10 Years of Blog Archive

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ecuador Immigration Residency Visa: Cuenca Expat Shares Her Experience (Part 1 of 2)

Andrea shares some extremely informative and interesting changes to the Ecuador immigration laws and the paperwork involved, a recurring theme in Ecuador.   Andrea's experience confirms that no matter how many people you ask, what may work for one person this week, may not work for the next person next week.  Andrea shares her decision to start the Ecuador Immigration process from home, as recommended in the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Expats Caring for Elderly Parent(s) in Cuenca: Advantages and Disadvantages

We know of several expats retiring to Cuenca and they are bringing an aged parent with them. We find this endearing to say the least. Coming from the north-American mindset and culture where there are so many elder care nursing homes, filled up to the brim with elderly people not really happy, we find it amazing there are adult children bringing their parent(s) to Cuenca with them. 

It reminds us that there are some families that want to take responsibility, and enjoy doing it, rather than have someone else take that duty from them.

Advantages to Bringing Aged Parent(s) to Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca is a wonderful place to bring your elderly parents, namely because it is a natural part of the culture here in Ecuador to take care of their own. You will blend right in by having your aged parent(s) live with you. The nursing home thing is not really part of the mainstream at this point in Cuenca or Ecuador.

It is very common to see three generations living together in one household.  We know of one such Ecuadorian family personally where the grandmother, mother, and the 24-year old daughter live together, and happily. The grandmother is getting on in age and still goes out to sell vegetables when she is feeling good, but on those days she is not feeling that great she has a nice home and is with her family  where she is cared for by her daughter and granddaughter. It is an ideal situation.

Ecuadorian culture is not in a hurry to throw the children out the door or to put their elderly parents in a nursing home—they just make it work by doing what it takes for everyone to get along and be happy. Of course, there might have to be some adjustments made when you have your elderly parents live with you, especially when they are getting on in age, but it is culturally natural to do so, at least in Ecuador.

Health-care and Medical Services Outstanding

Another advantage to bringing your aged parent(s) with you to Cuenca is health care services and medical costs are terrific. The neat thing about medical care in Ecuador is the doctor takes his/her position with importance it deserves, which is a very good thing. 

Medical facilities are 21 century in Ecuador, while bedside manner (level of personal care) is like it was back in the 1950’s…the doctor actually spends time with you…explaining…talking with you until you feel ok about procedures and services. And…some doctors will still come to YOUR home for care visits!

Everyone tells us, who has experienced going to the doctor in Cuenca, how much more personal their visit was than in the US. Not to make comparisons but this needs to be compared! There is no rush-rush mentality to hurry up and get out on the golf course or to hurry up and get to the next patient.

Doctors and care-givers in Ecuador generally have compassion and genuine concern for their patient's health, and it is clear that they actually love what they do, and that is a good thing for them and especially for the patients. Many care specialists and doctors speak English because they were schooled in the US or Europe.

For those of you who are thinking of having an in-home nurse, the same quality of care can and should be expected of her. As usual, be sure to make inquiries for past patient care and require references of anyone whom you decide to hire on to help you with your aging parent.

Organic Food Means Better Health

Another advantage to bringing your aged parent(s) to Ecuador is the quality of the food. There are several cooperatives here in Cuenca that offer organic produce at a price that is cost effective for every budget. Many times we buy organic produce at the grocery store and the price is not much more than non-organic.

Fruits and vegetables at Feria Libre are fresh as well and a lot of it is organically grown.  We’ve talked with many Ecuadorians who have told us that if they spray anything on the food, it is very little and some farmers use organic bug sprays…most produce farmers cannot afford to buy the chemicals! We know the produce is cleaner here because we’re healthier!

Another thing that many folks want to know is if there are fake made foods here in (GMO’s) Ecuador. And we can proudly state, as of this writing, NO! To read more about this click here. It is very safe to say that the food in Ecuador is much cleaner, safer, and healthier.

Disadvantages for Aged People in Ecuador

The advantages of bringing an elderly parent with you to Cuenca far outweigh the disadvantages and we think the disadvantages can be worked with, so do not fret over these two things too much. We just want to bring you both sides of the issue so when you get here you won’t be surprised.

