Monday, March 8, 2010

It's all about choices

(View from the porch.)

With all the folks arriving in Cuenca to check it out, we feel compelled to say...

Cuenca isn't for everyone.

Ecuador is a small country, just about the size of Nevada, USA.  Ecuador is one of the most diverse places on the planet...diverse people and cultures and lifestyles...diverse flora and fauna.  It's a land of beaches, cities, mountains and jungles and the wonderful Galapagos Islands we hope to visit this year..  It's a land of immense beauty and gentle people, wherever you are.  And, it's a land of choices for everyone.

We, personally, like Cuenca!  We have diverse products and services to choose from.  We have just about anything we need and then some.  But, with our choice to live in Cuenca there are trade-offs.  Cuenca is a big city, so there is traffic, noise, LOTS of people (4-500,000 people!)   There is pollution downtown.  There are pickpockets in the markets and on the buses...  (That's one the reasons we enjoy our Sunday walks to town so much...  less traffic and people on Sundays!)

We've tried to make it easier for ourselves by not owning a car so we don't have the hassle of driving in the monster traffic. Cuenca is a compact City, so we can walk.  Or, we take a taxi.  And, if the traffic is really bad, we just get out of the taxi and walk...that's the trade-off and our choice.  We did that just last Friday on the way to expat night.  We could walk faster than the taxi.

For example...  The City of Cuenca always supports a parade, a bike race or foot race, but sometimes we wonder about the timing.  Friday night some of the streets adjoining the main Square were cordoned off for the children to have their seasonal bike race.  

Here is a fun picture of the happy kids:

Some of our friends have cars and they only use them for trips out of town or for special shopping sprees.  We have done a ton of shopping via taxi, which works out just fine for us, even though it could take a few trips.  We just walk about a half block to the main 'drag' of Ordonez Lasso, stick out an arm and the taxi stops for us...  maybe 1-5 minutes..  We've gotten pretty good at this.  Works for us.

One of these days, perhaps,  the folks in charge will do something about the traffic gridlock, but we're not waiting...  not much we can do about it anyway to speed up the processes .  We just remind ourselves that the number of buses and taxis available to the people are good things!  Folks are working and making a living driving those buses and taxis and they do a pretty good job of moving the people to where they need to be.  Most drivers are independent contractors with their own business.  Sheer numbers also keeps the prices down. Yes, the pollution and gridlock ARE horrible sometimes!  But, there is a prevailing, near-clockwork breeze each afternoon that 'flushes' the pollution by nightfall.

Some folks choose to live in the rural areas...  acreage for gardens, land for animals, clean air and peace and quiet and living closer to nature (Sigh!)   But again, there are trade-offs........Small towns don't have the goods/services/fun things to do that Cuenca offers.  Some of our friends in those rural areas choose to also own/rent places in Cuenca for those times they need to come in.  Some folks do the opposite:  Live in the City and vacation in the smaller's all about choices and trade-offs.  BUT, it's personal.  We can't tell you what area you'd like the best.  It's really up to you.  Pros and Cons.

As we say, we chose Cuenca!  We traded the peace and quiet and the lack of traffic girdlock for all that Cuenca can offer.  We like the cooler temperatures, too.  (It's warmer in the lower altitudes.) 

And, you know, choices and trade-off's and diversity make the world go 'round!

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