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Expat Life: Are We Moving to Buenos Aires?

Edd:  We’re not usually fans of repeat experiences, but after visiting eight years ago we’ve been back in Buenos Aires for the past two months.

Cynthia:  That’s true. But the deal you found on flights, and the fact that the whole country is on sale for Americans at half price, made the trip an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

E:  Plus, we escaped the worst months of another North American winter. Overall the weather in Buenos Aires (BA to locals) was fabulous. It was weird to wear shorts every day in January and February. We should explain that “half-price sale” comment you made.

C:  Not that we exactly understand it ourselves, but there’s an official currency exchange rate and what’s called a blue market here. For instance, say the official currency exchange for US$1 is 180 Argentine pesos. The blue market rate would be almost twice that amount. 

E:  Crisp $100 bills get the maximum value, so we showed...

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Exceptional Experiences: Now THAT'S How to Celebrate a Birthday!

We rarely repeat exceptional experiences because we’ve found the second go-round seldom matches the original memory. So why are we back in Buenos Aires after a fabulous visit eight years ago?

Well, for several reasons. North American winters don’t suit us, and the summer weather here in the southern hemisphere is glorious.

Second, Argentina is presently a perfect destination for budget travelers like us since the exchange rate of U.S. dollars for pesos is so strong. How strong? The country is basically having a 50 percent off sale. We’ve had wonderful steak dinners with wine for $20 or less total. It’s incredible.

Speaking of money, on our previous stay we didn’t get to explore places outside of the city because we’d arrived at the end of a month-long journey around the tip of South America and had maxed out our budget.

So this time, there was one particular excursion some of our friends did on that trip that topped our to-do list.


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Expat Life: San Telmo Sunday Market—Takin' It to the Streets

San Telmo, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, is home to many antique shops, art galleries, and tango shows.

Its sometimes-less-than-pristine buildings, cobblestone streets and street art exude a gritty, bohemian vibe.

During weekdays shoppers and residents bring a quiet hum of activity. On Saturday the action picks up. Every Sunday is a massive party stretching for blocks as the streets fill with vendors, performers, and tourists.

And we do love a good party, so off we went to check it out.

When we arrived late morning the festivities were already in full swing.


Colorful crafts of all sorts beckoned. Yerba mate (mate is a caffeinated drink adored in Argentina and nearby Uruguay) cups, handmade change purses, and guitars. Plus some, um, “interesting” masks.


And of course, tango. Nothing says Argentina like tango, right? Well, maybe delicious steak and Malbec, but that’s another blog…

The hub...

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Expat Life: Holiday Magic in Medellín, Colombia

“Why does everybody keep talking about Christmas lights?” we wondered.

It started almost as soon as we arrived in Medellín, Colombia and went to the Visitor’s Center to get a map. Google Maps is an invaluable directional tool, but Cynthia has always loved a full-sized paper map.

“How long are you going to be here?” the employee asked.

“Until December 10,” we said.

“Great! You must come to the river (the Medellín River runs through the middle of the city) to see the Christmas lights. They’re so beautiful!”

Gotta be honest—initially we didn’t share his enthusiasm. Cuenca also puts up a lot of lights along the Tomebamba River every year that are nice, but not remarkable.

It seemed like whenever we told someone our departure date, those darned Christmas lights would be mentioned again.

Finally, we went online to learn more. Turns out none other than National Geographic ranks the annual holiday lights...

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Expat Life: Was Coming to Medellín, Colombia a BIG Mistake?

You may think of Colombia as a dangerous country filled with violent drug cartels. Had we made a huge mistake coming to Medellín, former headquarters of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar? That wasn’t our concern.

We were worried about the weather.

We knew October was part of the rainy season here. Cuenca supposedly has a rainy season too, but since nobody really seems to know when it is we hadn’t paid much attention.


It was raining heavily the evening we arrived. Our ride from the airport in horrible traffic took twice as long as it should have. In the days that followed “if” was not a question regarding precipitation. One was left to wonder only “how much” (buckets) and “for how long” (almost constantly).

Fortunately, the pattern shifted to rainfall during most nights, and as of this writing in early December the weather is absolutely glorious—sunny skies with high 70s during the day, mid-60s in the evening. And...

