Thursday, March 31, 2011

Missing The Cuenca Cheerleader

Swapping email with a friend this week, I was called out on my lack of posts about Cuenca over the last few months. She was asking if I was busy or if I'd lost the motivation ... but part of the problem has been that I've lost the love.

The official party line of blogs that touch on Cuenca is pretty much Rah-Rah, Sis-Boom-Bah, Go Ecuador!!!!!!!!! Since Cuenca is the ranking destination for retirees world-wide according to International Living's Quality of Life index, what could possibly be wrong with the city? How could you not be in just absolute adoration of the local customs, the local people, and the weather?

Humpf. My fresh-off-the-boat wonder must have been left on the curb, next to the car alarms. I know from my time living in Asia and Europe that your affection for your expat home can vary dramatically over the course of your stay, and while I'm not in the get-me-out-of-here mode yet, I'm definitely having one of those time periods where you browse for other options.

I'm not alone in this. For every 10 people who come to Cuenca to live, 6 will be gone in 6 months and 7 will be out by the end of the first year. The only other place I've lived with a turnover rate this fast was Shanghai, and a large part of the turnover there was because corporate rotations tended to only be a year long and the language barrier was brutal. Many of the people I knew in Asia had a deep love for the vibrancy and complexity of the culture, while here in Cuenca there seems to be a deep ambivalence about Ecuador on the whole, even among those who love the city.

It's not just one thing - there's a hundred things that line up for the shot at being the final straw. Maybe it's the trouble maintaining high speed Internet that gets you. Maybe it's the layers of bureaucracy involved in attempting to finalize a residency visa, get a censo, or open a business. Maybe it's the lack of punctuality for appointments, coffees, or repairs that's grown to the point where 20 minutes late is still almost 30 minutes early. Maybe it's the emerging need of a prescription to buy an aspirin ... the petty theft ... the maniacal bus drivers ... the hot water heater ban ...

Solar-powered shower, anyone?

Solar Shower

Whatever it is, there comes a moment in your life in Cuenca where you just wake up and don't want to deal with it anymore. You want to go on a major rant about it, but that's just not the party line here. Starry eyed love and relentless promotion is allowed; crabbing about poorly maintained sidewalks is not. So it's been a little quiet on the blog front while I work through that. Bear with me, folks - we'll look into more facets of life abroad in Ecuador ... or you'll get to hear about the next adventure soon enough.


  1. I like your blog. It is tough to know when somebody is giving objective info about the place on a website since often it seems they are trying to sign you up for real estate tour. You are obviously calling it like you see it.

    Just the day after you posted on crime in Cuenca I read another article on crime here:

  2. Oh, and I forgot to finish my thought, I mentioned your site in the comment section since it seemed to be at odds with what he had said. However, I can see his point as well.

  3. Thanks for sharing the link - I read his as well and can see where he is coming from on some things, but my perspective on Cuenca is just different. Thanks for reading!