2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Cuenca in many respects is a beautiful city, and the various posts and photos since the summer of 2010 on this blog site have  highlighted some of these features.  Recently, a friend here in Cuenca, Jack Johansen, sent me an email that I found quite captivating.  I have not seen anything like this since I was in Mumbai, India in the 1970's, and even then nowhere to the extent shown in these slides. 

The slides are of a beautiful meshing of art with plant and flower life.  I couldn't help but think in a city like Cuenca which has so many lovely squares, fabulous parks like Parque Madre and Parque Pariso, not to mention the spectacular greenways along the Rio Tomebama and the Rio Yaracuy; that this use of plant life with wire-mesh arranged in interesting art forms would find a perfect complement to the attractive settings in Cuenca.

Cuenca and Ecuador have a biodiversity of flowers and plant life,  which allow for a wide array of such an enhancement of the overall beauty of the city.  Flowers and plants are also very inexpensive in Cuenca, which should make such art forms financially feasible as well.  Another plus for such a project(s) in Cuenca is the fact that our springlike weather the year round allows for these art forms to transcend simple display during one or two seasons.  


How might these art forms be used?  Some of the city and church squares could use more greenery to dilute the concrete appearance.  One such example would be the Santo Domingo Plaza on Gran Columbia.  Some art form examples in the slide presentation would be ideal for such a location.  Possibilities might even exist in the corners of Parque Calderon.  Parque Paraiso would be a perfect site for a large garden of such displays, not to mention locations scattered along the greenways of the Rio Tomebama and the Rio Yaracuy.  This post is just a suggestion to city officials, the Chamber of Commerce, and whoever is responsible for the beautification of Cuenca, both for the enjoyment of its people as well as for the tourists to the city.  It would certainly require the cooperation of the horticulturalists and the artists and student-artists of the city.

While many of these photo slides are of an Oriental motif, a little imagination of the part of our artists could easily give the art forms a more South American flavor.  I encourage you as you watch these slides to click on the enlargement symbol in the lower right hand corner, so you can enjoy the luscious and magnificent beauty of these eye popping photos that bring a sense of beauty to the soul as well.  After viewing, let your imaginations roam as to where such similar sites would complement the beauty of Cuenca, as we transform it into the most aesthetically beautiful city in South America.


Saturday, May 11, 2013


We don't need nor do we want a McDonald's or any other fast food franchises here in Cuenca.  We don't need nor do we want a pervasive invasion by American fast food corporations here in Ecuador.  We don't need nor do we want more junk food on the market, when we are living in one of the most, if not the most healthy food countries in the world.  Ecuadorians don't need to fill their arteries with faux fried and deep-fried foods filled with all kinds of chemicals and preservatives.  Ecuadorians are already growing heavier from the changes in their diet.  Just walk into Supermaxi or Coral and in the last two years that I have lived here, more aisle space is given over to candies, cookies, and especially chips and snack foods of all kinds. 

El Presidente and his congress placed high taxes on alcohol.  President Correa reasoned that a high consumption of alcohol by Ecuadorians was a serious health hazard, therefore, the high taxes were justified.  Here are some suggestions to the government both of Ecuador and of the city of Cuenca; because fast foods, processed foods, and junk foods are also a very serious hazard to Ecuadorian and expat’s health as well.   

First, keep the foreign fast food franchises out of the country.  Second, if the government won't do that, then don't allow exemptions from the 35% import tax, even if these foreign businesses are operating local franchises in Ecuador. Third, at a minimum, limit all fast food foreign franchises to the malls.  Do not allow them to grow into the neighborhoods.  Fourth, another suggested alternative would be to place high taxes on junk foods and fast foods, and in turn not exempt them from the 12 ½% I.V.A. tax as well.  Fifth, through education, instill within  the Ecuadorian people a strong national pride of the natural resources of wealth for which they have been truly blessed and their need to protect these resources.  Educate the people to just how serious to their health junk food is before it takes hold as a national cancer of ingrained habits. Fifth, too many young people in Ecuador smoke.  Smoking has seen dramatic drops over the years in the United States, because of the increased taxes that make smoking very expensive.  Why hasn’t the Ecuadorian government increased the taxes on smoking, as they have on alcohol?

The fast food franchises also become a threat to the small Ecuadorian owners as well.  Ecuador is one of the few countries that currently has a genuine free enterprise system, which certainly will not be found in today's United States. Economically speaking, the Ecuadorian individual family-owned chicken restaurants and the locally owned chicken franchises, for example, of healthy rotisseire chicken don't need the unfair competition of international conglomerates like Kentucky Fried Chicken, with its deep fried, crud-laden chicken that may be tasty, but screams body abuse with every bite.  There are many good places in Cuenca where excellent hamburgers can be purchased, the best hamburgers are not found in fast food franchises, and the same holds true in the United States as well.

Cuenca is changing too rapidly into another American entity.  Many of us gringos came here to experience a different culture, a different mind-set, and different ways of doing things, even if at times we find those differences to be challenging and frustrating.   If there are expats in Cuenca, who can't wait to see Cuenca become another boring American clone, where across the continent no matter where you visit the uniformity of life is stifling; if you are missing the fast food franchises, the malls, and the endless strip malls, then you need to go back permanently to the states to live, where you can enjoy the conformity of life as you knew it.  It won't matter if you live in Baltimore, Chicago, or San Francisco or any of their suburbs; it will all be the same and you will be contented.
If El Presidente and his national congress, and the city officials of Cuenca really care about the health of Cuencanos, they would say NO to these franchise invasions.  With a little ingenuity and a little less corruption by the money these corporations can use to buy into a foreign market these franchises wouldn't see the light of day in Ecuador.  An alternative way of providing for good health alternatives,  jobs, and more tax revenue in Ecuador can be found.  Why should an alternative way be easy to find, because politicians never have a problem finding ways to raise new revenues.  Some suggestions for consideration are listed above.

Hopefully, Ecuador can be a developing country that learns from the egregious mistakes of developed countries like the United States, and follow a saner path in the operation of its economy and in the provision of the well-being of its people.  Lung cancer, emphysema, obesity, adult on-set diabetes, coronary problems, and food-related allergy problems can also be prevented before they become the major problems they are in the states, and reduced as well in Ecuador from their current levels.  Can the government and the Ecuadorian people make the right choices, or will they like sheeple mindlessly do whatever comes out of Western commercialism no matter how detrimental to the well-being of the Ecuadorian people and therefore the country as well?  

Maybe there is too much optimism in this clarion call.  Maybe people the world over are too conditioned by the onslaught of advertising to hedonism and greed as they become increasingly affluent to make anything but bad choices.  Ecuador is one of the few places left in the world where their crown treasure of rich earth and uncontaminated food still reign.  Where a people who have not yet completely chosen to go down a road of crass materialism and narcissistic values, and without the sacrifice of the best in their traditional values and the best of who they are still have a chance to follow a better path.  Ideally,  Ecuadorians can still create an Ecuadorian definition of the “good life”, that synthesizes the best of traditional Ecuadorian values with those contemporary values which don’t suck the life and identity out  of the Ecuadorians, just to become another clone of their Norte Americano neighbors.  McDonald's is a symptom of sheeple making bad choices.  What the United States and the American character have become is sad.  For Ecuador to follow the same path is madness and insanity.