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Living Abroad: Happy Anniversary to Us!

Edd:  Wow, 14 years ago, on May 17, 2010, we got off the plane here in Cuenca to begin our expat life. As the Grateful Dead sang, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

Cynthia:  Well, with who knows how many flights back to the States to visit family and friends, full-time globetrotting for 2½ years, and all the other travel we’ve done, we haven’t really lived here the entire time. But, yeah, it has been quite a journey.

E:  Maybe this expat anniversary feels more meaningful because we are actually back in Cuenca to celebrate it. I vividly remember my first encounter with the local culture shortly after we checked into the hotel all those years ago.

C:  Ha! Me too. We were pooped, and I mentioned how much I would love a cappuccino. You gallantly offered to go get one for us both.

E:  So I stride into a coffee shop nearby and in my best pathetic Spanish say, “Dos cappuccinos to go, por favor.” I pay, wait, and...

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Expat Life: What is Health Care Like in Ecuador?

Edd:  When we announced we were moving to Ecuador almost 14 years ago, I remember someone asking what would happen if we got sick. Would we go to a doctor or a witch doctor? Maybe we should set the record straight for our blog followers.

Cynthia:  Witch doctor? Uh, no, but the subject of health care when living abroad does come up a lot, including a recent podcast we appeared on. So sure, let’s do it.

E:  The topic is covered in general terms on our FAQ page, and we’ve learned from our research and travels that world-class care is available in many countries for a fraction of the cost you are probably paying in the United States. But we certainly know more about the ins and outs of how it works here in Ecuador.

C:  We should begin by mentioning that, as is true most everywhere, the highest quality medical care is found in our largest cities — Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. The farther you travel away from major metropolitan areas, the level of...

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Expat Life: What if expat life doesn't work out?

Edd:  I was thinking recently about friends from Cuenca who moved back to the States. The list is quite long.

Cynthia:  I’m sure that many of our expat acquaintances over the years have returned to their home country, decided to live in other foreign destinations or, sadly, died.

E:  In our last conversation we touched on something interesting that most people don’t know: the average “lifespan” of an expat is about 4 years. A common fear regarding moving abroad is, “What if it doesn’t work out?” That statistic indicates the concern is well-founded.

C:  Leaving your home country seems like such a radical decision. It's probably surprising to learn that doing so is anything but a “forever” move for many.

E:  That number is an average, so longtimers like us are factored in with folks like a couple we know who went home after less than 6 months! It also includes expats who decide to move on and try other...

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Expat Life: What's Expat Life REALLY Like?

Cynthia:  A big welcome to the many subscribers who have joined us in the past few weeks. We’re incredibly grateful that you are interested in the idea of living abroad.

Edd:  A question new followers often ask us is, “What is it really like to be an expat?”

C:  Or more bluntly, “What do you do all day?” We get it. If your experience with life outside your native country has been cruising or trips abroad for a week or two, it’s hard to put yourself in the picture.

E:  Just the thought of waking up each morning in a foreign country seems so exotic, doesn’t it? All the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. And that’s exactly the way it is in the beginning.

C:  Of course, the degree of this depends on how often you visited the place before actually settling there. And how well established the expat community is in your new home.

E:  In our case we’d made one 10-day scouting trip, and there...

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Expat Life: Edd and Cynthia's Shocking Revelation: "We're Addicted"

Cynthia:  After railing about the mainstream media using sensational headlines in our last blog, that’s the title you come up with? “Shocking revelation?” “Addicted?”

Edd:  Ha! I did it on purpose as a spoof of what we wrote about. The idea came from a recent conversation we had while sitting on the terrace enjoying breakfast. It was a pleasant sunny morning—in the middle of February I might add—and you said, “You know what? We’re addicted to this weather in Cuenca.”

C:  We had just returned from a long family visit that included two snowstorms at our daughter’s home in New Jersey and a Caribbean cruise. So we were exposed to both ends of the temperature spectrum. Maybe “addicted” was a little strong, but over the years we’ve developed a preference for what we call “Goldilocks weather.”

E:  I actually think that “addicted” is spot on. What’s the harm...

