Friday, July 16, 2010

Social Security

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Friends back in the States are always asking us, "So what do you guys do down there?."

Usually our week starts with no plan whatsoever and life sort of evolves. Yesterday is a perfect example. We decided on Thursday afternoon to get massages the next day if anything was available. These are one hour hot stone massages for $13--why not?? I called and made appointments for us at 11; OK, we had a start for the day.

We needed to go to the grocery store and there's one near where we were going to be, so we thought we'd kill two birds with one stone. Cynthia then remembered there was also a hair salon in the area she wanted to check out--there went another bird.

Friday is "Gringo Night" at Zoe's, a popular expat hangout. We missed it the previous week because of the recently documented bus ride to hell and back and thought we'd drop by there in the early evening. Then I got an instant message from a friend inviting us to join him and his wife for dinner at 8. Sure, we'd love to.

As we were about to leave Friday morning for our massages I got an email from another friend who lives down the street asking us to drop for lunch at 1. Sure, we'd love to. So we did the massages, skipped the hair salon reconaissance, came back for the lunch, grocery-shopped at our usual neighborhood market, ended up missing Happy Hour, then went out for a terrific dinner.

Now we're certainly not always that busy, but this is how spontaneously a nothing day here can become overflowing with activity.

See if this sounds familiar. Our old lives went something like: get up and get ready for work/go to work/do your job/come home from work/be too tired to do much of anything in the evening/go to bed so you can get up and get ready for work---over and over again. Then the weekends were full of errands and chores, making it hard to keep up with friends and relatives on the phone or email, much less actually socializing regularly.

Expats have the time and the desire to cultivate friendships, and I find it to be the most unexpected joy of our life here so far. Cynthia and I have never been what you'd call "social butterflies." It wasn't that we were intentionally being anti-social hermits; our life described in the previous paragraph kept getting in the way, as I think it does for many folks in the States. Now our children are like, "Who are you people, and what have you done with my parents???."

Another thing. You're at a social gathering where you don't know a lot of the attendees. What's your go-to icebreaker question? You shouldn't have to think about this one long. It's, "So what do you do for a living,?" or the shorter version, "What do you do?," right? And others have probably asked you the same thing many times. It's the focus of American culture--what you "do" is who you "are."

That sort of thing rarely comes up here, especially right out of the chute. Long after we've gotten to know and like people we've learned they were previously a construction worker or a commercial fisherman. For every reason you can think of these types of friendships would have never had a chance to begin, much less flourish, before.

So the great news is all those preconceived social/status stereotypes don't seem to exist for most of us. From a crazyquilt of assorted back stories the commonality is we've all ended up in Cuenca, we're here to enjoy our lives, and we find ourselves enriched by each other's company.

Before we relocated people were always asking, "What are you going to do down there?." My answer was, "Within reason, whatever I want to do." It's wonderful to have great companions along for the journey.


Jen said...

Hi Edd
Jenny at kookaburra here. Can you call me asap please? 090874202

Jim said...

Sorry, I missed the two of you at Zoe's last night. I was looking for you and Cynthia,but I can understand why you did not make it. Maybe this upcoming Friday.

Edd Staton said...

Jen, apparently my pre-paid phone card is used up. I get text messages but never know what they say. Maybe I'll just drop by tomorrow.

Edd Staton said...

Jim, we had every intention of coming, but were cutting it close and couldn't get a damned cab to pick us up. Must have been "anti-gringo night" for them. Should be there next time.

David L. Akins said...

I discovered your blogs this afternoon. I have only recently begun my research of Cuenca. I have read a few blogs, but yours is definitely the most humorous. The "pet-on-a stick" and "boiled egg flatulence" had me laughing until the tears flowed. I read several of the blogs to my wife who enjoyed a laugh.

As I said we are only just beginnng our research. I intend to come down for 'exploration' sometime this fall. I have read in various articles that one can find a furnished apartment for between $200 to $400 per month. I thought I might stay for up to a month to explore the city. In performing google searches for apartments to stay in, I find the prices higher than what the articles say. I am assuming the Internet prices are 'gringo prices' and that the lower priced apartments don't use the internet to advertise.
Can you give me a lead on a more reasonably priced short stay apartment?

Edd Staton said...

David, since you're just starting your research let me "keep it real" for you. Most of those articles are hoping to sell you something and paint an overly rosy picture. There ARE no $200/mo. furnished apartments here. Cynthia and I stayed for our first month in a very nice studio in an excellent location for less than $400. All amenities including maid service and weekly laundry. Would that be suitable?

David L. Akins said...


The studio apartment you are talking about with the amenities seems like a fair price. How many people will the studio apartment accomodate? I may make a trip down there with 2 or 3 other people. Please contact me via my email address:


Stela James said...

so when is the next post coming?

work from home

Edd Staton said...

Stela, we've been going nonstop this week. So much for the quiet, relaxed expat life! I'll put one out manana fer shure.