It’s those small tidbits of information about Cuenca, Ecuador that make traveling here or living here a lot more exciting. And though I read as much as I could before we moved here, there are just some things that I didn’t know about until I got here and experienced them.
Today, I’m sharing 8 small things about traveling to Cuenca, Ecuador that make a big difference. It’s the small things that add up and make getting around here a little easier.
After many, very frustrating attempts at dialing numbers from our local cell number and not getting through and thinking something was wrong with out local number and magic jack, a local Ecuadorian clued us in how to dial numbers here.
1.) How to Dial Numbers From a Cell vs. Landline Phone. When you dial cell phone to landline, you have to dial a “0” in front of the first single digit number.
When you dial landline to landline, you dial the last group of numbers, which is the last seven numbers.
Something so small never created so many communication problems when we first got here.
The business cards here that we have gathered as we have gone to restaurants and furniture stores have like an area code, single digit number and then 7 numbers on them.
We were told those set of number is the way you dial from the states, but we never had any local business cards when we were in in the states. So we don’t know if that is true or not.
What we do know is that now we can make calls.
2.) “What kind of reputable bank names itself 29 de Octubre?” When we first arrived, I asked what section of town a rental home was in that we were looking at and the local man answered with a date.
I ask again and got the same answer. My Spanish is not real bad, but good enough to know I wasn’t asking for the date.
Quickly, I learned that many sections of towns, business and yes reputable banks are named after historical events.
Our banker back in the states just had to call us before he wired us money to be sure it wasn’t a hoax. No, no hoax.
Ecuadorians are proud of their history and use the names of historical events and famous people to name places. Now only to dive into their history and learn about each event.
How about that for witty? I bet the children and adults here remember significant historical dates.
(29 de Octubre on Gran Colombia is a very reputable bank here.)
3.) Loose change Matters. On the last few days in the states, I came across a tidbit of information, which is real important to know here and that is loose change matters.
I didn’t read much about it before, but I’m glad we saw that bit of information before we left the states because we did bring loose change, but not near enough.
We tried to cut down on how heavy my purse was and it seemed loose change was a lost cause, but we were wrong.
Since a bus ride in town costs .25 and many tips include .50 cents (like delivering your propane bottle to your home or delivering a big thing of water), and many taxi rides are less than $2.00, you need LOTS of change.
Bring those quarters, dimes and nickels because loose change is king here.
Matter of fact, a huge coin purse for you and one a bit more manly-man looking for the Mr. is a nice plus.
We used small ziploc bags for the first weeks for our coin purses. Stylish uh?
4.) Oxygen Deprivation May Begin If you Whip out a $100 Bill. When you are traveling, it is hard to bring a bunch of small bills, but you need them here until you can make your way to Banco Central Del Ecuador to get change for your one hundred dollar bills.
And whatever you do, don’t whip out such a large bill to the locals because almost none of them can make change, even big businesses, for a hundred dollar bill.
A few locals told us to go to a local bank they knew about or used.
It’s a bank, it’s suppose to make change, right? No, not here. The only place where we have made change for one hundred bills is Banco Central Del Ecuador.
This large bank is next to the local museo (museum) and it is the only one we have been able to get change for our one dollar bills.
Also, there are ATM machines there and you can get out $100.00 at a time. We are not sure if you can get out more than $100 per day because we have not tried it, but the Mr. thinks it is only $100 per day.
5.) Taxi for 5, please? Many expats here are retired couples or single people and this problem never happens to them. With a family of 5 like ours, we have only had one taxi that let all 5 of us ride together.
The taxis here are small and are made for only 4 people. So unless some of you walk or take the local bus, we have to hail two taxis for our family when we have a distance to go.
One time we got excited because we saw a bus like taxi or we thought so anyway.
After getting excited and hailing it, we got a bunch of chuckles from sweet kids inside it as it passed us up. It was a school bus.
6.) Gringo Post. We had heard about Gringo Post before we came, but it becomes more valuable as you get here because it is not only for selling things, but it has great tidbits of information posted on it.
Too, it has been a great place to ask questions. Some days it feels more like the “local gringo newspaper” than a website to post items for sale and find them.
7.) Coffee Conundrum. You know my love for the perfect cup of coffee in the morning. I just want one or two cups to start my day. You know the little things.
Gran Columbia Suites where we are staying at didn’t have a coffee pot, until this past week when they delivered a 4 cup pot.
From talking to other gringos here, it seems like we are not alone in finding a good cup of Joe. A lot of places that you stay in that are furnished will have a blender, which is a huge important thing to the locals here or it at least seems that way, but not a coffee pot.
Finding a cup of coffee made by a regular coffee pot and not made by a cappuccino machine or dripped through a bag is still hard to find. I was told they have coffee pots in restaurants and I have finally started seeing a few around, but they seem to pretty scarce.
I solved my dilemma because on the fifth day we were here, we bought a coffee maker. And because I like a little bit of coffee with my cream, flavored creamer is almost non-existent here.
I have been able to find powdered creamer and I was told recently by a local gringo that SuperMaxi has flavored creamers.
That is next on my list to hunt for to have the perfect cup of coffee!
8.) House hunt from 3 weeks to 1 month. I knew about the laid back lifestyle which is another reason that drew us here, but no one told us that the house hunt could last for anywhere from 3 weeks to 1 month and that was pretty normal.
Some gringos don’t find a home until closer to two months. Why? Because there are so many factors to consider like semi-furnished, fully furnished versus not furnished at all.
Too, we kept getting different answers on deposits to put down for a rental.
Also, there is location to consider. If you don’t have a car, like most of us when you arrive, then location is everything too.
Then besides the obvious questions about the monthly rental price, there is also finding out the details about utilities, internet (which is a big huge concern for me) and security.
Knowing that we found a rental home within 3 1/2 weeks is normal here made me feel a bit better after talking to many gringos.
Just be prepared to take your time if are looking to rent and be sure the place you are staying when you first arrive lets you rent long term.
Small details matter to me and so by sharing them, hopefully you will be a bit more armed with information for those small things that make a big difference.
Hugs and love ya,
Check out these other tidbits!
5 Things I Love About Cuenca Ecuador
Everyday Life in Cuenca, Ecuador