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Living Abroad: What's Cuenca like a year later?

Edd:  Finding ourselves in Cuenca to start 2022 is the most unexpected thing we’ve done in quite some time.

Cynthia:  Two months ago we were talking about spending the winter months in South America, but going back to Ecuador wasn’t even on the radar. Yet here we are.

E:  When we left last March I couldn’t wait to get on the plane. We’d been in Cuenca for 11 years and I felt so ready to move on. Which makes my happiness to return incredibly surprising to me.

C:  I’m pleased to be here as well. Maybe your feelings are a variation of the old saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

E:  Yeah, quite possibly. It’s all too easy to take things like Cuenca’s ideal year-round climate for granted, isn’t it? The frigid temps we experienced in the States during the holidays were hard for us to handle.

C:  As was the brutal heat in parts of Mexico last year. Particularly in Mérida. When it comes to weather, we’re unapologetic “Goldilocks peeps.” Not too hot and not too cold.

E:  Folks reading this conversation may be thinking, “They’re so lucky to be able to travel around like they do.” Blessed, yes. Lucky, not so much. We’ve purposely designed our lives to have this kind of flexibility.

C:  You know what’s been heartwarming to me? The smiles on the faces of local merchants when they see us walking by. The taxi drivers we know waving and honking their horns. After being away for almost a year, it’s touching to feel like we’re still part of this neighborhood “family.”

E:  A great example of why we and so many others love living in Latin America. Speaking of walking around, how great has it been to not have to get in a car every time we leave the house?

C:  So true. The only time we’ve even been in a taxi is coming home from the grocery store. I know this seems odd, even impossible, to readers who rely on vehicles to go everywhere in their daily life. We said “goodbye” to owning a car 12 years ago and have never regretted it.

E:  Most everywhere we walk it seems like we never left. Things are pretty much the same with one big exception—the number of new restaurants that have sprung up!

C:  We were completely caught off guard. And the meals we’ve ordered so far have been terrific.

Especially the pizza around the corner. Wow!

E:  Even the $3.00 almuerzos (daily lunches) at our favorite little spots are always so good. Everything we’re served—soup, juice, entree—has been made fresh that morning.

C:  The food here has so much flavor compared to what we experience in the U.S. most of the time. And don’t get me started on portion size. Thank goodness the idea of supersizing everything hasn’t made it south of the border.

E:  It’s hard to explain, but the fruits and vegetables there, even organic, just seem kind of diluted, I guess you could say. Appearance and shelf life have become more important than taste.

This orange won’t be winning any beauty contests, but it sure will bring back memories of the way food used to taste.

C:  And be priced like the good old days as well. Avocados are 50 cents each. Bananas cost about a dime.

E:  No supply chain problems either. At least in the grocery store.

C:  The weather—the food—the people—we’re raving about the attributes we enjoy so much, readers may be wondering why we left!

E:  That’s a good point. To be fair, the downsides of daily life are still here too, and many of them involve noise. Barking dogs. House and car alarms. Late night parties.

C:  No roosters so far!

E:  Ha! When we walked away from Cuenca last year, we made it clear that there was nothing “wrong.” Quite the opposite. Minor annoyances aside, our quality of life was outstanding. We just wanted to experience more.

C:  But we learned from our travels in 2021 that constant change and newness is just too much. So having some downtime for a few months will be a nice break before leaving on our next travel adventure.

E:  No surprise that I’ve got plenty of ideas about where we can go. In the meantime, let’s continue to appreciate all the reasons that brought us to Cuenca so many years ago.

C:  It’s nice to know this beautiful colonial city in the highlands of southern Ecuador still checks all our boxes. Glad we’re home! 💖


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