Tag Archive for: Cuenca Ecuador

Elder Care in Ecuador

Elder care in Ecuador is available, but not nearly as prevalent and somewhat different than in the U.S.

Ecuador is a familial culture, so it’s very common for multiple generations to live under the same roof. That means there is less need for dedicated nursing homes or assisted living facilities in Ecuador.

You will find some “tercera edad” (third age) facilities in the major cities like Cuenca, Manta, Quito and Guayaquil, but most expats who need elder care typically opt for in-home services provided by a nurse.

In-home nurses are available for around $5/hour. That means you can hire a full-time nurse to come to your home for around $40/day or $1,200/month. You can get 24-hour, in-home care for about $3,600/month, which is far more affordable than similar services or nursing homes in the U.S.

VIP Home Healthcare Services of Cuenca Ecuador

We get a lot of questions about home healthcare and elder care options here in Cuenca Ecuador, so we interviewed the founders of VIP Home Healthcare of Cuenca to get some answers.

VIP Home Healthcare provides a whole range of services, from nursing and homecare, all the way through to end of life.

Here are some of the services they provide:

  • Implement doctor’s instructions
  • Medication
  • IVs
  • Prescription Pickup
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Escort to Appointments
  • Post-Op Recovery
  • Short and Long-term Care
  • Dementia Care
  • End-of-Life Services – Legal Docs, Power of Attorney, Cremation
  • Language Translation
  • Errands
  • Housekeeping
  • Cooking
  • And more…

VIP Home Healthcare Costs

The cost of services varies depending on the type of care needed, days per week and hours per day. However, you can expect to pay roughly 1/3 the price in Cuenca compared to a similar level of service back in the States or Canada.

Insurance is currently not accepted, but they are investigating options.

Watch Our Video Interview with VIP Home Healthcare in Cuenca Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Cuenca Expats Magazine Interview w/ Ed Lindquist

We had the great privilege of interviewing Ed Lindquist, Managing Partner of Cuenca Expats Magazine. He shared his knowledge and expertise of Cuenca’s expat population, as well as his experience starting a business in Cuenca Ecuador.

About Ed Lindquist

Ed Lindquist moved from the US and has been living in Cuenca, Ecuador for 6 years. He started Cuenca Expats Magazine with Maite Duran from GringoVisas over four years ago and has become a respected fixture in both the expat and Cuencano community.

With an extensive background in business, Ed is helping Cuencano entrepreneurs improve their marketing and promotion skills while helping connect Cuenca’s expat community.

About Cuenca Expats Magazine

Cuenca Expats Magazine is a monthly community magazine specifically for expats. Its goal is to introduce expats to each other, as well as help them connect with Cuencano businesses.

If you would like to download the last edition of the magazine, click here: ExpatsMags.com. You can also find the free magazine at several stores around Cuenca.

Watch Our Video About Cuenca Expats Magazine

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Why Expats Leave Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca is a transitional community for expats. In this episode, we discuss the 12 most common reasons why expats leave Cuenca Ecuador.

#1 Culture Shock

Why Expats Leave Cuenca Culture Shock

As an undergraduate at The University of Kansas, I minored in Intercultural Communications. The focus of the program was on preparing corporate executives for transfers to divisions in other countries.

Without adequate preparation, many executives can’t handle the culture shock of moving to and living in a different country, so they either quit their job or must return home within the first year.

The same is true for non-job related expats. For some people, the culture shock of a new country and a different culture is simply too much to bear. It can cause depression, anxiety and severe homesickness. We know several expats who have moved back to the states, likely due to culture shock combined with one or more of the following reasons.

As American expats, some aspects of Ecuador’s culture are quite challenging. We’re used to things being done a certain way and on a certain timeline, but many of those things are drastically different here.

For example, communication about businesses and events is very poor. Most businesses don’t have a website, and those that have a Facebook page rarely update it. That means you can show up to a restaurant or other business expecting it to be open, but they’re closed. This happens to us on a weekly basis.

We’re often invited to events, but the invitations frequently lack specific details, like the time and location. Word-of-mouth is the primary way to find out about what’s going on, as well as when and where the event is taking place, but since we’re not fluent in Spanish, we’re often the last to know.

Then, when we arrive at events, there are rarely any signs or people around to point us in the right direction. We often wander around for awhile and then leave without ever finding the event.

Another cultural difference is the concept of “tomorrow.” In Ecuador and most of Latin America, this is a word used to mean sometime in the future, or maybe never.

In the US, when we say we’ll do something tomorrow, we mean tomorrow, as in the day after today. If we say, “I’ll get around to that someday,” that means we may do it sometime or never. In Ecuador, “tomorrow” means “I’ll get around to it someday.”

Punctuality is also not a concern here. Most people are very tranquilo, so they simply don’t worry about being places on time. It’s common for restaurants and businesses to open 15 to 30 minutes late. It’s also common for Ecuadorians to show up for events 15 to 30 minutes late. As punctual Americans raised to believe early is on time, ontime is late and if you’re late you shouldn’t go, Latin lateness can be very irritating.

These cultural differences in behavior and language, among many others, can bring on a severe case of culture shock. For some expats in Cuenca, it’s too much to handle and they either head back home or move someplace else.

