Saturday, March 8, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
5 years! That's 1828 days in Country!
Where did the time go?? Who would have thought we'd still be here, when we first arrived in Quito with our 7 suitcases on March 3, 2009 and then on to Cuenca on March 5...
(This picture, made by our friend Nancy Watson, on a recent windy day in the Andes.)
We like simple! Not always possible, but we always aim for simple! We find we now 'know stuff', but would never call ourselves éxperts'. We still learn new stuff each day. As we learn, the simpler our lives have become.
We are still grateful for all the folks who were so generous with their knowledge and time when we first arrived, especially family Bob and Roxanne. They arrived about a year before us. (For their adventures on the Coast and elsewhere, read their excellent blog, link on the right hand side.)
We had begun to look at 'the next adventure' in 2006. Back then, we thought Chile or Uruguay would be our destination, 'somewhere' in South America. We finally honed it down to Ecuador, with the thought that if it didn't work out, we'd just move on south.
Basically, we were looking for a less expensive way of life for our retirement. We guess we could have found it in the US, but why not go further? Our expectations were low.: go to Ecuador, spend less money with a more simple lifestyle, pet llamas and enjoy a South American adventure along the way. Looking back, we think since our expectations were not lofty, it was easier for us to adjust and accept and wonder at all the delights and surprises. We had no expectations of finding modern housing, food we liked, kind and gentle people, or friends! Of course, we found all we really need and we still appreciate it all!
A wise friend once said we would learn the Spanish we need, so true! Some of the first words and phrases we learned were for 'survival'. How to navigate the City and get home safely and what those words were for the foods we did or didn't want to eat. Your projects will also teach you those specific words for construction, real estate, contracts, shopping, medical treatments and getting utilities to work.
We have found we don't 'need' most stuff from elsewhere. We might want it but we can eventually find the local alternatives, if we look hard and long enough and/or change our expectations.
We've seen friends come and go, too. Some have returned to where they came from, some have moved on to other adventures elsewhere. Some have moved to lower altitude for the warmer temps and for health reasons. Some have 'gone home' to grandchildren, some travel the world and çome home to Ecuador! Lots of options for happiness for everyone.
We feel more comfortable, grateful, humble, peaceful and content. We have more time for the fun, little things. We garden, we cook, we read. We feed the birds, we visit with friends, we walk and we have more time for each other.
We feel so fortunate to have met our core of best friends, who have become our family. Who would have thought we had to come to Ecuador to meet them? Some lived just a few miles from us in the US. We probably stood behind them at the grocery check-out or passed them on the street. Lots of shared history, even before we met. We call it luck, but maybe it was destiny! We also cherish our Ecuadorian friends. We count our blessings each day.
We are most grateful we still have each other! Happy to report that Team RichandNancy is still strong, still having fun, after 32 years..
You will find some of our first impressions will not be yours. Either Ecuador has changed or you will have a different starting point than we did. Be sure to check the dates, too and look for updates if important. Things change on a dime.
We do have plans to see more of our beautiful Ecuador and Continent.
We'll share as our plans gel.
It's been a fun, exhilerating ride! Thanks for joining us! We think we'll stay awhile.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
As we continue our walking around the City, there are always those interesting moments...
Monday, February 24, 2014
We learned a few interesting facts of voting that are a little different than what we were used to in the USA. Voting is mandatory for all Ecuadorians between ages 18 and 65, optional for those aged 16-18 and over 65. Voting by some occupations is also optional, like military and pólice. If you do not vote, there is a fine of about $40. Your voting card is needed in most legal transactions, so it's an important document to keep and protect.
In some cases, the disabled can vote off-site, with the voting booth/staff coming to them. The machines are also in braille and very disabled-friendly. The overall process is democratic and very inclusive, including machines in other Ecuadorian languages, like Quichua, a popular Andean indigenous language. No machines in English. Overall, machines are in Spanish, of course.
There are separate áreas within the voting location for men and women. We think it's so all citizens can vote freely without undue influence from their spouses.
This year was the first time for Cuenca to use automated voting. The machines and software were made/tested in Argentina. They worked great for us! We were trained by students and it was easy and quick with touch screens and lots of confirmation prompts. Results of the overall vote were quicker and easier, too, compared to past years' paper ballots.
Our assigned polling place was located in a school. Fun to see classrooms and students, street art and sports fields. (You can't see these from the outside and nothing else would have taken us inside, except for our historic day's activity!) It's the same school our friend Fabian attended when he was in grammer school. His children also attended there. Next door is a high school for girls. (You will see their pretty red/blue plaid uniforms in some of these pics. A team of girls from this school trained us on the new machines.)
As the polls closed at 5pm, buses pulled out, probably with workers. Lots of military music!
Interestingly, we heard no music during voting hours. We think this was probably the only event we've witnessed with NO music!
We are so excited to be a part of this young democracy!