Thursday, April 18, 2013


Well, this has certainly been an interesting week. Cynthia & I spent Monday and Tuesday with John Quinones and his producer Sarah Netter from Diane Sawyer's ABC Primetime News. They came here to interview us and another couple, Paul & Jan Cottage, about our decision to move abroad.

They spoke with the Cottage's Monday morning, then we all met for lunch downtown.

In the afternoon we showed them around the city. Tuesday morning they met Cuenca's mayor and did some other filming in El Centro, and in the afternoon they interviewed us in our casa. We finished our time together with a rousing Gringo Night at DiBacco.

The segment will probably air sometime in late May or early June. I'll keep you posted.

PS. We head for the States tomorrow to see our family. A highlight will definitely be meeting our new 3 month old grandson Aaron in person for the first time. We're pumped!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I’ve Gotta Get Out More

OK, I admit it---I don’t know what’s going on around here most of the time. I’m probably not that different from you. I enjoy hanging out around the house whenever I can and therefore am unaware of everything that’s going on in the city.

Yet it seems every time I wander around Cuenca, day or night, I run into events and activities that make me ask myself, “What else am I missing?”

Yesterday was a perfect example. Every Saturday morning I walk to the gym. My route includes a steep hill as I enter the historic area. At the bottom I can’t help but notice that the road is blocked off and cops are standing around.

H-m-m-m-----what’s going on today?

I see a crowd at the top and I hear music playing. Must be yet another street festival—those happen so often here you don’t even think about it.

Nope, today’s gathering is for something a bit more unusual—a soapbox derby race.

Really? They still have those?

Indeed they do. I Googled the subject and learned that the 75th annual race is being held this July in Akron, Ohio (of course it’s called the “All American Soap Box Derby” in the US—Central and South America apparently don’t count).

Well, that was an unusual start to the day. I finished my workout then meandered downtown running a few errands. Just as I passed by the new cathedral a zillion indigenous people came pouring out. I swear it was like kicking a gigantic ant hill, and I suddenly found myself engulfed in a sea of humanity.

Picture the scene: A 6’3” guy in gym clothes with a shaved head, earring, backwards black baseball cap, & John Lennon sunglasses is standing on the middle of the sidewalk. He is surrounded by hundreds of swarming little bitty brown people. The ladies are wearing their colorful long skirts, and on every head (except mine) is a snow white Panama hat—none that rise higher than his nipples.

It was a scene right out of Gulliver’s Travels or the Wizard of Oz. I would love to see a photo.

After freeing myself by inching through the throng I bumped into a Cuencana friend of mine minutes later. I described what had just happened and said, “You’ve lived here your whole life. What was that all about?”

Her reply: “I have no idea. Something religious?”

Do ya think??

It’s not even lunchtime yet. As I’m heading out of town to the Supermaxi I pass a lady on the sidewalk. She’s dressed as a white bird. Real feathers and everything. I look around for the parade—for her companion—for something. Nope—just a lady walking down the sidewalk dressed as a bird. Sometimes you just don’t know what to think---------.

There’s a small park near our home. Other buildings block our view, but three nights a week we certainly hear it. That’s because some guy with a loud microphone and louder music holds aerobic classes there from 8 until 10 on the concrete basketball court (which is never used for basketball, by the way).

On our way to a party last evening our taxi goes by the park and a volleyball tournament in progress. Temporary stands have been erected, people and balloons are everywhere—it’s a party!

A couple of hundred yards away, but who knew??

Now we’re back from the party, it’s 11 o’clock and I’m turning out the lights. At the end of our street a fireworks extravaganza erupts (Why? No idea---), so I stand in the dark for 10 minutes watching “the rockets’ red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air” out the window.

Quite an emphatic exclamation point on an eventful day in Ecuador. I’ve been inside all day—wonder what I’m missing today?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

No Vacancy

There was an interesting article last week in Cuenca High Life, a local online publication. It seems that several real estate developers are refusing to sell units in their new condominium projects to gringos.

"What?" you might ask. "Don't Ecuadorians think we're all wealthy? How can this be possible?"

Well, mostly because we're a pain in the ass. Not all of us, of course. The article states that too many foreigners have been overly rude and demanding, prompting developers to sell only to locals.

I was quite happy to read this because it's a great message about who's really in charge here. We expats are guests in this country and should always behave accordingly. These knuckleheads who move here with the expectation of finding, or creating for themselves, a "cheap America" and constantly complain about people not speaking English (in Ecuador!) and everything else that doesn't suit them need to be taught a lesson.

And there's no better classroom than one's wallet.

Foreigners are often falsely blamed for rising prices in real estate because we are an obvious presence. Sales to expats are only a tiny percentage of the overall market, so these developers have decided that their profits will not be adversely affected by their decision. In fact, because Cuencanos are more accommodating, their bottom lines will increase. Since Ecuador (thankfully) doesn't have myriad laws, rules, and regulations protecting everyone from everything like the US, these businessmen can simply say that their projects are "sold out" without fear of retribution.

My advice is blunt:

If you're not excited about relocating to Ecuador, please don't come. If you're in Ecuador and not happy, please leave!