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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cuenca Ecuador Parade on Ave. las Americas

The locals celebrate fiestas all over Cuenca for the end of the year. Music blares from different homes on the streets and every so often you hear a few fireworks go off. The real fireworks won't happen until January 1, 2013 however, and if you're in Cuenca then hopefully you'll be sitting somewhere where you can watch the beautiful display.

And then there are the ano viejo dolls (old year) displayed in stalls every where in the city.  Ecuador celebrates the end of the year as well as the new year to come. The dolls are the size of a person, stuffed with sawdust and then clothed and they look like mean people, some of them look really evil.  Apparently people burn the dolls on December 31, and then for some reason, jump over them which is supposed to bring you good luck for the coming new year. Here's a parade celebrating the coming new year.

                

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Daily Life in Cuenca Ecuador REVISITED

This is one of our very popular videos on YT. It is a simple video showing the daily life of what it is like to live in Cuenca Ecuador, such as riding the bus, shopping in the mercado and hanging out in Park Calderon. This is Cuenca!

                

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Renting New, 3/2, with a View in Cuenca Ecuador for $200 Dollars

We are revisiting some of our videos on YT and on this Discover Cuenca Ecuador Blog. 
 
Gringa Rents Nice Apartment in Cuenca for $200!
In this interview (Part 1 of 2) we show our readers that honest Ecuadorian Landlords will still rent to gringos at the Ecuadorian rental rate…even in Cuenca! Our purpose is to encourage younger families on smaller means and those on a small retirement income by showing them that it is still possible to start a new life abroad and live well in Cuenca Ecuador.  However, anyone can do it if they are so led. If interested in finding a local priced rental click here!
                    
Yes, it’s still possible to rent from Ecuadorians at Ecuadorian rental rates!!! But, as we show in the video, you will not find these lower priced rentals going to an English-speaking rental agency. In fact we know personally most of the rental agencies that speak English will raise the rental price when they smell a gringo coming.

You probably will not get these rental rates by staying confined to the gringo cafés and English-speaking hot-spots in Cuenca. You probably won’t find these local rentals by demanding 24 hour security and river views, but you might get these amenities as an added bonus, like Karina did, as seen in the video above.

How to Receive Local Rental Rates

You will get these local priced rents in Cuenca Ecuador when you procure the resources and use the techniques we offer in the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide, and when you go about town on the local level. 

Decide what it is you need and want.  Do you need to be next door to other expats and have 24 hour posted security guard, within walking distance to Supermaxi?  Then your chances of receiving the local Cuenca rental rate of $200 to $350 for a house or apartment are next to zero as other writers in the expat press candidly point out. 

You Don’t Need to Know Spanish to Get Local Priced Rental

Knowing a little bit of Spanish before you arrive in Cuenca would be a plus, but you don’t need to be fluent in Spanish. Just having the willingness to want to learn the language so you can begin to make friends with the locals and truly enjoy your new life in Ecuador, will go a long way. 

As shown in the video, our friend rents in a decent Ecuadorian neighborhood, at the Ecuadorian rental rate and lives in a nice, new, big, (1,500 sq.ft) 3 bed/2 bath apartment. Sorry but she did not want us to take photos of the inside of her home, but it's new, has a view, and is nice. 

The local priced apartments and homes go fast, so if you see something you like, and it meets your needs, then we advise to rent it. Be prepared to sign at least a 6-month lease and pay a small deposit. 

The Spanish speaking resources we list in the DIY Guide have local priced rentals as well.  But, you may have to weed out the ads that are targeting gringos (pricing to foreigners) and those that cater to the gringo demands such as river view +24 hour security guard, 5+ bedrooms, 4 baths very large places (near 3000 sq. feet) in some cases, and furnished w/elevator.  (See this video with real estate broker, Macrina Serano ). To be sure, you will not find all that for the local price and you shouldn’t expect it.

