This is part of our Ecuador Expats Series.
My Life in Ecuador: Damaris de Jimenez
Connect with Damaris
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.
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.
I 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.
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!
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.
Hungry for more? Here are Ecuador expat stories.
Have a question for Damaris about what it’s like to live in Ecuador? Join her in the comments below!