#2 Language Barrier

Why Expats Leave Cuenca Language Barrier

We’re studying Spanish, but we’re not fluent yet. That’s not much of an issue in Cuenca because so many people speak English, but it’s challenging when we visit other parts of Ecuador.

We’ve also noticed that most cab drivers, bank tellers and people who work at the pharmacies don’t speak English. That makes it difficult to communicate about some pretty important things.

Learning a new language later in life is really difficult, so some expats leave Cuenca and Ecuador because of the language barrier.

#3 Boredom

Unconventional Social Gathering

The third reason why expats leave Cuenca is due to boredom. We know several people who said they just didn’t have enough things to keep them busy and entertained here.

This seems odd to us because there are SO many things to do. I tell everyone that Cuenca is like a cruise ship because there are so many activities and the food is fantastic. Most people aren’t bored on a cruise ship or in Cuenca. It really depends on how social and active you want to be.

We’re not very involved in any of the gringo activities in Cuenca because we both work two jobs (our regular jobs plus our YouTube channel and this blog). However, we know other gringos who are busy every day of the week with a different activity.

There are knitting clubs, language clubs, book clubs, museum clubs, acting clubs, music clubs, travel clubs, photography clubs, hiking clubs, dining clubs, fitness clubs, card games, pool games, meditation groups, and the list goes on and on. We even host a monthly event for the Unconventionals in Cuenca.

If you can’t find something that you want to do, you can start your own club and I guarantee people will show up for it.

Boredom is a choice, but it might require stepping outside your comfort zone.

#4 Want a Job or Purpose

Dog Rescue Cuenca

We’re not retired so this isn’t an issue for us. We have more than enough work to keep us busy and fulfilled.

However, a lot of expats who move to Cuenca are newly retired and haven’t quite adjusted to all the free time that retirement provides. It’s common to feel aimless and unfulfilled after a lifetime of working a J-O-B, which can cause boredom and depression.

There are lots of volunteer opportunities here in Cuenca. You can help at orphanages, dog shelters, or any of the other charities. You can also teach English to children.

It’s difficult to get a paying job here unless you speak fluent Spanish. That’s a requirement for most jobs in Cuenca and Ecuador. Plus, the jobs pay FAR less here than comparable jobs back in the States so you might think working for $5 or $10/hour isn’t worth it.

There are ways to fill the void that retirement brings, but some expats leave Cuenca because they really miss having a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

#5 Homesick for Friends & Family

We haven’t felt much homesickness, mainly because our families are geographically dispersed so we didn’t see them very often before we left the States. We got over missing them decades ago.

However, many expats are retired empty nesters with grandchildren. Being so far away with visa travel limitations, they aren’t able to spend much time with their grandkids. For some, that’s a big reason for moving back home.

Back in Denver, our friends were mostly work-related. We saw them at work events and occasionally went out for drinks where we talked about, well, work. Here in Cuenca, our friends are purely social, and we like that.

However, some expats have a big social circle back home or have lived close to family for their entire lives. It can be difficult to leave them all behind and start over making new friends, especially later in life.

While we have found it easy to make friends here, some expats leave Cuenca because they’re homesick for their friends and family back home.

#6 Miss Conveniences

The US and other developed countries are nothing if not convenient. Everything is at your fingertips.

Amazon carries everything on the planet and delivers next day. Walmart is typically a short drive away and has just about everything you could ever need. You could say we’re pretty spoiled.

We miss some of those conveniences here in Cuenca. We can find most things with some effort, but it’s often not convenient and requires multiple trips to multiple stores. Some things are also a lot more expensive here, like beauty products or anything with a plug.

Specialty items are often impossible to find in Cuenca so we bring them back with us from the States. Some people also mule things back for other expats.

Hard to find or overly expensive items in Cuenca:

  • Allergy meds (Alegra, Zyrtec, Flonase)
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Miso
  • Indian/Asian Spices
  • Nuts
  • Electronics
  • Apple Products
  • Beauty Products (Makeup, Lotions, etc.)
  • Cruelty-Free Products
  • Vegan Packaged Foods (Impossible Burger, Beyond Burger, Greggs, etc.)

Delivery isn’t really an option here. It’s expensive and it’s common for things to “get lost” in transit. We’re going to test delivery by ordering something from Amazon and mailing something back home to Amelia’s parents. We’ll let you know how that goes in a future video.

A lot of expats leave Cuenca because they miss the consumer conveniences of living in a more developed country.

#7 Family Issues or Illness

Some expats who move to Cuenca are newly retired so they’re in the age group that has elder parents in their 80’s or 90’s. When their parents become ill due to age, many expats move back home to help take care of them.

While many expats are orphans, they have children and grandchildren of their own back home. If someone in the family falls ill or needs help because of divorce or another life circumstance, some expats leave Cuenca to return home and provide support.

#8 Healthcare

Why Expats Leave Cuenca Healthcare

We’ve been very happy with our healthcare here in Cuenca. It’s far lower cost with far more personal attention.

However, the facilities aren’t the medical Taj Mahal’s we’re used to back in the States. While the doctors are well-educated and the equipment is modern, the buildings are often in need of repair. For some people, that doesn’t instill confidence in the quality of care.

