The Great Ecuadorian Retirement Adventure continues! Having lived in many places over the years, I have grown accustomed to Americans being a bit slow to offer warmth and friendship when arriving in a new community. After all, they don’t know you. I’m a bit overwhelmed at the warmth and sincerity of the Ecuadorian people. Since we have arrived here just about a month ago…we have been invited to parties, lunches and dinners and last night…a concert in a local park, the promoter of which is now working with Diane on a school assistance project. On Friday, I went to the office of a local dentist to schedule an appointment only to find the office closed. As I was walking away, one of my Ecuadorian neighbors noticed me on the street and walked over to greet me. I told him that I was trying to get an appointment but the office was closed. He explained that the dentist was a close family friend and then proceeded to call the dentist on her cell phone. In only a moment, I had an appointment at 5 P.M. that very day….and the dentist was wonderful!!
Earlier that day, as I was walking down the sidewalk, the city prosecutor drove by with his wife, slowed their car honked and waved. Diane and I had met them the previous weekend at the birthday celebration of a new Ecuadorian friend. Numerous times, as I have waited outside our enclave to catch a bus, taxi or moto-taxi, a neighbor has seen me and provided a ride into town a few miles away.
Perhaps we are a bit of curiosity in this small community of San Vicente. Whatever the reason, we have been welcomed by the expat community here as well as the locals. We do try very hard to speak to all we meet on the street and offer plenty of smiles along with small bits of our new language skills. After the concert/benefit last evening, we flagged down a moto-taxi for the 15 minute ride back to our enclave. This particular vehicle was in less than great condition with many repairs evident and some repairs still needed. The ride from San Vicente would ordinarily cost about a dollar….maybe less. We did not have any change and were unable to obtain any before we left the concert and had only some larger bills. We agreed that our moto-taxi driver would be very surprised and grateful when we told him “no cambio” or no change when we handed him the money. He seemed stunned to the point where he couldn’t believe it!! And for the record, we are not carelessly spending like a drunken sailor and regularly bargain for what we purchase. We are, after all, living on a fixed income so for those worried that this one act of generosity will upset the Ecuadorian economy, relax! Oh…and Diane spent a total of $8 for a manicure and pedicure yesterday. She tells me that “back home”, both could easily cost from $35 to $45 or possibly more. The local economy is based on agriculture and it a non-mechanized process. Farmers plant, tend and harvest crops by hand, perhaps with the aid of a donkey. All family members participate.
We are simply two individuals participating in the local culture and economy and grateful to be a part of it all. In about an hour, we leave for the national capitol of Quito where we meet our lawyer at a government office in the morning to file for our retirement visa. We live at sea level and Quito sits at about 9300 feet in the Andes Mountains. We hired a driver to deliver us to our destination. The roads are carved from the sides of mountains with very few guard rails and sheer drops at every bend. And the Great Ecuadorian Retirement Adventure continues!