A Travellerspoint blog

Nearing Death in Cuenca

sunny 25 °C

For the past five years Ecuador has been rated as the world’s best place for retirement and now we are here we can see why. Cuenca is the Ecuadorean city chosen by most ex-pats in their golden years. The city is relatively small and is one of the cleanest and most pedestrian friendly cities anywhere. Most streets are one way only, (not always understood by motorcyclists and taxi drivers), and all have wide pavements. The city has numerous tree filled plazas – each with at least one church…
Cuenca has more catholic churches per capita than almost anywhere else on earth, (an absolute must for wobbly seniors preparing to fall off the cliff and needing absolution). This is the old cathedral which was completed in 1567…
However, on the opposite side of the main plaza is the ‘new’ cathedral…
This magnificent building was started over a hundred years ago and is only half finished.
The cupolas may look magnificent but the building’s rough brick walls are a touch unsightly…
Nevertheless, the church hasn’t stinted when it comes to gilding the altar or installing huge boom-boxes and a massive flat screen television on every pillar so that aging ex-pats in the rear pews have no excuse to doze through lengthy Spanish sermons. Unfortunately, and unusually, the cathedral is locked except during services when no photos are allowed. Fortunately, in addition to the churches, Cuenca has a wealth of beautiful historic buildings that we could visit including this bank cum art gallery…
When it rains oldies can stroll the numerous colonnades in the dry…
More active retirees can hike the nearby Cajas National Park. The high point, at some 13,000 feet above sea level, is at the continental divide…
All the rivers from this point flow into the Amazon from the east while those on the west flow into the Pacific. These high peaks will, quite literally, take you breath away. But if your heart doesn't quit you can always stop for a breather and a coffee in this authentic, and incredibly rustic, mountain lodge…
Or you can have a spitting contest with this handsome fella...…
Perhaps the best reason for retiring to Cuenca is the cost of living. A hundred thousand dollars will get you a brand new 2 bed apartment, while for just $9.99 you can buy a Black Forest gateau large enough to clog the arteries of your twenty best friends. However, don't rush to put your place on the market. Speaking to a local guide we learned that foreign residents are not exactly flavour of the year in this tight-knit community high in the Andes. Even Cuencans who have left to seek their fortune elsewhere are not welcomed back with open arms. We, on the other hand, spent a delightful long weekend in Cuenca and never once felt slighted - though we're not planning this as our final resting place.

Posted by Hawkson 13:13 Archived in Ecuador

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Catchy title - certainly got my attention. Looks like a lovely spot but as you note, becoming part of the community is key.

by Ramblingon

Well I gasped at the title - I thought OMG what's happening. But please to know you were talking about death generally. As far as the churches go you could always start your own - the Fellowship of Geriatric Wanderers serving the liberal, the curious, and the not quite Catholic.

by The Vickerage

Think of all those new red blood cells you are generating at that altitude. Back at sea level you will be super-energized.

by R and B

Dear James and Sheila,
What fun to meet up with you at a small cafe in the Galapagos! I will stay tuned to your blog. I'll be interested in the Peru posting as we may go in August. Stay well and all the best!! Hunter

by Hunter Segerstrom

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