Cuenca Day 5 – In the Land of English

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Today, in the land of English, it was all about building camaraderie, community and family.  We spent the late afternoon and evening with our friends, Frank and Angie, and their sons.  We had the best lasagna ever (veg and meat), we had the best conversation, and we felt right at home.

Also, as a side note, there are many who will tell you that you can not find a livable, place to live for $250 and that it is so difficult.  This is soooo wrong.

Fact Check

  • The average price of a an unfurnished three bedroom house and apartment will range from $250-$300.  That is what a Cuencano will pay.  Now you can always pay more and people will gladly take your money on a monthly basis…but if you are wise and frugal and want to live locally,this price range gets done all the time.
  • Having seen what a $250 house looks like in the flesh, I can tell you that it was beautiful.  Hardwood floors, french doors, granite counter tops, small indoor courtyard, larger outdoor patio and garden in the back, front courtyard and private, secure gated entry with security intercom.
  • If you are paying up to $600 in rent, it better be for a beautiful, fully furnished, multi-story, 4 bedroom house in the city with gated entry, private yards and loads of extras; that is, luxury level (more detail in upcoming post).
  • If you can speak a little Spanish and make friends with locals, walk around and have an open mind, you will find what you are looking for to fit almost any budget…except free (probably).
  • If you want to live in a condo with other Americans or in an expat heavy neighborhood, then you will pay more.  If you want to eat and hang out in expat frequented places, you will pay more.
  • Everything is available to you …. so the choices you make are your own.

Now back to building community.  I do not advocate foreign resident communities that operate within themselves and for the most part, exclude locals, except where necessary.  I do advocate for nurturing friendships across language barriers and cultural differences so that each enriches the life of the other.  I also realize, however, that there is something to be said for the familiarity of home in a foreign country, for not having to struggle to communicate every time you speak, for having friends that “get” what this experience is like.

So my caution is – moderation is the best path.  Be willing to open yourself up not only to the new and local culture, but also, to the people who are also part of your own national culture.  I started out this post saying that we felt at home with our friends and we would have missed that had I been absolutely opposed to contact with any Americans (yes Canadians too) living here.

Even when you leave home behind, you still carry the warmest piece of it with you – and sometimes you find that warmth in new friends who are kindred spirits.

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2 responses »

  1. It’s funny that you refer to Cuenca as the land of English. I was there in 2000 and no one spoke any English but when I went back last year, English was everywhere. It’s amazing how quickly things change. Cuenca used to be the quintessential Ecuadoran place but it seems to be becoming more and more of an expat colony every day.

    • Definitely if you were there 10-12 years ago, it is a completely different place. You can not sit in the El Centro park without hearing English coming from multiple dirctions. From American students taking Spanish classes in the city, to the retirees who pass thier time in the park, to the tour groups that stop there because of its beauty and that fact that it is the center of town. But I do still think there is the Ecuadorian experience, you just have to not get trapped into doing all the expat things at the expense of getting a feel for the local experience. Also, once you are out of the city center, it becomes pretty normal again. At least, I thought so.

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