“Can you meet me at Puro Cafe at noon?” asks my husband, Mark.
The times and locations of our rendezvous may change, but my response is always the same—yes!
Who can say no to meeting for coffee at one of the quaint sidewalk cafes in picturesque Cuenca, Ecuador with its cobblestone streets, majestic churches, and irresistible Old World charm?
With spring-like temperatures all year long (lows in the 50’s and highs in the 70’s), we spend as much time as possible outdoors—especially on our “lunch break.”
Two to three times a week we enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants scattered throughout El Centro—the historic part of the city. With $3 executive almuerzos (lunches), it’s a great economical option. It’s what we love most about living here and after five years it never gets old.
We’re constantly exploring this wonderful city like tourists. Mark teaches English as a second language and I’m a freelance writer with a flexible schedule.
Al fresco dining has become so popular in Cuenca that it’s hard to decide where to eat. Dining next to the rippling sounds of the Tomebamba River on the terrace of Mayu Restaurant…or Puro Cafe with its panoramic view of the city, next to Todos Santos Church, one of the oldest churches in the city.
The best part of all…we don’t need a car to go to “work” or to explore this lovely city. We walk, take a taxi, or ride the bus for 25 cents. No more gas bills, car maintenance, or insurance for us.
After five years we’re still living on the same amount ($1,317 a month), but we own our condo and our property tax is only $74 a year (no, that’s not a typo!). Our place has a skyline view of Cuenca and El Cajas (Andes Mountains) that look like the Swiss Alps with their low-lying clouds in the early morning hours. At night, a cascade of twinkling lights—from the hilltop town of Turi—casts a magical spell over the city.
My office, which is at home, stays a comfortable 70 to 72 degrees all year long as we receive morning and afternoon sun, so there’s no need for heat or air conditioning.
Our weekends are no longer an escape from the rat race—like they once were in the States—but a time to savor the life that we’ve built with our friends who’ve become like family to us.
There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for our permanent vacation spot—high in the Andes Mountains—surrounded by a mixture of palm trees, azure blue skies, and bougainvillea draped entryways that can be seen from our hilltop condo.
I never have to look at the calendar or check my watch anymore as time is marked by the year-long holidays and festivals—complete with fireworks.
With no stress, no commute, and no strict schedule to keep, every day feels like a vacation.
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