Sometimes it’s cold in Cuenca.
It never snows in Cuenca, but sometimes it hails (tiny ice balls which melt when they hit the ground).
When it’s overcast and damp it gets chilly. I find myself shivering on days like that, but generally all I need to feel comfortable is a jacket, a pair of gloves and a light scarf. When the sun comes out it warms up fast, and off come the scarf, gloves and usually the jacket as well.
I would describe most days in Cuenca as warm, moderate or cool, usually all three in the same day! Cold days are not the norm.
When we first moved to Cuenca we saw warm gloves, hats and scarves being sold at the local market. This seemed odd to us because we didn’t see the need for these things when we arrived. Our view began to change as we started to acclimatize.
When friends come to visit us they find it funny that we dress more warmly than they do. But the reason for this is that we are acclimatized and they are not. The friends that visit us are from Canada, Cuenca is warmer than Canada for the majority of the year. We are not accustomed to the cold fall and winter in Canada anymore, so the cool overcast days we experience in Cuenca seem colder to us now than they did when we arrived.
If someone is visiting from somewhere that’s warm most of the time (like Florida or California) they might find Cuenca a little chillier than they had expected. They may have a different experience than that of our friends visiting from Canada; they might be surprised to see people dressed in lighter clothing than they would be comfortable wearing.
As we became acclimatized from a cooler climate perspective, I can assume that they would acclimatize from a warmer climate perspective. And with time they may not find it as cold as they did when first they first arrived.
Four Seasons in One Day in Cuenca
“Cuenca, where there are four seasons in one day!” This is a joke we often hear from people living in Cuenca. The changing climate is the reason that on any given day during a walk through downtown Cuenca, you may see someone in a down filled jacket, followed by someone in flip-flops and a tank top.
The guy in the down filled jacket may live up in the hills around the city, and might have left his house first thing in the morning when it was damp and chilly. The girl in the flip-flops may live right down town, and might have left her apartment after lunch when the sun was warm and strong.
The changes in climate have to do with the altitude, and the proximity to the equator. Because of the altitude, it can get cool quickly when the sky becomes cloudy. And because of how close Cuenca is to the equator, the sun can feel very strong when the sky is clear. This is why people are often seen holding papers, a book, a scarf or whatever they may have on hand over the side of their head that’s receiving the direct sunlight.
If it’s chilly and overcast in the morning, the afternoon could be sunny and very warm. The reverse is true as well, so I find it important to carry a bag big enough for my gloves, scarf and umbrella if I’m going to be exploring for any amount of time. A hat is also a good idea during the late morning/early afternoon, for protection against the strong sun.
A House or an Apartment?
The majority of buildings in Cuenca are made out of concrete. It never really warms up inside the concrete homes because the nights are always cool in Cuenca. A stand alone home will be cooler inside than an apartment in an apartment building, because of the insulating nature of the surrounding apartments.
When I’m inside I usually wear a sweater, and when I step outside I’m often surprised at the difference in temperature. When the sun is shining I quickly become too warm in my sweater, and find a t-shirt to be just right.
The difference in the inside temperature between a house or an apartment may be why some people buy electric heaters and lots of warm blankets, while others don’t really see the need for them. The location of the house may make a difference as well; because of the difference in elevation, it’s slightly warmer in the city than it is in the surrounding mountains. Some people also just have a more active internal furnace than others.
The Perfect Climate?
There is a lot to be said for Cuenca’s “Spring Like” climate. And the term “Spring Like” can mean different things to different people, depending on where they are from. My favorite time of the year in Canada is the spring; a sunny spring day is hard to top in my eyes. So a sunny day in Cuenca is just about perfection for me. The sunshine of a “Spring Like” day playing off of the colonial architecture in Cuenca definitely makes for one of my most favorite places. Days like that make the overcast/cool/cold days bearable . If you are looking for hot, tropical weather, you should go on dominican republic holidays. Cuenca has great weather but it isn’t the Caribbean.