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Expat Life: Do We Like the Food in Medellín, Colombia?

Showing up in a new foreign city for an extended stay we always wonder, “Will we like the food here?” Actually, Edd thinks about that the most.

Since several meals a day are going to be consumed over a period of months, it is a pretty important consideration.

The Colombian peso is currently taking a beating versus the USD, so we knew before our arrival in Medellín that prices were going to be low. A welcome relief after experiencing the runaway inflation taking place in the States.

Note:  When US$1 = 5000 pesos, transactions in this country involve a lot of zeros. For instance, a $500 monthly rent is 2.5 MILLION pesos! Believe it or not, once the shock value wears off, you get used to it.

“Cheap” doesn’t necessarily translate to “tasty,” though (looking at you, cardboard frozen pizza).

No country can match the abundance of food in the States. Would Medellín restaurants have a decent variety of different cuisines? What...

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Expat Life: Our terrible, awful, really bad day

You’ve read our sunny, cheerful blog posts about us visiting cool places and having wonderful experiences. They’re all true, but as much as we travel, it’s inevitable that once in a while a horrible day sneaks in there.

Like our recent travel day from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Medellín, Colombia.

It didn’t start off that badly. Except we’re not in the habit of getting up at six in the morning. We’d arrived in Guayaquil the night before from Cuenca, enjoyed a good (although short) night’s sleep, and had an uneventful ride to the airport.

For some reason we couldn’t check in online for our flight the day before. When we arrived at the Avianca counter we found out why.

“Can I see your tickets for leaving Colombia?” the agent asked.

“They’re not booked yet. We haven’t finalized plans with our family to visit during Christmas.”

“You both have to show a ticket to board this flight.”


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Health & Wellness: Secrets to Living Better and Longer

We were reading an interesting article with 5 secrets to living better and longer. Since our long-stated goal is to live at least 100 years, we’re always jonesing for any new tips that support our intention.

Turns out the revealed “secrets” were pretty much standard fare—exercise, eat properly in support of a healthy gut microbiome, reduce visceral fat to minimize chronic inflammation, avoid hazards around the house that you could trip or fall over, and be more sociable.

Doing all of these supports what scientists call “squaring the curve.” Think of normal aging as a graph with a line going continuously downward as illnesses and injuries compound and life becomes increasingly miserable. Hopefully, that doesn’t describe your own reality.

Instead picture that same line running along the top of the graph until dropping off at the very end, meaning you are healthy and active almost your entire life. How much better does that sound?

We were...

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Inspiration: How Do You Make Your Dreams Come True?

We were chatting with one of our daughter’s neighbors who we hadn’t seen in awhile.

She asked where we had been and where we were going next. When we told her she said, “Wow, I wish I was you. It must be great to have such freedom.”

We replied, “It is great. But we’ve had to give up a lot to do what we’re doing.”

Our answer surprised her. “Like what?” she asked.

We explained that after more than a decade living in a beautiful penthouse apartment in Ecuador, all our furnishings are now in storage there. While we keep some seasonal clothing at our kids’ homes, what we take from place to place are the contents of a roll-aboard and backpack each.

And as Edd told her, “You know that tonight you will be in your own bed in your own house. Well into the second year of this nomadic lifestyle, we realize that’s a luxury we hadn’t considered. It’s harder than you might think to constantly have to figure...

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Exploring Abroad: Which European City Did We Like Best?

Cynthia:  Now that our European Magical Mystery Tour is over, let’s discuss what we liked and didn’t like about each place we visited while it’s fresh on our minds.

Edd:  We may not agree on this, but at the end let’s also rank them worst to best from a “retiring abroad” point of view. Our first stop was Lisbon, Portugal.

C:  There’s not much to dislike about Lisbon. It’s beautiful. The weather was great. Prices are low. Public transportation was outstanding.

E:  That last point is key when thinking about living there. The bus and metro systems are so well integrated, it’s easy and inexpensive to get anywhere in town. Trams and trolleys service the historic and hilly sections, and the train station for destinations outside the city is easily accessible.

C:  Right. We were staying in an older area downtown. When we got together with friends who used to live in Cuenca, we were surprised their...

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