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My Life in Ecuador: Damaris de Jimenez Living in Cuenca

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Expats in Ecuador, Living in Ecuador, My Life in Ecuador

This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.

My Life in Ecuador: Damaris de Jimenez

damaris living in cuenca

Connect with Damaris

cooking on the equator

You can connect with Damaris on her blog (Cooking on the Equator) and on Pinterest and Instagram. Her blog is all about cooking with local ingredients in Ecuador: Creative and clean ideas for South American ingredients

Where are you currently living?

I currently live in Cuenca and have been here for the past 7 years.

What’s Your Story?

I am from Cleveland, Ohio (U.S.A.) and originally came to Ecuador in 2009 as a single twenty something looking for a break in my very typical American routine, i.e., eat, sleep, work, gym, shop for stuff, an occasional opportunity to travel, repeat.

exploring and living in ecuador

When did you get the idea of living in Ecuador?

I came seeking an adventure and since I had visited Cuenca once as a teenager in the 90’s I felt really comfortable coming back, especially since I was coming with friends looking for a similar experience.

Even though I wanted to stay for an extended period of time, I was not planning on staying forever.

american exploring ecuador single american woman exploring ecuador

playing with monkey ecuador amazonI spent 2 years traveling by bus all over the country and learning Spanish. I spent much of my time hunting down hidden waterfalls, river rafting and hiking in the mountains and jungles of Ecuador.

I was loving my life, so happy with my decision and completely immersed (thanks to volunteer work) into a great group of friends from all over the world.

I didn’t think things could get much better but that’s when one of my good friends became my best friend and later my husband.

In January of 2013 I was married here in Ecuador to a local, Marcelo, and that’s when I officially became a “media-cuencana”.

We’ve been married for 3.5 years and can’t think of one good reason to permanently head back to the States.

damaris cuenca wedding

How’s your Spanish?

My Spanish is good but my Spanglish is better and my English is quickly going downhill! Thanks to studying Spanish in high school, I knew a decent amount of vocab and the concept of verb conjugation was not foreign to me when I first got here.

I immediately put to use what I knew and tried to maintain a patient and lighthearted attitude regarding the language.

I also took some classes, asked LOTS of questions, and did research at home in order to improve. Spanish is not the first language I’ve learned so I was also aware of just how I personally learn.

More reading: 11 Books & Courses We Used to Learn Spanish

Everyone is different in this respect. I love learning languages and being able to comfortably communicate with those of another culture.

It is an amazing way to broaden our understanding of the world and especially the people and their point of view.

How do you make your living?

I am fortunate enough to have a hard working husband with a great job which gives me an opportunity to focus on fulfilling my dream of becoming a food blogger.

What do you love about Ecuador?

Well first and foremost I love Marcelo!

damaris and marcelo living in cuenca

But aside from that there are so many reasons to love living here! Palm trees, the amazing view from my bedroom window, the daily organic market that’s 5 minutes from my front door, art and music festivals, never having to lack for something new to go and explore and the advances that local businesses have made in the past 5 years are also AMAZING!

Many natural products I never in a million years expected to see available are now here! So now we can have our cake and eat it too.

Nothing is perfect so there are of course negatives to living here. I still get angry when I’m not given the right of way as a pedestrian. And when I get a little too adventurous with my food choices I end up paying for that later.

I have never personally felt unsafe in Cuenca. In fact I feel much safer here than in the downtown area of my hometown. I have heard of a few incidents while living here but nothing that a) couldn’t be experienced in any city or b) couldn’t be avoided by taking precaution.

If you are planning on living happily in Cuenca I suggest taking some time to travel the country.

Cuenca is a wonderful place but it’s a bit of a cultural bubble. It’s SO important to understand the environment you have replanted yourself in. It will help you to assimilate and appreciate where you are living.

american living in cuenca ecuador

Hungry for more? Here are Ecuador expat stories.

Your Turn

Have a question for Damaris about what it’s like to live in Ecuador? Join her in the comments below!

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

9 comments… add one
  • Dan Feb 18, 2018, 3:49 pm

    Hi. I’ve lived in Brazil off an on from 2001 to 2012 and know Portuguese pretty well. I vove multicultural cities being from California but want something less busy with all the warmth. Thinking of Cuenca now. Is internet there pretty stable? any tennis clubs? I’m an ex-teaching pro and would consider teaching part-time in Cuenca ?
    Thanks and Congratulations.

  • Lloyd Sanford Aug 18, 2017, 11:33 am

    Dear Damaras,

    We found your name on a web site and hope that you do not mind our contacting you for your assistance. My wife, Vanessa and I will be visiting Cuenca mid next week to explore the area as a potential new home and we were wondering if we could speak or meet with you in order to hear your advice. For your information, we are retired senior citizens, lived in several Asian countries and most recently in India for the last 10 years.

