When we first made our plans to come to Ecuador, we asked our North Carolina doctor what we should do about potential altitude sickness. He recommended some expensive pills to take to ward off any side effects of arriving and staying at altitudes above 8000 feet. We were all rather surprised when we felt no effect of the altitude except some shortness of breath when we climbed stairs. We never used any of the pills and feel like we have adjusted to mountain living quite well. We have even been up to around 12,000 feet in the Cajas National Park though we did not do anything strenuous while up there. It was cold, however, and we needed to wear jackets and sweaters which is a real oddity here on the equator. Cuenca has a half dozen outdoor staircases that you climb to get from the river area up to the level of town. These stairs can be up to 100 steps each and it is fun to watch a family of Mom, Pop and a couple of kids race up to the top. We generally take a moment to rest half way up and are not surprised to see others doing the same thing. Then there are the futball players who are absolutely amazing. At this altitude, they race back and forth on the playing field seeming not to ever be out of breath. They must have the lung capacity of an elephant.
Even with the unregulated diesel fumes from the trucks and busses, the air here is clear and dry. Humidity is low and the temperature stays relatively constant. Around the second of December, a friend told us that he had seen a report saying that the temperature reached 81 degrees that day, a thirty year record high. We remark often that the temperature in Cuenca is near perfect, never too hot and never too cold. It is very special to read reports about severe weather in the States and look out the window in mid-winter at people walking by in T-shirts and jeans and flowers constantly in bloom. The weather may well be our favorite thing about Cuenca.
A New Kind of Blog
There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.