Living in Cuenca since March 2014
Hobbies: Reading, writing and crafts (especially Christmas stockings)
Source of Income: Social Security
Why did she move to Cuenca?
"Primarily because I couldn't afford to live in the States on my SS income. I had a small inheritance from my folks but it was rapidly dwindling with each month's expenses. My brother and sis-in-law were considering a move to Costa Rica or Ecuador and had mentioned Cuenca. Secondly, I had moved into a mobile home park retirement community and was asking myself if this was all there was going to be for the rest of my life -- at age 62! The combination got me seriously considering a move to a country where I could live comfortably but cheaply on my income. Once I checked out the Ecuador Expats Facebook website, it was just a matter of deciding which city I wanted to land in. I picked Cuenca and hopped on the next plane out after my mobile home sold with two suitcases of clothes in tow."
How does she feel about living here?
"It was the best life decision I have ever made - bar none! How I "feel" is like Nina Simone sings "It's a new dawn, a new day, and a new life .... and I'm feelin' GOOD!" I feel safe, relaxed, and happy with the pace of life."
How was her Spanish before she moved here?
"I didn't know any Spanish. But after my experience of living in Germany and not learning the language, I decided I would not let that happen here. When you don't know the language of your host country, you: a) are a burden to those who must interpret everything for you; and b) your enjoyment of the people and country diminishes tremendously when you can't pick up what is being said ... not to mention the relationships you lose out on due to the language barrier. I am now being taught Spanish by my landlord's 18-year-old son and it is wonderful to get the Ecuadorian perspective and a younger generation's perspective is a plus!"
What's her favorite thing about living in Cuenca?
"I would have to say meeting and greeting the Ecuadorians. I like to smile and say "Buenos dias" to each one I meet who will meet my eyes. It makes me feel like when we both acknowledge each other, we are saying in essence "I want the best for you and me too -- Namaste!" And for those who do not acknowledge me, that is ok too. I just want to send a message that I wish everyone a good life. Another highlight for me is watching how the Ecuadorian families and friends interact with each other. There is definitely a feeling of "family first" and I love to see mother and son arm-in-arm, girl friends walking hand in hand, boys and men clapping each other on the back ... this is a "touching" society and I like that."
"How's her health since moving to Cuenca?
"I am stronger and leaner -- largely due to the walking. I love walking Charley by the river and we do this twice a day, sometimes three times a day. I never took the time before to appreciate the sounds of the river flowing, the beauty of the flowers along the river banks, the hustle and bustle of activity around me ... this is such a pleasure that I give myself every day now. Mentally, I am stronger too because I am now living an independent life -- prior to this, I was living with and caring for my parents for about 7 years. Living independently means I have my ups and downs, but it is my choice where I want to go mentally to seek my "happy place."
Did she have an "Ah-Ha" moment when Cuenca started to feel like home to you?
"Actually, there have been two such moments. The first occurred when there was an expat in the hospital -- the caring attitude of the expats for a woman most of us didn't know and how she was cared for in her last days so touched me ... I said to myself, this is the kind of caring community I want to be part of and participate in! The second Aha occurred when I broke my wrist and ended up in the hospital. The caring shown to me not only by the expat community, but also by the Ecuadorian community amazed me. The man and his wife who did my laundry visited me and expressed their concern. And my landlord and his family visited me too. I was so touched! This too told me that I had found my home!"
What's her advice to other Golden Girls still living back in the States?
"Leave your watch in the dresser drawer; Relax and Enjoy! Be ready for new adventures and bring a willingness to roll with the punches. And please please bring your smile and open-mindedness. Living here is a privilege and a pleasure, and if you allow yourself to remain flexible when things don't go smoothly, or run on time, or seem too different - you will find the Magic of Ecuador!"