As we discuss in the guide, however, you should always negotiate, never just pay the asking price.  I know everyone always says that, so we will be issuing a free ebook soon on how to do just that.  Buyers of our DIY Cuenca Landing Guide will automatically receive this negotiation ebook for free.  This is to thank you for your support of this blog and to add value to your patronage and readership.

Cuenca Has Different Priced Rents Depending on Your Needs and Wants
There’s different priced housing for different types of needs and wants and that is what it all boils down to.  

Remember now, Karina has both the secure building, plus the views and her rent for a nice three bedroom two bath apartment in Cuenca is $200; she met her needs and wants through going local; she rents at the local rental rate; she has learned a bit of Spanish in the nine weeks she has lived here and she has made some wonderful Ecuadorian friendships, and that means a lot to her. See video for more.

Here is part two of this interview with Karina
If you want some assistance with finding a locally priced vacant long term rental see http://300dollarcuencarentals.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Where Is the Safest Neighborhood In Cuenca?

A concern of many new folks that move to Cuenca is safety, and rightly so. They want to know where the safe neighborhoods are. The fact is, there are only a few "not so good" areas in Cuenca and believe us, you'll be warned about them by other expats you meet and even by the Ecuadorians.  It is not so much "where you live" but "how you behave" where you live and when going out. A popular misnomer is people think it is safer to live where all the gringos live but that is not necessarily the case. Read the article we are revisiting today to find out where the two "not so good" areas of Cuenca are.


Is it Safer to live in the Gringo / Expat Areas of Cuenca?

 In nature, animals avoid becoming prey by blending in to their surroundings. How far do they take it? As you may know from the old Animal Kingdom shows, some animals go as far as changing their color, their texture, to blend in, and they bury themselves under sand, they camouflage themselves as sticks, etc. etc. and they usually will hang alone. 

When you look at animals that go together in packs, such as antelope or deer etc. or even school of fish, you will note that their predators always go to that location, because they know it’s fertile territory. The lion knows his chances of getting at least one of the weaker antelope is much higher stalking a pack then trying to find one single antelope. Similarly, whales will go after a school of fish, because it’s much easier and a more bountiful meal going after the whole school than just a single fish.     

Hanging Out in the Gringo Pack, Safe?  

So then, how is it that gringos think they’re safer by hanging out in the gringo pack, school, neighborhood.   Read More!

To read all of our articles on crime and personal safety in Cuenca, click here!

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Revisiting Our Most Popular Video on YT about Ecuador: It Has Most Dislikes and Comments

Now understand when we created this video for our viewers it was meant to be non-offensive. What it was created for was to show our viewers some of the things that may surprise them when they first get to Ecuador  It is merely meant to be an informational video for those people who are thinking of moving to Ecuador.  It is our most popular video but also has the most dislikes and comments.

We can be like most people and only talk about the good or share only those things that are positive about Cuenca but what good is that to potential expatters to Cuenca? This video has gotten a lot of flack and to be honest we can't figure out why? Tell us what you think...we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. BTW...there are way more surprises here in Cuenca than just these 10. These are the ones we knew about at the time. We're definitely going to be expanding on this video in the future. Until then, enjoy the video!

10 Things that May Surprise You (at first) about Ecuador

Some of the things we list in the video you already know about because you are a reader of this blog! But some of these surprises you may not know about yet. There is a lot more that could be said about "things" that are and can be surprising about living in Ecuador, especially when you first move here. But you know, after awhile you just start getting used to it. But you still need to keep an eye out, because if you aren't looking where you're walking there's sure to be a surprise on the sidewalk. And yes, we still love Ecuador!

                

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Revisiting Frugal Living in Cuenca Ecuador!

This is a continuation of revisiting some of the most read articles on the Discover Cuenca Ecuador Blog. We will be displaying these popular articles through the month of December.


Some things have gone up a bit in Cuenca...there has been some inflation but it is not that noticeable. Our cost of living is still pretty much the same. Let's revisit a families cost of living in Cuenca Ecuador.


