The best way to learn about Ecuador is still the old fashion way: read a book. Travel guides such as Lonely Planet, Footprints and Insight provide reliable and honest overviews of the country that you won't get on most websites. For those close to making a decision to buy property and / or to relocate to Ecuador, the Ecuador Owner’s Manual (published by International Living) written by Cuenca expat David Morrill, provides in-depth information about living in the country.
Websites offer plenty of good information as well as specific details you won’t find in most books. Keep in mind, however, that most sites are advertising mediums and the information you get may be slanted. Other valuable sources of information are blogs and forums. A big caveat, however: much of what you read on these sites is the personal opinion of the writers and is not always accurate and even when it is, it reflects the experience of one person and may not be generally applicable. These are some of the better sites for Ecuador and Cuenca information.
SERVICES FOR EXPATS AND PROSPECTIVE EXPATS
ECUADOR VISAS AND IMMIGRATION
SPANISH LANGUAGE SCHOOLS IN CUENCA
Learning Spanish in Cuenca is an excellent way to get to know the city and its people. Two schools that receive consistently high marks from students are the Simon Bolivar Spanish School and the Abraham Lincoln Cultural Center.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: ECUADOR NEWS IN SPANSIH
GETTING TO ECUADOR BY AIR
Four airlines offer non-stop air service to Ecuador’s two international airports in Quito and Guayaquil from the U.S. American Airlines, and Lan, www.lan.com, fly out of New York and Miami, while Continental, www.continental.com, flies from Houston and Delta, www.Delta.com, flies from Atlanta. Copa Airlines, www.copaair.com, a Continental affiliate, flies from Miami and the west coast, with an intermediate stop in Panama City, Panama. Taca, www.taca.com, the Costa Rican-based airline, flies from Miami and Los Angeles. Prices vary widely and ticket buyers should look for specials. Round-trip air fare from Miami, for instance, varies from under $400 to $1200 depending on the airline and season, and special offers.
GETTING TO CUENCA BY AIR
Cuenca is served by four airlines, Tame, www.tame.com.ec , AeroGal, www.aerogal.com.ec and LanEcuador, www.lan.com. The airlines offer eight to ten daily flights, depending on the season, Monday through Friday, and four or five on Saturday and Sunday, to and from Quito and Guayaquil. Within the country, flights to Manta, Loja, Coco and Esmeralda originate in Quito and Guayaquil.
GETTING AROUND ECUADOR AND CUENCA BY BUS AND VAN
Bus service is inexpensive and timely throughout Ecuador, although comfort levels vary by carrier. For information about bus travel, consult a recent Ecuador travel guide or ask at the bus station. For more comfortable travel, you will 7-passenger van services between Cuenca and Guayaquil (OperAzuayTur) and Cuenca and Loja (Elite Tours) that only costs a few dollars more than the big buses.
SIGHT-SEEING, MUSEUMS AND CULTURAL EVENTS
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CUENCA HOTELS AND HOSTALS
The following hotels are recommended by clients and friends.
Villa Nova Inn, Escalinatas at Tres de Noviembre; tel. +593 (7) 283-6790; e-mail: info@villanovacuenca; website: www.villanovacuenca.com.
Emergency phone numbers:
Citizen guard: 282-0204
There are 18 hospitals and clinics in Cuenca that offer emergency services. These are three that our clients have used with satisfactory results.
Hospital Monte Sinaí, Calle Miguel Cordero and Av. Solano; tel. +593 (7) 288-
Hospital Universitario del Río, Autopista to Azogues; tel. +593 (7) 281-2887
Hospital Santa Inés, Calle Daniel Córdova Toral, tel. +593 (7) 409-0634