Monday, November 4, 2013
Living in Cuenca, Ecuador, Has a Downside...
By Edd Staton
A lot of folks look forward to and truly enjoy the change of seasons. Spring blossoms...the warmth of summer...fall foliage...bundling up in winter.
I would not be included in that group.
I've never been a fan of cold weather. Whenever it snowed I enjoyed walking around and throwing snowballs for about an hour. Then I was ready for it to go away so I could put on a bathing suit.
Four years living in Las Vegas before relocating to Ecuador soured me and my wife Cynthia on extreme heat forever. Something about having to walk slowly so the friction of the scorching air didn't hurt my face never sat well with me.
In fact, one of the key considerations in our decision to move to the colonial city of Cuenca was its moderate climate.
We're like Goldilocks—we want our weather not too hot. Not too cold. Just right!
But while visiting family in North Carolina recently my son mentioned something I hadn't thought about. He told me how he was looking forward to putting away his winter clothes and breaking out the shorts and T-shirts.
And I thought, "Huh. I don't do that." In fact after three years living in Cuenca I had kind of forgotten that's the routine in places that experience seasonal changes.
Therein lies a (very minor) downside to living in the "Land of Eternal Spring"—you're eternally looking at the same darned wardrobe every time you open the closet door.
There are solutions, of course. Every visit to the States we buy a few new garments and give away the ones we're most tired of when we return home.
What about expats who don't travel back and forth like we do? Cuenca has several malls and many boutiques scattered throughout the city.
Be aware, though, that Latin Americans are generally smaller than North Americans and clothing sizes reflect this difference. Selection for large people is quite limited, but excellent tailors can make custom clothing at quite reasonable prices. I showed a photo to a proprietor here of a gorgeous leather jacket that retailed for over $1,000 in the States. He made a duplicate just for me for only $125. (Those same leather craftsmen are happy to create high-quality shoes for your feet, too, by the way.)
What would I do if I didn't travel and couldn't afford a custom wardrobe? Well, at 6'3", I guess I'd be trying to convince my friends that three-quarter length sleeves and capri pants were the latest fashion statement for guys!
As I said, wearing the same wardrobe all year round is a downside to living in Cuenca—but it's one of the only ones. We didn't move here to be fashionistas; we came here to enjoy the plethora of positive attributes Cuenca has to offer. Fresh, healthy, non-GMO food...free symphony performances...current movies in English (and sometimes in 3D!)...low cost and high quality health care...the list goes on and on.
We enjoy a very high quality of life in Cuenca at about 25% of the budget we spent back home. Our luxurious two-story penthouse apartment (with weekly maid service) has commanding views of the city and surrounding mountains. We dine out regularly, attend many of those free symphony performances, and enjoy going to the gym, yoga and Tai Chi classes.
Later today, we're meeting friends for lunch at one of the many fixed menu lunch spots around town. I can already tell you what our total bill will be for fresh juice, homemade soup, and a healthy entrée—$5. For both of us!
So while, at a recent International Living event in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, it was a joy to try on the beach attire we never get to wear here, after the suitcases were unpacked, we found ourselves decked out in our "eternal Cuenca" clothing...ready to once again enjoy all that this city has to offer.
at 9:28 AM