Also, private insurance companies in Ecuador have a 2 year waiting period for pre-existing conditions. Some expats leave Cuenca because they develop a health issue relating to a pre-existing condition that isn’t covered by insurance here in Cuenca, but is covered by Medicare back in the States (or universal care in Canada).

#9 Visa Problems

Ecuador Resident Visas

We have a friend who was here on a work visa, but the company that sponsored her visa went out of business, which invalidated her visa. In order to stay in Ecuador, she needed to get another type of visa or find another company to sponsor her work visa, but neither was an option for her so she had to leave.

Amelia has a dependent visa that’s tied to my professional visa. If I die or she leaves me for a hot Latin lover, she’ll need to get her own non-dependent visa.

If you have an investor visa and need to withdraw your investment for any reason, you’ll need to get a different type of visa.

Unfortunately, a different type of temporary resident visa isn’t an option for some expats. The investor visa requires a $40,000 investment in a long-term CD or physical property. The pensioner visa requires consistent monthly income from social security or a pension. The professional visa requires a degree from an approved university plus a consistent monthly income.

If you’re in Ecuador and your circumstances change invalidating your visa, you might not qualify for another type of visa, which is why some expats leave Cuenca.

#10 Altitude Sickness

View from Turi Church Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca sits at roughly 8,500 feet above sea level so the air is quite thin. This gives a lot of people altitude sickness, which may include headaches, vomiting, tiredness, trouble sleeping, and dizziness.

If you’ve never been at altitude, you may get altitude sickness or you may not. It doesn’t affect everyone and it affects some people more than others. The major downside is that you won’t know until you get here and then you can’t quickly return to a lower altitude. It’s a 3 hour drive from Cuenca to get back to sea level.

You can manage the symptoms by resting and drinking lots of water. Doctors here also prescribe Mate de Coca tea for altitude sickness, which we have found to be very helpful. However, mate is made from the same plant that cocaine comes from, so it’s illegal in the States and can cause you to fail a drug test. If you’re here on vacation and are required to take drug tests for your job back home, keep that in mind.

Some expats leave Cuenca because their altitude sickness never improves. They either return home or move to a lower altitude in Ecuador.

#11 The Weather

Why Expats Leave Cuenca Weather

We love the weather in Cuenca for 8 months of the year. It’s sunny, warm and beautiful from September through most of April.

From May through August, the weather is not great. It rains a lot in May and June, but the coolness and clouds are what make it very difficult for many expats, including Amelia and me.

Most houses aren’t heated or insulated in Cuenca so it can get very cold, especially at night. But the months of gray skies are what really get to us. I call it “Star Trek gray” because the sky is completely monotone just like the stage backgrounds in the original Star Trek series. Sometimes it never gets light enough to know what time of day it is!

We had an old Irish family friend who passed away years ago. During the cold, gloomy Kansas winters, she would say, “These are the types of days they hide the ropes in Ireland.” Well, we have 4 months of those days and lots of expats leave Cuenca because of them.

#12 Experience Other Places

Cuenca is a great launchpad for expats moving to Ecuador because it’s a modern city with lots of English speakers and easy access to visa services.

However, we know several expats who started in Cuenca but then moved to other parts of Ecuador, such as Vilcabamba or the coast, for warmer weather, a lower altitude or a more immersive cultural experience.

Ecuador’s beaches are quite beautiful, less developed and more affordable than American beaches so many expats choose to leave Cuenca for sand and sun. We’ll be doing more tours of Ecuador’s Coast in future videos.

We also know some expats who left Cuenca to move to Panama, Portugal, Columbia and Costa Rica. There’s a whole world out there and some expats leave Cuenca to explore it.

If you left Cuenca for a different reason, please let us know in the comments below.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About Why Expats Are Leaving Cuenca Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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The Art Behind Us from Cuenca Artist P. Maldonado

We’ve had a lot of comments about the art behind us in our new indoor filming location. This is the story about how we found it on a rainy day in Cuenca Ecuador. You’ll also get to see the Cuenca Artist P. Maldonado who created it.

Since it was a rainy day, we had to leave Lumi at home and film with my iPhone so the video and audio quality is not up to our usual standards. However, it did make for a nice Cloverfield style immersive experience. Several of our early videos were filmed in this style before we got Lumi. If you like this format, let us know and we may do more videos like this.

Musart Home Decor

Musart Cuenca Ecuador

Musart was the first store we visited on our search for background art. We like that store because it has a variety of different ethnic art. Everything from African Tribal to American Country.

I said in the video that I would share a link to their information, but they’re nowhere to be found on the Internet. That’s pretty common here. Most businesses at least have a Facebook page, but very few have a website. And some have neither.

They’re located under JungleGym Fitness on Calle Larga. Here’s a map to their location.

Centro Municipal Artesanal

Our next stop was at el Centro Municipal Artesanal, which is a very nice artist market located by San Francisco Plaza. This artesanal mercado has lots of different stores with a variety of different types of artwork, clothes, hats, jewelry, etc. They also don’t appear to have a website or Facebook page.

