Published on March 5th, 201423
A Peek at Casa de TravelnLass in Cuenca, Ecuador
Just 3 weeks since I left that “g-forsaken rice paddy” in Asia to perch myself here on this “g-forsaken mountain top in the Andes” and…
I must say, Latin America couldn’t be more different than Asia. In most every way.
The climate of course (verily like a spring day year round here in Cuenca), the language (my Spanish is expanding daily, by leaps ‘n bounds – yay!), the cuisine (bye-bye phad thai and steaming bowls of phủ, why hello there cute little cuy – guinea pig – on a stick!), the currency (Ecuador uses U.S. dollars, for heaven’s sake – no more US$1 = 20,000 dong, 31 baht, 1,300 kyat, 3 ringgits, 98 rupees, 8,000 kip, 1,700 tugrik, etc. – whew!)
Indeed, though Cuenca surely ain’t no Seattle, I dare say that compared to the culture, food, climate, language, et al of Southeast Asia – Ecuador is ever so much more “easy” for we ‘Merican folk from the north (I mean, we do share “America” in our continental names, after all) to navigate and settle into. And especially the Latin American culture -while clearly most unique, much more akin to Western vs. Eastern cultures.
No doubt gross generalizations (especially presumptuous coming from one who landed here but 22 days ago!) And furthermore, if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to annoy me, it’s travelers flippantly comparing one country against another. Apples and Vollyballs to be sure.
So I’m not saying one land is somehow better/worse than another, but rather – simply DIFFERENT. And I dare say “different” is precisely why I wander the globe seeking out ever new countries to explore. That said, coming from more than 2 years of immersion in all-things-Asian, these are but my first impressions of Ecuador. g-knows I can’t WAIT to delve deeper, and I hope you’ll follow along as I share my experiences in this new corner of the Planet.
Meanwhile, I thought you might enjoy a peek at my super-duper new apartment here in Cuenca – fully furnished, just $450 including all utilities, on a 3 month lease.
Casa de TravelnLass
First, the jewel in the crown – finally, after more than 2 years, I.HAVE.A.FULL.KITCHEN!
(well o.k. save for an oven, but then I’m not about to start baking pies and cookies anyway – there’s plenty of wee mom ‘n pop bakeries tucked amid the cobbled streets outside my door, churning out all manner of freshly baked treats daily)
And in any case – looks like my previous impassioned “Nomad Cuisine” dabblings will now happily take a backseat to more advanced culinary experiments.
Oh yeah – and did I mention… a SEPARATE bedroom?
(note the pink elephant spread – a rare souvenir tucked into my backpack from Nepal)
Fully furnished with a majorly comfy wrap-around couch, and the cutest little granite table and high-backed chairs. There’s also a flat-screen TV, with cable (o.k. most stations in Spanish, but leastwise I can tune into old CSI episodes and an English movie or three). Besides, the Spanish stations help me learn the language that much faster.
Then there’s my view. Nope, not as spectacular as my initial temporary digs verily ON TOP of those sapphire domes of the Catedral Nueva —>
But just a few blocks away and much quieter, with a peek of the mountains and all those sweet rosy-tiled roofs to remind me that I’m now in… honestly? What with the cobbled streets, the colonial cathedrals, and those ubiquitous terracotta rooftops – I feel like I might well be in Italy or Spain!
More importantly (to me), is that I live in a “tipico” Ecuadorian neighborhood (as opposed to some gated expat highrise in “Gringolandia”), right in the heart of “El Centro” (a UNESCO World Heritage site) where the locals live and work.
Speaking of “Gringolandia”, much more to tell in future posts – about how Cuenca (which, prior to my arrival I was 85% sure I wouldn’t like) compares to Chiang Mai (favorably – a much lower farang infestation, though far more UScentric) and the many other differences/unique qualities of life on the Equator on this side of the globe.
So stay tuned. And meanwhile – would love to hear from others who’ve dipped toes in either Asia and/or Ecuador – how did/does your experience as an expat compare?