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Are you looking for peace and quiet? Cuenca may not be the place for you

Occasionally, I see a question posted on an Internet forum from an expat-wannabe inquiring about quiet places to live in Cuenca.chl sylvan logo If I were ever inclined to answer, it would be to deliver an emphatic “Don’t come to Cuenca!” . . . or anywhere else in Latin America, for that matter, if your number-one priority is peace and quiet.

I would tell them that they would be much happier in the sleepy burgs of New England — or in Great Britain, Finland or Norway if they are intent on moving overseas.

Although there are, in fact, some reasonably quiet neighborhoods in Cuenca and the surrounding countryside, you need to understand that Ecuadorians love their parties, parades, concerts, and festivals, which are frequently accompanied by fireworks — if you were out and about during last week’s festival you are abundantly aware of this. In addition, car and home alarms, barking dogs, and the day-to-day traffic can fire up the decibels to overpowering levels. It’s a common joke here that the car alarm is Ecuador’s national anthem.

In Cuenca, noise is us.
In Cuenca, noise are us.

And then there is the noise that most gringos cannot imagine until they live here.

Ten years ago, shortly after I had moved to El Centro, I was awoken at four o’clock one morning by the sound drum rolls, blaring trumpets, and a couple of flutes. When I ran down to the sidewalk, a 30-piece marching band was passing by. I stood there amazed, the only spectator in sight except for a curious street dog. Later, when I asked my Cuencana wife what the hell was going on, she said, oh, it was just another tribute to the virgin being honored that week.

Even if you live in the country, unless you have hundreds of hectares with your house positioned in the middle, you can’t escape the noise. A friend who lives in Yunguilla, southwest of Cuenca, says that on most weekends the valley is veritably alive with sounds of music in the form of reggaeton, salsa, hip hop and some plain old rock ‘n’ roll.

To be sure, there are plenty of rural areas, unlike Yunguilla, that are not weekend retreats for Cuencano revelers. But these too, have their noise makers in the form of braying donkeys, caterwauling guinea hens, crowing roosters and, as in the city, barking dogs. And like their city cousins, country folks enjoy their fireworks, which they fire off whenever the mood strikes.

This guy goes on duty at 3:30 a.m.

You may have read about it but two weeks ago police raided four nightclubs and discotheques on Presidente Cordova, a few blocks from where I live. The raid was notable for Cuenca because it was in response to neighbors’ complaints that the bars were making too much noise. One of the complainers, it turned out, was a deaf man who lived two floors above one of the bars who said that the vibrations were keeping him awake. In fact, police said that the barroom, which measured 12 feet by 18 feet, mas o menos, was using a sound system designed for a small auditorium.

I leave you with some Latino wisdom on the subject. On my first trip to Ecuador 16 years ago, when one of the gringos on my tour complained about noise in the Quito neighborhood where our hotel was located, our tour guide shook his head and said to no one in particular, “Noise is life. Silence is death.”
________________

Updated and reposted from 2015.

39 thoughts on “Are you looking for peace and quiet? Cuenca may not be the place for you

  1. our house is next to a music school, and sometime they rehearse until 11 PM, I mean a whole loud band. This makes the car alarms, fireworks, roosters look tame LOL

  2. our house is next to a music school, and sometime they rehearse until 11 PM, I mean a whole loud band. This makes the car alarms, fireworks, roosters look tame LOL

  3. People need to grow up.
    You want peace and quiet? You find a place in the country, far from the “maddening crowd.”
    That’s what I did, and I wrestle with none of the issues that are highlighted in this article.
    If you’re addicted to city life, and you can’t make it without surrounding yourself with an
    artificial, transhumanist existence that bears no resemblance to the life lived by your
    ancestors or the ancients for millions of years, then yeah, expect to be surrounded by chaos.

    But you chose that. This was your choice. Live with it.

    However, know that there are life-supporting alternatives, and they present themselves the moment you decide that you’re gonna put down that crack pipe and live like a natural human.

    1. First of all, the correct term is “Far from the Madding Crowd”. Here is
      a reference for your edification:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_from_the_Madding_Crowd

      Second,
      for the edification of others, Caton lives in a bunker with foot thick
      concrete walls and bullet proof glass. If that is his way of communing
      with nature, I’ll stick to my open walled cottage a short distance from
      Parque Calderon.

      Wonder why Caton may need such a fortress? This may be telling:

      http://www.cancertreatmentwatch.org/reg/caton.shtml

      As always, caveat emptor and consider the source.

