Reprinted from: Nazarenes Abroad
Adventuring, for me, has taken a dramatic turn south in the past week or ten days. First, just let me say that to understand me and most of my family you’ve just got to know that we have some capacity to…turn on a dime! Josh and I are particularly blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with the capacity to make quick decisions and usually feel pretty good about them.
The latest “dime” has been our visit to the unbelievably beautiful Nation of Ecuador. We arrived last week (Thursday) as the sun was setting. All of us (Josh, Jamie, Alexandria, Colleen and I) were craning our necks and straining our eyes to see as much territory as possible as we landed first in the capitol city of Quito and, then, in Cuenca, our city of destination. The beauty we saw from the air has been more than confirmed as we have had the opportunity to do lots of exploring on the ground!
But, let me back up a ways. One of the reasons for our look beyond Costa Rica has been Colleen’s health. I’m convinced that all the stress revolving around our retirement and move has tipped her health in a direction that has not been good. Colleen has been a trooper, but the extreme tropical heat has been extremely difficult for her. Primarily, out of consideration for her health, we made the decision to look at some other locations.
Ergh, this is SO “Reader’s Digest!” Sorry. We do have a home under construction in Costa Rica. Our home there is being built at the 2,000 ft. level and will now be our backup location should it not sell or if we come to the conclusion that we need to stay there.
We all agree that Costa Rica is indescribably beautiful! The sights and sounds and experiences are unbelievable. If you have dreams that involve Costa Rica, don’t give up on them. Costa Rica is one beautiful place.
However, our intent now is to find a location that is more conducive to Colleen’s good health, more citified for Josh’s (and Alex’s) needs and more population-centered for my needs. Jamie is actually very happy with Costa Rica but is open to our relocation, with certain restrictions…sunny, safe and economical.
Here is some of what we have discovered in Ecuador. Cuenca is located 8,200 ft. above sea level. Days are very comfortable, in the mid to upper 70’s. And, the nights are in the 50’s and 60’s. Scratch that one off for Colleen. In fact, Colleen and I have walked many miles together since being here. Her heart a-fib stuff seems to be on the mend. Cuenca is a city of approximately 500,000 people, thus meeting Josh’s needs for things to do, and, that many people to love and minister to in my regard. We’ll see what happens and keep you posted!
Here are a few things you may be interested in about Cuenca, Ecuador. First, diesel fuel here is $1.08 per gallon. Isn’t that something! Regular is $1.28 and supreme is $1.48. Taxis are everywhere and the general rule is that a ride to about anywhere in the city is two dollars. We’ve taken several taxi trips and a couple times we had to pay three dollars. Yesterday Josh and I were a bit bored in the afternoon and decided to try out the city bus service. Bus fare is 25 cents. We rode miles and for a complete afternoon and early evening for a total of 75 cents each! Fun! I’m “home alone” as I write this and I think the rest of the family is out riding the city buses right now. I wanted to stay home and get some writing done.
Housing is very interesting here in Ecuador. We are in a $700.00 apartment for the month. Everything included. Homes/apartments/condominiums vary in price. You can purchase a one-bedroom for $40K, and it goes up from there. I would say an average for a 3-bedroom, 2-3 bathroom home would be somewhere in the $120K to $160K range. We looked at a 1600 sf apartment a few days ago that is quite luxurious, in a high rise facing the river that rented for $500.00 per month pluse utilities. Utilities here are very, very reasonable!
The architecture of much of Cuenca is very Spanish, right out of the 1600’s. The city center is amazing and features one of the biggest cathedrals I’ve ever seen. They say that there are 53 such cathedrals in Cuenca, one for each Sunday and one to boot! The people are gentle, enthusiastic and friendly. And, by the way, we’ve met many, many expats who assure us that Ecuador is very safe. One of the best things so far about our visit has been the friendliness of the people!
A huge find for us has been the crazy big Farmer’s Markets that thrive in Cuenca. One of the biggest, if not the biggest is a half mile, or so, from our apartment. We have purchased four lbs. of tomatoes there for one dollar, two pineapples for one dollar, three huge heads of broccoli for one dollar, maybe five pounds of petite fingerling potatoes (don’t know what else to call them) for two dollars and all the bananas and pastry and pasta and grains and meat that we could ever need for a fraction of what we have paid anywhere else.
I have never seen fruit and vegetables in such abundance…avocados, pineapple, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, all kinds of herbs, quanabona, mangos, papayas, bananas, lots of fruit I do not recognize, but am ready to try! Plus, I will post more later, the meat is fantastic and seafood is tremendous. I’ve had two batches of shrimp. Am looking forward to lots more adventure in this arena!
One of my favorite things about Cuenca are the Italian ice cream shops. For one dollar you can buy a scoop of ice cream, a scoop that easily compares to two scoops in the States. My favorite flavor so far is…Nuez. Not sure what that means, but it sure is good!
And, I’m told that Ecuador really loves and looks out for Sr. Citizens. At age 65 all the air fare inside the nation is 50% off, for Seniors (only 6 months away for me!) And, I’m told that several of the airlines make that same deal for Seniors traveling out of the country. They get 50% off bus fares and have their entire sales tax returned each month. That’s all I’m aware of right now, but I think there is more.
Well, I better wrap this up. Just a couple more things.
I’ve had good communication with Missionary Dwight Rich, who is the Regional Director for the North Andean Region, Church of the Nazarene. If the Lord leads us to settle in Cuenca, Dwight is eager to work with me/us in developing a ministry to expats and to help out with reaching the locals with our love and the love of Jesus. (If, Cuenca does not work out and we stay in Ojochal, Missionary David Webb has been my contact in Costa Rica.) Quite a win/win situation, I do declare.
Okay, two things have been driving me crazy about Cuenca. One is the way people “lay on their horns” while driving! Not kidding you. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a form of “street talk!” Yesterday morning the propane salesman was driving around honking his horn, letting the community know that he was there…at 6:30 AM! Grrr. The other thing has to do with fireworks. I’m hoping this has to do with New Year’s and other celebrations and will die down, but 4th of July size and style fireworks are liable to go off at any time, day or night! But, I’m adjusting. If the locals can handle it, so can I! (Go back and look at the title of this blog. It’s hard to “dream” when horns are honking and fireworks are shooting off! Just kidding!)
That’s it for this time. Thanks for reading. Feel free to connect with me on FB. Would love to answer any questions. And, would love to have conversations with you about your interest in living the expat life.