Monday, May 31, 2010

Good Read

I just read a really good article by Dr. Lee Dubs. For any of you that do not know Lee, he and Carol (his wife) run the Carolina book shop on Hermano Miguel y Calle Larga.

The article is entitled "The Gringo Invasion" and is something I think should be online so I am going to put it on the blog. This article comes from the April/May issue of : Azuay are we Here, pages 16 and 17.
Azuay Are We Here has recently gone online from print and I have added a link to it.
(I am reprinting this with permission. I am in no way claiming to have authored this or take any credit for it in any way. I think this should be required reading for all incoming or those considering a move to Cuenca.)

The Gringo Invasion

written by Dr. Lee Dubs

There are two follow-up questions to the catchy name of this exciting new magazine, and those are : "Azuay are gringos coming to Ecuador in droves?", and "What does the future hold for gringos here in Azuay?" (Azuay is the province in which Cuenca is located(added by JD)).In case you have not noticed, North Americans are showing up here en masse, with what appear to be dozens of newcomers arriving in Cuenca each month.My own love affair with Cuenca began exactly 20 years ago, when one seemingly could count the number of gringos on two hands--or maybe one. So, why the influx, and what does it portend?
The answer to the first question is easy. Travel magazines such as International Living, as well as certain blogs, are currently filled with messages that make you look like a fool if you don't immediately grab your money and move from North America to Ecuador. Various writers extol the virtues of living here, with most or even all of the emphasis on economic advantages. What some newcomers do not realize at first is that many of those articles and blogs are written by people who have financial gain at stake with the import of gringos bearing money.
Simply put, some writers make no small amount of money selling, tours, real estate, and what-have-you. Promote it and they will come, seeking the promised land where- they are happy to tell you -living like royalty is as cheap as Ecuadorian dirt.
The answer to the second question is more complicated. What is it all leading up to? That depends on what we do after we are here, folks. Many of us came to Cuenca to live in retirement where we genuinely like the people, the culture, and the opportunities to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle. We have felt welcome; the economy is a bonus. Toward the other end of the "why" spectrum are those coming primarily or even solely because "it's cheap", and some newcomers see little beyond an investment opportunity and/or a bargain lifestyle. I have seen gringos who arrive in Cuenca on a Sunday with the determination to buy or invest quickly and fly back to the States by the end of the week.
Unfortunately, those who fly down here to buy cheap land may not have thought through the fact that they will be living where most things are very different: language, culture, food, driving, even the manner of thinking, planning, and analyzing. The response of many gringos who feel the early stages of culture shock is to first criticize almost everything local, and then to seek the security of camaraderie among other gringos. After they ask me, "Where do all the expats live?", some recent arrivals express surprise that we Cuenca gringos do not cluster; that we do no more than have very informal weekly social gatherings. "Don't you all live together?", some ask. No,we don't, and let's keep it that way, thank you.
Newcomers may indeed find cheap land, their cheap houses and their cheap lifestyle, but too many are not comfortable among Ecuadorians: They seek out other gringos, not only for social events but also for a degree of comfort. Sociologists refer to this as the need for familiar props. The maladjusted and distressed often catch a flight back home or, worse, soon talk of building walled communities, irreverently referred to by the rest of us as "grongo colonies". In other words, they want to create a Little America. If examples of gringo colonies in Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica are followed in Ecuador, there is trouble brewing. In fact, conflicts between gringos and locals already are occurring in some regions of this country.
What is it that has begun to distress Euadorians about the gringo influx? First of all, let us be clear that Ecuadorians do not resent the many who come to assimilate and who call Ecuador-not North America-home. Cuencanos appreciate those of us who use (or at least try to use) the spanish language, who treat Ecuadorians as equals, and who have native amigos as well as gringo friends. However, they are well aware of rapidly escalating real estate prices, as new gringos are eager to throw money at not only the scrupulous but also the opportunistic realtors and private sellers. As Ecuadorians increasingly cannot afford to buy real estate in their own country, hostility emerges. That hostility has already been observed beyond Azuay.
And then there are the "do gooders", the transplants who want to "help" the less fortunate. Those warm and fuzzy gringos unwittingly disrupt the cultural and economic flow by overpaying, overtipping, and overhelping. Such actions result in altered expectations by locals and the hidden feeling that gringos are both filthy rich and pretty stupid. We now see "gringo prices" alongside local costs.
Like it or not, gringos-whether residents or tourists-also attract some unwanted attention, and we have witnessed the escalation of petty theft, home invasions, and even aggressive street holdups. Crime beyond snatch-and-run was uncommon in Cuenca until the gringo invasion began a few years ago. Fairly or not, we get some of the blame.
How long will Cuencanos tolerate us before we see some major negative reaction here in Azuay? Fortunately, the answer to that question is in our own hands. We control our future in Ecuador by how we act now. Assimilation or isolation? Good Neighbor or Ugly Gringo? Azuay are you here?
Nice job Lee.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One reason we chose Cuenca

Early in looking at Ecuador as a possible destination, we looked at a map of the country. Seeing the volcanos (and reading their history) we cast our gaze to the south. Another factor for us also was we did not want to be as close to the northern boarder such as Cotacahi (all the headhunters).

So long story short, history repeats itself and boom. As our friends Rich and Nancy have said, another great day in the Southern Andes.
Until next time................J&D

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kilo likes it........

