We arrived in Cuenca Sunday at noon after a twisty hour and a half drive. We rented an apartment for the two days we planned on being here while we searched for an apartment for longer term rent. I found it on airbnb.com. It’s a great website you can find anything from rooms for rent to entire homes, for anyone from the budget traveler to the millionaire traveler. The gentleman we rented from, Darwin, met us at a gas station and we followed him to the apartment. He was even nice enough to allow us to follow him to the first place we had scheduled to look at. I’m glad we did because the GPS likes to tell us to turn the wrong way on a one way street! We later learned they have recently changed the direction of many of the streets so no wonder poor GPS lady was confused but I cannot find any excuse for her telling us to drive through someone’s home to get where we were going. I eventually gave up on the navigation system and used my iPad.
The first place we looked at was a good-sized 3 bedroom apartment that was rather dated, in furnishings as well as the fixtures itself. The young man showing the apartment was a very nice, young Ecuadorian-American that was born in NYC and studied in the states. He was very proud of his family’s native country and the progress it has made since the 1990s. He said Ecuadorians are very nice people (and my mother’s Colombian friend concurs) that take pride in their cities and country. This would explain why the streets are often so clean.
After that meeting we drove to a well-known local hotel to meet a woman about another apartment. Mónica met us and another Asian-American couple and their 6 year old son at the hotel and took us up to the apartment. The second place was nestled atop a hill looking down on the city. There were cows and homes interspersed (kind of like my native Texas but mountainous). The apartment was quite new and modern compared to the first we saw. It had a beautiful kitchen along with amazing views of the city. Miss E loved that Curious George was on the television. The price and the fact that it was not very close to the school Miss E will be attending were the only issues. Otherwise I loved it!
After viewing the apartment we headed to the Supermaxi to grocery shop. When you live an hour and a half from a major grocery store it is important that you stock, up so we did. Miss E has been eating spaghetti by the truckload so we had to replenish my dad’s supply.
While in Cuenca we saw many nice apartments and a couple doozies. We even stayed an extra day to see more and still have had more we were unable to see! Every time I thought I’d made up my mind I found another I liked even more. I even loved a cute two bedroom one bathroom apartment we saw today with beautiful stained glass windows and some quirky old-fashioned furniture. But it was not happening when I saw there was no oven. I love to cook too much to be without an oven!
So in Cuenca no price is set in stone. Americans come and expect it to be like the US and often pay what is asked for. I’ve learned that bargaining is what is expected. It is so hard to put down my American ways and do this but I also want the best price for my family, especially since we are not working for the six months we’re here. Let’s hope it gets us a good deal. So far I’ve talked someone down $60 and I’m working hard on a gorgeous new apartment with a view of construction of another apartment building in the same complex. Maybe I’ll actually learn to like the art of bargaining. Maybe.
We also got to see the Montessori school I am interested in for E. Up until we actually visited the school E kept pointing and asking, “Is that my school?” or “Are we going to see my school?” It was a sweet little school and E would’ve stayed the whole day if we’d let her! We met two other American couples who are or will be sending their children to the school.
While in Cuenca we learned it is not a fun city to drive in. I’m not certain I liked the monster my husband became behind the wheel. People honk for no apparent reason, they are super aggressive drivers, they pull out without apparently looking to see if anyone is coming, traffic signs appear to be purely a suggestion, and motorcyclists/moped drivers are mostly idiots with a death wish. I saw my life flash before my eyes a hundred times during our 3 day stay! We also learned walking uphill is very difficult so hopefully we’ll be in great shape at the end of six months!
I learned some about the city layout and there are many places I want to explore. I am excited about coming back and having the time to be a tourist. Unfortunately almost all the photos this trip were purely for the purpose of house hunting. Cory and I feel like we’re on an episode of House Hunters International. We’ve even named the apartments we’re looking at, just like the show. Now to just decide on one and agree on a price!
Apartment 1 – “Beautiful Vista Apartment”
Apartment 2 – “Bouncy House Apartment” – There was a fun zone for kids just behind this apartment!
Apartment 3 – “New Apartment with Construction View”
Construction View and other views from the apartment
Apartment 4 – “Old Lady Apartment”
Stay tuned to see which one we choose.