New book, Expats in Ecuador: Life in Cuenca, examines the issues that can make or break the expatriate life

Jan 22, 2013 | 0 comments

What does crossing the street in Cuenca teach us about the expat lifestyle? How can attitudes about “gringo prices” predict success or failure at adjusting to the Ecuador culture? Why is it so hard to get an accurate weather forecast for Cuenca? Who might be your biggest stumbling block to expatriating (hint: You probably share a bedroom with him or her). Where do you go to shop like a local?

These are some of the questions answered in a new book by Cuenca expats David Morrill and Deke Castleman.

Published by Gringo Tree Publications, Expats in Ecuador: Life in Cuenca is the first full-length book about expatriating to and living in Cuenca. The eBook edition goes on sale tomorrow. at

Co-author David Morrill has lived in Cuenca for nine years and has written for dozens of publications and websites about Ecuador; he’s also the author of Ecuador: The Owner’s Manual. Morrill moved to Cuenca from Florida, where he was a newspaper columnist and book reviewer, and a partner in an advertising and public relations firm.

Morrill’s particular fascination is how expats communicate with one another and how information is passed around.

“The challenge in Cuenca, or, for that matter, anywhere else with expats who aren’t fluent in the native language, is determining the difference between reliable and unreliable information. There’s a high degree of dependence on word of mouth for everyday communication. I often think that the expat community fits anthropologist Margaret Mead’s definition of a ‘pre-literate society.’”

For those thinking of becoming expats, according to Morrill, the problem is often too much information.

“Given Cuenca’s high profile among international expat destinations, the Internet abounds with stories about the city. Much of it is pure hype and the challenge, especially for people who don’t live here, but also for people who do, is to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

According to Morrill, Expats in Ecuador: Life in Cuenca is full of useful examples of how to recognize what’s true or false, or how to navigate what the book calls the “information rumor highway.”

Co-author Deke Castleman agrees, adding, “Our focus in the book is on the cultural background about why things are the way they are here, how they work, or don’t work. We want to give our readers the tools to figure things out for themselves.”

Castleman, a long-time travel writer and editor, is the managing editor of, Cuenca’s clearinghouse for all things expat. “The book isn’t just what Dave and I have to say. Within the pages are also the voices of scores of GringoTree con­tributors who continually provide us with a gold mine of reliable information.”

Life in Cuenca examines who expatriates to Cuenca and why; cost-of-living data based on a survey of nearly 250 Cuenca expats; the destiny of the dollar in Ecuador; infrastructure and transportation issues; the surprisingly low impact of gringos on the greater culture; the definite downsides of life in Cuenca; resources for prospective expats and connecting with current expats at the Gringo haunts; and much more.

“Above all, we tried to capture how it feels to live in Cuenca,” says Castleman, “the frustration and fulfillment, the trials and triumphs.”

“Reading this book,” Morrill adds, “is the next best thing to actually making the move to Cuenca.” 

To buy Expats in Ecuador: Life in Cuenca, click here.  


Cutlines: Cuenca expats Deke Castleman (top) and David Morrill

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