GringoPost | Ecuador: Orientation visit

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Orientation visit

My husband and I (two middle-aged married gay men) are researching potential retirement locales and Ecuador has risen to the top of the list primarily because of the potential for low cost health care, which is the only thing keeping us from early retiring now.

We are considering making a visit over US Thanksgiving week. I contacted some of the organizations that arrange "ExPat Journeys" to see if they would do a day or three tour but they won't. So I thought perhaps some of you could advise me on how best to organize our visit.

We have no interest in anyplace as warm (hot!) as the coast so, based on our research, we figure Cuenca or someplace nearby is where we will end up. However, we also feel like we should consider Quito or nearby. We had originally thought we would fly MIA-UIO-CUE and then the reverse, but based on the postings over the last few days about the Cuenca airport, I think perhaps we shouldn't plan on flying into/out of CUE?

How difficult is it for a gringo with very minimal Spanish skills (oh hell, at this point let’s call them non-existent, which is why we want to figure out where we want to move in Spring, 2018 so we can start learning the lingo) to rent a car and drive ourselves? I know that taking the bus is the easiest way to get around but I am concerned that we won't really be able to explore if we don't have our own wheels.

Once we get to Cuenca, can anyone recommend a guide who can show us around for a reasonable price?

Is there a gathering on Thanksgiving of US ExPats anywhere where we could perhaps meet those who have already made the plunge?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.