Monday, January 5, 2015

Cuenca, Ecuador: Perceptions, Misconceptions and a Third Look

During our exploratory visit to Cuenca, we wrote a post about "Preconceptions, Misconceptions and New Viewpoints". In January 2014 we updated our thoughts in this post, "Perceptions, Misconceptions and Living Here". I thought it was time for another review so here is "Perceptions, Misconceptions and a Third Look".
  1. Noise, pollution and traffic
    We notice the noise less and less all the time, I guess we have adapted to city life. The sporadic building alarm behind our new apartment bothers us the most (well, it bothers Stu).

    The traffic hasn't changed much, we still walk a lot as well as take the bus.

    Pollution is worse due to the construction for the Tranvia and our new location close to it. We expect 2015 to be the worst since construction will expand into El Centro.
  2. Conservative dress
    I now feel quite comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt when going out but I have also added more solid color shirts (not blouses) and a couple pairs of Duluth Trading pants. Stu has done the same. We still wear athletic shoes most of the time although I love my Ariat slip-ons for days when I'm not walking a lot.

    We are seeing more and more casual dress in the teens, even shorts, so I anticipate the continuing trend towards this as those teens grow up.
  3. Bad Coffee
    Very rarely do we get served bad coffee here. We love the coffee in the restaurants and love the dark roast beans we get at a local shop, Nucallacta.
  4. Weather
    We still love the weather here and in our new apartment with almost wall-to-wall windows, even an overcast day doesn't seem gloomy. But we know the weather isn't for everyone. It can be a bit cool at times and of course the temperature FEELS warmer or cooler at times due to the altitude.
  5. Stray Dogs
    Not much has changed here although there are several more rescue groups for dogs. Cats aren't seen as much...mostly with expats. We have seen more locals treating dogs as pets rather than an alarm system. We sometimes wonder if these are part of the influx of Ecuadorians returning from the US and Spain.
  6. Finding our way around
    We're doing much better, the addresses make sense to us now and we can finally pronounce most of the street names. Of course, we still never remember the address of places we see...thank goodness we have friends that do!
  7. Language Barrier
    This will be a continual learning process. Our two weeks of Spanish class helped and we both plan to keep working from our notes and workbooks (as well as using the online resources). I get compliments on my pronounciation, even when I'm not sure what I'm saying. So I guess that's a good thing.
  8. Safety/Security
    We really don't worry about this, as we've stated before, we use common sense when we are out and about. Since we are now in an 8 floor building, we have security at the entrance 24/7. We still don't go out a lot in the evenings, but then we didn't do that in the US either.
  9. Graffiti vs Street Murals
    We continue to see new murals around town and enjoy snapping photos of them. They are constantly changing. The tagging type graffiti continues but it also moves. Some of it has an artisitic quality, others, not so much. Part of city life...sigh.
  10. Street/Road Condition & Pedestrians (Walking)
    Nothing has changed here, it's still dangerous to be a pedestrian and you have to continually watch where you walk as well as watch the traffic. But we have had several folks motion us to cross in front of their cars and we even had a bus driver do so. We thank them gratefully!
What we love about Ecuador...this list hasn't changed from our first post other than the addition of #10. Oh, and the list is in no particular order, that would be hard to do. There is something for everyone here in Ecuador whether you plan to vacation or retire. Give it a try!
  1. The People 
  2. The Greenery
  3. The Climate 
  4. The Fresh Fruits & Vegetables 
  5. The Lack of Stress 
  6. The Little Shops  & Markets
  7. The Artisans 
  8. The Family 
  9. The Country 
  10. The Diversity
Needless to say, we still love living here. This year we plan to take a mini-trip every month, out to a surrounding town or tourist attraction. We will continue to expand our Spanish vocabulary (grammar and tense are at the bottom of our list). We see something new and interesting daily, whether from our apartment window or traveling around town. Life is good! C'mon on down for a visit...
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