Perhaps Justly Worried About Gringo Invasion?
Your commentary has reinforced my worries about Cuenca. There's also a recent article in The Economist about the bus loads of "gringos"
I finally have a ticket for Ecuador, and Cuenca, in March, and I fear I'm too late. I have researched Ecuador, and South America for three years. I've traveled all over Europe, lived in France for 2 years when I was younger, spent a lot of Mexico and been to Peru.
I used to think about Mexico, maybe Oaxaca, but the drug wars and general disruption to civil society preclude that for now. Cuenca seemed like such a delightful place - the combination of Spanish and indigenous culture, a World Heritage Site, beauty and culture, the chance to perfect my Spanish, even a symphony (I'm a violist and orchestra teacher in a bilingual school in Houston). I would want to assimilate and become fluent in Spanish. I didn't want to live in a place like so many ex-pats do in Mexico where there is a two tier society.
Yes, I was attracted by the lower cost of living (as someone with a relatively small retirement who wants a new adventure before full retirement age) and it sounds like ex-pats are causing serious inflation, and creating resentment and impacting local culture. I know that well from Cuzco where the children begging on the plaza make more than their parents who do an honest day's work, and get pulled out of school...
I've recently wondered if I should change my itinerary and look at smaller villages and other places in Ecuador where International Living and their cohorts haven't contorted the market. I don't want to be "the ugly American". Maybe I should consider Uruguay?
I love the Spanish language and culture: my students in Houston are bilingual and my major was history. I speak fluent French and want to perfect my Spanish. I would hope to set up a violin/viola studio, and maybe teach English (I've taught school in the US for 16 yrs), or have a quasi bed and breakfast.
How bad is the "gringo invasion"? Am I too late for Cuenca and should look elsewhere? I'm very adventurous, and can live simply.
Janet, it's good that you're thinking about this. Many show up here knowing only what IL or Ecuador Living has told them.
There are a lot of gringos here who have jumped right into the Cuencano community. It's not all as bad as it might seem.
Yes, some like to hang out at the expat restaurants, but my guess is that it's as much for a taste of home as it is to hang with English speakers.
There are a lot of music schools here. I don't know if there are any for the viola. So you might be able to jump right into the community with a school. You could certainly approach the symphony and see about joining, if you want to. They have a Ukrainian violinist.
Come and spend your few weeks here. If you're not enchanted, then look elsewhere. There are beautiful places on the coast without many gringos, although they usually have fewer services as well. But buses run to Salinas and Manta practically every 5 minutes.
Don't give up on EC yet!
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