      Charlie

      1. Having a problem staying “on topic,” are we?

        For the edification of others, “Charlie” (probably not his real name) is a U.S. government and/or corporate asset, the particulars of which I provide in my June, 2015 essay :
        http://www.altcancer.net/ashwin/ashw0615.htm

        “Agent Charlie” fails to mention that my abduction by the U.S. was so illegal and so scandalous that it was formally condemned by the Ecuadorean government. See :
        http://www.meditopia.org/chap3-3.htm

        In his citation of Quackwatch, “Agent Charles” fails to mention that Stephen Barrett, its longtime founder and proprietor, is a self-confessed (and proud) shill for the his Big Pharma clients. See :
        http://www.altcancer.com/ashwin/ashw0409.htm

        There is no greater “noise” from which a normal person should want to escape than the machinations of these people who will accept government or corporate recompense, in whatever form it be, in the advancement of tyranny and the subjugation of their fellow citizens, or in this case, expats.

        Greg

    2. First of all, the correct term is “Far from the Madding Crowd”. Here is
      a reference for your edification:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_from_the_Madding_Crowd

      Second,
      for the edification of others, Caton lives in a bunker with foot thick
      concrete walls and bullet proof glass. If that is his way of communing
      with nature, I’ll stick to my open walled cottage a short distance from
      Parque Calderon.

      Wonder why Caton may need such a fortress? This may be telling:

      http://www.cancertreatmentwatch.org/reg/caton.shtml

      As always, caveat emptor and consider the source.

      Charlie

      1. Having a problem staying “on topic,” are we?

        For the edification of others, “Charlie” (probably not his real name) is a U.S. government and/or corporate asset, the particulars of which I provide in my June, 2015 essay :
        http://www.altcancer.net/ashwin/ashw0615.htm

        “Agent Charlie” fails to mention that my abduction by the U.S. was so illegal and so scandalous that it was formally condemned by the Ecuadorean government. See :
        http://www.meditopia.org/chap3-3.htm

        In his citation of Quackwatch, “Agent Charles” fails to mention that Stephen Barrett, its longtime founder and proprietor, is a self-confessed (and proud) shill for the his Big Pharma clients. See :
        http://www.altcancer.com/ashwin/ashw0409.htm

        There is no greater “noise” from which a normal person should want to escape than the machinations of these people who will accept government or corporate recompense, in whatever form it be, in the advancement of tyranny and the subjugation of their fellow citizens, or in this case, expats.

        Greg

        1. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel. Just go to the following page
          and read the thread. Follow the links and decide for yourself.

          http://gringopost-forum.blogspot.com/2015/07/mms-is-it-safe.html#disqus_thread

          It’s really pretty funny, actually. Caton pled guilty and served 5 years in
          prison. Now he wants you to believe that he was falsely arrested and
          railroaded into his guilty plea. Do you really want to believe this guy about anything?

          Charlie

      1. Thank you, Bill.
        Before moving to Ecuador, I spent 51 years living in the States — spread primarily between California, Florida, Iowa, and Louisiana. Except for the 21 month absence created by my illegal kidnapping, I’ve lived in Ecuador since 2007, most of it in Azuay Province, and it has been the happiest time of my life, by far.

        But I do mean what I said in my earlier entry. If noise really bothers you, this province offers many rural opportunities to enjoy a private life with your gardens and animals, and in that life, you will find a deeper peace, quiet, and natural way of living. I lived in Cuenca’s El Centro for a couple of years, but I wouldn’t do it again — and not because I don’t enjoy Cuenca, because I do. It’s just that your permanent residence should give you quiet and repose, and Sylvan has it right in saying that this is no mean task inside the city.

      1. Thank you, Bill.
        Before moving to Ecuador, I spent 51 years living in the States — spread primarily between California, Florida, Iowa, and Louisiana. Except for the 21 month absence created by my illegal kidnapping, I’ve lived in Ecuador since 2007, most of it in Azuay Province, and it has been the happiest time of my life, by far.

        But I do mean what I said in my earlier entry. If noise really bothers you, this province offers many rural opportunities to enjoy a private life with your gardens and animals, and in that life, you will find a deeper peace, quiet, and natural way of living. I lived in Cuenca’s El Centro for a couple of years, but I wouldn’t do it again — and not because I don’t enjoy Cuenca, because I do. It’s just that your permanent residence should give you quiet and repose, and Sylvan has it right in saying that this is no mean task inside the city.

