Monday, March 8, 2010

Prices in Cuenca Ecuador: The Vice Squad Edition

Coming off a visit to the police station, I thought it might be fun to share a price list for some of the vices in life available here in Ecuador. Compare and contrast with your local black market and/or underground economy!
  • Coffee: 50 cents - $2, depending if you are drinking local black or a fancy schmancy thing.
  • Pack of Cigarettes: $1.60. Many small shops and bars also sell cigarettes individually for 15 - 25 cents each.
  • Cocktail: $2.50 - $3
  • Glass of Wine: $2 and up, depending on the vintage. A boxed liter of Clos (a reasonably quaffable Chilean red) is sold for $5 - $7, with other regional bottles of wine available for $10 - $13.
  • Bottle of beer: Okay, so beer is available in two sizes. "Pequenos" are what we might think of as a standard beer. "Grandes" are about double that size. Most locals don't bother with Pequenos, opting instead to get cups and split Grandes. At cheaper local places, you can get a Grande for 75 cents. Mid-scale bars will charge around $1.50, and some of the expat places will charge you as much as $2.75. Common beer brands are Brahma, Club, and Pilsner.
  • Condoms: $2.80 (ish) for three. These are sold at pharmacies and available only behind the counter. The big local brand is Duo, with Lifestyles and Trojans as the major foreign players. I haven't seen any other kinds of contraceptives on sale (it is a Catholic country, after all), and there hasn't been a single adult store anywhere in the city that I've found, although I haven't been looking.
  • Hookers: No idea. Mainly located in the immediate vicinity of the municipal bus station. Have been warned by locals that many hookers here are cross dressers. No idea what to make of that . . . negotiate at your own risk!
  • Marijuana: Reportedly $175 - $200 per pound. And yes, that is pound and not ounce. However, most of the marijuana in Cuenca actually comes from somewhere else, like Quito or Guayaquil. Apparently local growers and suppliers are very difficult to find. The discussion on this has been interesting to me, because a number of the expats down here really love their weed and have been shocked to find that there was better availability of the stuff at home in the States thanks to our medical marijuana laws, lax enforcement, and other loopholes. There truly is little that is more comical than seeing a 70 year old prim retiree grouch about not being able to find a source in order to smoke up. . . for medical reasons, of course ;-)
And that's what I know . . . no idea on hard drugs. South America may be famous for their cartels, but although I've read about busts in the newspapers, I haven't seen much in the way of a hard drug culture in Cuenca to have any price points to share!

Update:  If you're looking for more current prices for these things, check out my 2012 Cuenca Price Update.


  1. I am really not sure what to make of this post... It seems that your doing a lot of research on topics... that... are... very interesting! I thought you were being a tourist and going to interesting places and taking pictures.

  2. Very true although I can't find any connects for weed. Super hard to find and people see weed as if it were a hardcore drug

  3. Are there any smoke shops that sell pipes and tobacco in Cuenca?

  4. As far as I know, the nearest shop for loose tobacco and pipe tobacco is in Guayaquil.

  5. i live in cuenca and yes there are shops that sell pipes tabacco and bongs most weed does come from other places and the availability depends on the quality higher quality is harder to find but at the same time is available and medium quality weed is available at the market if you know where to go !

    1. Where should I go in cuenco?

    2. Will be there in 2 weeks for vacation, where should I go?

    3. Start with the larger bars on the Calle Larga - you'll find a number of people there willing to point you in the right direction.

  6. I beg your pardon, "There truly is little that is more comical than seeing a 70 year old prim retiree grouch about not being able to find a source in order to smoke up. . . for medical reasons, of course."

    I've been smoking since the Vietnam War. Don't think you're so cool. You probably don't even know what a Thai-stick is.

    Have more respect.

  7. Nope, no idea what a Thai-stick is ... because I don't smoke at all. Cool, not cool, whatever - just sharing what I see and find amusing!

  8. OttoPilot you are an idiot. Hookers and drugs are interesting

  9. So where in Cuenca are the street dealers for pot?