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.
Friday, March 1, 2013
Being Tercera Edad in Ecuador:
The recent posting about paying our first property taxes in Ecuador has led to a couple of inquiries from readers and Facebook friends wanting to learn more about "tercera edad". Tercera edad in Spanish translates as third age and generically refers to those who are sixty-five years or older. Basically, it means senior citizen. Three ages.....childhood, adulthood, and seniors ("tercera edad").
Seniors are revered and respected here in Ecuador (and in most of Latin America) much more openly and publicly than in the US. It is not at all an uncommon experience to have an Ecuadorian (even a teenager!) offer a senior their seat when they board a fully loaded bus. Seniors, even though they are strangers, are warmly and respectfully greeted when encountered in public places. In a country where you wait in line for nearly everything, many facilities have special service lines for the handicapped, pregnant women and "tercera edad". Some facilities that use a "take a number for your turn" (government offices, airline offices, pharmacies, etc) will offer a special number for "tercera edad" customrs that advances your turn in the order of customers being called. Many businesses will offer special discounts for "tercera edad". (Example: The Futbol Club Deportiva Cuenca offers half price tickets if you are tercera edad)
Tercera edad is also an official status recognized by the government with benefits proscribed by law. Most forms of public transportation (except taxis) are required to discount fares by 50% for tercera edad. In the case of airlines, it only applies to tickets purchased in person and issued in Ecuador (online purchases...no) with flights originating from an Ecuadorian airport. The discount only applies to the base cost of the ticket and and applicable taxes or special access fees must be paid in full and be based on the full fare so the discount often is on 30 to 40% of the full cost but it's still a nice perk anyway! My municipal bus rides, however, a full 50% discount meaning I only pay 12.5 cents to ride! Admission fees to parks and government funded facilities and events are discounted 50% for "tercera edad"
Public utility bills are discounted, as are property taxes (we discussed that in the previous blog which led to the inquiries). The I.V.A. (Ecuadorian value added tax) of 12% is refunded up to $140 per month for tercera edad 65 to 70 and after age 70 is fully refunded in any amount. Of course, getting these benefits requires some legwork, and dealing with a copious amount of bureaucracy, but that's to be expected here in Ecuador.
The monetary savings are nice but the real and most important benefit of being "tercera edad" in this country is the warm feeling that comes from being a respected, revered member of society. As you walk the streets, you see young people walking arm in arm with their elderly parents or grandparents. You also see extra courtesy paid publicly on a regular basis to seniors. The warm glow that comes in the "sunset of life" here doesn't just come from that bright orb on the horizon. For Roger, it's good to be "tercera edad" as we continue our journey "juntos en el camino de la vida".