​Golden Girls in Cuenca


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.” 

​                                                        Anatole France

Love makes the world go round!



HAPPY DOGS IN CUENCA is a non-profit organization Inge founded in Cuenca. It's goal is to help spay and neuter as many dogs and cats as possible. There are many wild or deserted dogs and cats in Cuenca and this is Inge's way of helping to address the situation. The organization is staffed by volunteers and works with ARCA, the local animal shelter in Cuenca. HAPPY DOGS IN CUENCA has made a profound difference in saving the lives of many unwanted dogs and cats and working towards preventing overpopulation. Spaying and neutering is not a cultural norm in Cuenca and this group has raised awareness amongst native Cuencanos.


Kudos to Inge and all who volunteer for this fantastic effort. Note their website above. They accept donations from all over the world via PayPal.



Inge Palmer

Moved to Cuenca from: California

Born in: Berlin, Germany

Living in Cuenca since February 2011

Married - her husband is originally from Australia

Website: www.happydogsincuenca.wordpress.com

Passion: saving street dogs/animals and promoting spaying and neutering

Former occupation: Claims Manager for an insurance company

Source of Income: Social Security


Why did she decide to move to Cuenca?

"Well, my husband is really more of an adventurer than I. We came to Cuenca with only two suitcases and immediately arranged to move in with an Ecuadorian family for one month so we could be exposed to the culture and language. We flew back to California when our tourist visas expired and arranged for the necessary paperwork to apply for permanent residency. We flew back in October and brought a few more suitcases of stuff. Our decision was not some long thought-out decision. It just sort of evolved."


How does she feel about living in Cuenca?

​"I like it because once I immersed myself into the local culture here, I found I could adapt to anything. For example, I went to Feria Libre (the biggest open market in Cuenca), walked through as many aisles as I could, bought things - all without speaking any of the language. It's important to me not to be thought of as a 'gringo.' When I go someplace, I don't expect to be charged 'gringo prices' just because I'm an American. So I will barter back and forth and if they won't come down to a reasonable price, I don't buy anything." 


Did she know any Spanish before she moved here?

"I didn't know any Spanish when we moved here, although I am bi-lingual in English and German. My Spanish is better now."


What's her favorite thing about living in Cuenca?

"I love it because I can walk everywhere! We live in a very nice apartment that overlooks the Tomebamba river. It's right on the edge of downtown. So we have beautiful river views out of all of our living room windows and we can sit on our patio and watch people go by. 

​I go out and feed the stray dogs along the river. And the best cappuccino in town is served in the cafe next to our building."


How's her health since she moved here?

"My health is better here than it was in the U.S. I love the doctors here because they are so personable and treat you like a real human being. The office visits are only $25 or $30 and you feel like you can afford medical care here. And we found a great dentist in Dr. Grace Ordonez. She speaks English, her office is state-of-the-art and she does a great job."


Did you have an "Ah-Ha" moment when Cuenca started to feel like home to you?

"Not one in particular. I want to say that Ecuadorians are so nice and helpful. They are very accommodating and that makes one feel at home. Actually, it reminds me of a time, after I'd retired from my career job in the U.S., when I drove a school bus in the States just for something to do. I tried to make every child on that school bus feel special. One day a young man in a military uniform got on the bus with the kids. He told me he'd ridden the bus many years before and my positive attitude motivated him through his teen years. He just wanted to come back and tell me thank you. It's those types of warm feelings I encounter here."


​Her advice to other Golden Girls still living in the U.S.?

"If you are living on a limited income, like Social Security, you can have a nice lifestyle in Cuenca but you'll still have to budget. Just use your common sense in getting settled here. Stop and think before renting any place here. This is still a developing country and I think sometimes people forget that. Some neighborhoods are safer than others. So just use your common sense."