February 27, 2016

Reader Writes: Cuenca Ecuador Looks Like a War Zone

"Looks one step above a war zone": Comment left by a viewer of our YT video 'Hermosa Cuenca Ecuador - Jan/Feb 2016'. 



Note: Wall art is not graffiti. Scribbling some angry words on a wall should not be associated with wall art; big, big difference.
People who leave comments like the one above, saying that Cuenca looks like a war zone are in shock and we mean that literally. They don’t really know what it’s like to live in Latin America and they probably have never ventured very far out of their home town city either.
 

Graffiti can be shocking; it brings out trepidation in people because it is often associated with violence, crime and gang activity especially in Hollywood movies. The commenter is right, where there is graffiti it usually means hoodlums out at night that don’t have anything else better to do with their time.
 

Cuenca has some gangs and problems with crime but it is getting better than it used to be thanks to the much more proactive Cuenca police that are working to curb drug gangs and violence in Cuenca. The lower crime here could be the reason we’re seeing less graffiti on the walls as well. Yes, Cuenca has less and less graffiti on the walls just in the 5 years we’ve lived here. Now we're seeing more and more lovely wall art taking the place of graffiti.

From time to time we’ll receive a comment that says something negative about the tall iron gates and barred windows on the houses in Ecuador, because it scares people.
But it has to be that way, otherwise the vulnerable homes, without the bars on windows and tall iron gates will get broken into.  Homes without electric fences are more vulnerable than those with electric fences in the same neighborhood.
 

This brings us to the topic of country living in Ecuador; we’ve touched on this before. Usually homes in the country do not have the tall cement walls or gates surrounding the property, nor does the house itself have bars on the windows. And if you are a gringo living in an unprotected home you will eventually get broken into.
 

Gated (gringo) communities are also targets for home invasions; having the attitude that one is protected because they are behind a security wall, invites thievery.  Secluding yourself within a gringo enclave tells the outsider bad apples that “you think you are better than them” and it tells them “you have something of value to take” and it tells them you believe yourself to be safer because you are living amongst other gringos or in a better neighborhood”.    We don’t say this, the thieves think it! Well, let us tell you a little secret, better (read: more expensive) neighborhoods get broken into ALL THE TIME!
 

The gringos who are unable to live in the local standard type housing and neighborhoods, and do not blend in, will be more susceptible to being targets of crime. In a nutshell, that’s what it boils down to.
 

This brings us back to the commenter. All we can say is these types of people maybe shouldn’t venture out of their home towns because coming here would be too shocking for them and we don’t mean that in a bad way, we’re simply being serious and honest. Lots of people come here that shouldn’t. Like mom for instance; I already know that Ecuador would not be a good fit for her in so many ways.
 

Mom shouldn’t move here because she would want to live the way she wants, not the way she should live according to this country’s background and culture.  She would not adjust very well.  And if you’re moving abroad, you need to be the type that adjusts to anything.
 

We’ve always said on our blog to make people more aware, crime is different in Ecuador than in the U.S, which means you have to behave differently here. We’re glad we have tall gates around our home and barred windows; it’s what you need to do to protect yourself and your belongings in Latin America! Its part of life here and it’s not going to go away anytime soon!
 

Cuenca as a whole is a beautiful city with gracious and curious locals; it has many charms you will never find in small towns in North America of the same size and we’re happy that we are here to experience and enjoy all that Ecuador has to offer...

...we live on a local level, in a local style home, in a totally Ecuadorian neighborhood, speak Spanish and blend in…and doing all that, only after four years of living here, after our home become vulnerable (someday we’ll show you the videos) to thieves were we prowled on several different occasions, but only after our home became more vulnerable!!  Before that for four years, nothing.
 

Until we write again…you might like these articles too.

We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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