Let Your Creativity Flow in Cuenca, Ecuador

There’s something magical about Cuenca. It’s more than just the scenic natural beauty of an Andean city—surrounded by majestic mountains and divided by the four rivers that run through it. Nor is it simply the gorgeous colonial architecture of the homes, businesses, and cathedrals that resulted in it being designated a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s more than that. Much more.

There’s a creative energy that permeates Cuenca. I call it the soul of the city. Whatever term you choose for it, you have only to look around to see the evidence. From the colorful hand-painted murals, to the ornate doorways and windows, to the street vendors displaying their handmade wares, creativity abounds everywhere throughout the city.

And it’s not just the natives that have tapped into this creativity. I am constantly amazed at the many expats I meet who have dramatically expanded their horizons since arriving here. Left behind are the 9-to-5 jobs that consumed all their time, leaving them drained of energy at the end of each day. Forgotten is the stress of struggling to make ends meet, and the hectic pace of keeping up with their neighbors. Instead, they have absorbed and embraced the creative energy of their adopted country.

Cuenca has inspired them. It has reached inside of them and pulled out talents and desires that have lain dormant for years. Some individuals, with cameras in hand, patrol the city to photograph the people and natural beauty that abounds. Some supplement their income with their photos, while others simply share the results with the world via social media. Others choose to capture the same images with paint.

I know people who both compose and play music, either privately or at the countless venues throughout the city. Those who enjoy acting perform in community theater. A significant number of expats volunteer their talents to give back in numerous ways, ranging from teaching English to helping the homeless. Regardless of the outlet, they have unlocked a side of them that was previously kept contained.

Personally, I express my artistic side using words. I think each of us in our own way wants to help make the world a better place, and so I write stories of hope and inspiration and love. I have found a whole community of like-minded people since moving here, and now belong to a group that comprised of poets, novelists, journalists, and authors of memoirs and non-fiction, as well as wannabe writers. I have also worked together with fellow authors to develop the now annual Cuenca International Writer’s Conference. Our goal is to inspire others to pursue their dreams of writing, and support them as they develop their creative side.

The expats I know who have taken up new lives in Cuenca have changed. Without the constraints of their working lives, they have discovered the things that really make them happy, and through their new found sense of creativity, they are now able to truly live out their ideal retirement.

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