Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Here are a few pictures from my walks around the outskirts of Cuenca. Enjoy...

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Four months into the year

Wow, where has time gone? We are already in April. So much has happened in four months, I left Ecuador, Steve, Nick, Courtney, and Frank are still there. Our friends Bill and Tommy moved in with Steve and the kids. I have gone to church two times.

Let's start with me leaving Ecuador. I hated leaving behind my friends and family but I struggled so much with boredom in Ecuador. While other people went to social gatherings and day trips, Steve and I stayed home. While friends traveled the world we stayed home. Ecuador is a beautiful place to live and there are many obstacles to over come moving to a foreign land and I feel i overcame most of them, except for the boredom. I even volunteered while I lived there,was a co owner of a small cafe, and attended meditation almost every Sunday but it wasn't enough. So I am back in the US living with our youngest daughter looking for a job, hopefully another career. I have applied for a lot of jobs and I have had one interview with a BIG insurance company that I thought would be a lock in but no I am OVER qualified. They are most likely not willing to put the time and training into because they assume that I will leave when something better comes along. I guess they don't have much faith in their retention program.

Steve has stayed in Ecuador with the kids, while Nick finishes out the school year, and Frank and Courtney decide on staying or coming back. We are pretty sure that Frank will stay if he can get his cedula. He has a girlfriend and he had a job yet they let him go since he doesn't have a cedula yet. I miss them so much and this really isn't living the simple life. Steve is sending me money to help me with items I may need and my daughter and her new husband are putting me up in their apartment.

Or friends Bill and Tommy are still going through the immigration process so while they are in limbo they decided to move in with Steve and the kids. It helps are family a little since they contribute to the rent and utilities.Yet I think it also puts unintentional stress on the family by there being so many people under one roof. I hope they are all doing their share and leaving any one chore to one person.

Church. I miss my meditation time at the Windhorse Cafe so much I tried to replicate that here but I am in Georgia the Bible Belt. There is a Unitarian Universalist Church that our family attended a few times when we lived here before I though what the heck I will give it a try. I looked them up online and saw that they also had a Buddhist group that meets every other week. So why not. The church is beautiful they sermons and hymns are spiritual and intriguing yet not dominating as it can be in some church's. When I attended the Buddhist group last Tuesday there were only four of us, and of course I asked "do you want it to grow?" and then my mouth just kept again. I had promised myself to just go and enjoy the company learn their ways and be one with the group, but no I had to try to add my input. I was the only person out of the four without a high degree so they go for the education part and of course I have always loved going for the group meditation. I will go again and see how it goes maybe I can keep my mouth shut maybe not, but I will enjoy this time with like minded individuals.

On a sad note I am not going to be a grandmother. My daughter lost the baby. She has struggled with the loss and silently probably still does, but I hope she knows I am here for her when she needs me.

On a better note her boyfriend Avery decided to join the Army (with some nudging from Christina, I believe), so they moved up their wedding so she will be able to move with him when it is time. I love it he said to me one day, he said "well, I want to have a family with Christina and so it is time for me to step up to the plate, so I realized I needed to do something" He leaves in May for basic training.

So much has changed in my life yet so much is the same. Miss and love all of my friends and family and I can't wait to make so many more friends here. :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Wow, the new year sure has come up fast on us. We had a great visit with our son Ryan who was able to make it out for a visit this Christmas.

Ryan and Steve
We went to Pumapungo Park for a visit.

Our daughter Christina called us on Christmas day with the biggest gift of our lives.
Christina 2011
We are going to be grandparents.

Then New Years came and we invited our friends Bill and Tom over and we bought effigies and burned then on New Years eve to get rid of the bad juju from last year and move forward to a better year.

Happy New year all!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Volunteering in Cuenca

This weekend I started my new gig as the volunteer, volunteer coordinator for Años Dorados an assisted living home right here in Cuenca, Ecuador. The home currently has 10 residents. It is not like any other nursing home that I have ever been in and I have been in quite a few. Since I was a CNA way back in the day before I join the military.

 Años Dorados is a beautiful home that has many different choices of rooms all having their own bathroom. The residents get to decorate them any way they like. There are an upstairs and downstairs dining room, a TV room downstairs, and sitting area upstairs and even an occupational therapy room. The staff is very kind. I loved meeting the residents.

I attended the Expat Day festival sponsored by Cuenca for Expats and the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce this Saturday.  Años Dorados had a booth there we gave information on the home and I tried to find volunteers. I was happy with the amount of people who signed up, I wish more would have but sometimes people are just here in Cuenca to hide away from real life.

The above picture is of me, Katy Johnson (head RN), Sonya (Occupational therapist), Fabio (Administrator) at our booth. We were giving out Tamales, Quimbolitos, Empanadas de carne y queso.

Now, I have to work on an orientation and a schedule. I hope this all works out for me and Años Dorados.

If you are interested in volunteering let me know. It doesn't have to be a long commitment or hard. You can come and chat, read, play games, help with feedings, work on your Spanish and the most important one just listen.

Update: Email VolunteerCuenca@gmail.com if you are interested in assisting. Thank you!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Up to Seven in the house

Well, it has been a while since we have posted, as we've been busy with the influx of new people in the home. On September 11 our son Frank and friend Bill came to Ecuador. This was Bill's 3rd trip and hopefully he will get his residency this time and this is Frank's first time here. We are happy to have them here, but of course it makes for a more chaotic home.

