Update.. us..

Update on us…Craig and Pam….In Cuenca…Still Loving It

Well we now both have our Cedulas, or ID cards. Pams was denied because they put her middle name as Diana instead of Diane on her visa. Had to send it all back to Machala and start over again. Took a week but we got the corrected one and today we went to the registro Civil and got her cedula. Upon arriving we noticed the block long line exiting the building and snaking around the corner. This is not at all unusual. Lines at government buildings and banks are incredibly long. People are very patient and stay amicable during the inevitable wait, in this case of several hours. We have the fortunate advantage of being over 65 and therefore members of the “ third age” which means we automatically go to the head of the line and are also afforded other benefits like half off most tickets and events plus air fare. We also get our sales tax back at the end of the month, although they just limited the amount to $150/year. Respect for elders…what a concept..

In the short time we have been here we have managed to make quite a number of friends that own restaurants, bars, night clubs and other business. I am no longer shy at all but love to meet new people and see what I can learn. We havew been helping several local business with promotional ideas. Seems most expats are engaged in some sort of business or service. Just seems to happen. Happened to us already also. I began making goat cheeses, like I did at home, and the demand is growing quickly. I also make artisanal liquors which are a very big hit also. Not wanting to run afoul of the laws we have been gathering information and are pursing legal avenues to make and sell these products. As long as its fun I will continue to do it but I didn’t come here to work. We have also had a number of local house guests whom we have introduced to my versions of Risotto, Alfredo and tonight Clams and Linguini. I have had better success cooking here than at home, partly, I believe, because there is no stress involved and the appreciation level is high.

Speaking of stress its incredible how little we feel. Our relationship has grown, even after 50 years, again due to a removal of the stressors of life in California. Don’t get me wrong I love my family, miss the hell out of my grandkids, and will always be from the United States BUT the stresses of that lifestyle were intense. I confirmed with my wife that I am a very different person here. Things don’t tend to get to me and I am very seldom upset or angry. One gains a new perspective on life under these circumstances.

I don’t want to be interpreted as bad mouthing my old home but in as much as I still get the local news daily, via internet, from home I cringe at all the violence and anger that I read. Cuenca is quite laid back. Yes there is crime here but mostly in the form of home invasions and simple robberies. Even I carry a second cheap cell phone to give if held up. That is usually all that is required plus any money. There is seldom any violence associated. This is a town of 4-500,000 people so one would expect that there be some crime. If there is a murder, for example, everyone is up in arms and there are even protests against violence. It is easy to feel quite safe here. Not foolhardy, but safe if normal precautions are followed. We tend to walk quite a bit and never feel threatened. This is still a society where people greet each other on the street with Buenos Dias and What a beautiful day.

It is interesting that when talking with other expats many have the same story of family members in the states worrying that we have moved into a backwards country where we might be living in grass shacks and hunting with spears instead of the reality that we are in a beautiful 400 year old city with a lot of very modern amenities, as well as a well preserved history.

OK back to Pam and I. Retirement is a wonderful thing. We go to bed when we damn well feel like it and get up the same way. Frequently we get up after 10 and have a large breakfast of fresh fruit and a scramble consisting of eggs, avocado, mushrooms, asparagus and sometimes sausage. We have great coffee and if I doctor it a little with my home made Irish Cream and Coffee liquor so much the better.. We may or may not decide to walk downtown, a 40 minute walk for us, and interact with the centro. Many days we don’t leave the house at all until the evening, if then. We have Trivia night Tuesday at the Vegetable Bar and a Murder Mystery in which we are playing major parts on Friday. Other than that we have very little agenda. Living here is different than tourism in that I don’t feel the need to cram a lot of activities into a short period of time.

We have been doing some entertaining lately, inviting people we have met to come share dinner with us at our hose and it has been rewarding. We also loved to do this in California. Our bodies have still not fully adjusted to living at 9000 ft but we are slowly acclimating.

I walk a mile or two every morning, often selecting a different street to traverse. Many, if not most, streets are not marked with the name which can make it difficult to plan a route. Today, for the first time, I was verbally accosted by an angry man, probably in his 50’s telling me to go home. The biggest insult he could hurl at me was “Donald Trump”. In this case I just kept walking, although I was inclined to go back and challenge him. The truth is that the gigantic influx of Americans and Canadians has had an impact. Many people come here and buy properties and businesses raising the prices to a higher level. The national income here is $450/month so many things are out of reach of the average ecuadorian. Even we are feeling the pinch.

There is much to do here. We have not yet left the city to explore the surrounding communities. People we have met keep promising to take us places and we will see. No rush.

Fairly close by are the Cajas National Park, which we visited lst year, and the Ingapirca ruins which we also visited. It is the largest Inca ruins and is teeming with history.

We find that we eat much “healthier” here. Not by some driving desire to do so but rather by lifestyle and availability. I make goat cheeses and am just starting to make Kefir from goats milk.There is such an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables here.

Pam has just enrolled in an online Spanish program. I have already conflicted with the teacher, who is Belgian, one time but have decided it is better if I just stay out of it and let him do his thing. If we are to make this our true home it is a good idea for her to learn the language. When we have guests over she tries to interact but the language barrier makes it a little difficult and I tend to forget she doesn’t understand all of the conversation, She still handles herself quite well and converses in English, whether or not they understand her.

We have a VPN which allows me to log into American tv programs and we have Direct TV. We also have Netflix which seems to be the thing we use the most. We started watching the entire series of Bones without knowing just how many episodes, well over 200, there are. We watch a couple each night. Internet service here can be slow to nonexistent but we make do.

There is still so much to learn and explore.. More later…..

Craig