We arrived in Ecuador on June 4th and today is August 11th. We recognize that we remain complete rookies or “honeymooners” as some will say. We arrived here fully committed to making Ecuador our new home, although we had never been to the country even once for a visit. Foolish? Brave? Adventurous? Perhaps an equal part of each. And besides, our retirement outlook in the states was bleak as cost of living and a painfully divisive political environment offered little hope for improvement in my remaining years. We determined that there must be other places…better places to spend retirement years and dollars.
Explorers are not averse to risk and not all of us are explorers. Apparently we contain just enough of an explorer’s sense of adventure to pull this off! Our decision wasn’t entirely blind bravery, however, as we had been researching this and other options for nearly two years and had established relationships with a number of folks already living in Ecuador. Additionally, we had been participating in several online discussion groups and forums with hundreds of folks already living in Ecuador and had heard many different takes on the same thing.
If you think about it, that makes perfect sense. Not all of the folks we chatted with were living in the same place under the same circumstances or with the same budget. Some lived in the mountainous “high country” and others lived on the coast where climate, culture and cost of living were notably different. Folks living in the different regions of Ecuador will have the same type of varied experiences as those living, for example, in the United States. A resident of Minnesota in January will have a much different experience than will a resident of South Florida. The cost of living in Flat Rock, Arkansas will be significantly different from the cost of living in Manhattan, New York. Recreational opportunities will also vary widely. Cultural differences across the North American continent abound as menu items and lifestyles are effected by climate and the ready availability of regional food ingredients. It is the same all over the world and yet, when trying to communicate one’s experiences living abroad, the tendency may be to lump an entire country’s attributes and challenges together under only a couple of labels. Certainly, one can do that with governmental policies, laws and regulations, possibly the political climate and the stability of currency. But beyond those things, there is much to be considered.
Although Ecuador is a relatively small country, it contains much bio-diversity and amazingly differing regions, from the wondrous Galapagos Islands to the Andes Mountains…one can find volcanic activity or a tropical paradise. The Amazon rain forest offers opportunities to interact with a most primitive environment or a trip to Quito or Cuenca can fill your senses with culture and expose you to world class universities and businesses.
Yep! Sixty Eight Days! That’s hardly any time at all! But if you take each of those 68 days and count our waking hours, there will be 1,224 hours that we have utilized to inhale our new culture and new lifestyle. Within every one of those 1,224 hours we have been learning a new language, meeting new people, integrating within an entirely new culture, providing tools and parts for Ecuadorian “maestros” who have come to our home to repair or install something, shopping for things and learning exactly where “things” can be found, traveling on buses filled with locals and we’re the only gringos to be seen, shopping in open-air markets for the freshest possible food and also the most economical, facing the possibility of a criminal charge for wearing shorts into a government building, buying a used car from someone who only spoke Spanish and negotiating the sale successfully, driving in a country with seemingly few driving laws or rules, navigating our car from our home to a different city on the other side of a small mountain range and finding our destinations on roads with few directional signs and numerous hazards, and most importantly, recognizing that each of the past 1,224 hours is our “now” and there will never be another “now”.
To be perfectly honest, I am proud of the Pocket Babe and also proud of me. I am also proud of the many others who came before us and grateful to them for their guidance and bravery. and I am proud of those considering a similar move. We rolled the dice when we decided to do this and I feel like we won the jackpot. Granted…it’s only been 1,224 hours but still…. And The Great Ecuadorian Retirement Adventure Continues.