Many Homes Constructed of Two or Three Levels

Most of the homes built in Cuenca have two or three stories, which could mean stairs to climb to the bedroom.  Some of the homes are built with all of the bedrooms upstairs, while the downstairs has the social or guest bathroom (usually with no shower) which makes for shower-time having to walk up a flight of steps. It is not that you cannot find a home with the one of the bedrooms downstairs, but it is not the norm.

Even many apartments and some condos sometimes have two stories. So, if you are bringing an aging parent that has a difficult time walking up stairs, it may just be best to find a home, apartment, or condo that is suitable for the family BEFORE you get here, so you are not being put under the stress of having to hit the streets in a hurry looking for that ideal place. The ideal home or apartment will have a bedroom with full bath on the lower level for the aged parent(s).  You can find those here, but it might just take longer to find.  

Wheelchair Accessibility is a Work in Progress

Another disadvantage is getting around and doing things with your elderly parent. If they are in a wheelchair many businesses are not wheelchair friendly. Even though there has been much improvement, Cuenca sidewalks are not the best. In fact many times there are no wheelchair access up onto or down onto the street. Many businesses are still not equipped with ramps.  Again, many of the homes have one step-up into another room, or step-downs into another room…it is just the way the homes are built here.

Crossing the street can be a challenge, especially since pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. Even when the light is red, oncoming cars have been known to speed through the intersections and make speedy right turns while pedestrians are trying to cross the street to get to the other side. Drivers figure you will hear their horn and just wait for them to go first, but unfortunately when coming from a country where pedestrians have the right of way, you aren’t necessarily waiting to be honked at by a speedy driver and may not be accustomed to having to  hear the horn, which is not a reliable way to be crossing anyway.

Cuenca's Sidewalks Are Being Improved Upon 

If your aged parent has a difficult time walking you will need to be careful because the sidewalks have big holes in them, rocks, and things that jet up from the cement. Cuenca city is improving their sidewalks but it is still a work in progress.

Another thing about the sidewalks here is there are slanted driveways entrances connected to the sidewalks which can make for falling fairly easy if you are not watching where you are going, which has happened to all of us.  A friend who was visiting (she was 18) fell down and badly bruised her hip on one of these slanted driveways that come up onto the sidewalk because it had just rained and it was slick. Thank goodness she was fit and only bruised her hip and scratched her arm. We just want to let you know some of the things that you will have to contend with here in Cuenca for yourself and for your aged parent.

The bus system is very good in Cuenca but the buses have almost a two foot gap between the ground and the first step! This might prove to be a challenge for an elderly person just trying to step up onto the bus. Not only that, but the bus does not always wait for passengers to sit down before the driver takes off. The buses are more crowded now than they were two years ago, often times we are standing up and it can be a rough ride.

Getting off the bus can be challenging at times, depending on the driver. We have seen many times where the driver takes off before a person has the chance to step all the way off the bus! We know of one expat personally who this happened to and she fell onto the ground. She was hurt minimally only because she was fit.

Hopefully when Cuenca builds their light rail they will make concessions for the aged, handicapped, and those in wheelchairs just like Quito has with their trolley light rail system. It’s great because there are no step ups or step downs to get on or off the electric trolley in Quito, plus sidewalks are much wider and more improved in Quito than in Cuenca.

The way around to not have to walk too much or ride the bus with your aged parent is to call a taxi that will come and pick you up at your home. Taxis in Cuenca are still around $3 to go anywhere within the city so it is a good option for getting around Cuenca city. 

(Yanuncay River Walk)

If you would like to have your aged parent get some exercise and walk a bit, a great place to take them is along the river where there are nicely paved walking lanes.  There are excellent walking paths along the two main rivers in Cuenca, the Tomebamba and the Yanuncay Rivers. Beautiful walks!

So that is about it…of course there are more advantages to moving to Cuenca with your aged parent that we did not mention in this article.  But here's one that may be overlooked: If a parent is still able to walk and get out, one possibly overlooked thing is the joy de vivre ambience of Latin America. We have seen it put a little more spunk in more than one elder!  What a way to spend your last years!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cuenca Expat Recommends the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide (Review)

Expat Brian Osburn recommends the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide and shares his review of the Cuenca Guide in beautiful Park Calderon in downtown Cuenca. Brian Osburn just recently moved to Cuenca and is enjoying his new semi-retirement life here in Cuenca with his new miniature Schnauzer, also in the video.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crime and Safety in Quito Ecuador – How to Avoid Being a Target

We’ve all read about the expats, who are enjoying the beauty of Quito city, taking photographs of the cathedral and other remarkable architecture. They take their eyes off their backpack just for a moment and a thief grabs it and dashes off.

