​Golden Girls in Cuenca

Gertie Italiano

Moved to Cuenca from:  Nevada

Living in Cuenca since February 2012


Hobbies: Weaving, Painting, Enjoying Life

Former occupation: Radio Advertising/Sales

Source of Income: Social Security 

Why did she move to Cuenca?

"One of the reasons was because of medical care. I had cancer in the U.S. and could not afford chelation or procaine therapy that I wanted. It was too expensive there and I could afford it in Cuenca. Also, I wanted to try alternative medicine and that's much more a standard thing here than in the U.S."

How does she feel about living in Cuenca?

"I love it! It's really easy to meet people here. They will come up to you in a restaurant or at the park and introduce themselves. When my girlfriend and I first moved here, we went to Joe's Secret Garden for one of their weekly family-style dinners. It was a great way to meet other Americans. There were about 30 - 50 people there that night and about 50% of them were new like us. My girlfriend lived with me for several months and then decided to go rent a place of her own."

"Where I live, I can walk to the grocery store, to lots of my friends' houses, to downtown and even over to the bridge club. So everything is convenient and my landlady lets me plant a garden. I adopted two kittens from ARCA, the animal shelter, and we are all happy as can be."

Did she know Spanish before she moved here?

"I didn't know any, but I take classes. The more you try to talk, the easier it gets. Also you can go to American social evenings where they do things like play Scrabble in Spanish and that really helps too."

What's her favorite thing about living in Cuenca?

"I chose every single day what I want to do. Cuenca is a wonderful walking-around city if you have a good pair of walking shoes. I've taken up weaving and painting and have one room of my apartment designated as my art room. It's sunny and bright and I can look out onto the garden as I weave or paint. I'm taking a gym class designed for older people and feel like I'm really getting into good shape. I've even got muscles now!"

How's her health since she moved here?

"I feel wonderful! I don't have cancer and because of my healthier lifestyle here, with both exercise and how I can cook organic foods that don't have chemicals in them, I don't even have to take blood pressure meds like I had to in the States."

Did you have an "Ah-Ha" moment when Cuenca started to feel like home to you?
"Actually, I've had three. One time I was walking down Solano Ave. and someone yelled my name from a car. It was my Ecuadorian neighbors passing by and yelling hello. The next time was when I was buying yarn at the weaving store and I didn't have enough money with me. The Ecuadorian owner said not to worry, I could pay her next time. And I guess it really feels like home to me now when Ecuadorians stop and ask me for directions."

Her advice to other Golden Girls still living in the U.S.?
"​If you expect everything here to be just like it is at home, well, it won't be. So, maybe you should just stay home if you can't deal with that?"