Cuenca Expats Magazine, Issue 42

Photos: Courtesy of Evgenlia Avdeeva

Ed. Note:  It’s estimated Cuenca’s Russian community may be the same size as those expats from the UK or Germany.

Recently, many Russians have come to Ecuador and to Cuenca in particular. Some of them are attracted by a warmer climate, others simply seek to make a radical change in their lives by moving to the other side of the Earth. Some come to Ecuador due to international marriages between Russians and Ecuadorians, while other Russian newcomers wish to escape the political regime in their home country, migrating with their entire families, including young children and even babies. Still, some Russians have been hired by Ecuadorian companies as specialists. Most of the immigrants are middle-aged and left everything they had in their motherland to start from zero. Nowadays, remote work is a common way to make a living for Russians and many other expats. Others start small businesses such as making smoked sausages, pickles or bread; providing services such as manicures and pedicures, or professional photography; teaching classes on such things as martial arts; and some work on construction projects.

The Facebook group Cuenca Rusa was created to connect co-nationals (and Russian speakers in general) with each other to contribute and exchange information, obtain possible assistance and support, or simply gather together. New members join every day, and at the

present, the group boasts around 100 members. People of different nationalities who simply enjoy Russian culture, who are planning to go to Russia one day or had studied in Russia are also interested in meeting Russian speakers. Many Ecuadorian students get their university degrees in Russia, as there are numerous international educational government programs there. Russian higher education is valued all over the world and is relatively affordable. 

We meet at the parks to play volleyball and other sports and games and organize picnics with relay races. Together, we cook traditional food, celebrate birthdays and other holidays, dance and sing, go out to try Ecuadorian food, attend concerts, hike, watch movies, and share our traditions with locals, while generating new ideas and creating common plans. We refrain from discussing politics.

Sometimes, some of us meet at the Russian bar Kalashnikov on Remigio Crespo, which is very popular among young Ecuadorians as well as the many Russian ex-pats here. Its menu includes signature cocktails with names such as Sangria Rusa, Lada, Chernobyl, and many others.