This is where we found our new background artwork. Cuenca artist P. Maldonado specializes in painting Ecuadorian city scenes and cultural depictions. He’s located on the second floor near the back.

Café Libre Cuenca

We haven’t featured Café Libre since our Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac Dinner. Paul closed the restaurant for a month to remodel while we were in India and I haven’t been back since before then. Amelia went there without me for lunch with some friends. Not sure I can forgive her for that!

As always, the food was amazing!

Supermercado Patricia

Supermercado Patricia Cuenca Tools

Amelia wouldn’t let me use a rock to hammer in the nails for our new paintings so we went to SuperMercado Patricia para un martillo (for a hammer) y algunos clavos (and some nails). We showed more of SuperMercado Patricia in this video: Vilcabamba to Cuenca Transportation Options + More Vilca Observations (Episode 123)

Our New Indoor Filming Location

Amelia And JP Background Art

This is the winter rainy season in Cuenca so we can’t rely on the weather to cooperate when we need to record a video.

A few weeks ago, we were running out of time to film a courtyard chat, but it had been cloudy, cold and rainy for over a week so we couldn’t get it done. After I had a mild freakout, Amelia came up with the idea to use our loft as an indoor filming location.

We had discussed this before, but the acoustics are horrible inside our house. We have tile floors throughout and very little in the way of sound dampening so the echo is horrible.

The key to making this location work was Amelia’s idea to pull the old mattress out of the guest room and put it behind the table we use for the camera stand. It worked perfectly! Now we can film when it’s too sunny, windy, rainy, cold or dark to film outside! Stress relieved!

Let us know what you think about our new indoor filming location and our new background artwork in the comments below.

Watch Our Video About The Artist Artist P. Maldonado in Cuenca, Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Cuenca Ecuador Crime (2019) + Safety Tips

The Cuenca Ecuador Crime rate has been a trending topic lately. CuencaHighLife reported on a statement made by a citizens group claiming that crime has increased over the past year or so here in Cuenca while the governor disagrees. Additionally, several people have messaged us to ask, “Is Cuenca safe?”

In this video, we’ll talk about some of the crime rate stats for Cuenca, what the provincial government has to say about it, and our experience living here for 2 years. We’ll also share a few stories from our friends who have had things stolen from them, and offer some safety tips that might help keep you safe in any city.

Homicide Rate In Cuenca and Ecuador Compared to the US

It’s difficult to find current (and accurate) crime stats for Ecuador. Most of the crime stats for Cuenca and Ecuador that I found online were anecdotal and/or self-reported. However, I did find accurate numbers for homicide rates, which we can then compare to the US.

Xavier Martinez, governor of the Azuay Province where Cuenca is located, was quoted in CuencaHighLife: “Today, Cuenca has the lowest murder rate in its history and one of the lowest in Latin America. The rate is about three per 100,000, the same as in European countries and half that of the U.S.”

To put that in context, the murder rate in Denver, CO, our former home, was 9.5 per 100,000 in 2018. That’s more than 3 times higher than Cuenca, and Denver is much safer than cities like Chicago and Detroit.

The average murder rate for all of Ecuador is 5.7 per 100,000, which is the exact same number as the national murder rate for the United States.

In terms of violent crimes, Ecuador and the US are very similar, but Cuenca is a bit safer.

Theft and Pickpocketing in Cuenca Ecuador

We have never personally met anyone who has been a victim of a violent crime here in Cuenca, but we know several people who have had things stolen.

The Foam Gambit

One of our friends experienced the Foam Gambit and had his backpack stolen soon after his arrival in Cuenca over a year ago. A guy came up and told our friend there was something on his coat and backpack. When our friend took off his backpack to look, the guy grabbed it and ran off. The thief put shaving cream on our friend’s coat and backpack to distract him.

The Group Gambit

In this scam, several people surround you with signs and other distractions while one or more members of the group pick your pockets. We’ve met several people who have seen or experienced this group strategy. They even have kids with them sometimes.

The Distraction Gambit

This is when someone gets you to look a different direction by asking if you dropped your keys or wallet “over there.” When you look away, they grab your bag and run in the opposite direction.

Overhead Bins in Buses

One of our friends had his backpack stolen from an overhead bin on an interprovincial bus between Cuenca and Machala. It’s best to always keep your bags in your possession. Put them on the floor in front of you and slip your foot through a strap.

Car Break Ins

This happens a lot here. One of our Ecuadorian friends left a laptop and some other things on the front seat of his car while he was visiting a friend. When he came out, the window was broken and his stuff was gone.

This happened to me in Foster City, CA on a business trip. I had reserved a car, but the rental car company gave me an SUV without a cargo cover, instead.

On my way to the hotel, I was hungry so I decided to stop at my favorite restaurant and rather than bring my backpack inside, I put it on the floorboard behind the driver’s seat.

About 20 minutes into my dinner, the bartender told me several cars had been broken into in the parking lot. I ran outside and mine was one of them. They got two laptops, an iPod, a Garmin GPS device and my passport.

Lesson learned. I will never, EVER leave things of value in my car in plain sight.

