This week I have received over ten e-mails addressing the "crime" in Cuenca. I decided to sleep on it first before I commented on the subject.
Many Americans come to Cuenca with an "American" mentality of what is safe and what is not, which is part of the problem!
Yes, Cuenca has crime and so does inner city Philadelphia. I would not walk the streets of Philly after dark if you paid me (in some areas!). The same rule applies in Cuenca. There are certain sections of Cuenca I would not venture into after dark without my husband; however, there are a lot more places in Philly I would not venture into even in the daytime hours. I think you get my point.
Common sense rules: If in doubt...don't!
That being said, I feel safer here than I did in America. Ecuador is a relatively poor country, so there are a lot more robberies and petty-theft crimes. If you flaunt your diamond rings, gold jewelry or furs...you will be a target. However, if you wear a backpack, designer sunglasses and an Indiana Jones hat, you will also be a target (even if you wear absolutely no jewelry). Why? Because you will look like a gringo!
Our language instructor is Cuencano and he has given us a lot of insight into the culture and what is proper (and what is not). He has told us the areas that are safe and the areas that are not. We have purposely committed ourselves to learning as much about the culture and language as possible, so we have limited our contact with Americans and have stuck to "hanging" out with the Ecuadorians. The first month in any culture is the most important; it is when your senses are the keenest and you absorb the most information. Fear is a terrible emotion and one you don't need to tap into.
Quite frankly, hanging out with Americans has increased my "fear factor." In general, they talk about who got robbed, shot and killed. Do not, I repeat...do not let the fear factor keep you from coming to Cuenca. If you come with an open mind, common sense, and leave your fear factor at home, you will enjoy this lovely place!
Until next time...hasta luego!
Marco y Consuelo
crime in cuenca, ecuador, fear, living and retiring in Ecuador