Our trip to Cuenca reminded me of a couple of rules to live by:
- Always decide for yourself what a place is like, because one person’s Shangi-la may be another person’s Detroit (no offence if that’s your town);
- Always travel with an open mind and open heart; and
- Always be open to making new friends.
For some, being in Ecuador is about as exotic a place as they can imagine living and everything seems foreign. For us, it was basically just like home except in Spanish. Now to be fair, our reference points for “different” are Senegal, China, India, etc., so comparatively, Cuenca is pretty 1st rate and was more like travelling to western Europe than an “exotic” destination point.
For the most part, everything we currently do at home can be done in Cuenca. Again, Cuenca is a 1st rate – 2nd tier city and for a family with young kids, it has most of the amenities you want except for ice skating rinks, McDonalds, and little league baseball (though I may be wrong on that one). Good private schools around the world will beat any US public school and many US private schools 6 out of 10 times, so a good school combined with a Spanish tutor (for my soon to be 4th grader) should meet and hopefully exceed, my expectations.
Based on the above, Cuenca was not an especially impressive city for us in terms of the man-made cityscape, but this is not to say it is not a beautiful city. It is a nice, peaceful, livable, walkable, temperate, enjoyable place to be. What impressed us were:
- The beauty of the mountains and hills that surround the city;
- The people we met. Cuencanos (expats and locals) were very nice and welcoming. We started our week not knowing anyone and having some online blogger contacts. We ended the week having made friendships that I belive will last a lifetime.
- The extremely low cost of living well; and
- The abundance and variety of food, extracurricular activities and artistic event options.
So, for now I can say that we will be returning soon, to spend at least 2 months in Cuenca and we will see if we use the other half of our return tickets.
Relax and Follow the Paths Where They May Lead