We’ve even heard of horror stories such as expats being knocked down to the ground after thieves snatch off their gold necklace, earrings, etc.

There have also been some really scary stories of young women getting into unmarked unregistered taxi cabs and getting sexually assaulted by the driver.

And then there are the stories of intoxicated expats who leave nightclubs at wee hours of the morning and end up getting pounced on and robbed, and sad to say, worse things have happened to them.

The crime stories mentioned above are all true and real. However acts of thievery and violence we just mentioned can be avoided.

Expats and tourists that have no incidents of thievery to report take the needed precautions to NOT become a target of crime, or they simply were lucky that week. Eventually the most vulnerable folks are going to be a target of crime and have something stolen from them, or worse have something bad happen to them. If you play Russian Roulette enough times eventually you’re going to shoot yourself.

Thieves Look for Vulnerability

Crime that takes place in tourist cities such as Cuenca and Quito Ecuador are 99% indiscriminate and random.  In other words, no one is actually a target until they make themselves be a target. Thieves lie in wait, carefully eyeing out the scene looking for vulnerability in a tourist.  When he sees vulnerability he thinks “Hey there’s an easy target” and he goes for it…or they go for it. Sometimes they don’t even lie in wait, they
just do the mustard trick on any travelers that happen to be walking by.

This is Latin America after all, where the police don’t have the resources or money to do much of anything for common petty thievery. The thieves know this…so as long as they can run away…snatch and grabs are good business for them.

Pick-pocketing tourists and expats is prevalent all over the world and it takes a professional to get away with it. Read our true petty theft crime story about how Frank finally got pick pocketed in Cuenca while riding a bus; by the way, it too could have been avoided.

Avoiding Crime is about Being Watchful and Diligent

Ways that we can be safer is by being watchful and diligent and then making these two behaviors a part of our new retirement lifestyle. When we take the needed precautions to stay safe it starts to be habit-forming.

-We remember to not leave our valuables unattended.
-We always hang onto our packs, purses, etc;
-We remain aware of our surroundings to make sure we are not being followed;
-We do not come out of a night clubs intoxicated and alone no matter what time of day it is;
- We don’t climb into unmarked taxis, no matter how tired we happen to be.
- We do not act tired and vulnerable out in public, even if we are tired.
- And most importantly, we don’t show a flaunty kind of lifestyle where our jewels, clothing, and stuff make others envious; we try to blend in as much as possible.

How to Avoid Home Invasions

Even a blonde person/family can blend in better by living in the same type of home and neighborhood as the locals, and by not showing off material possessions in and around their home that would make it tempting for a thief to want to steal things. If the thieves don’t “see” anything to steal than where’s the target? Don’t think for a minute that your lifestyle won’t get back to the thieves. It is a small world, thieves will find out where you live and they will know when you leave. So then ‘how would you want them to think about you?’  ‘What would you want them to know about you?'

When we become friends with the local people in the neighborhood, speaking Spanish, riding the bus, shopping where they shop, bargaining for items, dressing like they do, and basically doing whatever it takes to blend in, they will see us as just like them and NOT “rich gringo foreigners”,  and guess what? Your house suddenly stops being a target.

At first any gringo / foreigner house will be a target but it is up to you to change that. Staying safe and free from being taken advantage of is really up to you.

It works the other way too. If you happen to have the nicest house in the neighborhood and if you have expensive items in plain view such as automobiles, boats, riding lawn mowers, motorcycles, barbecues, whatever…your home will be a target for crime at the first available chance by thieves.

If you go around talking to people about your finances and behaving as if you are rich…showing off and wearing expensive jewels…well then guess what? You will be a target of crime.

We have to be extra special careful when living in Latin America about “who we allow to come into our home”.  Service workers, repairmen, electricians, and Internet techs have been known to eye out the things in expats homes to see if there is anything worth the effort…if there is…you may be a target of a home invasion / robbery.

We do not want to scare you but this happens even in little Cuenca Ecuador. Be careful and use someone with references and of reputable character. If you have valuables in plain sight you know what you need to do, hide them.

