Goodbye Cuenca

16 Mar

We have grown fond of Cuenca. We walked all over this small town, sat in its parks and plazas, ate our daily almuerzo (fixed price, three-course lunch for $2.00) at restaurants up and down the street and around the block, gone to classes on Ecuadorian history and culture, visited small villages, artisans and Ingapirca. We have discovered Cuenca. And we have liked what we found.

One of the highlights of our stay has been the view out our floor-to-ceiling windows. We see the city, the surrounding mountains and look down on the Tomebamba river. We are suspended in the landscape. We watch the sky and see the morning clouds clear. If it rains the Tomebamba tumbles over the rocks, frothy and fast. If it was a calm night, the river flows serenely skimming the rocks, transparent and slow. We see four or more kinds of weather everyday, morning mists and cloudy skies clearing late morning to sun and blue skies until mid-afternoon then clouding up again with a soft or hard shower and maybe clearing or, maybe not, as night falls. Most nights it rains.

We carry umbrellas at all times as the showers come fast, burst fast and end fast, leaving you wet or dry depending on…your umbrella. Dana wears his panama hat (a clear sign along with his height and gray hair that he is a gringo) and diligently protects it from the rain. The old cholla ladies with their bright skirts have little plastic bags they pop on their high white hats in case of a shower, both wise and efficient.

People ask us if we are moving here. (As they do in other places we visit.) But here, most inquirers are U.S. expats. Many came to stretch their pension, others moved for better weather. Most are happy. They assimilate into the culture at various depths. Speaking spanish is key. Even if you speak “Tarzan” spanish as one wag called hers. It is the trying that counts with Cuencanos.

Ah Cuencanos. We have met quite a few in our daily travels. Overwhelmingly they are soft-spoken, warm, eager to help a travel-weary soul who speaks only in the present tense and many times with the wrong verb. If they have lived in the US, they ask you where you are from. If they have not, they tell you of a brother or a cousin or, in one case, a mother who lives in Brooklyn.  Ecuadorians who live in the villages outside of town are even slower, kinder and deeply grounded in the land of the mountains. The people have been the high point of our time here.

Please join us next year in Hoi An, Vietnam. We greatly value your company on the road.

Hasta luego.





10 Responses to “Goodbye Cuenca”

  1. paul mabarrack March 16, 2019 at 11:12 pm #

    You two warm my heart with your sincere, curious adventures into wonderful place. I was half thinking go Vietnam next year…if you wish, tell me when, and we may meet up for dinner.

    Paul M of Adelaide.

    • Jill and Dana March 16, 2019 at 11:35 pm #

      Paul, It would be great to see you. We will be in Hoi An from February 15 to April 15 2020. We have rented a house in the fisherman’s village by An Bang Beach. Let’s keep it in mind and see if our plans mesh.

  2. Crawford Best March 16, 2019 at 4:39 pm #

    I have been enjoying and learning from your reports for more than a year now, since I could not attend a presentation of yours at The Travel Bug because I was out of town. Thanks very much for doing this.

    My girlfriend and I spent a month in Avignon last summer at an Airbnb apartment. It was OK but we wondered if there was a better method of finding lodging in advance. How do you find your lodging ? Thanks very much.

    • Jill and Dana March 16, 2019 at 5:07 pm #

      Hi Crawford, How great that our Travel Bug talk brought you into our travels. Friends of ours travel frequently and use Airbnb. It works well for them. They are also on a house swapping website and have had good experiences with that solution for accomodations. But they go for shorter time periods, one to two weeks, and so have different needs. We need a long-term accomodation (two-to-three months) with better vetting by a professional agency. Though they are few, the Airbnb stories of arriving to a non-existant rental, a rental with a marked difference from what was described in the listing or a non-existant or absent host is not what we need. So,mostly, we use Homeaway and VRBO. You can negotiate a lower rate for long-term stays if you find the right host. Also the listings, particularly amenities, are more complete. These services also offer you some contract protection if things “go wrong” in any way. Luckily, we have never had to use this service but it is reassuring to know it is there. Some of our hosts have “made” our stays in different countries. Their enthusiasm, local experience and help with all sorts of travel needs have opened doors in the places we have visited. To give you an idea of how kind hosts can be. We arrived in Valpariso, Chile at 5 am and not only did our host get out of bed to let us in, he brought us coffee and fresh baked croissants. We still communicate with some of the people who have welcomed us. Some still travel with us on the blog.
      Hope this helps in your search for happier lodging experiences. Jill & Dana

  3. victoria lovett March 16, 2019 at 4:04 pm #

    It was a delight traveling with you both on your great adventures! Thank you both for the gorgeous visuals along the way and the wonderful stories of the peoples of Equador!!!
    So grateful for you both, your beautiful home and your precious loving Fanny!!!
    Till we meet again, enjoy every step of this awesome life!πŸ’•πŸ‘£πŸ’ƒπŸΌπŸ•ΊπŸΆπŸΎπŸŒΊπŸŒžπŸŒˆ

    • Jill and Dana March 16, 2019 at 4:21 pm #

      You are such an important part of our trip. Knowing Fanny is with you. The love and care you give her makes it possible for us to be separated from her for so long. Thank you for sending pictures. It brightened our days.

  4. maryl March 16, 2019 at 3:11 pm #

    Even though I haven’t commented a lot on your posts, I have thoroughly enjoyed the photos and descriptions of all of them. You certainly have seen and experienced up close and personal the culture and the people of Cuenca. Probably a lot more than most of the tourists and ex-pats who live there. Your description of your rental home sounded fabulous as well. I can’t believe you have already been there 3 months. Safe travels home. Look forward to seeing and reading about a whole new area of the world next year! xo

    • Jill and Dana March 16, 2019 at 3:32 pm #

      We always know you are out there Maryl. You are one of our most loyal readers. We did “live” in Cuenca. But the reason it did not feel like three months was that it was only two. As we travel longer and keep “maturing,” we are accomodating with new ways to “keep going,” our top priority. So, the trips are shorter and the daily itineraries more compact. We have never been rock climbers but our slow travel is a little bit slower now. If fortune favors us we will be on the road for many more years.

  5. DEREK SIMMONS March 16, 2019 at 3:08 pm #

    Thanks for taking us along to another corner of the world we’d likely never visit, and for narrating the journey so beautifully in words and pictures. Welcome home.

    • Jill and Dana March 16, 2019 at 3:19 pm #

      Derek, Going and experiencing places is so much richer because we share the days with our family and friends in Medflies. We see differently because we are going to tell the story of the day to you. Thanks for traveling with us over the years.

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