As promised here is our cost of living for our family of five adults living in Cuenca Ecuador.

Monthly Cost of Living in Cuenca Ecuador

Rent: $250
Water and Electric: $90
Propane (gas): $10
Food: $300
Internet: $72
Cell phone: $19
Vonage: $25
 Read More about our cost of living.




Are you all vegetarians?   

Someone commented on one of our restaurant videos; they asked if we were vegetarians. We get asked that a lot. The answer to that question is no, we are not vegetarians. But we do try to limit our intake of meat to only twice a week because we have found it to be healthier than eating meat every day. Read More and watch a video of one of our big shopping sprees.



Friday, December 21, 2012

We Still Rent in Cuenca for $250 a Month!


Some of our new readers may have not had a chance to read about finding a nice unfurnished rental for just $250 in Cuenca, so it is one of the articles we are revisiting in the month of December. We've done a lot of footwork research as far as finding nice homes in the local price range, so we know for a fact you can still find a nice 3 bedroom apartment or house in the $250 to $350 price range in Cuenca. 

We also know it is very easy to get gringo gouged just because you're a foreigner. Some of the foreigners that we have talked with tell us they got price gouged when searching for a rental and had to walk away. We're happy that there are some foreigners willing to walk away. We have been in some "very much in need of TLC" houses in Cuenca where the landlords were asking $600! Frank loves to tell them the price is too high and walk away. If more people walked away it will make a difference.  


The house we rent in Cuenca is a little over 2000 sq ft and was built in 2008. It is a cement home with 3 bedrooms, office, sun room, living room, dining room, kitchen, outdoor laundry patio area under roof, small green area, and 2-1/2 baths. There is tile throughout and the bedrooms and office have hardwood floors. The kitchen has granite counter tops. Living room has a sunken hardwood floor from the dining room, and both of these rooms have about 1/2 thick crown molding and lots of detail. Read more and see more photos!

 


If you're serious about moving to Cuenca, living the good life, integrating into the community and saving money, then the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide will show you the way! You can make your dream a reality!  We did and so can you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Discover Cuenca Ecuador Most Popular Articles Revisited

For the rest of the month of December 2012 we're going to be revisiting some of the most read articles on the Discover Cuenca Ecuador Blog.  Here are three such articles we think you'll enjoy, especially if you are thinking of moving here or already here in Cuenca! Your comments and questions are always welcomed and appreciated.



Another article came out just today Reuters Yahoo Finance, about how a couple can retire on $600 a month in Cuenca Ecuador. Let us make something perfectly clear. You CANNOT retire on $600 a month in Cuenca Ecuador, doing it the way that most expats are doing it now. This couple leased an apartment almost two years ago…we want to see $200 a month downtown apartment, overlooking the river today in Cuenca!



In the Yahoo article the couple mentioned they rent an apartment for $200 a month overlooking the river in Cuenca; Yeah, maybe back in 2010 when they found the apartment. Finding this kind of a deal now for a two bedroom is gone in the downtown area, and especially if it is furnished.  



If any Ecuadorian or gringo real estate Agency would like to call us on it, go for it, and please let us know where in downtown Cuenca we can actually rent a two bedroom furnished for $200 a month. We’ll be thrilled to tell our readers about it. Read More

Best Retirement City in the World: Cuenca Ecuador or...Hutchinson Kansas??

Yes, Hutchinson Kansas.  Why?  Before you click away from this article consider that we know of retirees in their 70s that live well on less than $1000 a month in Hutchinson Kansas.  We know this because they are long time friends.  We have personally spent time in Hutchinson Kansas so we know the city personally.  And finally, we considered moving to Hutchinson Kansas before coming to Cuenca Ecuador, so we investigated a lot of the important things people want to know before moving to a new place.