However, with all of this said there are a few acts of crime throughout Ecuador that are well-thought out and definitely planned out where tourists have no idea what’s coming to them.  One such crime is the armed robbery of all the passengers on tour national buses on the Ecuador highways and byways. There is nothing you can do to prevent such crimes and sadly they do happen from time to time, usually at night and out of Guayaquil. The odds of this happening to you go way down by just NOT riding tour buses or city buses after dark.

Crime is everywhere and in cities in North America. However, crime is a bit different in North America than it is here in South America. In SA most of the petty theft crimes and robberies happen to tourists and expats because they are considered to be rich and therefore overflowing with valuables. They don’t go after their own too much because they are not considered rich and having many valuable items in their possession or in their homes. Although it still does happen. 

Yes, Quito has its share of crime, however, if you take precautions of diligence and watchfulness, crime will not come to you.  Remember: being watchful and diligent really works! It is your best protection against crime. Quito is a beautiful city full of beautiful people and wonderful things to see and do. Enjoy yourself but be a diligent expat too.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What is Cuenca Like in March 2013?

This video is a hodgepodge of video and photos from the last few days of walking around in Cuenca. Like we always say, you never know what to expect or what you're going to run into when living in Cuenca Ecuador. We enjoy sharing the day to day happenings of daily living in Cuenca with our readers because it truly gives you a good view of life here in Cuenca Ecuador.    

Friday, March 22, 2013

DIY Cuenca Landing Guide Video Review from Expat Family

Young expat family moves to Cuenca Ecuador and shares with us what they think about the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide and what is was like having a nice furnished rental waiting for them when they got off the plane. The best part for them they said is having it all ready for them when they arrived. They're happy! We're happy to help out and make it a whole lot easier for expats when they first arrive to Cuenca.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cuenca Ecuador International Airport - Mariscal Lamar

This is the Cuenca Ecuador Mariscal Lamar Airport.  The main floor has a couple souvenir shops and a bank and a few ticket windows. Up the stairs is about four fast food restaurants, some tables and chairs and big viewing windows to watch the planes takeoff and land. And that's about it. You definitely will not get lost in this airport!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Splendor of Daily Life in Cuenca Ecuador: Discover Cuenca with Us!

At the end of the month we usually have an assortment of videos that by themselves can't really be made into a video clip or movie...so we just mesh them together and this is what you get, a birds-eye view of Cuenca Ecuador in all of its daily splendor. You, our readers and viewers are discovering Cuenca Ecuador with us! Enjoy the scenery!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why Some Expats May Prefer Quito for Retirement or Part-Time Living

We have received several comments from future expats who want to know more about Quito. Thought we'd post them so others can see they are not the only ones who are actually looking at Quito Ecuador for future retirement or part time living.

I am extremely pleased that you have added Quito to your "coverage area" in the blogosphere. My wife and I have talked at length about an extended sabbatical with our two children that could perhaps become permanent. I would love to be able to continue work overseas, and support all four of us. Living in a better climate with better air quality, experiencing a different culture with the kids, and being able to move around freely without a car are very attractive ideas right now. Cuenca seems like a wonderful place, but Quito could be more suitable because it is a larger urban area and, as the national capital, could offer more opportunities for me. Your reports are much enjoyed here. Keep up the good work. M.R – Atlanta, Georgia.

Thank you so much for this post! I had wanted to move to Quito in May of 2014, but all I heard was negative. Therefore, I was looking at Cuenca. Although it seems beautiful, it may not be dynamic enough for a working woman in her 30s. -- Metri Essays

I have been following your Cuenca adventures and commentary for a while.....Although Cuenca sounds wonderful I would be afraid it is too small and definitely a bit over priced .. Now I'm getting excited about your up coming in depth Quito reviews and commentary. -- Quoted by anonymous on this blog

Your most recent efforts on Quito, have us very interested (we have spent most of our working life in places like NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, etc.). It seems to have the depth of activity that would provide for an active life style...Quote from one of our Cuenca readers.


If you haven't seen it yet, watch our video commentary on "Why we like Quito Ecuador".

Moving to Ecuador? 5 Reasons to Choose Quito over Cuenca

First, before we share five wonderful reasons to choose Quito over Cuenca, we need to let you know something. We do not have a vested interest in either Cuenca or Quito Ecuador. It will not change anything for us if expats decide to move to Cuenca or Quito, or anywhere else in Ecuador. 