I bought a sweater today at the Plaza de San Francisco market. I gets cool at night and I must admit I need something to take the chill off, though I still wear my "short" pants on most occasions. Donna did not say much till we got home then told me she did not like it. Kilo made it clear he approves. I agree with the gato.
Donna also bought some sheer throws for the couch. That is the other thing on my sweater.

On a side note, we got the deed to the house today!!!!!!

Time for some wine........................................

Mass Transit equals bargin

Today was our first trip using the bus. We found a line that goes everywhere we go with regularity and it starts and ends right in front of our development.
After paying between $2 to $3 bucks each way depending on the taxi and time of day, todays trip to town cost a total for both of us a whopping $1.00! That was to and from town.
The bus was nice though you better sit quick as they are on that accelerator pretty fast. We are thrilled we do not have to switch buses to go to our regular places and will be using the bus as our major transport to and from town.
A single fare is $.25. You can buy a bus pass for $1.50 and just recharge it with as much as you want to put on it at a time.
Riding the bus also is a good way to get your bearings in the city and a feel for different areas.

My advice, jump on the bus and do a bit of exploring. It is a good way to see a bunch and you won't get "gringo'd" in the process.
Until next time......................J&D

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Coming together

We got our living room furniture delivered. Now the downstairs looks like someone lives here. The kitchen too is almost together. It is nice not tripping over the washer and dryer.

Yesterday we heard the ominous rumble of thunder (often and loud). I went to the terrace and saw the clouds rolling in. I thought we were sure to get whacked, but it broke up before it got here. You can see that not far away someone got soaked. I have not seen a wall of rain like that since I worked at the airport. The airfield was almost 2 miles long so when the weather came in you could watch it walk toward you. Seeing that brought back a few memories.

Today was our 1st walk from the house to town. We went the wrong way and it still only took 1 1/2 hours. I think we will make in in 45 min now that we know the way. We saw some cool areas and found a co-op (local produce and meat) that is 10 min away. We will be checking out that soon.

Well I'm beat, so until next time..........................J&D

Friday, May 21, 2010

Moved In

We are broadcasting live via an unprotected wireless network somewhere nearby (thank you).
This is why you should always set up a your wireless network to be password protected, but as they say, you snooze you lose.

We spent our first night in the house last night. Wow, what a relief to be in your own place. Granted there is still work ongoing, but hey, we are in!

Here are a couple photos just to give a peak.
We are thrilled to be in and look forward to enjoying the new place.

Stay tuned...................................J&D

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Moving In

Wednesday is the day we move into the new digs. Mind you there is the usual contractor punch list but we are confident it will all be done soon. I must say after building in Aruba, then coming here, that things have progressed faster and the quality is better in Ecuador.
We will be without internet for a bit as we get everything going so we will say "Hasta Luago" for now and will be back soon. Pictures will be forthcoming as well as a video of the new casa.

Until next time......................J&D

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mercado 10 de Agosto (video)

Mercado off Calle Larga.

Cuenca vs. Quito

Now that I have discovered this movie maker I am glad I have not deleted as I often do with the added programs that come from the company that otherwise take up space and are never used.

I know I am not Peter Jackson behind the lens but bear with me. I promise the production value will get better.

This is footage from the Cuenca, Quito match. It is a much better experience in person but if you cannot make a game this will have to do.

Until next time..............J&D

Friday, May 14, 2010

Walking about Cuenca (video)

This is the walk we take to the physical therapist. Just a taste of some of the happenings during a typical day in Cuenca.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New spot

Last night we went to the official opening of California Kitchen on Calle Gaspar Sangurima y Calle Presidente Borrero. It was fun. We saw many familiar faces and the food was good. They do breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We recommend stopping in for some good eats if you are in the area. George and his family run the place and we wish them much success in their new venture.

We have been without internet for a few days. It has been an on again, off again problem where we are renting.
We hope to be in our house in a week or so and are looking forward to that very much. We will miss being so close to everything but it will be nice to be in our own place.
Our container is on the water and should be here in a few days. More on that stuff later.

Gato update.......................they are finally adjusted to the temps and are just fine.

Well until next time.......................J&D

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yummy soups

If you like soup and you have not tried Jenny's at the Kookaburra Cafe then you are missing out.
She creates the best soups. This one is a curry veggie and it was great. We are also big fans of the red pepper and tomato. All of the ones we have tried are great and you cannot go wrong if you order one.
That is Chris and Jenny buying some plants from their plant connection. We wanted to get one too but no place to put it yet.
Well we will see you at the cafe soon. Until next time............................J&D

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I was talking with a relative newcomer to Cuenca the other day and he mentioned something that struck a cord. I will toss in my 2 cents.
When any of us here in Cuenca recommend a service, be it a realtor, lawyer, even a restaurant, you as readers and prospective future residents must know that our positive experiences do not seal a positive experience for you. Everyone is different and we do not live in a vacuum. We give information and recommendations based on past results hoping for the same in future cases.
Please look around and do your research. Every question you have you will find the answers to in the blogs or the internet if you spend some time looking. If 10 people used service x, and 10 people used service y, and they all had good results, it is a fair bet you will too.
Something to remember, be patient and always inquire about fees before doing anything and everything. If you are up front with your questions and intentions in the beginning it might save you a headache and maybe some green.
Until next time..............J&D