There are many North American Cities that would make for great retirement. We are not singling out Hutchinson for any particular reason except for the fact we have personal knowledge of and believe it would make for a low cost, low stress, peaceful retirement.  It would be one of our cities of choice to retire in if we had stayed in North America. Read More

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.  Read More

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just Another Day in Park Calderon

You never know what is going to be happening in Park Caderon. Many events go on in and around this main city center park. Today there was a singer and he was very good.

               

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Unusual and Interesting Photos of Places and Things in Cuenca Ecuador

Bathroom sink made of rocks at the Cuenca Amaru Zoo
Size 18 tennis shoe  displayed in a Cuenca shoe store.
(Frank's shoe, size ten is next to the big shoe)
Faces designed from Steel at the Cuenca Arts Festival
A Little bit of old Cuenca with a bit of new Cuenca
(Photo taken on 12 de Abril)

 A very good, but sort of sour fruit called "Maracuya" native to South America - you eat the seeds
Papier-mâché lizards at the Cuenca Arts Festival
A four-wheeled bicycle you can rent for hire at the Ecuador Coast


Friday, December 7, 2012

Cuenca Ecuador Zoo and a Loose Monkey! (Part 2)

This is the second part of our zoo video. The zoo is really nice with lots of animals and very natural surroundings are made for them; nothing artificial in this zoo. It takes about 2 hours to walk the whole zoo and see all of the animals. The animals have a lot of space to roam around. A monkey or two got loose and was wondering around in the trees in the zoo.



               

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cuenca Ecuador Zoo! (Part 1 of 2)

We finally made it to the Cuenca zoo, the Amaru Zoological.  It is a really nice zoo and all of the animals have a lot of space and room to roam. the Cuenca zoo houses about 35 animals and is located off the Pan American Autopista. This video is part 1 of 2.

               

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wild Animals we have NOT seen in Cuenca

Well let’s see now, what animals have we NOT seen in Cuenca? It strikes us as a bit odd but we have not seen very many wild animals in Cuenca Ecuador. We went to the Cuenca zoo and saw many animals there, but that does not count, does it? This article has to be titled “wild animals we have NOT seen in Cuenca because we haven’t seen any!

When we first moved here it seemed there were hardly any birds. We did not hear them nor see them.  In the northern country during summer, it was so hot that we would leave the bedroom window open overnight just to get an early morning breeze. This way we would also wake up to the music of the birds in the trees in our yard every morning. We’d go out in the yard and admire the bluebirds, yellow finches and red cardinals. What a sight for sore eyes.

Every other morning, we’d be treated to a pack of deer in the yard. The neighbor’s Guinea Hens would wander over and let themselves be known.  And then there were the crickets every night, our son misses them.  Our son also saw in the lake, a very large snapping turtle the size of a manhole cover. Smaller box turtles would be seen crossing the road while out driving on a hot summer day.

And here we have not been hearing any birds, until recently. But the birds have come back and they pleasantly chirp, sing and talk amongst one another every morning again.  Thank God.

We do not live in the densely populated section of the city center; in point of fact, nearby there are farmers growing vegetables in the fields, so there are not as many houses and even though it is right by the river, we have never seen squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, deer, or opossums. The only wild animals we have seen are rats and mice and now some different varieties of birds. It does strike us as a bit odd since we’re surrounded by so many beautiful mountains, and there appears to be so much nature not too far off.

On the other side of the coin, there are no snakes around here either. That’s a relief, although we’ve been told there are plenty of them in the lower country toward Guayaquil. 

We hiked up Cajas Mountain and spent the day and the only wild life we saw was some trout; didn’t even see one rabbit or deer. This was astonishing to us. Where are all the animals?

When you start traveling out of town on the Pan-American Highway next to the mountain you don’t even see any dead animals on the roadside that accidently got hit by cars. In the northern country you’d see dead animals on the roadsides all the time such as opossums, rabbits and even deer.
It appears there aren’t many wild animals here, and if there are, they sure do know how to hide themselves well. Haven’t seen a snake, lizard, or turtle in the wild here either, perhaps it is just too cold here for the reptiles.

