For nature lovers like Gary and Karen Schiltz, it doesn’t get much better than the cloud-forest town of Mindo, Ecuador. “There are tons of birds, including a crested quetzal that nests just outside the house,” says Gary.
Of all the colonial cities I’ve visited in Latin America, Sucre, in the south-central Bolivian Andes, is my favorite. It is packed full of history, architecture, and immaculately maintained parks.
“My quality of life here is excellent,” says Marlene Kimball of her new home in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. “I love the peacefulness and the tranquility. I’m able to eat clean foods, breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a culture that is not materialistic.”
When people hear that I live in Ecuador, they often assume that I've given up many of the comforts I had back home. I've actually been asked if I can watch television, if I have internet service in my house, or even if there are international airports here.
The view from my seat looks out onto the sunny sidewalk covered with black-and-white-striped awnings, where smartly dressed couples break bread at umbrella-topped tables.
Ecuador is packed full of beauty, and it comes in many different forms. I've walked along golden beaches awash with turquoise waves. I've explored cloud forests under a lush canopy of broad-leaved trees.
What would happen if Edgar Allen Poe, Timothy Leary, and Stephen King had a powwow and created their own art? I can’t say for sure, but having seen what lies within the Prohibido Centro Cultural in Cuenca, Ecuador, I suspect its contents would come pretty close.
All the good things you’ve read about Cuenca are true. Its historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is breathtaking. The city has ideal weather, great culture, a setting in a gorgeous part of the Andes... and a wonderfully low cost of living.
"I love walking along the Tomebamba River," says Janda Grove. "I think it's one of the nicest things about Cuenca." Boasting romantic 18th-century architecture, and a rich artistic and cultural tradition, the colonial city of Cuenca is set high in Ecuador's Andes Mountains.
"Within four blocks of where we live on a quiet, hillside neighborhood of condo-lined streets, there are at least a dozen of the best restaurants in the city,” says expat Wayne Bustle, 73. “There’s Asian right down the street, there’s seafood, there’s a great pasta restaurant, a hamburger place up on the hill, sushi places…the restaurants are so varied that it is hard to describe them all. This past month we found a new one in the Mariscal district we didn’t know was there. It was like a gentlemen’s club in England—the food was outstanding.”