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.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Mall

One of the questions many prospective visitors and newcomers ask is “where are the malls?” The blunt answer is that there is one called Mall del Rio that is along the Autopista in the South East corner of Cuenca. It is a short taxi or bus ride. While not quite as slick as most North American malls, it has almost everything you might be accustomed to. Anchored on one end by the huge Wallmart-like “Coral”, which is nicknamed “the plastic store,” the mall has about 100 shops on two floors.  At the other end is a truly American style movie complex that shows movies in English. A ride-aboard train for the kids winds its way around the first floor among kiosks selling telephones, ice cream, Fossil hand bags, etc. etc.  A huge Christmas tree and a bubbling fountain are presently in the center. There are numerous shoe stores (Pay-less is very expensive – figure that out), clothing stores, Porta and Movistar telephone and internet shops, music stores, computer stores, electronic stores, home décor shops, an athletic clothing store, and much, much more. On the second floor, there is a huge entertainment complex and a food court and many more stores. Local restaurants have outlets there, even the ubiquitous KFC restaurant.  Interestingly, there is a very upscale restaurant tucked away in the corner.  Sunday is the wrong day to visit as almost all of Cuenca seems to be there shopping and it is very crowded especially at Coral. Many of the shops are merely outlets of their parent store in the city but we find ourselves going to the mall where most of our shopping can be done in one place rather than all over town. The only other “mall-like” complexes around town are those that surround the Supermaxi food stores of which there are three. Outside of each Supermaxi there are many small boutiques, barber shops, shoe stores, furniture stores, etc. At one, there is a very upscale department store called Sukasa. At another is our major hardware store, Kywi. So, a shopping trip to Supermaxi usually requires side visits to get a haircut or pick up new shoes for Jonny, or some other item on the perpetual “need to get” list. And, of course, while not a mall, the huge Mercado’s are the essence of the concept of a mall.

At the largest Mercado (there are at least three major Mercado’s in Cuenca and more in the neighboring towns), it would not be doing it justice to say that there are 500 food, clothing, knickknacks, or live animal stalls. There may be more but there is no way of knowing as the aisles and lanes wander endlessly. As you can see, shopping in Cuenca is part of our lifestyle, and we have just barely scratched the surface. Every day, someone tells us of the best store for this or the store with the best selection of that. Even so, shopping at the Del Rio Mall in Cuenca on a Sunday is an experience you will not forget.

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