If you want to see some animals in the wild in Ecuador, guess you have to go to the Amazon or the coastal regions where it is warmer.  We have seen in Cuenca a few insects and spiders however; you can read all about the insect population of Cuenca here.  And watch out for our upcoming video of the Cuenca Zoo where you'll see lots of wild animals and even a loose monkey or two.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Where Have All the Stray Dogs Gone?

When we first moved here the stray dogs roaming around Cuenca was a bit disconcerting. There were hungry, sickly dogs roaming around everywhere! We felt sorry  for the weak, scruffy dogs, but we were also fearful they might attack!  Luckily, this has not been the case. In fact, most of the stray dogs in Cuenca are gentle and timid of people.

They mostly roam the streets looking for garbage to eat and sometimes they get thrown some stale bread or old white rice from an Ecuadorian restaurant owner, but these dogs are mostly vitamin deficient and weak. Some of the dogs wobble around on only three legs, while others limp around because they got hit by a car.

Where Have the Dogs Gone?

We have noticed a BIG change in the amount of roaming dogs on the streets here in Cuenca. We remarked about seeing less roaming dogs to one expat lady and she told us there is an expat volunteer program working with a rescue and protection operation called ARCA. Together they are working steadily to pick up stray animals that have been living miserably on the streets of Cuenca.

ARCA is a veterinarian clinic and rescue company in Cuenca that offers low cost treatment for animals; it houses and feeds hundreds of dogs and cats and offers low cost to free spays and neuters to the animals. We have heard they have hundreds of dogs and numerous cats waiting to be adopted into caring homes.

Many of the dogs they rescue are sickly and in need a lot of TLC. After nursing the animals back to health they are put up for adoption into loving homes here in Cuenca. Here is the website for ARCA but unfortunately it is only in Spanish. http://fundacionarca.com/   Try putting it into Google Translate; it does not translate efficiently but it is better than nothing.

Should you bring your pets to Cuenca with you?

If you’re a pet lover and leaving your dog or cat with friends in the US, perhaps you would think about adopting one of these rescued dogs or cats and provide them with a caring home and family. Each new expat that moves to Cuenca and adopts one animal, if they so choose, would be giving these animals the loving homes they deserve. 

In the US it is so very easy to find loving homes for the pets we already have, but here in Ecuador, it is a bit more difficult. The Ecuadorians that have pets have the extra income to feed them nutritionally sound meals and provide a loving home. But many Ecuadorians can’t afford to feed a dog or cat and take care of the upkeep of owning a pet.

BTW…dog and cat food is VERY expensive here. The brands you know and love, and that are the most nutritious cost three to five times more here. One expat lady, who has three cats of her own, told us that one small can of Friskies wet food costs $2. And there aren't any alternatives. So if you have multiple pets you can be spending well over $100 a month on pet food.

On another note,  we have noticed that a lot of the foreigners want to rent furnished and with a yard for their pets, which is almost impossible to find.  And when you find it, the landlords don't want pets!! It is much easier to find, if you own a pet to rent unfurnished. We'll talk more about that in another article.

Anyway, the working Ecuadorians can eat a whole meal on $1.50, plus have $0.50 cents left over to buy a humita or plantain with cheese later on in the day.  And this is the point. It is not in the budget for most Ecuadorians to own even one dog or cat. Not only that, but the up-keep for the animal is not in the budget either. And this is the reason why many animals don’t have a loving Ecuadorian home to go to. This is where you come in.

We’re happy there are so many volunteers that are ambitious to this cause and being proactive about helping these poor animals… and we can bet the animals are also happy! Thank you ARCA and all of its faithful volunteers for a job well done. Keep up all the wonderful work!

ARCA Foundation - http://fundacionarca.com/