Carnival and Other Festivals

The pickpocket gangs are abundant during Carnival and other festivals here in Cuenca. More than 100 phones were stolen during the 2019 Carnival celebration. Having lots of people in close quarters with distracting activities all around is a pickpockets ideal working space. Leave your valuables at home for those events, and wear a money belt under your clothes to hold anything you must take.

Safety Tips for Cuenca Ecuador or Any Large City

Here are some safety tips to help you have a positive experience in Cuenca, or any large city. Most of these are common sense, but it’s a good idea to revisit them once in a while.

  • Pay attention to your surroundings…ALWAYS!
  • Make eye contact.
  • Don’t walk alone at night.
  • Avoid dark streets or trails.
  • Don’t stand around on a dark street talking to people.
  • Wear a cross body bag.
  • Wear your backpack in front if you’re in a crowd.
  • If you have a car, don’t leave things lying on the seat in plain sight.
  • On the bus: Don’t put your bag in overhead bins. Put your backpack on the floor or seat and keep an arm or leg through a loop.
  • At festivals: Leave everything at home. If you need to take some money or your phone, use a money belt.
  • Foam Gambit: Don’t take your backpack or coat off if someone says that you have something on you.
  • Group Gambit: Don’t stop. Cross the street. Push through or try to avoid them. Scream HELP!
  • Distraction Gambit: Always be suspicious of people you don’t know who talk to you on the street and always keep your bags secured with your foot or arm.
  • If you feel unsafe or suspicious of someone, keep walking, don’t stop, go into a store or restaurant, go toward other people.
  • If you cannot avoid the situation and you feel threatened, hand over your stuff. As inconvenient as it might be, you can replace your things but you can’t replace yourself.

Here are some more safety tips and information from the US State Department on Ecuador. Keep in mind that the State Dept hates rescuing people so they try to scare everyone into staying safely at home inside the US. In reality, Ecuador is safer than many large cities in the US, but the State Dept isn’t responsible for rescuing people from Detroit or Chicago.

Preparing to record this video made us realize we haven’t been as vigilant as we should be. We’ve never felt unsafe here and that may have lulled us into complacency.

We all need to be safe and pay attention to our surroundings wherever we are. Most people are good, but the world has its fair share of lost souls, too. We always look for the best in people, but that can make us a target for the worst in people.

Please do your best to stay safe and remember that things can be replaced, but you can’t.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About Safety Tips for Any City

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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A Birthday in the Life in Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia’s birthday in the life was one of our best days yet in Cuenca Ecuador! We’ve been living here for nearly 2 years, and we’ve made some amazing friends along the way. We hope you enjoy the sights and sounds of this incredible city.

Tutto Matto Feria

We started our day at the Tutto Matto Feria that’s a short walk from our house. They host the artisanal popup market once a month here in Cuenca. We’ve featured it in another video, as well as the Bumba and Sabatino’s ferias.

Franco Organics

Franco Organics

We’ve featured Franco Organics several times because we love his products so much. Franco has two farms near Vilcabamba and he invited us to go tour one of them next time we visit. Franco doesn’t have a website or Facebook page so we can’t link to him. He told us he’s a farmer and doesn’t have time for that stuff. However, you can find his products at Semilla in El Centro, as well as the artisanal Saturday popup markets.

Franco and Marla sang happy birthday to Amelia. Marla was one of our very first YouTube subscribers and our very first patron on Patreon! She recently moved from Taiwan to Cuenca and is loving life here.

Franco and Amelia

Amelia and Marla

ArteSana Panadería

We’ve featuredArteSana Kelbert Kelbert from ArteSana Panadería several times before, too. That’s because we LOVE his wife’s vegan bread! Yum!

ArteSana doesn’t have a physical location, but you can order online and have it delivered. They also sell bread in Tienda Nectar and at Sunrise Café on Calle Larga at 10am most weekdays.

Cuenca Flower Market

After I dropped Amelia off at her belly dancing class, I walked down to the Cuenca Flower Market to get some flowers for her birthday. She LOVES lilies so when I saw that big bouquet of them, I knew immediately that was the one.

Zatua Miski

After I left the Cuenca Flower Market, I walked over to Zatua Miski to get some chocolate treats for Amelia. Nothing makes Amelia smile more than chocolate! Especially Paula’s truffles! I also got some cake and galletas (cookies).

Zatua Miski Vegan Truffles

Zatua Miski Chocolates

Namaste India

On my way back home, I stopped by Namaste India to say hola to Chinnu and Abin. They got the whole Namaste crew together to sing happy birthday for Amelia.

Namaste Crew

We had planned to go to Noe Sushi Bar for Amelia’s dinner. They have an amazing selection of vegan sushi, but it’s one of the more expensive places in Cuenca so we reserve it for special occasions.

However, Chinnu told me she wanted to make us a special Indian dinner for Amelia’s birthday and that was impossible to refuse. Chinnu is an incredible cook and one of our best friends so spending Amelia’s birthday with her, Abin and the rest of the Namaste crew was the perfect way to celebrate the best day of the year.

They bought Amelia a vegan cake and a GIANT flower arrangement! I especially liked the princess hat and Chinnu’s home cooking! The lighting was really bad so I didn’t get good video or pictures ?