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Expat Life: What the hell is going on in Ecuador?

Ever since last August, when an anti-crime presidential candidate was assassinated by gang members, Ecuador has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Inflammatory headlines like, “Ecuador gripped by drug gang violence,” “Gang warfare breaks out in Ecuador,” and “Surge in gang violence upends life in Ecuador” (italics ours) paint a bleak picture of a country historically described as “muy tranquilo.”

We’ve received so many kind messages from friends and followers concerned about our safety. Shortly before our recent return home to Cuenca from a holiday visit in the States, a relative asked if we were comfortable going back in the midst of Ecuador’s “civil war.”

As 13+ year residents, we would like to share with you our expat perspective on how this mess started and what’s really going on in our adopted home country.

Ecuador is surrounded by the two largest cocaine producing countries in the...

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Expat Life: Is Home Really Where the Heart Is?

Edd:  I just realized something. We rented this apartment in Cuenca a little over three months ago. That’s the longest we’ve been in one place for over 2½ years!

Cynthia:  You’re right, and most of our readers will probably find that revelation shocking. It was a bit strange at first to be reunited with our own things. When the movers started bringing the furniture in you asked, “Has our stuff grown? I feel like we’re seeing the grandchildren after we’ve been away for a while!”

E:  Our new home is smaller than where we previously lived, and at first we were concerned we had made a mistake. But we’ve managed to make it work.

C:  And you’ve been busy with your recent side hustle—selling a lot of things online that we either don’t have room for or no longer need.

E:  Indeed I have, and what an adventure it’s been. I went through a similar experience with Craigslist when we were...

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Expat Life: Our extremely extreme September

Cynthia:  It’s been over a month since we last posted a blog because we have been rather busy to say the least.

Edd:  “Rather busy” doesn’t begin to describe what September felt like. We stuffed so many activities and adventures into 30 days that it seemed much longer.

C:  The month started off in a predictable way. We had just moved into our new apartment and were unpacking, cleaning, and starting to get the place organized. We even found time for a couple of social engagements.

E:  But before our lease was signed, round-trip flights to Quito were booked for a trio of articles we had been commissioned to do for TravelAwaits. The research for those was going to put us out of town for two weeks.

C:  And prior to that, we had committed to a 4-day trip to the Amazon jungle for another story we were writing. It’s ironic that we ended our last blog saying, “What’s next for Edd and Cynthia? Who knows? Stay...

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Expat Life: Where we've decided to live next

Edd:  Well, we’ve been traveling full time for the past 2½ years looking for the next place to call home.

Cynthia:  After 11 years in Cuenca that ended with months of COVID lockdowns, we were ready for a change and decided it was time to explore more of the world.

E:  We started in Mexico, and our first stop, Mérida, was outstanding. Beautiful colonial city, great amenities, less than an hour to the beach…

C:  But OMG the heat! Granted, we were there in May, the hottest month of the year. Honestly, with 100+ temps and oppressive humidity we thought we were going to perish. Would certainly consider a return visit in the winter but moving there? No thanks.

E:  Living at the beach isn’t really for us, so Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun were more about research for our subscribers than ourselves. Tulum? Ugh. Cancun? We were surprised how much we liked the actual city away from the hotel zone.

If a coastal destination was on...

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Inspiration: Top 10 Tips on how to stay happily married for a l-o-n-g time

The average marriage in the U.S. lasts between seven and eight years (sad). Since we just celebrated our 52nd anniversary and have “lapped the field” a remarkable number of times, perhaps we have some helpful thoughts on the subject of marriage to pass along.

Here are our Top 10 Tips on how to stay happily married for a l-o-n-g time:

1.  Don’t marry someone just like you

Having been together since our teenage years, we weren’t insightful enough in the beginning to know much more about our relationship than the fact that we were in love. (If you don't already know, see more about our backstory here.) But it turns out our personalities align well in a yin/yang sort of way.

Edd is more of an idea person who often can’t be bothered with details. Cynthia is a natural organizer and manages many things well. Edd is the extrovert, while Cynthia enjoys solitude.

Sometimes those opposite tendencies can be a source of irritation, but a marriage with someone...

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