We flew into Quito on Feb 1 at midnight. We slept in comfortable recliners in the long stay across from the main terminal. Our flight to Cuenca left at 8 am. No major hiccups in the flights. We had all of our papers in hand to obtain a permanent resident visa. The paperwork alone had cost over 1200 dollars and then the fees from the visa facilitator another 1500. The president had signed a new immigration law three days before we arrived so we don’t know if we can still slide in under the old law. Strictly speaking, no, but this is South America and things are never concrete. Our facilitator drove us 4 hours to Machala where a few palms were greased and our papers were accepted. We are awaiting a decision. Stressful. The old law would be more beneficial to us. There were a number of unanticipated fees also.
We are leasing a house (condo or appt) in a gated community for a year. There are ten houses here and each one shares a common wall with its neighbor. This unit is 3 story 3 bedroom and fully furnished down to the pots and pans. We pay $600. a month. It also includes all utilities and even the internet service. We are leasing it from the daughter of a friend. We had met her before and she had accepted a year long assignment to the Galapagos. It meets our needs perfectly and allows for people to come visit us from the US. 2 things hard to get used to. Hot water comes through a mini heater on demand thingie. It depends on time of day and many times you only have a few minutes of hot water.Hello cold showers. The other thing, which is true of all of South America is that toilet paper is NEVER put into the toilet but rather into the waste basket next to it. Garbage is picked up three times a week for that reason. Takes a little getting used to. The water in this city is considered safe to drink and very pristine. The problem is that this great water is delivered through hundred year old pipes.
Cuenca is at altitude in the Andes and so some people suffer from altitude sickness on arrival and in some cases have to get back down to the lowlands. I am having a little more trouble adjusting this time. I get shortness of breath going up stairs but can still walk 2 to 3 miles some days without any adverse effects. My tinnitus has gotten appreciably worse and i am hoping for some relief soon. We are at 8700 ft. We have been here a month and I have already lost 14 lbs. We eat a good breakfast always consisting of fresh fruit and avocado and eggs. Lunch is the other meal of the day. There are many almuerzo restaurants here. A typical almuerzo costs between $2.00 and $3.50 and always begins with a fruit juice followed by a large soup or salad. Then the plato fuerte or main course followed by desert We share it and there is always food left over. Dinner, if at all, is more on the order of a snack. We drink way too much coffee. Groceries can be expensive and you can hear a lot of English being spoken in the SuperMaxis. Open air fruit and veggie markets are a bargain. every street has at least one little convenience shop that stock an amazing array of goods. There are 400 restaurants in Cuenca. the ones we have gone to, albeit nice ones, are relatively expensive with an average ticket of $25.00 even when we share. We do mostly cooking at home. We are trying to learn to live on a fixed income.More about food another time.
The weather here is ideal. There are no heaters or air conditioners. Layered clothing covers it all. It does rain. Taxis are abundant. You cant go a minute without seeing several. I can go almost anywhere in the city for $2,00 or even less. Very rarely $3.00 it feels wrong however so the minimum I will pay is $2 and many times $3. We have not braved the busses yet. as seniors, or third age people as we are know here we are entitled to half off on most things including air fare on national airlines and even trips to the galapagos. The local busses will cost us $,12 There are a lot of very nice parks here also.
This is a town of almost 400,00 people with both a new town and an old town, Much history here. There is a large expat community here which we have avoided until Sat night. More about that later.Compared to the town we hail from it is a lot more modern here. Three large malls.Upon entry to Mall del Rio, for instance you are greeted by Forever 21, Calvin Kline and Ralph Loren before you even get 30 ft inside. More later