Jimmy and Sharon

We’ve mentioned Jimmy and Sharon in multiple videos, but they’re a little camera shy so we haven’t featured them in any, until now! They’re two of the nicest people you can imagine, and we’re so happy to call them our friends.

Jimmy

Like Marla, they’re also among our first YouTube subscribers and patrons on Patreon. They moved here sightunseen on January 1st, 2019 after watching our videos. They needed to make a change from their life back in the states, and they’re loving their new life in Cuenca, or “paradise” as Jimmy calls it. You can meet them in person if you attend our monthly social gatherings, which we share in our Facebook Group.

Watch Our Video About Amelia’s Birthday in Cuenca, Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Cuenca Animal Clinic: Daisy’s Day at the Dentist

After a long talk and some biscuit bribery, Daisy agreed to let us film her day at the dentist at the Cuenca Animal Clinic. She got her annual exam, teeth cleaning and a toenail trim.

The cost varies by the size of your dog, but the final bill for Daisy was $70 plus the $12 for the Frontline. An exam without the dentistry typically costs between $15 and $20.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Cuenca Ecuador Art Scene w/ Patricio Palomeque

In this video, we had the great honor of interviewing a famous artist from the Cuenca Ecuador art scene, Patricio Palomeque. We attended his art exhibit opening almost a month ago with Christina (our new Spanish tutor) and thoroughly enjoyed it. So we made arrangements to return and talk to him in more detail about his art.

This is a bilingual video. We have a lot of Spanish speaking viewers, so we wanted to share Patricio Palomeque’s explanation of his art in Spanish, as well as Christina’s translation in English. If you don’t speak Spanish, you can skip forward in the video to the English-speaking parts. However, I did share video of some of the exhibits while Patricio was talking.

If you would like to get in touch with Patricio Palomeque to get more information or purchase his artwork, please visit his website for contact information: PatricioPalomeque.com.

If you would like us to connect you with Christina for Spanish lessons, drop us a note and we’ll send an email introduction.

Cuenca Ecuador Art Scene

The Cuenca Ecuador art scene is one of many cultural expressions that help define this South American renaissance city. Located in the Andes Mountains of south-central Ecuador, Cuenca attracts extremely talented artists, musicians, poets, writers and chefs from all over the world. Cuenca also has many of its own world-renowned artists, like Patricio Palomeque who we interviewed in this video. Together, these artists have helped earn Cuenca its nickname, “the Athens of Ecuador.”

Cuenca Ecuador Museum of Modern Art

We visited the Cuenca Ecuador Museum of Modern Art in our walking tour of the San Sebas neighborhood, but the museum was under renovation so none of the art was on display except for the garden sculptures. The museum renovation is finished now, so we’ll go back to record another video at some point.

Even with the exhibits closed, we still enjoyed the peaceful tranquility of the museum grounds.

Click to Enlarge

Cuenca Ecuador Old Cathedral Religious Art Museum

We toured the Old Cathedral Religious Art Museum in a previous video. It’s home to several beautiful paintings, sculptures and murals, some dating back to the late 1500’s. The Old Cathedral was founded in 1573 and is a work of art in it’s own right.

The Old Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador

The Old Cathedral Cuenca Mural

Cuenca Ecuador Street Art

Like most urban cities, Cuenca has its fair share of street graffiti. Much of it is simple and mindless, usually a billowy depiction of the artist’s initials. However, some of Cuenca’s street art is beautiful, meaningful and insightful.

Click to Enlarge

Patricio Palomeque Art Exhibit (2019)

The art exhibit of Patricio Palomeque was titled, “Lo Que Pasa Cuando No Pasa Nada.” This translates to, “what happens when nothing happens” and is part of a larger quote from Georges Perec, a French novelist, filmmaker, documentalist, and essayist.

The full quote is printed on the wall of Patricio Palomeque’s studio and translates to, “That which is generally not taken note of, that which is not noticed, that which has no importance: what happens when nothing happens other than the weather, people, cars, and clouds.”

Patricio Palomeque Art 5

Patricio Palomeque Exhibit Opening Speech (2019)

For our Spanish-speaking viewers, I recorded this speech by Patricio Palomeque at his art exhibit opening in May 2019.

The Artwork of Patricio Palomeque

Patricio Palomeque started his artistic career as a child when he learned how to express his feelings through painting. He later branched out into several other artforms, such as sculpture, photography, videography and sound. His multidisciplinary skill set allows him to combine different mediums into unique and thought provoking artwork.

Click to Enlarge

Art Intervention by Jonathan Mosquera

Patricio Palomeque Eraser 1

Jonathan Mosquera is one of Cuenca’s talented urban street artists and the artist Patricio Palomeque invited to perform an intervention in his depiction of Cuenca’s El Centro at night. Jonathan Mosquera added the eraser, arrow and “you” over Palomeque’s original painting.

The eraser represents the elimination of election choices by our greed-based economic system that’s largely controlled by China and the United States. That’s also the symbolism behind the color choice and star on the eraser, which mimics the Chinese and American flags. The line with the arrow and the “you” imply that we’re all to blame for the problems we’ve created, and we all must act to correct them.

There’s a battle being waged in Ecuador right now between China and the US. China is currently winning despite Ecuador’s adoption of the dollar for its currency over 20 years ago.