Our primary goal with this article is to share obvious reasons for choosing one city over the other. Still, Quito is not for everyone, and in fact, Cuenca is aptly suited for many retirees to spend their retirement years in because of its many benefits including its small town feel.   But Quito definitely has more to offer for a certain type of expat individual, couple or family that Cuenca does not.

Lastly, we receive negative reports from expats who claim that Quito is dirty, too noisy, crowded, polluted, crime ridden, etc, etc. And then we ask them, “Oh yeah, what part of Quito have you been to”? And their reply is, “I don’t know”.  Oh, well okay then, that says it all. Quito has so much to offer that to stay only in one area of the city on an overnight connecting flight and then move on to Cuenca is doing yourselves a disfavor.  How do we know this? Read our five reasons to choose Quito over Cuenca and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

1) Quito has numerous bilingual schools for expats with children. Cuenca, to our knowledge does not even have one bilingual school, although there is a German school with second language being German, and there is an elementary school called “The American School” with English speaking students that attend (see our video about this school) but there are no English speaking classes or teachers in Cuenca. If anyone has heard of a bilingual school with English speaking classes in Cuenca, please let us know and we'll be happy to check it out.

2) Quito has a diversity of international cuisine restaurants.  Cuenca has about a half a dozen international cuisine restaurants.  An expat who lives in Quito told us before we moved to Cuenca that there are so many nice international restaurants in Quito that you could eat out every day for a year and never go to the same restaurant twice. Some folks enjoy eating out and this would be heaven for them.

3) Quito’s property prices are lower than Cuenca’s. Cuenca is now the most expensive city in all of Ecuador. We all know why. We’ve done some research over the months and for the same amount of property Quito wins hands down. Quito has some pretty darn expensive condos and homes, don’t get us wrong on that, but when it comes down to actually finding what you need and want, you’ll get a better price in Quito, at least for now.

4) Quito has Megamaxi and MegaKiwi. These are huge department/hardware stores for the home
DIYSelfer. We sometimes miss Lowes and Home Depot back in the states because they offered so much variety. Cuenca has a nice Kiwi hardware store, but that’s nothing compared toMegaKiwi in Quito. Yes, Cuenca has Supermaxi grocery store, but Quito boasts Megamaxi grocery and department store which is full of home items and food stuffs that are not to be found in Cuenca…go figure. Cuenca may get a Megamaxi shopping center one day in the future but for now, it is just too small.

5) Music, arts, and all of the symphonic cultural flair is in full swing in Quito. Big named musical artists go to Quito. Quito boasts symphonies, concerts, theatrical plays, and other live shows daily, some are free and some cost money, but if you love to do the night life thing and see all the popular artists perform, it’s in Quito not Cuenca.

Furthermore, Quito is not dirty and it is not nearly as air polluted as Cuenca is.  How can we back up these statements? Well, go stand on one of the busiest roads in the tourist district of Quito for about an hour.  Than go stand on the one of the busiest roads in the tourist district of Cuenca for about an hour.  Take your time and breathe in the air. You will notice there are fewer buses that emit toxic fumes in Quito… plus you will also notice there are trolley buses that run on electricity all over the city of Quito. The downtown histoic area of Quito has very few buses but a lot of electric trolley buses. One of the first things we noticed about Quito was less air pollution and it was great. 

Not sure where folks are staying when they land in Quito but we found it to be just as clean, or cleaner than Cuenca. There is a party zone in the tourist district of La Mariscal that can get trashy over a weekend night, but bright and early the next morning, all the trash is picked up by the guys and gals in green or orange jumpsuits. We were surprised to see that Quito, being as big as it is, was so clean and well kept.

It seems people are seeing an area of Quito, perhaps by the old Quito airport, or maybe further south that is dirty and more air-polluted because maybe there are more buses in that area. Every large city has its unkempt areas, we all know that. Quito has a large population in the city of over two million people. You can’t really stay in one area and then say Quito is dirty or smoggy, or whatever, because that is not the true and whole picture.