  4. No less than a gringo rented us a nice, “very quiet” apartment near “Gringolandia” that includes nightly barking dogs,very loud music, unexpected explosions, plus a rooster crowing under the window beginning about 1:30 a.m. so that we are “awoken” (awakened) all hours of the night and sometimes cannot return to sleep for hours (unhealthy). We don’t so much mind the day noises except the irritating constant car alarms that should be outlawed. As seniors, country homes are not practical so we are moving to a high-rise condo that has a chance of being above it all – at least the rooster won’t be there – we hope!

  5. The author hits the nail on the head. There is barely a quiet place in the whole country.(I have been in 90% of the country over 16 years.) Believe it or not one of the quieter places for me is my apartment on the 7th floor of Mariscal on a quieter street and a well constructed building. This does not immune me to whenever another tenet in the building starts that weekend party at 11 PM.As a studier of cultures, I think Ecuadorians need the noise to avoid facing their inner soul. Just as critical, is my thought that there is a cultural insensitivity to anyone around them, Just me, me, me!!!!! These last thoughts are mimicked by my close Ecuadorian friends. They feel molested too!

    1. I’d love to know what building, where… as my husband and I are planning to move to EC, and perhaps Cuenca, sometime next year. Coming to check it all out in October. Is Mariscal the name of an area in Cuenca, or a development or…? And, “well constructed building” is something that very much appeals to us, as we understand that most new construction is not done well, with much air leakage, and quite chilly, etc. Thank you very much, for all you might share w/me.

  6. We choose a nice quiet restaurant for our meals so we don’t have to try speak to one another above the noise of a T.V. or music system. Not another customer in the place. We order our food and they turn on some loud TV and/or Music. We always have to ask them to turn it off. They can’t appreciate the fact we chose their restaurant because it WAS QUIET. If the TV and or Music is blaring loudly we don’t even enter the restaurant. They can’t possibly be eating all their meals with loud music or Televisions blaring can they? So why do their restaurants inflict this upon their public? I can’t figure it out. Same with on the buses. How much nicer a bus ride would be with out the loud music and the TV going. A real pleasure to be sure. Instead they always insist on making it a trip from hell with the loud music or the yelling/ gun shot filled movies! Travel in Ecuador for me has not been easy because of these two things. Everything else noise wise I can take, but the two things that could be controlled and would make my journeys here a delight have been restaurant noise and the noise on the buses.

    The rest of the noise is life, and the crowing of the roosters, the odd parade and the odd car alarm going off I can stand. They tell me one of the things I have to do to be a citizen of this country is to know how to sing the national anthem so how does one sing a car alarm? Have to start practicing.

    I live here, but seldom go out to eat or take a bus because of the noise. Easier to stay home. I agree, Ecuadorians don’t like quiet. Think it must make them feel uncomfortable. I wonder how they survived with their culture before the loudspeaker was invented?

      1. What the hell does “just saying” mean? It seems to be one of the most vapid expressions a person can add to a thought just to take up space.

        1. what the hell does your comment mean, got issues dude ? just sayin means I was just making a comment and offering an opinion, grow up mr PHd whatever that means, you wanting to attack me on a personal basis speaks volumes about you ahole, staying on topic makes more sense,, and you know, making personal attacks on this site or any is not really appropriate,,
          guessing you are an old geezer LOL, and what did you offer that was not vapid ?, you are a joke,,, just sayin

          1. Whaaa, whaaaaa, whaaaa, poor old Bill, seems to have gotten his feathers ruffled a bit. But when you cut through the whining, what has Bill really said? It boils down to this:

            ” just sayin means I was just making a comment and offering an opinion”

            So, in a venue where you are supposed to make comments and offer opinions, you felt it necessary to tell us that that is what you did? How puerile.

            So, Bill, just for fun, let’s examine the substance of the rest of what you have posted, aside from the already noted whining. Here are a few of your words and phrases:
            _____________________________________________________________

            what the hell

            got issues dude?

            grow up mr. PHd [you can’t even get Ph.D. correct? Obviously uneducated.]

            speaks volumes about you ahole

            guessing you are an old geezer

            you are a joke
            _____________________________________________________________

            All of this makes me wonder if you’re really bright enough to see the hypocrisy in your own words: “and you know, making personal attacks on this site or any is not really appropriate”

            Whine on, Bill, whine on. You’re my amusement for the day.

            Kenneth A. Merena, Ph.D.

