry, you’ll do just fine.  The women don’t wear dresses here. They wear jeans and slacks, blouses and sweaters, same with the men. Basic colors are the norm. Watch the web cam videos under the category “what is Cuenca like?  to see how the Ecuadorians dress. You will notice it is not much different than North Americans except for more conservative...with the exception of tight jeans which the women love to wear...and is part of the culture here.

Don’t worry too much about over dressing. It’s entirely fine to wear nice clothing here because most Ecuadorians wear nice casual clothing. They take pride in their attire much more than some folks back in North America. They don’t dress sloppy here. Seeing holey jeans or baggy pants is rare. Bring your favorite casual clothes, a light jacket for the evenings, some good walking shoes, and you’ll do just fine. 

UPDATE November 2014 - Since there now is so many gringos in Cuenca, it would be nice to say "hello" to your fellow gringos when you see them, rather than pretending to ignore them. It is just a nice gesture and a friendly thing to do. See you in Cuenca. :-) 

December 13, 2011

$1.50 Lunch (Almuerzo) in Cuenca

We found another amazing restaurant in Cuenca that serves great home-cooked food for just $1.50!! It's unbelievable. The food was very tasty and the service excellent. This restaurant is not in our free Cuenca restaurant guide because we didn't know about it when we wrote the ebook. We sat outside, well sort of outside. We sat in what is called the covered courtyard area. Inside, the restaurant is nicely decorated with nice tables and chairs and a fireplace! Great value here!

December 12, 2011

Some Cuenca Expats Want to Scare Gringos Away from Cuenca

We have met three Kinds of Gringos / Expats that Live in Cuenca

1.    Cuenca Glorifiers: There are those who only glorify Cuenca and talk about only the positives because they want as many people to move here as possible. These are the people who have a vested interest in Cuenca, literally. If you say anything negative about their heavenly paradise, they’ll basically call you a liar and a whiner.

2.    Panicky Expats: There are those who don’t want more expats moving to Cuenca. These are the people who are in fear that their social security or other means of retirement is not going to allow them to live here if the cost of living goes up. If you say anything positive about Cuenca, they’ll call you a liar and contradict what you have to say. 

3.    Impartial Expats: Then there are people like us who only want to keep Cuenca livable for everyone. We tell it like it is about Cuenca, negatives and positives, and don’t blow smoke. Anyway, if you are the DIY type and seek to live and shop Ecuadorian you’ll have no problem living here on a pension income, even if and when the cost of living goes up. The same pretty much applies to living in most North American cities as well.

We’ve had to deal with two kinds of expats so far since living here. We’ve already posted about the expats who only talk about the positives about Cuenca--they left rude and nasty comments about our 12 annoying things about Cuenca video.. See this post by clicking here.

So where are we going with this?  Well, the reason for this post is to clarify some bad comments.  And with that, let’s talk about….

… the ‘panicky gringo expat’ for a moment. There is a panicky Cuenca expat who is a subscriber to our You Tube channel. The problem is he/she is leaving comments that our videos are going to cause the cost of living to go higher in Cuenca. 

What do we have to say about this? “Why put us on a pedestal?” Is it truly possible that a nobody family could help raise the cost of living in Cuenca because of their frugal-family living videos about Cuenca?  NOT!   We’re doing exactly the opposite! Our mission is to keep prices and costs of living low by being examples and showing others how to live frugally and resourceful in Cuenca!  How are we doing?

There are big named magazines and hit reality television shows that are doing a pretty good job of bringing more people to Cuenca and elevating the cost of living in Cuenca. Could one family’s videos of living in Cuenca have any major impact? We don’t think so. What do you think?  Are we being a good example on how to be part of the solution?

Here are some of the comments left from “panicky expat”.
 I told you guys didn't I, your videos are not doing anything to help anyone. You guys are just bragging about how good you got it, like typical gringos. I'll be damned if you screw it up for me by your cocky attitudes, they don’t like you guys, stop with the videos, your just hurting the culture here by bringing more cocky people like yourselves.

Your family is doing a great job showing how Cuenca really is, but your bringing more gringos here, which hurts us all with inflated Gringo prices. Most gringos here don’t want "More Gringos' I don’t know what your family is getting out of more "Gringos coming here besides potential "friends" but in the future it hurts us all, retirees and locals alike, another expensive "Panama and Costa Rica! Keep this place a secret! 

