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.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Dear Readers,

I haven't posted in quite awhile, and my deep appreciation goes out to the number of people who have emailed me in just the last two weeks alone. Some of them are friends, but most are people I neither know, nor with whom I had any previous contact. These are readers of Cuenca Perspectives by Jim who wondered if I was all right, and why they have not seen any new postings in months. First I appreciate, your interest in my blog posts, and your expressions of support and value that you have found in my writings.  Although the numbers of my international blog audience is quite high, I had no idea so many people are regular readers who look forward to new postings. Second, mass problems with photo program changes, the usual Internet snafus, along with the time it takes to plan a one month trip to Europe, and all the other everyday minutia of life has left me with little time and even less motivation to post.

In the meantime, while touring London for three weeks, and Amsterdam for a week, and just returning a couple of days ago; prior to and while I was gone, my cousin's son, Sam, had spent three months in northern Ecuador living with an Ecuadorian family in a language immersion program.  Sam's father, John, arrived in Ecuador to visit and travel with Sam at the time that I was traveling in Europe. As a result, our paths did not cross.  With John's permission, I have pasted his email written to me during his trip to Ecuador and to Cuenca. Sometimes, for someone like me who has now lived in Ecuador for almost  five-and-a-half years, it is nice to experience Ecuador through the eyes of someone like my cousin, who is  visiting this charming country for the first time:

Dear Jim,
As you can imagine, it was a tremendous disappointment to discover that you would be elsewhere during my trip to Ecuador. But I assure you that my trip was still a thrill. Sam and I did end up visiting Cuenca, flying in Sunday morning and out again Wednesday morning. It’s about as different from Quito as Akron is from New York City, but what a gem. We did some exploring Sunday morning and afternoon after checking into the Casa San Rafael, about four blocks east of the cathedral square. We did some exploring, went to a few museums, and had a terrific dinner before returning to the square where a military band dressed in full fatigues and berets played some outstanding salsa music. (At least I think it was salsa; it’s difficult for me to distinguish between some of the Latin American music genres.) These gents were pretty stern looking, but could they play!

The San Francisco market was in full swing on Sunday and the days following. We even took the bus tour that covered most of the western portion of the city including a stopover at the church atop Camino a Turi. All in all, it’s easy to understand why you find the city and area so appealing. I even bought a panama hat at the hat museum on the bluff overlooking the Riobamba. I wore a generous dose of sunscreen, but the panama was added protection for my ear lobes--and pretty snappy to boot. 

I’m intrigued by some of the shops I saw in Cuenca (as well as Quito) that appear to retail in almost every consumer durable on the market. I like the fact that appliance dealers also find a way to work motorcycles, cotton candy machines and ice cream dispensers into their inventory. During our Monday walkabout we stumbled across a luthier working in his street-front workshop making charangos, fiddles and guitars. That night I got it in my head that I should go back and purchase a charango from him. Sam and I returned the next day and I simply couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on a purchase; first, I don’t play a charango (yet) and second, I was concerned how I might bring it back safely on the plane. C’est la vie. 

We didn’t take you up on the suggestion to hire a guide around Cuenca since I’m happiest when just wandering around exploring and watching. But Sam did arrange for a guide to take us around Quito’s old town and markets and (a day after returning from Cuenca) to the Otavalo region. In the end, the sights, sounds and topography were overwhelming, and the seven days went by way too quickly. I want to return with Robin next time. BTW, Sam’s command of Spanish is pretty impressive and, based on my brief experience there, I wondered how you are able to get by in the day-to-day with what you have described as a minimum of Spanish-language ability. I think you are selling yourself short. Neither Cuenca or Quito struck me as easy to negotiate on your own without at least some Spanish ability. In the meantime I hope your trip was fun. And we will meet again; if not in Ecuador then on some water slide in the Dells.

Vayas con Dios Muchacho


Dear John,

In response, to your statement about my language skills.  My Spanish is decent. You are right.  One needs some Spanish skills to navigate one's way just through daily shopping, let alone reaching a moderate conversational level.   However, for the five-and-a-half years that I have been in Ecuador, my language skills should be at least highly competent if not fluent, and that is not the case. However, I continue to work on increasing my language ability.  Sam, no doubt, has learned much, as he is learning a new language the most effective way one can by total immersion.  Learning a new language is a great deal of work for beginners.  Something, that people who wish to relocate abroad should give very serious consideration.

Glad that you and Sam enjoyed your time in Ecuador, and look forward, John, to the day you bring Robin with you.