A New Kind of Blog

There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Friendships

The three of us arrived in Cuenca well over a year ago knowing no one and feeling like immigrants arriving at Elis Island. We reluctantly left all of our friends behind that had been years in the making.  Family promised to visit but few have made the trip as they work and have little time off. Most of them thought we were crazy to just uproot ourselves and travel to a foreign country on another continent where we didn’t speak the language or know a single soul. At least we had done a lot of research. We had read everything we could find on the internet, various blogs and endless websites. We had connected via email with a few kind people in Ecuador who took the time to answer our questions about schools, actual cost of living, and residency requirements. We had talked on Skype to a few realtors. Our concept was to visit, decide whether to make the jump, return and finalize our plans to move. There was real pain when we sold much of our possessions at a yard sale in North Carolina but we rationalized that they were just things and we could replace most of what was sold if we needed them. We arrived and took a three month rental in a medium sized building that had three apartments on each floor. Immediately, we became friends with the other families on our floor. All were Americans. We began to go to the Expat gatherings on Friday evenings and our circle of friendships grew. At that time, about 40 people would show up at Eucalyptus or Zoe’s. This group was composed of about three quarters expats already living here and about a quarter visitors or newcomers. Friendships began, people with common interests sorted themselves out, and groups formed. Often, about ten of us would go to a nearby restaurant for dinner after being at the expat gathering for an hour or so. Friendships began to solidify. Dinner parties at one couple or another’s home or apartment followed with exchange dinners a week or so later. 

Dinner dates at a newly discovered restaurant became commonplace to the point where some of us were going out three, four, even five evenings a week. Our social life became almost too much. We had more friends here in Cuenca than we had ever had in our lives and they were continuing to grow. A number of our friends made the comment that they were not going to go to the expat gatherings because they were socially saturated and could not afford many new friendships. It began to dawn on us that with 700 to 1000 expats in Cuenca and only a possible 100 who went to the expat gatherings, why the remaining multitudes were invisible. It is possible that many of them have gone through the same process, met many good friends, and had, more or less, dropped out of the social whirl. Some of our friends who have lived in other parts of the world have said that this is a common reaction, expats banding together, and as the community grows, tend to go underground. We have been very fortunate to have found a half dozen additional friendships with Ecuadorians which are some of the deepest relationships we have made.  Jonny plays after school with an Ecuadorian boy using a hodgepodge of languages. Children’s play needs no precise language. All of this is to say that, in much less than a year, we have been fortunate enough to have made a large number of friendships with Ecuadorian, American, Canadian, British, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Peruvian, and other people from points east and west. We love our new friendships, continue to go to the expat gatherings to meet with new people and old acquaintances, still miss our good friends and family in the US, understand the apprehension of newcomers and visitors, and, more than ever, feel like Cuenca is our home now.  

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