Over the past decade, China has been much better at influencing elections, government policy, trade and infrastructure investments than the US, but both superpowers are doing their best to meddle for profit and power in this small South American country.

A lot of people, especially the indigenous people of the Andes, don’t appreciate being used as pawns in the economic warfare between China and the US. This painting is a representation of those external influences, and the people’s disappointment with them, especially when it comes to elections.

Patricio Palomeque Eraser 2

If you want to run for office, you need a substantial amount of money because the cost of campaigning is so high. And historically, whoever spends the most money wins the election, but that trend is changing.

The new governor of the Azuay province (where Cuenca is located) is a man of indigenous descent who campaigned the old fashioned way. Yaku Pérez went from town to town playing his saxophone, shaking hands and talking to voters. The only money he had in his budget was donated in small amounts by the people (PEOPLE) he visited.

And NO ONE thought he would win!

He ran on a campaign of clean water for everyone and the protection of Ecuador’s national forests. And he staged a MASSIVE upset over his much better funded, corporate backed opponents.

The people of the world are finally waking up and voting against the greed, power and corruption that plagues our planet at this point in history. Perhaps, at least in part, our awakening is due to the artwork of people like Patricio Palomeque and Jonathan Mosquera.

Watch Our Video About the Art Scene in Cuenca Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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New Expat First Impressions of Cuenca Ecuador + We Got Fingerprinted!!!

In this video, a couple of our subscribers and new arrivals share their New Expat First Impressions of Cuenca Ecuador.

Plus, Amelia and I got fingerprinted! Relax… It’s for the background checks we need to file our Ecuador Permanent Residency Visa application.

Cuenca Ecuador Fingerprints

Cuenca Police Station Fingerprints

Before we went to Zatua Miski to meet Bonnie and Gary, we started our afternoon with Maite from GringoVisas. She and Francisco drove us to the police station near the airport to get our fingerprints for our background checks.

It took us over an hour to get our fingerprints taken at the Cuenca police station. Things tend to always take longer than expected here in Ecuador. It’s one of the cultural differences here. Doctors office visits are faster than the States, everything is slower.

The extra time was mainly due to a couple of suspects who were being booked. Amelia called them criminals in the video, but we don’t know anything about them and they’re suspects until they’ve been found guilty.

You only met Francisco very briefly in the video. He’s an attorney here in Cuenca and he handles immigration cases, as well as other civil and real estate cases. We’re going to do a full video about him in the future, so stay tuned for that.

If you need to get in touch with Maite or Francisco, it’s best to contact them directly through their website at GringoVisas.com.

New Expat First Impressions of Cuenca Ecuador

New Expat First Impressions of Cuenca Ecuador

After we left Maite’s office at GringoVisas, we took a cab to El Centro to meet Bonnie and Gary at Zatua Miski for some delicious postres (desserts).

Bonnie and Gary moved to Cuenca about two months ago and were kind enough to share their first impressions of Cuenca Ecuador. They were a little homesick at first, which is very common, but they’ve settled into daily life here quite well.

In addition to a growing social life, they’re also taking Spanish classes. They are very happy with their decision to move here, and they’re very thankful for the welcoming Ecuadorian hospitality.

Watch Our Video About New Expat’s First Impressions of Cuenca Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Our Unconventional Life in Cuenca Ecuador

Here is a glimpse into our unconventional life in Cuenca Ecuador, what makes our life unconventional, and the future of our YouTube channel.

If you enjoy following our life here in Ecuador and beyond, or you can relate to some of the things that make our lives unconventional, there’s a good chance you’re at least a little bit unconventional, too.

And we LOVE that about you! Unconventional lives are SO much more interesting!

Our Unconventional Life in Cuenca Ecuador

By societal standards and the expectations of our family, friends and jobs, our unconventional life is not normal. Here’s why:

We’re Expats in Ecuador

In 2016, following two major spine surgeries, we made the decision to sell everything we owned and move to a small country in South America. We had a really nice house in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado that was filled with stuff that we didn’t need so we had an estate sale and sold it all.

We were living the American Dream, or as I now call to it: The American Nightmare. We funded our extravagant, consumer lifestyle with debt that we’re still paying off. Our estate sale netted us about $4,000 after the sales fees for a bunch of useless junk that probably cost us over $100,000 to accumulate.

Selling all the evidence of our retail therapy was the best decision we could have ever made! We’re happy to be free of the weight of our possessions and living a much simpler life here in Ecuador.

We’re Middle-Aged YouTubers

Amelia gets mad at me for calling us middle-aged, but that’s exactly what we are and I’m proud of it!

Most people in our age group work unfulfilling jobs, spend their weekdays commuting to a cubicle, and their weekends doing chores and errands. They’re so busy buying things and saving for retirement that they miss out on what makes life truly worth living.

That used to be us! But we decided life was too short to gamble on the dream of retirement when there’s no guarantee we’ll be around for it.

Every single day you have on this earth is a gift to be cherished. It’s not something to be taken lightly or given away to a corporation that sucks the life out of you for a few pennies on the dollar that your life is worth.

Hopefully, sharing our journey on YouTube will inspire you and others to treat your life like the precious gift that it is.