In our home we eat and cook strictly vegetarian so that is a big change for Frank and Bill. Frank loves to go to the little snack shacks and get almuerzo (lunch) for $2, and if he'd stay there it would only be $1.40, but he brings it home. The first time he brought it home he wasn't sure what to do with the bag of red stuff. I informed him that it was some type of juice. So, he poured it into a cup and drank it all up. Bill goes out for lunch a lot to get his protein fix; he wasn't too sure about eating our "fake meats". I don't think he minds them much anymore.

Frank, Courtney and Steve have all started taking spanish lessons at Carolina Bookstore. They go twice a week. I am afraid they will pass me up, I better start doing my computer lessons :). Steve takes lots of notes and Frank says this is the most he has every learned, he attributes it to his teacher being nice to look at. Courtney doesn't take much notes, but says the class is reminding her of what she has learned already.

The first week Frank was here we let him settle in. The second week he and I worked together at Moca to get him trained. Then the next week he went on nights with Jenny, our Cuencana manager, so she could show him the ropes of nights and work on his spanish. Within Frank's first month here he was invited to attend the Miss Cuenca pagenant with a young lady he had met at the Mall. She was running for Miss Cuenca. Not too bad for only being here a month.

Nick has been doing alright at school. Courtney has been doing well working on her blog, her scarves and Moca. For all of the month of October, Courtney and Frank had been doing Halloween-themed movies on Saturday night for FREE. The turn out was low so I don't believe it will continue. The kids didn't make much money for Moca or for themselves (since they only get paid via tips for now).

Last Friday Bill's brother Tom finally made it to Cuenca with all his paperwork in hand and his life packed in two suitcases. He is ready to become an expat. We went out Saturday night to El Azteca and had some good food and good margaritas. This morning I went to meditation and my family, Bil,l and Tom came to have brunch at the Windhorse Cafe. Our friend Katie was there so she joined us. It is great to have a good bunch of friends.

I am still struggling to find things to do with myself. Being so young and retired is hard. Most of the retirees here are older and have other interests. I want to go to the Cajas and hike and go visit other small places near Cuenca. I have tried knitting and volunteering. I have to find something that I enjoy that makes me happy. I really enjoy meditation but I think Steve may be lonely if I meditate for hours on end. So I need to find something constructive.

We hope everyone is safe on the east coast, we see the nasty storm coming. We will keep you in our thoughts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

School Starts for Nick

Monday was the first day of school for Nick, and his first day at a new school. He is now attending Centro Educativo Alborado which is a private school located in San Joaquin just outside of Cuenca. The campus is beautiful, and has grades 1-13 (k-12 US). There are a few other expat students, including Nick's friends Sage who is a grade ahead of him. His first two days found him being asked by the other expat students to act as interpreter since his Spanish is more advance than the others. We had to buy new uniforms ($115), luckily his dress shoes fit, but today we found out he needs white tennis shoes instead of brand new black and green ones we bought last week. This week we need to buy his books, and school supplies. He rides the bus to and from school, and it picks him up at 7:00am, which means we wake him up at 5:45am to get ready for his day. So far Nick like this school better than his previous school (Santana), because he says the students are nicer, and more open to talking with him.

Our middle son Frank arrives late next Monday night from Atlanta, and our friend Bill is also on the flight, so my friend Eddie and I will pick them up in Guayaquil at the airport. Also, Frank is bringing Nick and I two new video games for our PS3, so we are excited.

At Moca Cafe we are trying out new items for the menu from a new baker, and so far we think we have found some great new additions for our customers. We have officially closed down the Cuenca Flats Property Management web site, and replaced it with a blog site to list the three properties we have decided to manage for now, and no longer will be assisting people in finding rentals other than the ones we manage. The reality is that the energy required to manage even three properties is taking its toll on my desire to relax more, so we will see what the future holds.

Susan is the healthiest person in the family lately, because I have been sick for three weeks, and now Courtney and Nick are experiencing similar cold symptoms to mine. The recent cold temperatures we have been experiencing in Cuenca have not help my motivation to get out of the house as much. Well not much else going on here, so take care, and everyone stay safe.

UPDATE 9/7/2012: Cuenca Flats Property Management is officially, and completely closed down for good as we no longer have any properties under contract. If you are looking for any future assistance I recommend  www.ecuadorablehomes.com .

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rumors travel

According to Wikipedia a rumor or rumour (spelling differs between American and British English) is often viewed as "an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern".

Rumors can hurt people, families and business. Rumors have been around from the beginning of time. I myself have listened to them but I would check with the person themselves before saying anything. I think it is the smart thing to do.
Here in Cuenca the Gringo (Gringo (Spanish: [ˈgɾiŋgo], Portuguese: [ˈgɾĩgu]) is a slang Spanish and Portuguese word used in Ibero-America, to denote foreigners, often from the United States. The term can be applied to someone who is actually a foreigner, or it can denote a strong association or assimilation into foreign (particularly US) society and culture. While in Spanish it simply identifies a foreigner, without any negative connotation,[1] in English the word is often considered offensive or disparaging) population is small in comparison to the Cuencano's. So word spreads fast good or bad. For instance if a store gets in American Peanut butter the community will know fast.
In this day we have many ways to receive rumors. Face to face, Facebook, Yahoo groups, Blogs and the list goes on. We have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to verify this information with the source. We should try not to hurt people intentionally.
Last year we met some people that started to try to spread rumors to our landlady but she knew us and asked us and it was fine, but it still hurt to know that people would try to that.
My POINT of this blog post is to get you to THINK before you share news/information.
Rumors hurt! Thanks for reading, Susan