Oh Great, more Gringos coming because of the prices, great video, when rental properties skyrocket, pat yourselves on the backs. Great work! Great Vids, now my cost of living is higher!!!
We had no problem leaving these comments on our You Tube videos, in fact we believe everyone should have their opinion as long as they are civil about it…but then he called us liars. (Sorry, deleted that comment and had to block him from our channel, read below to find out why.)

A curious viewer and potential expat to Cuenca asked us if the water was safe to drink in Cuenca. My reply was and still stands, yes, the water is safe to drink. I went on to let her know that we have been drinking the tap water in Cuenca for almost 6 months now and we (family of five) have never had a problem with drinking the water here in Cuenca. In fact, the water tastes better in Cuenca than in the states—it’s good. 

Update: August 2013...Been here two years,,,,we're still drinking water out of the tap, with no filter and we all (five people) feel GREAT! Also, some friends of ours have also been drinking water straight from the tap, with no filter and they just had tests done and THEY DID NOT HAVE PARASITES!

I did let her know that some expats do buy bottled water and wash all their veggies with disinfectant potions, but we don’t do that—we do not go that far. If the locals drink the water and only wash their veggies and fruits with water then why can’t you? When in Mexico do as the Mexican’s but when in Cuenca Ecuador do as the Cuencanos.  

Panicky gringo responded back to the women that the tap water in Cuenca will give you diarrhea and vomiting, completely contradicting what we told her. He basically called us liars.
What ‘panicky expat’ is doing is trying to scare people away from coming to Cuenca.  Now, we have to clear things up after he/she caused confusion. 

Yes, YOU can DRINK the Tap Water in Cuenca! 

We’re disappointed that there are people out there (expats here in Cuenca) that would go so far as to call us liars and then lie themselves about the living conditions in Cuenca by saying the water makes you sick. So, I’ve done some due diligent research about what others have to say about the drinking water here to clear up any confusion from the naysayer, ‘panicky expat’.  Please click on the links to see exactly where we got the posts.
Went to get some lab test today.  Added a test for parasites, and there weren’t any. We have been back in Cuenca since March 2010. We drink the tap water and just use normal precautions washing vegetables and fruit. That’s a year and a half, so conditions are pretty good here, I’d say.

 For the second time in four years, Cuenca has been recognized for having the best drinking water in Latin America. The only difference in the survey conducted in 2008 and the previous survey is that Cuenca stands alone in number one position.
The Hamburg, Germany-based International Drinking Water Council (IDWC) rated Cuenca first and Arequipa, Peru, second in the new survey. The 2004 IDWC survey had Cuenca and Arequipa tied in the top position. The survey, conducted in early 2008, covered cities of more than 10,000 population with municipal drinking water systems. 

Survey comments noted that, “Cuenca’s water is better than most water supplies in Europe and North America. We suggest the city’s tap water is better, in fact, than most bottled water available locally.”
We've been in Ecuador (Cuenca) for over two months and have never had the slightest negative reaction to the food or water. In fact, you may soon find you are eating healthier than in North America.
Yes, it's safe for most to drink the tap water in Cuenca.  We say 'most' because some have trouble with the high mineral count.  You can buy bottled water here. Cuenca's water system is considered by experts to be one of the best systems in South America. In other places in Ecuador, drinking the tap water is dicey...bottled water is easily obtained everywhere.   Be sure to drink your water!  You can get dehydrated pretty quickly at this altitude.  When we get dehydrated, we get headaches. 
Please be advised, it is true that in Cuenca you can drink the tap water but elsewhere in Ecuador, especially the coastal areas, it will make you sick!!
To end this post, we would like to think that we are being a good example on sustainable expat-ing.  Yes, you read it here first, “sustainable expat-ing”.  It’s a word we’ve coined right here. 

But if expats are going to read the blog just for the nice information, and then just come down here and overpay for everything etc. etc. and not put any of the helpful information to use, is that our failure or theirs? 

If you take guitar lessons or Spanish lessons and don’t apply what you’ve learned, is that the teacher’s fault or the students?  Should we quit?  Let us know your thoughts, and have a wonderful day…

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