I have found that making friends is one of the most important requirements when moving to a new community. I have been blessed to have made new friends who seem to have been just waiting to help me. My introduction to Cuenca would have been so much harder without their help.
I am subletting an apartment from a man who is in France for July and August. He has generously taken the time to frequently email or WhatsApp me with all kinds of information about the city. Additionally, he told me to look up a friend of his who has gone out of his way to show me around and given me helpful advice. We were sitting in the small park near my apartment when who comes walking by but Amelia and JP. I know there are those of you who have followed them on the Internet (website and/or YouTube). I started attending a church and I have been taken out to lunch and encountered a couple in a different restaurant. They started teaching me how to use a taxi app to get around. Where would I be without friends?
Generally, I am pretty good with directions. However, I made the mistake of thinking a major street through my neighborhood ran east and west when I later learned that it ran north and south. I have been working hard to reorient myself ever since. If only the streets ran in a predictable pattern, but they don’t. Add to that that there are few street signs, and I can become totally lost.
Fortunately, in El Centro, many of the buildings are numbered and there is a system to this. Numbers begin with 1 or 2 digits followed by a hyphen and then the actual building address. Those digits indicate the block, like 3-150. This is very helpful when you know the address of a store on a long street, for instance. Unfortunately, if you only know the name of the store, you don’t know in what block it is located. Outside of El Centro, house numbers and street names are almost nonexistent.
Even taxi drivers have some difficulty finding their way to a specific location. These drivers can drive around circles, intentionally or not, to keep the meter advancing. I’ve learned to hand the driver a note with an address to try to prevent this. However, if my destination is not marked, it’s nothing but a guessing game. I’ve had a driver tell me he couldn’t take me where I wanted to go because he had no idea where it was. Another drove around and around not finding the location and finally told me to just get out of his cab, in the rain no less!
I haven’t begun to tackle the bus and train (think above-ground subway) systems yet. So, I walk when I can. Walking in Cuenca is really the best way to encounter this city and its many charms. I will write about this in my next post.
Fact: The riverside trails extend 13 kilometers through Cuenca (8 miles)
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