The point is, to really see and know Quito you have to stay longer than an overnight layover or a couple days. Explore Quito and find out for yourself the beauty and culture of this city and its wonderful people; we think you will be pleasantly surprised. For more information about Quito Ecuador visit http://discoverquitoecuador.com/

Friday, March 15, 2013

Meet Ecuadorian Gringo and Restaurant Owner of the "El Campanario Restaurant" in Chordeleg Ecuador

Some folks might think calling a person a "gringo" is being derogatory, but here in Ecuador it is coined to be exactly the opposite; in fact we have met Ecuadorians that used to live in the states who call themselves "gringos", and they are!  The restauranteur of the El Campanario Restaurant is a prime example of an Ecuadorian Gringo. Ecuadorian gringos have two things in common. They have lived in the states for years and they speak fairly good English. Cuenca is home to numerous Ecuadorian (Cuencano) Gringos.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This Silly Hat Finally!! Got Me Pick Pocketed in Cuenca Ecuador!!

I knew going out the door that morning, I shouldn’t be wearing it.  I’ve never worn it before in Cuenca.  It marks me as a foreigner.  And I knew it.

You may have seen me wearing it in our Salinas videos, and I have it earmarked as my “beach” hat and for that it works great. 

But this morning I was frustrated because the sun was full on in Cuenca, and I had recently lost my ball cap! And if you’re in Cuenca or anywhere else in Ecuador any length of time you will quickly realize being out in the equatorial sun without a hat, is suicidal.

Why was I frustrated?  I knew locals don’t wear them, they wear ball caps.  As I said, it marks me as a foreigner.  And foreigners are frequently a target for crime in Cuenca or anywhere in Ecuador.

But that wasn’t the only thing that finally got me pick pocketed for the first time in two years.  I also wore my cargo pants even though I knew the Velcro on the pocket was worn out, causing the pocket to hang out open, and my wallet was an easy target.  Talk about being stupid, I must have appeared Rich and Stupid.  I mean, who walks around with a silly tourist hat and a bulging wallet in an open pocket in South America?

Well, now you know who.  I frequently tell people South America is not a first time travel destination!  Why?  Because first time travelers are not ready and willing to believe the precautions you must take to avoid being a target of crime here.  You know, "that won’t happen to me, it just happens to people you read about" kind of attitude?

So what went wrong?  In a nutshell, here’s why it happened.  I DIDN’T OBEY OUR OWN RULES.  Readers of our DIY Cuenca Landing Guide know that the only other time we had a close call altercation was when we didn’t obey our own precautions listed in the Cuenca GUIDE, when we went to Feria Libre Mercado.

The other thing was that we had been running around all day long doing errands under the sun, and even with the hat, I was exhausted.  It was later afternoon in a crowded bus, and I was slumping against the side of the bus with my head on Angie’s shoulder and could barely keep my eyes open.  I was also sleep deprived.

So I was off my guard, and the thief must have spotted me first with my silly hat, then on the bus, slumping and tired.  Could I have made it any easier? I’m taking full responsibility here!  And that’s a recurring theme we get when we ask local Ecuadorians about crime,  “It’s up to you” they say…

Next, a nicely dressed guy moved up closer to us and began to try and open the bus window. For about 8 to 10 seconds the man pushed and yanked on the window but it wouldn’t open, which is normal for most buses in Cuenca. Some of the windows will open and some are jammed and will not open. Anyway, at the next bus stop the guy gets off.

Angie remarked “That’s odd, that guy who was trying to open the bus window got off the bus anyway, so why was he so intent on opening the window?’  We simply shrugged it off not knowing yet that the man took my wallet.

As soon as I stepped off the bus I could tell I was a little lighter!  That’s when it hit me.  Fortunately for us it was my dummy wallet, which only had an expired debit card, a Supermaxi discount card and $30 in it!!

So how did the guy pick pocket me without me knowing? When he leaned up close to pretend like he wanted to open the window he took his other hand and grabbed my wallet. It happened very fast, very sly and very professional.  He was also very presentable, collar shirt, manicured haircut.  A normal, nice looking guy.  Not like the night of the living dead drunks you see occasionally, which would have caused alarm bells to ring…

We have lived here almost two years and this is the first time anything remotely close to being robbed has happened to any of us. I blame the whole ordeal on myself because I made myself exposed to being pick pocketed.  Here’s the recap:

1)    I was showing that I was tired to the thief and he took advantage of that. Thieves look for vulnerability, so don’t give it to them.

