“Kathleen, my question is about Cuenca. It sounds like this area may serve us well. We like some modern amenities and have a pretty high standard when it comes to good clean food and water as well as holistic health care.
“Is natural medicine commonly available, or not? Sure would appreciate you addressing this.
“When I mention Cuenca, my husband automatically says, ‘It’s a big city of thousands of people!’ So can you talk about surrounding areas? Are there any that are close to—but not smack in the middle of—Cuenca? We’d call it suburbia.
“I love reading your accounts and look forward to meeting you some day in a faraway land!
“Thanks so much for all you do.”
–Belinda L., United States
Latin America Editor and former Cuenca resident Lee Harrison responds:
Cuenca has been a good choice for literally thousands of expats and retirees. You will indeed enjoy good food, thanks to the explosion of nice restaurants and cafes, as well as clean, drinkable water from the tap.
Natural medicine is common in Ecuador… more common than in the United States. Natural medicine is not considered “alternative” in Ecuador. Without the influence of drug companies and insurance carriers, “natural” is the norm.
And yes, Cuenca is a big city of not thousands but hundreds of thousands of people. But it never felt that big to me. I spent most of my time downtown, but if you include the surrounding sprawl, it adds up.
The problem with living in “suburbia” in this country is that, when you get outside the cities of Ecuador, you lose the comfortable amenities and infrastructure that we depend on… things like drinkable water and fast Internet.
One area that might be of interest and that is comfortable is Paute, a small town just north of Cuenca where a number of expats have settled. You won’t have Cuenca’s art, restaurant, or music scene, but you won’t have any big-city annoyances, either. Another alternative is the Yunguilla Valley, almost an hour south of Cuenca. This gives you a “country” environment but is not too far from the city’s amenities.
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