Monday, February 20, 2012

Cuenca, EC is home

I have not written for some time, over a month.  My esposo, Lenny, and I flew to the US recently to visit the grandchildren, extended family and friends in the US.  It was a wonderful visit.

We enjoyed going to the school open house of each grandchild: 3 yr old grandson in Oregon and, in San Diego our 9 yr old granddaughter and our grandson Andrew who turned 6 last week. We enjoyed soccer games and play time, playing games, reading together and talking about hex bugs and geodes.

This is a small wall hanging or doll quilt I made for my granddaughter.  The embroidery is a love message: on the left is my home in Ecuador, the 3 hearts represent her Grandpa Lenny, Emma and me - our hearts are joined even when we are not close by. Feisty is next - Emma likes Feisty.  The flowers represent the path to my darling Emma who lives far away in the house on the right.  It is very hard living so far away.

We visited my parents, my 3 brothers and their wives in Idaho, as well as 2 nieces. Wonderful times with friends in the Portland area were such a joy. I managed to go to 3 quilt sessions with Victoria who is  my fav teacher.  My bestie Cindy was right there with me.  She also demonstrated why she is the Packing QUEEN, organizing my gluten free products, grain mill, fabric, etc into the fewest suitcases.

We had a wonderful if short visit with my stepson Robb and his bride Connie. Connie is a lovely person with a really positive attitude- we were charmed and we are so happy for Robb.

As most people say, we were shocked by grocery and restaurant prices in the US.  The price of everything seemed crippling. The chasm between people with money and people who are staggering under the weight of the current economy continues to widen as the middle class disappears into debt.

We got an "up close" look at the attitudes of people we care about regarding our move to Ecuador.  The reviews were varied but that is to be expected.  Not everyone is up for "an excellent adventure" in retirement. Most people we know do not want to visit South America and have a distorted view of what Ecuador is like. Often people think it is in Central America. It is below Columbia and above Peru on the Pacific ocean. Frequently people think of Mexico and Ecuador being the same.  They are not.  There are some similarities but many strong differences.  Ecuador is over 2000 miles from Mexico with about 7 different countries in between. The food is not the same.  The currency is not the same. The folk history is not the same. The economies are not the same.

It would be excellent if more were known in the US about Ecuador besides the Galapagos Islands. It is a little gem of a country which embraces diverse habitats, from the dry Pacific coast to volcanoes of the Andes to great forests of the Amazon basin.  It is a small country, a little smaller than the state of Nevada.

Let's talk about birds for a moment.  Ecuador is home to about 1600 species, including many spectacular and unusual birds. I recently purchased "The Birds of Ecuador" Vol II field guide by Robert Ridgley and Paul Greenfield. It flew back with me from the US as it weighs over 5 pounds!  In this book, there are 55 pages describing different types of hummingbirds that migrate to or live permanently in Ecuador.

I am not a serious birder.  With fibromyalgia affecting my legs, I will not be tramping through the brush or crouching in a hide.  But I love that these birds are out there.  I love hearing birdsong when I'm sewing early in the morning. Someday, I may go on a birding trip for people who have some physical limitations - its a future dream.

 Ecuador is about diversity in all things.  The country has a large number of people who can trace their ancestry to Spain. There are many different groups of indigenous people with history leading back to the Inca and beyond. For thousands of years, people have created homes, raised families, worshiped, raised food and fought to keep their land.  The earth is steeped in history here. Ecuador ROCKS, folks.  It is a little secret but it ROCKS!

Life in Cuenca:  We had a marvelous visit in the US.  The love expressed to us is priceless and warms my heart.  And yet, it felt so good to return to Cuenca and know that this is our home.

Several people asked "what do you do there in Cuenca?".
Lenny and I feel our life in Cuenca is delightful.  We have been here for 9 months and feel very comfortable.  Our everyday life is varied and interesting. We study Espanol daily. Len walks miles each day exploring the city.  He speaks tentative Espanol to shop keepers, a baker nearby, two sisters at a fruit booth in our favorite mercado, the woman at the laundry, a clerk in a busy "US style" grocery store.

Sharon speaks VERY tentative Espanol  - I study Espanol daily.  I am newly retired  -  I love having time to quilt or read mysteries or explore subjects on the internet.  I have begun designing my own quilts and find it quite satisfying.  I'm also making some clothing that I like better than things I find in stores, whether in the US or here.

We feel secure and relaxed, we enjoy exploring new pathways, we love our apartment which is kind of "modestly elegant" and very comfortable. We miss our family and friends in the US but this is where we should be at this time. Lenny and I are each very energized by getting to know a new culture, learning a new language and experiencing day to day life in Ecuador. It enriches our life together.

I hope this finds you living the life you want or dreaming about how to take a couple of steps to make your life move toward what you want.  Life is short.  One never knows what lies ahead so we must live today with gusto.
Hasta pronto,


  1. Hi Sharon,

    Thank you for another wonderful post.

    This post made me remember when I got off the plane in Quito for the first time in 1998, and my Ecuadorian hosts had to patiently explain to me that I was not in Mexico, that nobody ate tacos or walked around with funny hats bothering you with guitar music while you ate dinner.

    I've since thought about this in relation to differences in the English-speaking world, which includes not only England, the U.S., Canada, and Ireland, but also Guyana, Jamaica, and India. We don't assume that Guyana and the United States have a similar culture because they share a language, yet we turn around and lump together all of the Spanish-speaking countries as if there were no differences between them.

    I wish you the best with your health and your desire to see birds. Have you tried feeding them? Even if you are in the middle of Cuenca, there are probably some interesting birds. I once found a very colorful bird chick on the sidewalk in the middle of Quito. It had fallen out of a tall tree in a park. I took it to the veterinary school at Universidad Central. I never did find out what it was. Anyway, if you put out a seed feeder or two, you might find that you have some cool birds right where you are. And certainly a hummingbird feeder will have some customers. Hummingbirds feed on flowers right in the middle of the biggest cities in Ecuador.

  2. Hi Sharon --

    Sounds like you and Len had a great trip. I have one question for you: Did you see any change in your fibromyalgia when you went back to the States? Better? Worse? I'm curious as I live in San Francisco (very damp). We are doing the move to Cuenca in 7 weeks, and I am curious what to expect.