          1. Generally considered to be the concentration of high rise condos to the west of el redondel de Eloy Alfaro, on and laterally to Av. Ordoñes Lazo. The capital of Gringolandia is el Edificio Palermo.

            1. Kenneth I am Venezuelan and worked at USA embassy for a long time I have aplied for a rentist visa and wuold like to know of with $2.000 a month can I live? forgete my english is not so good. Thanks.

              1. Koralys, your English is fine. Depending on the lifestyle you need to maintain, you can live decently here on $2,000 per month. Good luck to you.

                Ken

                1. many colombians have arrived thare and thay are not good people as well venezualan who got the nationality is terrible specially in Quito you willsee it soon delincuancia total!!

            2. Kenneth I am Venezuelan and worked at USA embassy for a long time I have aplied for a rentist visa and wuold like to know of with $2.000 a month can I live? forgete my english is not so good. Thanks.

              1. Koralys, your English is fine. Depending on the lifestyle you need to maintain, you can live decently here on $2,000 per month. Good luck to you.

                Ken

                1. many colombians have arrived thare and thay are not good people as well venezualan who got the nationality is terrible specially in Quito you willsee it soon delincuancia total!!

                2. please send me some information about renting in a good place .I have seen so many sites and prices are high like one bedroom apartmante for 1.200$ that is to much. What do you sugest me I do. Get there to a hotel and look for myself?

  7. We choose a nice quiet restaurant for our meals so we don’t have to try speak to one another above the noise of a T.V. or music system. Not another customer in the place. We order our food and they turn on some loud TV and/or Music. We always have to ask them to turn it off. They can’t appreciate the fact we chose their restaurant because it WAS QUIET. If the TV and or Music is blaring loudly we don’t even enter the restaurant. They can’t possibly be eating all their meals with loud music or Televisions blaring can they? So why do their restaurants inflict this upon their public? I can’t figure it out. Same with on the buses. How much nicer a bus ride would be with out the loud music and the TV going. A real pleasure to be sure. Instead they always insist on making it a trip from hell with the loud music or the yelling/ gun shot filled movies! Travel in Ecuador for me has not been easy because of these two things. Everything else noise wise I can take, but the two things that could be controlled and would make my journeys here a delight have been restaurant noise and the noise on the buses.

    The rest of the noise is life, and the crowing of the roosters, the odd parade and the odd car alarm going off I can stand. They tell me one of the things I have to do to be a citizen of this country is to know how to sing the national anthem so how does one sing a car alarm? Have to start practicing.

    I live here, but seldom go out to eat or take a bus because of the noise. Easier to stay home. I agree, Ecuadorians don’t like quiet. Think it must make them feel uncomfortable. I wonder how they survived with their culture before the loudspeaker was invented?

      1. What the hell does “just saying” mean? It seems to be one of the most vapid expressions a person can add to a thought just to take up space.

  8. Anyone wanting peace and quiet in South America ANYWHERE — should consider making other plans for another continent! THese Latin people are a social, talkative, loud bunch, you can see and feel that immediately and there are few rules against noise that I know of. If you want to stay, get with it , enjoy, buy ear plugs or be gone… When you do your ‘careful pre-trip research’, you can find out these things — Cuenca is quiet compared to my experience living in two much noisier countries, Chile and Argentina. Do your homework…

  9. Anyone wanting peace and quiet in South America ANYWHERE — should consider making other plans for another continent! THese Latin people are a social, talkative, loud bunch, you can see and feel that immediately and there are few rules against noise that I know of. If you want to stay, get with it , enjoy, buy ear plugs or be gone… When you do your ‘careful pre-trip research’, you can find out these things — Cuenca is quiet compared to my experience living in two much noisier countries, Chile and Argentina. Do your homework…

  10. I’d love to know what building, where… as my husband and I are planning to move to EC, and perhaps Cuenca, sometime next year. Coming to check it all out in October. Is Mariscal the name of an area in Cuenca, or a development or…? And, “well constructed building” is something that very much appeals to us, as we understand that most new construction is not done well, with much air leakage, and quite chilly, etc. Thank you very much, for all you might share w/me.

  11. been in Ecuador 5 years Just rented an apt a little ways out of Vilcabamba Its quite here at night after training myself to sleep in noise. It was difficult the first night to get used to it. But you can sleep right through the noise if you just accept it . I heard a guy say Kids screaming dogs and chickens he didn’t consider that noise .. So I decided to look at it the same way Now I can say I can sleep through just about anything.

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