I learned an important tidbit on the way from Baños to Cuenca. Even though some of the public buses have toilets on them, most are not functional. Furthermore, bus drivers don’t stop for bathroom breaks. Two hours out of Baños, I had to switch buses. I vaguely needed to go to the restroom, but there was a caller there shouting “Cuenca!”, so I followed him. As soon as I got on the bus, we pulled out, and didn’t stop for 6 hours. I regretted the thermos of tea I had drank in the first leg of this trip.
Cuenca has the reputation of being a beautiful, colonial city in the Andes mountains, a cultural center of Ecuador, and a gringo honey pot. My first morning in Cuenca I walked around looking for a place to have breakfast. I found the lovely Cafe Goza, ordered, and soon realized I was in Gringo central. All the tables were full, but I couldn’t hear a word of Spanish. American accents, like from Kentucky, Texas, and the East Coast. I was also the youngest customer. Most Americans come to Cuenca to retire, and my current environment backed that up.
On Friday, I met with an immigration lawyer and we decided on a professional visa. You need to have a degree, get it apostalised, pay some money, and it’s normally accepted. I went with my lawyer to the government sponsored notary to establish power of attorney. She went back and forth from desk to desk, signature after signature, until we finally got what we needed. It made me glad I had not tried to do this on my own.
Most of my time in Cuenca I spent walking around, discovering neighborhoods, and looking for apartment rental signs. This is the city most expats decide to live in, and visually, I can see why. Beautiful architecture, lovely parks, and it has any service you could want, being the third largest city in Ecuador. My concern though is that I felt a bit isolated from the locals. My hope is that was because I was staying in the historical center where lots of foreigners tend to congregate.
Photos of Cuenca are here.