2)    I was not paying attention – I was totally oblivious to what was going on around me. I got lax, something I normally wouldn’t do.

3)    I was wearing the wrong kind of clothing, because the pants pockets were not sealed properly with a zipper, and the hat was not a blend in, local guy kind of hat.

So, bottom line, why should you listen to me?  Because one thing is certain, when we actually do obey our own rules, nothing ever happens to us, but boy do things change fast, when we disobey them!!

For more information on safety, saving money, living well and blending in, see the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What's Happening in the New Quito Airport? Expat David shares His Story

This is part two with Cuenca expat brothers Bill and David talking about the new Quito airport.  They both have a story to tell of their arrival and experience in the Quito airport. They want to let people know what they might expect so they can be more prepared, which isn't a bad idea. There have been a few challenges but it isn't all bad. Sure there is a little disorganization, but we're guessing that everything is going to be running smoother very soon.


What Bill and Dave mean when they say there's "no lodging" is that there is very little lodging, to the extent that it's a day late and a dollar short. Other travelers have reported to us that there's "no rooms available" they're almost always full, so that it is unreliable at this time. Hopefully that will change soon...

Saturday, March 09, 2013

What is the New Quito Ecuador Airport Like? Expat Brothers Tell Their Story (Part 1 of 2 -- Bill's Story)

As of this writing, there are no direct flights from the US to Cuenca Ecuador. When flying into Ecuador you will either land in Quito or in Guayaquil airports, usually for an overnight layover. Then you can take a commuter plane to Cuenca. Quito just opened a brand new airport about three weeks ago. What is this new airport like? We have a couple of expat brother's who flew into the Quito airport at different times on their way to Cuenca and they both have a story to tell. There have been some challenges for some expats. This is Bill and David's experiences.

(Part 1 of 2 --  Bill's Story)


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Wonders of Salinas Beach Ecuador - January 2013

It's high season on the beaches of Ecuador. Salinas was packed with Ecuadorian families mostly and few foreigners. By noon time the tide comes in all the way up to the rocks and doesn't go back out until around 5pm or so in the evening. San Lorenzo beach in Salinas is not very wide so it really gets packed with people, and when the tide starts coming in everyone slowly moves their beach umbrellas a little bit closer to the wall and the beaches become more and more packed.

A good time to enjoy the beach this time of year is walking the whole beach early in the morning when the tide is out; it is a very enjoyable walk and is good exercise. Walking from one end to the other takes about 30 minutes. Chipipe beach is a much wider beach but during high season it too gets packed. However, your chances of finding a spot on the beach to lay down your beach towel and get some sun are much better on Chipipe beach.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Why We Like Quito Ecuador

This video is a summary of "Why we like Quito Ecuador".

Is Quito too big and intimidating? Quito may seem overwhelming when you first get off the plane, especially if coming from a smaller city, but Quito is actually just the right size for big cities lovers and for those people who like a variety of activities. Quito has quite a bit to offer as any big city in the north country has to offer, often times for less money!

The city of Quito (not including urban areas) has distinct districts that separate the city in four sectors. Because of this it makes Quito pretty easy to navigate. The trolley buses have excellent maps inside each station showing the travel itinerary for that particular trolley.

After being in Quito for several weeks, riding the trolley's to different areas, and walking all over exploring the city, we found Quito to be a very pleasant city with the same exact weather as Cuenca and the people were just as enjoyable and nice. There is a lot to like about Quito, so don’t let its size intimidate you. We’re going back for another exploration visit soon. Enjoy the video of "Why We Like Quito".

Stay tuned to Discover Quito Ecuador for more about Quito!


Monday, March 04, 2013

Found Another Good Restaurant in Cuenca - Moliendo Cafe -- They Serve Colombian Food

We found another international cafe in Cuenca that we liked and we're here to share this Colombian style fare with our readers. They have many kinds of dishes to choose from and just about everything is around $2.50 to $3 dollars. They also serve a daily almuerzo. The food here is good and wholesome. We'll definitely eat here again.


Saturday, March 02, 2013

Retirees: Yes, Cuenca’s Great But Quito Might Just be Better!

Everyone has their reasons for moving to a certain area, but it seems to us that many people have been duped.  Cuenca’s property prices are already sky-high for Ecuador, and they have been for years, especially since the retirement press started going “cocoa puffs” over it about four years ago!