    Thanks very much,
    Lloyd and Vanessa Sanford (in transit).

  • Catherine Hubley Jul 4, 2017, 3:40 pm

    Hello Damaris
    Will be visiting Cuenca next march with the thought of retiring there in several years. I wanted to know about reptiles in Cuenca. I am deathly afraid of snakes (doesn’t matter if poisonous or not) I hate them! Is this something that I would need to be concerned about living in this area?
    Thanks so much

  • Todd Jun 10, 2017, 9:20 am

    Hello Damaris,
    Hope both of you people are fine. Your have shared an amazing blog. I got a clear view about Cuenca, Ecuador. I think You guys are having very good living experience from ecuador.

  • Luzia Wolf Oct 20, 2016, 10:31 am

    Hi Damaris,
    All what I have read and seen so far seems pretty appealing for me. I’m a 66 year young retiree and I’m thinking to relocate from Switzerland to Ecuador. My partner is gone since some years and I’m actually living on my own. I’m vegan and very much interested in complementary health support. Especially with I’m wondering what advice would you have for me, I know you are young, but I think you might have the opportunity to meet people in my age range, and perhaps also women who are on their own. It’s not that I want to stay on my own, I’m open to find a loving compagnon, husband, if things can happen.
    I love nature, would like to deal with horses, animals.
    Thanks in advance for your time.

  • Denise Gillen Sep 22, 2016, 5:53 pm

    Hi Damaris!
    My brother, sister and I have all been interested in relocating to Ecuador. As children, we were uprooted from a fairly quite middle class life in a small town in Minnesota, to move to the heart of Mexico City, where we remained for several years. I think that it’s because of that amazing experience, that we’ve all, now at retirement age, wanted to experience new cultures again. At one point, we kind of dropped these plans for various reasons, but lately I find my self yearning to get back out into the world and experience new cultures. My Spanish is pretty good after becoming rusty, and having French added to the mix, but I use it a lot at the library where i work. I was a zoo keeper at the San Diego Zoo, and worked with, and hand-raised many species of birds and mammals, some of which are there in your surrounding areas (Specialty was raising baby hummingbirds). I also have a teaching credential in Science and Biology, I’ve worked as a Vet Assistant for several years, have written articles, and given animal talks. I’m hoping that if I did move down to Ecuador, there might be some way I could use my background to teach, lecture, do animal rescue… Whatever… At this point, I don’t know if I would come down on my own, but have done much traveling on my own. I don’t know if Ecuador is the place for me, but I love the feedback I see from like-minded people. I’m even going to look into the Mindo area. As someone who did something I’m contemplating, do you recommend a single woman (Just turned 65, but adventurous and in great health) coming down on her own, or is that not the best idea? I own a house up here, and also have my Zoo pension and SS so I can meet the income requirements… Anyway, I hope I didn’t write too much. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading your blog! 🙂 – Denise

    • Damaris Sep 24, 2016, 4:32 pm

      Hi Denise,
      Wow! Sounds like you’ve had some amazing experiences! My husband and I are both animal lovers too! In fact, we’ve rescued and kept or rehomed several dogs. I know that many foreigners are involved in similar work and there is plenty to do on that front. I just took a very brief trip to Mindo and it is just wonderful – especially for those interested in nature and hummingbirds! I have a little review of my trip on my blog. Really all of Ecuador is full of natural wonders, so for that reason I’m sure you would enjoy it. As far as coming as a single woman, traveling in Ecuador is relatively safe. But please do your research regarding this matter. No matter where we travel, it is always best to take the necessary precautions, especially as a single woman. It’s usually just a matter of googling “solo travel safety” or something of the like. Also, if you’re able, you can try a vacation to Ecuador first before deciding to make it permanent. It seems like this is the best route for most people. Happy travels!!!

  • Charline Ahlgreen Aug 7, 2016, 11:06 pm

    Hi, Damaris,

    My husband, 30-year-old graphic artist daughter, and I are moving to Cuenca next year, and we really look forward to cooking with all the fresh vegetables, fruits, and non-factory meats; so I’m looking forward to being able to read your blog (we currently live at sea level, so we’ve got a lot to learn!). BTW, my family is from your old area (my mother’s family lived in Westlake, my aunt in Rocky River, my half brother in Medina, and my father’s family was from the Conneaut/Ashtabula area). Growing up, I always thought of “Cleveland” as HOME because it was where all my family lived!

    • Damaris Aug 10, 2016, 11:50 am

      Hi Charline!
      Congrats on your move – how exciting! I’m sure you’ll love living here as much as I do, especially all the fresh foods. If you have any specific quesitons or would like to see a specific ingredient used, just leave a comment on the blog – I’d be happy to help out a fellow “Clevelander” 🙂

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