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Flowing With the Current: Considering Cuenca, Ecuador

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Ecuador | 1 comment

The rainy season has begun. Plans are shifting fluidly. Instead of visiting Cuenca, we opted for more extensive dental work here in our beloved Cotacachi.

Cuenca is a popular destination for expats from various countries because it’s a more international city with two symphony orchestras, plenty of art, museums and cafes, and residents from all countries. Cuenca has desirable features like hiking trails, parks, hot springs nearby.

In addition, it has urban features such as traffic jams, smog, and noise. Papa Ron Cropper wrote to say, “I absolutely love Cuenca. It is the cleanest city that I have ever been in. There are lots of things to do here. It’s a shopper’s paradise and plenty of parks. The people are fantastic. The weather is also fantastic.”

I hear it’s nearly as peaceful as Cotacachi. Gary and I are interested to go in case we decide to retire in Ecuador. Alas, that trip will have to wait for another time.

Exploring the Environs

With the extra time available, we considered visiting a mountain town called Mindo, which sits in a cloud forest. It has butterfly gardens, hummingbirds, parks, waterfalls, and best of all, a chocolate factory! That trip was $350 per person, all-inclusive, for 3 days. Alas, too much for us.

My new friends By Bonnie Willow
My new friends By Bonnie Willow

With the extra time STILL available, I realized I could just take it easy. One afternoon I took a book to the town square – San Francisco square – and sat on a bench, reading. My favorite street dog, Princessa, trotted over, so I spent a while petting her.

A little indigenous girl with a boxer dog was shyly smiling at me. I struck up a mostly Spanish conversation about dogs, and she brightened up.

Her younger brother joined us. We sat on a bench together, chatting and laughing for hours.

The indigenous women who manned the market booths around the edge of the square were keeping watch to make sure the children were safe.

The Positives

Sometimes I nap, sometimes meditate to feel the volcano’s presence. I’ve done two healing sessions for local expats. That’s my dream retirement lifestyle!

Breathe in Photo by Bonnie willow
Breathe in Photo by Bonnie Willow

During this extra downtime, we met people from India, Japan, Australia, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and a delightful Jehovah’s Witness couple from Chicago.

We went to an art gallery opening, took Spanish lessons with a Quechua woman named Katty, and developed new friendships with Ecuadorians.

We feel comfortable living here. I’d love to join the garden project, the street-dog-care program, or other worthy projects.

This shows me that it is indeed reasonable to consider retiring here.

… And the Challenges

The difficulties to contend with are limited varieties of organic foods and herbs, lack of fast internet outside town, extreme poverty among some locals, hungry street dogs, old buildings, burglaries, no Amazon deliveries without big surcharges, earthquakes, and the exhaustion that comes from straining to communicate in a new language.

Some days I’m eager to return to my familiar life.

Other days I thrill at the thought of leaving the rat race and living this peaceful, affordable existence among friendly, beautiful people. Even with the higher cost of living and more traffic, we might choose Cuenca.

Are you also contemplating a move to a less hectic life? We want to hear all about it.

by: Bonnie Willow

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