I have always wanted to spend my senior years living in a place where I could walk, bike, or take functional public transportation to my destinations so I would not have to own a vehicle. And now, I’ve finally found that place…Cuenca, Ecuador.
Cuenca is a very progressive city that is working to improve to the walkability and bike-ability of the the city. They’re doing this by creating more pedestrian friendly walking areas, more bike paths, an electric tram (tranvia), and improving the local bus system with new buses. And, they have an excellent city bike program called Bicipùblica Cuenca.
While there are some places like this in the U.S., they aren’t nearly as affordable as Cuenca is. The cost of living here is about 1/3 of most places in the U.S. and, it’s a beautiful city.
We now live one block from the upcoming electric tram, which will take us into the central part of Cuenca and drop us off one block from our home on the return trip. The cost has not been determined yet but is expected to be 35 cents and half price for seniors.
In the central part of Cuenca, about half a mile away from us, they are creating “super-blocks”, which are pedestrian and bike friendly city blocks with limited vehicle traffic. So now, I can walk out the front door with my bike and ride to my favorite destinations in under 15 minutes. I can ride to my gym in 3 minutes or, walk to it in less than 10. My gym is above a bar, a barber shop, and Fabiano’s, a good pizza/Italian restaurant. For gym rats, Cuenca has an abundance of small gyms.
Yesterday, we walked several blocks to an outdoor market, and bought salmon, Amazonian herbs, tasty blueberry shortbread, fresh Ecuadorian coffee beans, homemade vanilla extract, and a smoked chicken. While there, we chatted with several people we knew and met a few new ones. When we got home, I hopped on my bike and rode over to Matthew’s Bagels and picked up the freshly made gluten free bread we order ahead every week. Two loaves, one to eat and one for the freezer.
Breakfast In Cuenca
The day before we walked 20 minutes to meet our friend Jim, from the U.S., for breakfast. We ate at Cafe San Sebas in beautiful Plaza San Sebastian. They serve pancakes made from sourdough, one our favorites. I ordered the cinnamon (canela) version with freshly brewed Ecuadorian coffee. Delicious!
After that, we visited Marc’s Consignment shop, found a purple chair for Bonnie’s new home office and left a deposit on it. I rode over to the shop the next day on my bike and paid the balance. The guy who delivered it walked it over to the house balancing it on his head.
Our Dog Star
On some of these walks we take our dog, Star. We let her walk on her own, dragging her leash until she gets to the intersections where we grab her leash. We are teaching her to sit and wait for traffic to pass before crossing. She’s doing great learning and now stops at the intersections on her own and waits for us to catch up (she always leads).We have been in our new home for less than a week now and have met so many neighbors; Ecuadorian, Canadian, North American, and European. We’ve met most of them in the park one block from our house. Many are there walking their dogs. People are open and friendly here so it’s easy to meet new people. The locals in particular have been very welcoming. Our neighbor across the street owns a bread bakery and brought us a fresh loaf as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ gift. I might mention the bread bakery is at her home so there is fresh bread being baked there all the time.
Life is different here than in the US. No vehicle, almost everything is paid in cash, lots of walking, fresh fruit and vegetables everywhere you turn, no winter weather, and few possessions. So far, we are loving it, including Star and Maya (no fleas or ticks).