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Living Abroad – Cuenca, Ecuador

International Lifestyles Explorations: An Extended Educational Travel Opportunity

March 1- 31, 2012 *

Bryn Mawr Alumnae Travel, in partnership with AHI Travel, is pleased to present a new concept in educational travel: an authentic, extended introduction to living abroad.

This first-of-its-kind opportunity features the old-world beauty of Cuenca, Ecuador. One of South America's most alluring and captivating colonial cities, Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been anointed by "International Living Magazine" as "The World's Top Retirement Haven."

Cuenca is an artists' community with all the modern conveniences. It is home to three universities, majestic cathedrals, fascinating museums and living history. Reside in your own apartment in Cuenca's historic center for four weeks with AHI staff always available to support and enhance your experience.

You will reside in your own apartment in the city center for four weeks, with AHI staff always available to support and enhance your experience. Enjoy individual language instruction combined with an immersion in the lifestyle, customs, history and cuisine of Cuenca, courtesy of your own accomplished and experienced Lifestyle Guide from the eminent Simon Bolivar Spanish School. From cooking classes and salsa lessons to shopping strolls through the vibrant mercado and the colorful flower market, each day rewards you with deepened insight and the joy of discovery and accomplishment. There is also an included excursion to the villages of Gualaceo and Chordeleg. Discover Ecuador's other treasures: her unspoiled Pacific coast, the magnificent Cajas National Park and the wondrous Galapagos Islands on optional excursions.

The weather is delightful, the restaurants and cafes are wonderful and diverse, and the food is delicious and fresh year-round. Cuenca offers an unbeatable combination of beauty, livability and a very low cost of living that is only a fraction of that found in the U.S. and Canada. An added convenience is that Ecuador's official currency is the U.S. dollar. Come to Cuenca and live life abroad.

* Other departures dates are available at request

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Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)



Depart your gateway city for Quito aboard scheduled jet service.* Upon arrival, transfer to the Swissotel Quito.

DAY 2: SUNDAY - Stand on the equator!

Visit the Middle of the World Museum and stand on the equator! After lunch in Quito, fly to Cuenca and transfer to the Hotel Victoria. Enjoy an Ecuadorean Welcome Dinner at a local restuarant

DAY 3: MONDAY - Settling into Cuenca

Gather for a group briefing and introduction to an English speaking doctor and dentist, in case the need or their services arise. In addition, an Ecuadorean cell phone will be provided to use throughout your stay.

Set out on a double-decker bus excursion through Cuenca. Transfer to your apartment. Participate in your first language lesson at the Simon Bolivar Spanish School. This evening, enjoy a group dinner with Lifestyle Guides at a local restaurant.


Throughout your stay, from Monday through Thursday, experience Cuenca through language lessons, excursions throughout the city with your Lifestyle Guide, at leisure and other cultural experiences presented by the Bolivar School. These include lectures about history, music, art and politics; cooking classes; as well as salsa and meringue lessons.

In addition, once each week, enjoy lunch with groups of local university students. These are wonderful opportunities to learn more about the people and culture of Ecuador. Each Thursday night, enjoy live music and energetic conversations mixing your newfound Spanish with your newfound Ecuadorean friends at La Parola, a wonderful rooftop cafe often packed with Cuencanoes enjoying an early start to the weekend.

Friday begins each three-day weekend with a traditional Gringo Night at the very popular Eucalyptus Restaurant. This gives you the opportunity to socialize and compare notes m\h your fellow travelers, and members of the U.S. and Canadian communities who now live in Cuenca.

DAYS 8 & 9: SATURDAY & SUNDAY - Explore!

The weekend is free to explore and enjoy Cuenca. On Sunday, you may choose to join an excursion to the villages of Chordeleg and Gualaceo. Chordeleg is noted for its ceramics, gold and silver filigree jewelry, Panama hats and pre-Incan ruins, while Gualaceo features a lively Sunday morning market.

DAYS 10 to 13: MONDAY through THURSDAY - Ongoing cultural immersion

Monday is highlighted by a visit to Cuenca's Museum of Indigenous Cultures and its fascinating collection of pre-Columbian finds. Your immersion into the language and culture of Ecuador continues. Take some salsa and cooking lessons, or enjoy a lecture on local pohtics at the Bohvar School.

DAYS 14 to 16: FRIDAY through SUNDAY - Optional excursions

Two optional excursions are offered this weekend. On Friday, discover the scenic trails, peaceful blue lagoons and other natural wonders of Cajas National Park. On Sunday, explore the Ingapirca Ruins, Ecuador's most important archaeological ruins. See the 500-year-old ellipse-shaped fortress built by the Canaris, the predominant indigenous, pre-Incan power in southern Ecuador.

DAYS 17 to 20: MONDAY through THURSDAY - Ongoing classes

Ongoing lectures, classes and encounters with daily life in Cuenca continue to broaden your awareness and appreciation of the culture. Try some meringue lessons.

DAYS 20 to 24: THURSDAY through MONDAY - Spring Break

Spring Break arrives and with it a four-night optional excursion to Ecuador's stunning Pacific coast. With year-round air and water temperatures in the mid 80s, Ecuador's Pacific beaches are backed by spectacular cliffs and resemble a warm LaJolla, California, during the 1940s. Enjoy surfing, shell collecting, horseback riding, sea-kayaking, mangrove tours, parasailing and ubiquitous hammocks for those less inclined to move beyond the shade of the palms and palapas.

