I may as well get right to it! Yes, Diane and I are leaving Ecuador. We will not be returning to the United States but will be checking out the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico for our next chapter. I know! You are likely surprised that a guy who has been regularly writing and speaking about how great life is here is now announcing that he and his wife will be leaving Ecuador. Here’s the deal!
The primary reason we must leave is quite personal. As a heart patient (2 heart attacks/3 stents and also dealing with some additional and significant chronic health issues) I have come to the conclusion (with Diane’s complete agreement and encouragement) that I need to be significantly closer to great quality medical care. My last heart attack was the “widow maker” and thanks to rapid and superior emergency care in Florida, I’m now alive and living a wonderful retired life.
Great quality medical care is most certainly available in Ecuador, primarily in the cities of Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca. Rapid response, life-saving care is not, however, readily available on the part of the coast where we currently live. While we have knowingly rolled the dice fully aware that we were placing more value on our lifestyle choices here and less importance on the possibility of needing life-saving care, the recent death of a friend here has caused us to re-examine our priorities. That was the turning point.
Additionally, an acquaintance who is a nurse recently came here for a “look around” visit and made her own professional assessment of the hospital care along the coast. She made the decision to retire in another country based on what she discovered. The fact is that if you are in your 60s or 70s, you are likely going to encounter some health issues, if you haven’t already. Routine care can be quite satisfactory and inexpensive in many locations here in Ecuador but emergency, life-saving emergency care is another matter altogether.
Living in North America, that is something we have all come to expect. If you go to the emergency room of most hospitals in the states, they will have a supply of blood if you need it, functional diagnostic equipment, a functional lab to process blood tests and professionally trained and certified staff. That is not the case everywhere in Ecuador.
We have observed a number of instances where friends here needed local emergency hospitalization and the results have not always been great with lack of basic supplies, lack of medication, lack of blood supplies, broken diagnostic equipment, etc. This is an issue that has been on our minds for many months and we have discussed numerous times. Our friend’s recent death pushed us over the line. (The family members of our deceased friend firmly believe that she received the best possible care.)
The three major cities in Ecuador that provide high quality emergency and critical care have absolutely no appeal to us. Two of those cities are high in the Andes Mountains and I cannot tolerate the altitude and I would hate the climate. The third choice is Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador and we don’t do cities that large.
We are headed to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for our next chapter. From the readily accessible International airports in Merida or Cancun, Miami is only 2 hours away. In addition, both Merida and Cancun have world-class hospitals. Getting to Miami from our current home in Bahia de Caraquez requires, first, an hours-long journey to one of Ecuador’s two international airports in either Quito or Guayaquil. Then there is a 4 hour flight to Miami… if you can book a direct flight. It’s a pain in the butt!
The ugly truth is that while we have known for quite a while that the hospitals in our area did not meet the quality offered by those in the three major cities I previously mentioned, our lives here have been so wonderful that we both turned a blind eye to the truth of the matter. I’m sure there was also an element of “it won’t happen to us”.
We truly love our lives here in the small community of San Vicente on Ecuador’s coast. We have the benefits of living in a great, quiet complex, swimming pools, stunning landscaping, a great community, the Pacific Ocean just across the street and the weather is absolutely perfect for us!! We have friends and acquaintances here, both gringos and Ecuadorianos. We have engaged with the community through volunteer work, classes and lessons and the friends we have made. We have a life here, a great life and we must now say goodbye to this life and start again! I guess it is easy to see why we waited so long to face the medical facts.
Leaving our life here will not be easy but we are prepared for our next chapter and fully expect that it will be significantly easier than our first transition from the States to Ecuador.
We had planned on making a “look around” visit to the Yucatan. We had dates already set. Recently, while sitting on the terrace watching another spectacular sunset over the Pacific, Diane said, “Why are we wasting time and money making an exploratory trip to Mexico? Let’s just go!” That’s my Babe! So it shall be! After all, that’s how we came to Ecuador. We sold all our stuff, packed our suitcases and made the move without ever having been here. Apparently, that’s how we roll.
Our downsizing will take less time and energy than the first time as we have only a small number of things to sell. We’ll be selling Rocky, my trustworthy Daihatsu Jeepy thing, Diane’s like-new Suzuki Motor Scooter, the U.S. made washer and dryer, a few pieces of furniture and the flat-screen television and I suppose some small household items we have collected; that’s about it. Fatima will be receiving a goodly amount of contributions from Diane’s closet, I suspect, as she brought WAY too many shoes here. (We both wish we could take Fatima with us!!) There were ample tears when we told Fatima we were leaving.
I have always done my best to honestly relate our truths about our lives here. Ecuador remains just as wonderful as I have described it and it retains the same issues consistent with a developing nation that I have related from time to time. However, the personal risk factors associated with remaining here, on this particular part of Ecuador’s coast given my current medical condition, are higher than either of us is willing to continue to accept.
Ecuador’s current President seems firmly committed to making significant improvements throughout the country, in infrastructure, education and in medical care. We see the visible signs of those improvements every day. Diane and I have decided not to wait for those healthcare improvements to materialize as one never knows when emergency medical intervention may be required.
And by the way, it’s not just about my care. If some inept donkey driver runs Diane off the road on her scooter and she suffers a serious injury, she too may require expert care and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment which, as I’ve said, is not available where we live. We have been walking along the vague, wavering line that separates acceptable from irresponsible and for us…it is time to make a better choice.
So…that’s it. We are currently making all the plans required for another International move and we are well down that path. The airline tickets have been purchased, we have begun our visa process and we have signed a lease on a house in Mexico. We’ll be outta’ here by the end of April. Thanks to all of you for your past support! This has been a great chapter in our lives and it’s time to turn the page.
Each of us takes risks every day and our lives are constructed around the elements of risk we are prepared to accept. I flew small bush planes and operated commercial hovercraft in the remote wilderness of Alaska for many years. I’ve leapt from cliffs with a fabric canopy overhead and I lived with a crazy woman for many years before running for my life! Most recently, I have lived on Ecuador’s coast as a heart patient with poor access to good quality, emergency medical care. I have measured the risk I am now prepared to take and find I am less inclined to roll the dice than I may have been in years and decades past. I have an amazing partner and playmate and we aren’t done yet! I need to stick around for a while longer!
I am currently working with my webmaster to build a website and blog that will follow our adventures on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula so for those who may be inclined to follow our adventures, stay tuned!
Now, we are going to go see what’s around the bend! You’re welcome to join us. I’m guessing the Margarita’s should be pretty good there and the waters of the Caribbean look mighty inviting!