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Issue #041, April 10, 2015 - 9 reasons why you don’t want to retire in Cuenca, Ecuador
April 10, 2015
|Dear VIA (Very Important Adventuress)
9 reasons why you don’t want to retire in Cuenca, Ecuador
For four years in a row now, Cuenca, Ecuador, in South America, has been rated the number one retirement destination for North Americans and Canadians. As the president of the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce has said, “No one was more surprised than we Cuencanos.”
#1 - We DO have bugs.You may have read on all those enthusiastic blogs that we have no bugs in Cuenca. Not true. I have personally experienced ants, chiggers, silverfish, flies, spiders, a moth the size of my hand and one colorful beatle.
#2 - It’s COLD.Cuenca is waaaay high up in the Andes mountains, a ways from any beach. It doesn’t snow, but it rains, storms and may even hail. There is no heat and no air-conditioning. Windows are single-pane. Houses are usually large and quite cold and drafty in the “winter months” of July and August.
#3 - It’s NOISY.Car alarms. Fireworks. Car alarms. Barking dogs. Car alarms. Day and night, depending on your neighborhood, the fiesta of the year, your neighbor’s cumpleanos and how windy it is (wind can set off already-delicate car alarms).
#4 - There’s NO CHANGE.You are expected to provide the exact amount for a purchase. If you hand a vendor $20 for a $10.50 purchase first you will be asked for 50 cents, then you will most likely have to wait while he/she runs to the shop next door for change.
#5 - They don't speak ENGLISH.Spanish is the language of business and education in Ecuador, no matter what you think people should speak.
#6 – Did I mention Cuenca is waaaaay up in the mountains.?At just over 8,000 feet, how strong are your lungs? It’s not easy to walk and talk at the same time, let alone climb stairs while laughing.
#7 - There are BROKEN sidewalks and streets.Walking is good for you, but in Cuenca you must keep your wits about you. Broken cement and tiles, tree roots and pieces of unexplainable metal are waiting to trap you. Almost every gringo I know has tripped and fallen at least once. And I can tell you from personal experience, that street is hard. A lucky one, I didn’t break so much as an earring!
#8 - Drivers are CRAZY.Trucks, busses, vans and cars are bigger than you are and have the right-of-way in Ecuador. You and street dogs are expected to respond accordingly and look out for yourselves.
#9 – Did I mention you will be expected to LOOK OUT for yourself?You come from a legal system known as “common law” which promotes societal safeguards so you can blame and sue somebody else when an accident or perceived slight befalls you. Ecuador—along with the rest of Latin America, all of Asia and most of Europe and Africa—has “civil law” which promotes personal responsibility. For a lot of North Americans, this can be big culture shock. Specially trained court magistrates examine evidence, develop the arguments for both sides of a non-criminal dispute, and rule on the issue. So if you believe a government should provide as many laws and safeguards as possible against the whims of life, Ecuador is not for you.
Cuenca, Ecuador IS for me, and about five thousand other "norteamericanos." Don’t ask us why! It’s our secret!
If you’re a woman looking for a place to live well on just your social security, check out Christine Collins’ excellent, informative e-book, A Golden Girl's Guide to Retirement in Cuenca Make this an "adventuress" day!
—Carolyn V. Hamilton, Editor and Chief Adventuress
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