With all our Ecuadorian documentation squared away, we needed a place to live when we’re here. Before we came down this time, we emailed all our local buddies and asked if they knew of any places to rent. In Ecuador, this sort of thing is done a lot more by word-of-mouth than by, say, the internet. There are a couple of web sites that specifically cater to the expat community in Cuenca, though. Our friends all rose to the occasion, and at least three of them sent me the same listing. I contacted the landlady, and she sent me some photos. When we got to Cuenca a week later, her place was still available, so we arranged to go take a look.
The apartment was nice, but I worried that it was way too far from everything, so we decided to keep looking for a few days. We checked out several other places, but none of them seemed quite right. One was even farther away as well as too expensive, one was too small with dangerous-looking stairs, one was unfurnished and, as I described it, “soulless.” It is common to rent an unfurnished place in Ecuador, and when they say “unfurnished,” they mean it: no appliances, no window treatments, not even mirrors in the bathrooms. The first apartment was starting to look better and better. Yes, it felt far, but there are two different bus lines that run right past it, and, for a quarter, will take you into El Centro – the heart of the city.
We called our soon-to-be-new landlady, Corinne, and told her we’d take it. We even negotiated a slightly lower rent that included our internet access. Corinne is an American who’s been living in Ecuador for several years, and is actually subletting this place to us. The fact that she’s a gringo means that her furnished apartment had just about everything we could need – right down to flatware, sheets and towels! She was so helpful. She and her boyfriend came in two cars to pick us up from friend A, grab our stored stuff from friend B, and take us to new apartment C. (She even got stuck in a ditch doing it, and didn’t get mad at us – now that’s a good landlady!)
So what’s the place like? It’s a cozy two bedroom, one bathroom with skylights, a storage room, even an office. It’s furnished pretty darn close to American standards, and the views from the bedrooms are just awesome. Out the same window, we can see the Andes Mountains as well as the city of Cuenca spread out below. The actual owners live in the same building, and run the Laundromat on the ground floor, so there is plenty of security. We don’t have a washer or dryer, but there is the aforementioned Laundromat where for $3 a load, we may never have to do our own laundry again.
We are far enough from the city that the sounds we hear are cows(!), chickens, and of course, the ubiquitous dogs. After some experimental walks our first two days here, we found we are close enough that a 20 minute walk takes us to Super maxi – the big (gringo-y) supermarket, and 40 minutes puts us in the heart of everything! This made me feel sooo much better. The one consideration is that we are at the top of a brutal hill. Seriously, I didn’t know you could build a street at an 85 degree angle, but that’s what it feels like we walk up. Stephanie has spun this into a benefit saying that we get built in exercise. Where are those buses again?