Cuenca City Guide
OVERVIEW: The third largest city in Ecuador. 2500 meters above sea-level (8,200 ft) so altitude sickness can occur. A popular tourist destination, but not as overrun as Cusco, Peru or Boquete, Panama.
WEATHER: Subtropical highland (12-20 °C). Rainy season January-May.
MUST DO: Ingapirca. Cool stone wall made by the Incas; my description doesn't do it justice. Located slightly outside the city.
RENT AN APARTMENT IN CUENCA: $500 will allow you comfort. When the gringos rushed in and bought property in Cuenca a few years ago, apartment and house prices were driven quite high.
HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT $8.00-$12.00
NIGHTLIFE IN CUENCA: 6.25/10
I'll give it a pass. Cuenca has a modest selection of bars and discos, but they are pretty tame. The good thing is that it's considerably safer to hit the town here than it is in other Ecuadorian cities, so you can let your guard down a bit.
I recommend: 2 Dos.
BOTTLE OF BEER: $2.50
CHANCE OF HOOKING-UP IN CUENCA: 7/10
Being a young tourist here who goes out is actually somewhat of a novelty, so the women of Cuenca will be interested. Tall, blonde guys will do best here, but if you're different-looking at all you'll draw some attention. Unfortunately there aren't too many lookers here, but with a bit of charm you can have your pick of the lot.
***ONLINE DATING: Latin American Cupid allows you to talk with girls and set up dates before you arrive in the country. For this reason, I recommend it.
ARE GIRLS HOT IN CUENCA?: 5.5/10.
Not superb. The older white guys that live here seem to love it, but if you are young and have been almost anywhere else in Latin America (expect for Bolivia and Guatemala...) you're unlikely to want much to do with Cuenca girls. Harsh but true.
If you want to make the most of your time in Ecuador, you will need to speak some Spanish. Rocket Spanish is the best resource for learning Spanish quickly and easily.
GROCERIES: Milk (1L)= $1.10 Loaf of Bread= $1.00 Eggs= $1.60 Water (1.5L)= $1.15 Cigarettes= $4.00
JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Hostel work appears to be your best chance of earning an income in Cuenca. I think a white fella owns a book shop in town, so you could ask him if he needs help or knows of anything.
NOTES: Likely my favourite city in Ecuador. Unfortunately, for me, that isn't saying much. It's a good size city in the sense that it's not so big to be overwhelming, but not so small that you can't stay anonymous. It's also a reasonably attractive city, with impressive architecture and surrounding natural beauty. Cuenca would be a good place to chill out and live for awhile, but if your looking for vibrant nightlife and beautiful women, you should give it a miss.
OVERALL RATING: 6.25/10
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