A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

This past week we sat down with our trusty Snoopy calendar for a family meeting. The Snoopy calendar is an important Tool for these has great, cute cartoons and wise sayings that keep Suzanne from getting too impatient or frustrated with Roger and sometimes, vice versa. In this case, however, it provided documentary evidence that five weeks had indeed passed since we set foot in Ecuador and we were past the midpoint in our exploratory decision making trip. Time has flown by so swiftly!

We, like so many other adventurers before us came down with the intention of investigating, inspecting, and detecting to thoroughly assure us, our friends and family back home that this is a wise, sound and prudent thing for us to do in our retirement. Never mind that deep down in our hearts and bones, we knew we had discovered someplace that was going to be called home the first week we were here. Barring the first morning's panic attack (see the post: OMG! It's Brennie!) and a couple of bouts with sniffles, life here has been pretty much a love fest of activity.

However, we came here with a process and passing the midpoint in our stay meant there was an important task needing to be accomplished! (BIG DRUM ROLL): We needed a list! (note to newcomers: even if we didn't walk different, talk different and act different than the natives, Expadorians would be easy to spot because of our constant usage and dependence upon notepads, business cards and lists!)

So here it comes: The Yazell Annotated List of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Things We've Seen or Learned About Ecuador Midway Through Our Decision Making Trip


This is definitively the biggest of the three lists and there's probably a lot we've forgotten to put down, so forgive us if it's a little incomplete. Let's start with some important fun ones like:

MONICA MCNAUGHTON'S BROWNIES!: Suzanne thought I was tryng to be funny when I suggested that but I wasn't.. Her blondies are that yummy!
ITALIAN RESTAURANTS...There's a bunch in Cuenca but La Vina, Meditterranneo And Bertucci's are among our favs.
GREAT FLOWER nearly all the mercados, plus shops in the neighborhoods, but most especially the market just a block off the Parque Calderon. We always have fresh flowers here!
QUALITY ART AND CRAFTS: The number and variety of artesans in this area is almost hard to put into words. You, of course, have all the stuff you'd expect in a tourist center but with a little hunting, you can find the kind of quality hand craftsmanship that is disappearing in other parts of the world.
MUSEOS: We won't make it through half of them this trip but what we've been through so far (at least half of them for free) is enough to advise tourists to spent at least one full day, if not two exploring Cuenca's presentations.
MOUNTAIN SCENERY: O.K. So we're in the Andes, you expect great views right? Trust me, you're not gonna be prepared for how many times your breath is taken away, not by the altitude, but just simply by the raw, unspoken beauty of the landscapes you'll encounter
ICE CREAM!!!! Except for a rare snippet of Haagen Dazs Rum Raisin, I had given up on ice cream back in the states. Tutto Freddo's is good, (very, very good) but don't leave Cuenca without a visit to MIXX. The quality and flavors wil explode your mind as well as your taste buds.
FRIENDLY PEOPLE: Ecuador has two great assests. Its land and its people. Both are rich and diverse. From children that are always smiling, curious and respectful, to the adults who show reverence for the elderly and respect for each other in ways that many other societies have forgotten, this is a land whose values even rub off on us gringos and makes us better people just by being here and living in a society where sharing a simple hello can give a day nice meaning.
PARKS AND PLAZAS: Public areas and green space abound in this city, not just the historico centro but throughout the neigborhoods as well. If you want to gauge what impact well managed public parks can have on quality of life, spend some time walking the neighborhoods of Cuenca.
AFFORDABLE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: 29 different bus routes go almost everywhere in the city and each ride is a quarter ( discounted 50% for seniors) Buses to a nearby town are in the $2-$3 range. The absolutely highest cab fare I've paid is $3 and $2 or less will get you there 99.99% of the time in the city. Hire a private driver for anywhere you want to go for the day and pay $12 an hour!plus maybe the cost of his lunch.
ALMUERZO: Speaking of lunch, it's amazing what's available for lunch at prices that make it unafforable to eat at home. Oh, and let me add that the Ecuadorians make the most fabulous SOUPS of any country I've been in.
Real quickly, let's add in:

O.K. Just so you know we aren't looking at things through rose colored glasses, here are the next two categories:

SMELLY DIESEL EXHAUST FUMES FROM ALL THOSE BUSES: great cheap transportion but spend more than ten minutes at a popular parada waiting for your number of bus to show and you'll want to schedule some respiratory therapy.
DOGGY DEPOSITS ON THE SIDEWALKS: they do a great job picking up litter but not the presents our furry friends leave.
CAR ALARMS: The unexpected fireworks and the roosters are becoming part of my circadian cycles but Oh those car alarms that nobody seems to respond to!
HIGH IMPORT TAXES: for me, it's a shocker that Australian wines are among the most expensive heres but it applies to a lot of imports that cost more here or simply aren't available.
PLAYING TRAFFIC ROULETTE: They call them rondelles here. You may know them as roundabouts or rotaries. These circles of traffic chaos and adventure are a pure nightmare for the pedestrian who didn't plan his street crossing ahead of time and is not practiced in the fine art of street crossing survival.
POSTAGE: A great picture postcard costs a quarter or less until you want to mail it then it requires another $2 at least!
LEGAL AMBIGUITIES: Ecuadorians have some of the most tangled and complex bureaucratic procedures, rules and laws you could ever image but everyone seems to accept them as reality. It will be among the most frustrating things you will encounter on your path to living here but take a deep breath, (hire a competent lawyer!), and seek more advice than you ever thought
Last but not least, we come to:
Overall, it's one of the most beautiful countries on Earth but as with everywhere some ugliness exists. Beauty is, sometimes, in the eye of the beholder and I recognize that many of our new Ecuadorian friends will have different tastes than ours. At the risk of offending my new amigos, I have to state with certainty that we are grateful for the affordability of bathroom remodeling here, because in our humble gringo opinions, bright red ceramic fixtures against green and pink patterned tile in the master bathroom IS UGLY!

We may have missed a few things but the critical takeaway from our midpoint meeting is that our GOOD list is bountiful and well out weighs the BAD and the UGLY. It makes us feel blessed to be here as we continue juntos en el camino de la vida!


  1. Thank you for the enlightening take on Cuenca. My husband and I are planning a visit to Ecuador this October and are eager to experience the culture. We are anxious to hear more about your journey and whether you will settle in Ecuador.

  2. Where does the weather fall in your list?

  3. In the BAD section, I think you should add for us ladies.. no toilet rings.. Holy Moly, That hover thing is really an exercise.. and you are supposed to relax in that position? I don't think so! :>)

  4. EGN:
    Having lived in Arizona for 12 years, the recent stretch of rain has been quite an adjustment. Cuenca's weather doesn't vary much year around but having said that, you can experience 4 seasons in one day here. It's not for everybody! What category? at various times it can fit in any of the 3. Overall, however, it's stableyear around so for us more good than bad.
    Roger & Suzanne