Cuenca’s Gringolandia: A place to escape Trumpamerica? (Or whatever America you want to escape)

Will it be Canada or Cuenca? I have to admit, this is a post I’ve been working on since shortly after I arrived in Ecuador – more than a year and a half ago – well before Trump announced his intentions. But I figured this was a good time to publish this. US citizens have been on a roller coaster ride this fall, and spate of nervous jokes (on both sides of the political spectrum) about fleeing the country if Trump became president has not abated. (And I know there are some out there who will flee a Clinton presidency.) So, would it be Canada or Cuenca? I’m not going to say much about Canada – although, I do realize it’s hard to resist a country run by a prime minister who cuddles panda bears.

This post is about what life is like for North Americans who have already fled to Ecuador. If you arrived at this page because you’re considering retiring – or perhaps, fleeing – to Cuenca, maybe it’ll give you a bit of perspective about life as a North American in Ecuador.


Typical abode for expat North Americans in the heart of Cuenca’s Gringolandia.

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Favorite Spots in Cuenca #5 – Quinta Balzay

For those of you wondering about my silence on this blog lately, I should let you know that I landed safely back in Colorado last weekend – I’m HOME! But I still have a lot to say about Ecuador, and many blog posts in the works, so stay tuned! Today I want to share a bit about another of my favorite places in Cuenca.

I’m one of those lucky people who, mostly, enjoys my job. Given how much time I spend working, that’s a good thing. So, for this installment of ‘Favorite Spots in Cuenca’, I felt I had to mention the place in Cuenca where I spent the most time (other than the house where I lived): The Quinta Balzay, a satellite campus of the University of Cuenca.2015_0721i Continue reading

Cuenca’s 7-day tribute to the sweet tooth

I always associate an overabundance of sweets with the Christmas holidays, but in Cuenca, the holiday of sweet abundance is in June, coinciding with the religious celebration of Corpus Christi. For one week, vendors line the streets surrounding the New Cathedral in central Cuenca, tables laden with cookies and candies of every color and flavor imaginable. Just walking down the sidewalk is enough to give you a sugar high and make your teeth ache. I feel like I’ve stepped into my favorite childhood board game, Candyland, or like I’m touring Willy Wonka’s factory. 2015_0607e Continue reading

Amaru: A day at the Cuenca Zoo!

I’ve been checking out the Trip Advisor reviews of Cuenca’s Amaru Zoo for the past couple of months. Most people love it. Some hate it. People who hate it tend to be of more advanced years, tend to have very young children, or have some very different expectations. How could a zoo NOT be a place for young children, you might wonder? Imagine a zoo built into the side of a mountain where you scramble up steep trails, over tree roots, then duck under chicken wire as monkeys, birds, and tigrillos (little tiger-like cats) threaten to poop on your head. If you like that kind of stuff, this is the place for you.

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Celebrating Colorful Cuenca


Cuencanos doing a Peruvian dance in one of the parades celebrating the foundation of the city.

I’m starting to lose track of the number of holidays and festivals I’ve experienced, seen, or heard of since I’ve been in Ecuador. I thought Carnaval was big. But last week we had the annual celebration of the ‘Foundation of Cuenca.’ And let me say, the Cuencanos go ALL OUT for this one. In fact, I’m not entirely sure on which day festivities began last week, and how long they lasted (there may still be things going on this week). Continue reading

Favorite Spots in Cuenca #3 – Puro Cafe

I’m not a coffee drinker. But I will purchase a cup of good coffee now and then – especially if it means I can sit at Puro Cafe, on the terrace of Iglesia Todo Santos, and watch the rain showers pass by. I discovered this place about a month ago, on my first big walk through town. The terrace at Todo Santos is one of the best views above of the river Tomebamba. The Tomebamba divides the old, central part of Cuenca, which sits up on a hill, from the newer, modern part of Cuenca, sitting below, in a valley. 2015_0322b Continue reading

Favorite spots in Cuenca #2 – Rio Yanuncay

When I need to escape city life, I can retreat to this amazing river only a 5 minute walk from home. I walk or run here whenever I can. The Rio Yanuncay is the second largest (of four rivers) in Cuenca, and urban planners must have had a field day with this one as there is a walkway along the river for several miles. Along the way, you’ll find benches, playgrounds, nice landscaping, and (this was new for me) exercise machines.

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Or, rather, the title of this post should be: Taxis, Buses, and Pounding the Pavement

As the sightseeing tapers off a bit while I get ramped up for my class and try to get some projects underway, I’m becoming more adept at making my way around the city and thought I would share a little of my daily life. In Colorado I commute to work via a Prius, listening to my favorite tunes, a new novel, or practicing my Spanish along the way. Here, I breathe diesel fumes and hang on for dear life to a bar above my head while we trundle over cobblestone streets and careen through traffic circles or over speed bumps.


I’ve become very familiar with these beauties in the past couple of weeks! Best to avoid a big lunch right before hopping on board.

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