Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Years Here and Counting!!!

We are so happy to celebrate our 5 years here in Ecuador!

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.)

Today, we have no plans to move on from Ecuador!  We consider Ecuador our home now.  We love our lives here.

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! 

We had no deal-breakers on our list, like health insurance, US products and services, English everything....

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've learned a little Quichua, too, an added bonus!  Several native words are embedded in Cuenca-style Spanish.

In the last 5 years, we have seen lots of changes!  Better sidewalks and roads, new and closed restaurants and shops, more choices.  Prices have gone up some in some áreas, but they have remained surprisingly stable in others.  New and different laws, more traffic, more noise.  Our health is better, too.   

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. 

How have we changed in 5 years?  Well, we're older, darn it!  We've adjusted to the altitude, (most of) the food, the culture.  We like to think we have more patience and our hearts are more open. 

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.

Some of the same things that delighted us when we first arrived, are still delightful:  lovely old architecture, cobblestone streets, friendly people.  We never tire of the sunrises and sunsets here in the Andes.  Each day the skies are different.  We love the flowers and trees and birds!  We love the soups and fresh produce in the people's markets,  colorful handi work and crafts, music and fireworks!  We  appreciate the blend of conventional and alternative choices for our health and well-being.

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..

For those who are just beginning the journey, be sure to read everything you can.  Read the blogs, fórums, books, etc  Our blog goes back to early 2008 when we first visited  Ecuador.  Way back when, there was maybe 2-3 blogs about Ecuador, a few real estate sites and a whole lot of hype.   Now there are countless blogs and ebooks, many all about life in Cuenca. More hype, too. Wish we'd had this wealth of information then! 

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.

Our blog is pretty Cuenca-centric, because we live here and haven't traveled much outside of the Azuay province.    We want to thank our readers for encouraging us on!  We've posted our  personal impressions and photos in  almost 600 blog posts. We hope the information is helpful and sometimes entertaining. 

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.


  1. How lucky for Chuck and me that you came to Ecuador. We love you two so much.

  2. Congratulations on making 5 years in Cuenca. You are the trail blazers for the rest of us. We're about 17 months behind you!