Tuesday, August 21, 2012


We have been living in Cuenca for slightly more than thirteen months now, and hopefully are daily lives will begin to slow down over the next couple of months. Our son Frank is scheduled to arrive September 10th, so we will have three of our five children living with us here. In the USA we would have never considered inviting our older children to move back home, but here families treat each other differently, and it is more accepted to have unmarried adult children living at home. Our oldest daughter Courtney has already taken more of a leadership role at Moca, and the goal is have Susan train Frank once he arrives, so he can work at Moca with Courtney, and our manager Jenny. This will allow Susan and I, along with our partner Trish to act as mentors, and provide assistance when necessary. Susan, and I came here to retire, and the time to sit back and relax is becoming a real possibility with the arrival of Courtney and Frank.

Our other business, Cuenca Flats is gradually winding down, and we are limiting ourselves to managing only three properties for the immediate future. Managing properties is time consuming, and the money we earn does not impact our quality of life, so we have reevaluated the properties, and eliminated all but three. From the very beginning we let everyone know we weren't real estate agents and never had any interests in becoming one. We knew a few people (Ecuadorians) who owned properties, and they asked us to help, and we did for the most part. But, lately as more and more expats move to Cuenca I have become disenchanted with working in an area (real estate) that exposes me to so many expats, and so few Ecuadorians.

Let me explain the reason for my disenchantment. I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. We used to call San Antonio the capital of Northern Mexico when I was growing up. I was always comfortable being surrounded by the Hispanic community, and felt I had more in common with them than people for Minnesota, Virginia or Oregon. The Air Force sent me to live in the Azores for four years, and I loved the Portuguese culture, and left many friends behind when we returned to the USA.  My Air Force career of twenty-five years introduced me to many cultures, and countries beyond the borders of my home in Texas. I grew to understand that there were many great cultures throughout the world, and people regardless of where they were from, were just like me, but shaped by the uniqueness of their own culture and experiences. So, when we discussed moving from Atlanta, Georgia, we weren't moving out of a dislike for our own country, but instead in search of expanding our experiences, and those of our fourteen year-old son Nick by living in a different culture, and by not having to work any longer. Nick is now on his way to being bi-lingual (Spanish-English), and has matured so much in the last year, and I feel is because of his surroundings, and the additional time he spends with Susan and I compared to back in the USA.

So, in the last month in attempt to surround ourselves with more opportunities to experience the local culture, we have moved out of the very nice apartment in an affluent neighborhood to a house in a middle-class Ecuadorian neighborhood where we are the only expats. Our house is older, but our landlord allowed us to refinish the wood floors, paint, and refinish the kitchen ourselves (cost and labor) to make it our own. Our neighbor across the street is very friendly, and greets us with a smile when he sees us, and I have been accepted into the group that plays futsal in the park near our house. I am proud to be a Texan-American, and I am very fortunate to have grown up with an abundance of amazing opportunities that my family and country provided me. I am also proud of the twenty-five years I served my country, and feel great pride in what I accomplished as a member of the Air Force. And as a result of being raised in such fortunate circumstances, I know am blessed with the opportunity to live in Cuenca with my wife, and children. So, I will continue to offer a helping hand to an expat when I see they are in need of one, but I want to spend more time relaxing and getting to know my new neighbors, and understanding their culture.

While I will NEVER be accepted as a local, my hope is to be able to practice my Spanish, and grow as a person through interacting with my neighbors on a daily basis. I don't want to change my neighbors or my neighborhood, but I want to earn the trust of my neighbors, and to be a small part of the community. Hopefully they will gain something from interacting with my family as well. When you get down to it, we are all human beings, very similar in physical form, but our minds and beliefs are shaped by our experiences, and the people and cultures we interact with during our life. So, it is time for a change, and for me to take a big step back from all the things (Moca, Cuenca Flats, etc...) I have been involved in for the last year to relax, and get to know my new neighborhood, and my new neighbors.     


  1. A thoughtful post, and an inspiring call to all to appreciate our common humanity. I wish you, Susan and your children good health, happiness and prosperity in your chosen path. We are blessed to be US citizens, yet permitted to live in this beautiful, culturally and ecologically rich, country. I find Ecuador and its peoples enchanting.

  2. Very well said. We are hopeful to one day make our home in coastal Ecuador for the exact reasons stated in your post - we want to become part of a community which is very different from what we are used to.

  3. What a great post. Thank you so much.
    I am considering making the move down
    there and I was hoping I could ask you
    some questions via email if you have the
    I would like to bring my Daughter, Grand
    Daughter and Great Grand Son with me
    along with his Father.
    Can I do that on my visa? I would love
    the chance to ask some questions about
    financial requirements and so forth if
    you would consider chatting with me.
    My email is jimsanders@clearwire.net
    Thank you,
    Jim Sanders