So, what about Quito? For a certain type of retiree, those who are healthier, maybe even younger, and like to do things, Quito Ecuador has a lot more going for it than Cuenca. From the perspective of things to do such as excellent mega shopping, International restaurants to dine in, and day-time cultural activities, and evening time musical fine arts, Quito comes out as A-One on all fronts. And remarkably, the people of Quito are just as friendly as they are in the smaller city, Cuenca.

We have a lot of positive things to say about Quito and we have a lot to show you about Quito because we had the opportunity for several extended visits, and more are planned. We actually rented an apartment in the colonial district and did the Quito adventure! In fact, we may just decide to move there ourselves because property prices have not risen there like they have in Cuenca. They are about 20 to 30% lower on rents and same with the real estate market.

If anyone has done the research on the real estate market in Cuenca, you’ll know what we’re talking about. This is Ecuador (it is still a developing country) and to pay what their asking for a “nothing special” small home on a small lot in Cuenca is absolutely outrageous!!

Check this out. You can buy a 3,500 sq ft colonial in Quito for $99,000, still today...and that's the asking price! In Cuenca the same building (Not restored) goes for $350,000! And if it is restored over half a million dollars!  What’s going on? We all know what’s going on and it isn’t going to get any better!

But most northerners come here and compare the Cuenca market to the Northern country markets and think the real estate market is great here in Ecuador…boy, have people been deceived.  Cuenca Ecuador is the most expensive city for real estate purchase and rentals, in all of Ecuador.  And it’s all fueled by foreigner money. 

We’ve already compared national wages for Ecuador/u.s.a  and then factored in the prices. And don’t forget about the rule of 3 and 4 either; it sure has gotten us out of a financial self deception on several occasions.

Just because something appears to be a good value to you doesn’t mean you aren’t getting ripped off.  To pay tourist prices for visits is understood, but to pay tourist prices for year round living, well, what do you think?  We’ve also seen people behave in strange ways toward a foreign country, in such a way that they would never act back home, such as believing the hype and the fear of loss high pressure selling tactics pushed by real estate agents.

We have to change the way we look at things when we move to developing countries, especially real estate.If we retire in a country that is still in its development stages it means that real estate prices are still developing as well; it does not mean they are already developed, but here in Cuenca it seems as if the market is at its high point (for a 3rd world city).

Back to Quito. Why don’t we see much writing about Quito? All over the internet articles keep hyping up and glorifying Cuenca as the ‘cheapest place to retire’…NOT!   New articles keep coming out all the time about how great Cuenca is. And these new articles keep raising the cost of living every few months.

Go ahead and type in the google search, “Quito Ecuador International Living”. You’ll see about 6 articles written by IL Writers. And then type in “Cuenca Ecuador International Living”. Wow!   It keeps going on and on about Cuenca.

Does that mean Cuenca is a better place to live than Quito? Absolutely NOT! It appears that there could be an agenda to continue hyping up Cuenca Ecuador, at this time, for whatever reason.  We’ve certainly had expats whisper things in our ears.  We don’t like to speculate especially when we do not have all the facts. More in the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide, it’s not just a welcome guide, it is a lifesaver.

Soon, or already now, you may see write ups and publicizing of the “new paradise” to prepare for in a few years when Cuenca becomes old news or too expatriated! We’re just saying, take a look at Quito or, why wait for the International Press to glorify a city, when we can get there before the herd does.  Why have your eyes set on Cuenca only? Open up and see more of Ecuador, or of some other paradise. And remember, paradise is what we make it not what some popular retirement press magazine says.

“You know we have blinders on when we are unable to set our retirement sights on any other city than the one that is being hyped up for that year.”

Learn more about Quito, the other paradise that doesn’t get all hyped up and glorified. Yet!  Our commentary about Quito coming soon, so be on the lookout for “Why We Like Quito Ecuador” coming soon!!  Quito may well be worth your consideration.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Cuenca Expat's Retirement Dream Comes True by Going Local (6 of 6 Furnishing Cuenca Rental)

In this last video with retired expat Alice we certainly learn a lot about furniture buying and acquiring custom upholstered furniture in Cuenca. Alice has been such a dear for sharing all of her experiences of moving to Cuenca Ecuador with us! Thanks Alice, hugs from Frank and I...we'll see you soon!  :-) :-)