Amelia’s Belly Dancing

Amelia Belly DancingAmelia is also a 50 year old belly dancer! She has performed in front of several large groups, including hundreds of people at Chinnu and Abin’s wedding in India!

I’m so proud of her abilities and self-confidence to do this unconventional form of self-expression!

We’re Gentle Minimalists

Gentle Minimalism is one of our guiding principles. We live a very simple life with very few possessions. If we had to, we could fit everything that matters to us in two suitcases, or two backpacks if necessary.

In our previous life, we used retail therapy to make ourselves feel better while living our unfulfilling life. Now we live a fulfilling life and no longer feel the need to fill the void with Amazon deliveries.

Our unconventional life does NOT make us feel deprived. It’s full of people, activities and adventures that are extremely meaningful to us.

We don’t go without things we need, either. We don’t live out of a backpack or a van. If we need something for the kitchen or our YouTube channel, or we need new clothes or sunglasses, we buy them.

We just don’t buy things we don’t need that will get used once and thrown on a pile of junk in the basement or garage.

We’re Not Religious or Political

Amelia and I are both open-minded freethinkers. We don’t rely on other people or organizations to tell us what to think or believe.

We read, learn and study the evidence. If a new piece of information is legitimate, we change our minds and our lives.

We Didn’t Want to Get Married

Even though neither of us wanted to get married, we’ve now been married TWICE in two countries (the US and India)! ¡Que loco!

We got married back in the States to make it easier to get a visa for our move to Ecuador. Then Chinnu and Abin insisted we get our marriage blessed by their priest in India when we went for their wedding.

We’re Vegan!

Being vegan is VERY unconventional for US Americans, but it’s not as unconventional in other parts of the world. We went vegan on March 8th, 2016 and our only regret is not doing it sooner.

We feel better physically and mentally. We’ve lost over 50 combined pounds between the two of us. We’ve drastically reduced our environmental footprint. And we’ve saved the lives of thousands of animals.

You can be plant-based but not vegan. However, we chose to do both. Our whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet is responsible for our improved health and youthful look, while our vegan ideology is responsible for us sticking with it.

Our YouTube Creation Story

It’s not nearly as common for people in our age group to be YouTubers. The VAST majority of YouTubers are under 40 years old. So, why did we decide to buck the trend and start a YouTube channel?

A Journal of Our Unconventional Life

It’s still hard to believe that we sold everything we owned and moved to South America! And that’s the main reason we started a YouTube channel.

We wanted to have a journal of our unconventional life that we can share with our family and friends, and watch again when we’re older.

Because of our YouTube Channel, we’ll be able to look back on our crazy adventures in video instead of just memories.

An Inspiration to Other Unconventionals

It’s not as common for people in our age group to have a YouTube Channel, mainly because our generation values privacy a lot more than the younger generations.

Privacy is certainly a concern for us, but we decided it was worth the sacrifice to inspire other people to live an unconventional life.

Now that we’ve zeroed in on the focus of our channel, we’re in a better position to help more people to live their unconventional life, whatever that may be.

Earn Passive Income

Passive income is the third reason we started our YouTube Channel, but we would have done it regardless of the earning potential.

However, it’s not free to do this. We spend over $2,000/month just on the software and services we use to create the videos. All of the adventures we take so we have new things to share with you are costly, too.

It’s nice to earn passive income from all our hard work to help offset the expenses and save for retirement.

Our Website and Channel Updates

Over the past month since we returned from India, I’ve been burning the midnight oil on our website and YouTube Channel. I was very frustrated that our channel wasn’t growing very quickly, especially with all the positive feedback we’ve been getting about the quality of our videos.

That prompted me to do some investigative work, which led to the realization that I had proverbially bound and gagged us, tied cinder blocks around our ankles and tossed us in the river.

In Google terms, I killed our SEO on search engines and on YouTube by using the wrong keywords and, in some cases, no keywords. In Google search results, the first line below the page title was “please subscribe to our channel” instead of a helpful description about the content of the blog post. I’m surprised we showed up at ALL in Google search!

Our YouTube Channel was a disorganized mess and the thumbnails weren’t inspiring anyone to click them. The video descriptions had a bunch of boilerplate information and links that were unrelated to the topic of the video. The tags weren’t relevant and they weren’t ordered correctly so YouTube had no idea what our videos were about. That meant our videos weren’t coming up for the search term “Cuenca Ecuador” or anything related to it!

In order to fix these major issues, I had to optimize and partially rewrite every single blog post. That was 108 blog posts! I also had to create new thumbnail images for every video, and redo all of the video titles, descriptions, translations and meta tags.

After all that was done, I realized our website needed some structure. Our homepage was just a blog page with a list of all our blog posts so I created a site structure organized by our main topics and subtopics. Now it’s easy to find what you’re looking for!

Both YouTube and Google are already rewarding us for these changes by showing our videos and blog posts much higher in search results. We’re getting more traffic on our website and more subscribers on our YouTube Channel.

It’s frustrating that creating high quality content isn’t enough. Without doing all the backend busy work, no one will ever find them. I can be a little dense sometimes, but lesson learned. All our videos and blog posts will be optimized out of the gate from now on.

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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