DAYS 25 to 28: TUESDAY through FRIDAY - Conclude your Simon Bolivar language and culture program.

Friday evening, join fellow participants for a Farewell Dinner at Restaurant Tiesto.

DAY 29: SATURDAY - Graduation Ceremony

Celebrate this Ecuadorean adventure and all you have experienced and accomplished with a Graduation Ceremony and Farewell Lunch at the elegant La Mans ion Alcazar.


Fly to Quito for an overnight stay at the Swissotel Quito.


Today, fly home aboard scheduled jet service*, or join us on a five-night optional extension to the wonders of Ecuador's incredible Galapagos Islands.

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Cost and Program Inclusions

Land Cost . . . . . . $3,495*



  • Enjoy four weeks' accommodations in a fully furnished, modernly appointed apartment in the colonial center of Cuenca; includes cable television and broadband Internet.
  • Learn with your personal Lifestyle Guide and instructor from the Simon Bolivar Language School, who provide private language instruction and immersion in Cuenca's culture, people, history, art and cuisine four days each week.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and AHI Travel staff with a complimentary Ecuadorean cell phone.
  • Rely upon AHI Travel's experienced and professional on-site staff to support you throughout this exclusive program, from your initial orientation to Cuenca and your apartment home to whatever assistance or guidance you may require.
  • Experience life abroad, equip yourself to live independently in Latin America, learn about similar opportunities around the world.



  • Two nights in Quito, Ecuador, at the Swissotel Quito;
  • One night in Cuenca at Hotei Victoria;
  • Four weeks' accommodations in central Cuenca at a private apartment;
  • Complimentary Ecuadorean cell phone provided to you upon arrival;
  • AHI on-site staff member available 24 hours a day for your assistance.
  • Four weeks' accommodations in central Cuenca at a private apartment
  • Tipping of excursion guides and drivers.

Activities and Events

  • Festive Welcome Lunch and Dinner.
  • Double-decker motor coach orientation tour of Cuenca.
  • Visit the villages of Chordeleg and Gualaceo.
  • Enjoy two lunches each week with local Ecuadorean university students, and other meals as outlined in your program itinerary.
  • Sixteen hours a week of one-on one professional language and Ecuadorean culture instruction provided by a personal Lifestyle Guide.
  • Weekly cleaning service.
  • Attend a gala Farewell Reception, Graduation Lunch and Dinner.


  • Flights between Quito and Cuenca.
  • All airport transfers within Ecuador.

Optional Excursions on the Weekends Available while in Cuenca

  • Day 9: Optional excursion to the villages of Chordeleg and Gualaceo.
  • Day 14: Optional excursion to Cajas National Park
  • Day 16: Optional excursion to the Ingapirca Ruins
  • Day 20 – 24 Optional four night excursion to Ecuador’s Pacific
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Cuenca, Ecuador

Lovers of old-world beauty revere central Cuenca's buildings and plazas as a virtual open-air museum of incredible Latin American colonial architecture. Cuenca is served by no fewer than 52 churches, each a pleasing architectural combination of religious motifs, Andean designs and Arabic influences. The Spaniards founded Cuenca in the 16th century on the site of the second-largest city in the Inca Empire, Tomebamba. The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

Cuenca produces Ecuador's finest crafts, including ceramics, textiles, silver and gold jewelry, furniture and Panama hats. Situated almost on the equator in a fertile valley crisscrossed by four beautiful rivers, Cuenca's altitude at 8,000 feet results in weather that is ideal year-round. The crisp mountain air is never too hot or too cold, allowing Cuenca's markets to feature a constant, colorful abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Alongside Cuenca's gardens, parks, indigenous markets and abundant natural beauty, the city features all of the niceties of modern living, from shopping centers to delicious restaurants, from movie theaters to live theater and music.

Cost of Living
The official currency of Cuenca is the U.S. dollar and visitors soon discover that it goes a long way. Each day, the city's restaurants offer an ever-changing four-course lunch special for around $2. Twenty-five long-stemmed roses to enliven one's apartment cost $4 at the aromatic flower market.

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Day 1 & Day 30: Quito, Ecuador Swissôtel Quito Hotel
The Swissotel Quito offers deluxe accommodations, a convenient location and gracious service. Unwind in the Amrita spa or a swim in the pool. Enjoy international cuisine at your choice of six restaurants. Relax in your luxurious guest room, elegantly appointed with modern amenities and conveniences. See the link below for additional information on the hotel
Day 2: Cuenca, Ecuador Hotel Victoria
Admire views of the Tomebamba River from the first-class Hotel Victoria. This 17th-century home, built on a bluff along the river, is decorated in the colonial style. Savor delicious meals in ElJardin. The hotel's highly praised restaurant. Retire to a comfortably appointed guest room. Each of the guest rooms have unique decor, but all share panoramic views of Cuenca. See the link below for more information on the Hotel Victoria.
Day 3 – Day 29: Private Apartments Central Cuenca
Propel your overseas living experience to the authentic by living in apartments inspected and leased by AHI Travel for this program. Studios and one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments are available. All are located in the colonial center of Cuenca and are within easy walking distance of the Simon Boliver Spanish School and all of Cuenca's colonial treasures. Each apartment is fully furnished and equipped, and is wired for cable television and broadband Internet. AHI staff will orient you to your home and will be available around the clock to assist you as needed. Weekly cleaning service of the apartment is provided for you through AHI.

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