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.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Many Faces of Cuenca

Take a little tour with us and get a glimpse of some of the fascinating faces you will see in Cuenca. There is so much to see that this is only a small peek into life in the city but it is a beginning.  
At the indiginous markets, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of family stalls filled with everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, clothing, live animals and articles you haven't seen for years, all at extraordinary prices.
It is a common sight to see women, often elderly, with huge loads of unimaginable weights, strapped to their backs.
Manual labor, not mechanized, is the order of the day. The worker in the middle is pounding the cement sidewalk with a 15 lb.sledge hammer. A crowbar and shovel are his assistants.
A wood gatherer coming down the mountain with wood to either use at home or to sell. Horses, mules and donkeys are the main transportation for many of the farmers. Oxen are often used to plow the fields.
Almost every establishment that handles cash has guards out front probably more as intimidation as much as for real security. At the wages they earn, it is hard to believe that they would risk their lives to protect the stores they are there to guard.
Laden down with hundreds of sunglasses tucked onto his hat, on his shoulders, in his belt, and dozens more in his backpack and plastic bag, the sunglass salesman finds a way to carry more artfully arranged in each hand. At street intersections, where cars must slow down to turn, these entrepaneurs make a good living, selling sunglasses to ward off the intense sunlight.
On almost every street, you will find a "Comida Tipico" where meals are served for around $1.50. A meal of excellent soup, main dish of chicken and rice and a fruit drink are the usual offerings at this "can't refuse" price.
When was the last time you saw a donkey parked out in front of a store? Little specialty shops sell almost anything you could wish for in small, one room establishments.
But, there is another class of citizens in Cuenca, the wealthy. Though less obvious, they are a strong backbone of the city.
Pre-school is a wonderful start for many of the more well-to-do children in Cuenca. Again, there is a pre-school on almost every block of the city. The children are dropped off at the pre-schools by their working parents and picked up at lunch time.

Our Jonny opening the door to his bus at 7:50 in the morning. Almost every school has a mini-bus to pick up their students. There are so many of them at this hour that they actually seem to outnumber the taxis.
Grade school kids all over the world look like this but in all schools here in Cuenca, public as well as private, the children wear uniforms. Each school's uniform is different.
A group of high school girls heading home after a day of study. Unfortunately, the school day ends earlier than we are used to at around one or two o'clock each day. Many kids then go to dance class, Tai-kwon-do lessons, swim lessons, futbol, or some other after school activity.
Then, of course, there are the expats. This was Loretta's birthday at our house in Challuabamba. The rest of the group was in the kitchen wolfing down lunch.
A, more or less, typical Friday evening at the Eucalyptus Cafe where the expat community meets. It is a wonderful way for a newcomer to meet the "old hands." This was rather early in the evening as normally there will be about 30 at the Eucalyptus Cafe and another 30 at Zoe's Restaurant each Friday.
Cuenca is a city of festivals and with every festival come numerous parades. A week doesn't go by that there isn't a parade. The problem is finding out the reason for the parade.
A toy peddler that is an almost irresistible target for every child who passes by. Some of the blow up toys are most unusual and a lot more fun than just another balloon.
Tens of thousands watch the Christmas parades. This group took ten minutes to dance and intertwine the ribbons and kept the rest of the parade, which went on for five hours, from moving. No one seemed to mind.
Horses or donkeys, ridden by children, are decorated with intricate designs made from fruit, vegetables or candy bars, all strung together to make unusual and colorful saddle hangings.
There are fifty-three churches in Cuenca. Christmas service at the New Cathedral with the Cuenca Symphony playing Christmas carols, both English and Spanish, was a special treat.

So, here in photos, is a little glimpse of the many faces of Cuenca. It gives a small view of what you will see but barely scratches the surface of the sometimes constant and, more often, delightfully changing scene.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing information about Cuenca. I live in Canada, and have visited parts of Mexico and Cuba on vacation. The weather being tropical, I noticed huge cockroaches. What's the situation with these insects in Cuenca?


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