June 22, 2014

Cuenca, Ecuador: Two Years and Counting

Hummingbird exhibit at
Plaza de Otorongo
Last month, we signed the third lease on our apartment in Cuenca, Ecuador. Landmark! (Hey, for us, two years is longevity. Those who know us well realize that for the sake of their address books, our information should be written in pencil.)

So far, so good. Cuenca is a lovely small city and has attracted and kept a large amount of North American expats. Every week there seems to be a new restaurant, new people arriving, and local festivals. Of course, right now we are in the middle of World Cup frenzy as Ecuador is still hanging in there. On match days, you can see people all over town with tri-color face painting and wearing the bright yellow Ecuador T-shirts. Couple this with the annual week-long Corpus Christi celebrations, and it is one busy town. Many fireworks to commemorate both.

Beautiful globos
Photo by
Connie Pombo
We have been fortunate to make new friends of all ages and from all over the world, we have adapted to some of the challenges inherent in moving to a completely different culture, and have even improved our Spanish. The Spanish is rocky, but at least we can get by on the usual day-to-day things.

But the best part for us is that K. W. and I get to do work that pleases us, rather than work insisted upon by others. Also, our schedule is in our control. For example, if we want to have lunch with friends, we just schedule our work for later in the day — or even for the next day. Time is now our bitch. And it's wonderful.

Yes. We miss our friends. But we have lived in so many places that wherever we live, we will be missing somebody. We are lucky that current technology certainly has made this easier than when we lived in England in the mid-80s and were totally dependent on snail mail and phone calls that needed to be tightly scheduled. The Internet, MagicJack, FaceTime, and Skype are our new best friends.

K. W. misses his favorite
snack. If you come to visit,
please bring some.
What else do we miss? A lot of stupid stuff like Sunmaid Raisins, Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, Trader Joe's Beef Jerky, antihistamines, Pepcid — stuff like that. And a couple of big things. We are culture vultures and very much miss the high level of classical performing arts we experienced in San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, the U.K., and even Las Vegas (stop the obligatory snickering —they have some good stuff there — it isn't all The Strip). Small price to pay for all the benefits of living here.

And regular, relatively safe and efficient mail delivery. If you think the U.S. Post Office is bad, just wait until you don't really have one at all. Seriously inconvenient. But, again, we manage.

On the other hand, the cost of living has allowed us to plan for trips that fill the cultural needs and to see friends. In addition, I have the time to pursue a new hobby — making the most of airline miles and hotel points. So far, this has paid for a lot of stuff, including major hotel upgrades and a free ticket to Europe. While I did win a major hotel prize this year, luck can only take you so far.

For those who follow this part of our lives, K. W has reissued his novels Dr. Adder and Dark Seeker as ebooks at Amazon. He is also running a special deal over on his website — sign up for his mailing list and you get a free book (your pick from several). 

I still am working on my first book (nonfiction), copy editing for my freelance clients, and doing some admin work for a local real estate company. Also, I'm the family travel planner so have been busy booking our fall trip, including lining up some house sitting opportunities. Europe, Ireland, and England here we come!