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Imagine ~ Intend ~ Create

Living Abroad: Looking for the World’s Best Weather?

“Hot enough for you?” 

Family and friends tell us it’s been so hot in the U.S. this summer that chickens are laying hard boiled eggs. 

Here in the southern hemisphere it’s the middle of winter. Which where we live in the Andes mountains means---basically nothing. 

A bit of nip in the air some days. A few degrees cooler at night. In regards to climate it’s pretty much Groundhog Day all year for us.

We call it “Goldilocks weather”---not too hot and not too cold. Just right!

Apparently, we’re not the only ones who find that idea appealing. By far the most popular report on our website has always been one about locations close to the States where it’s springtime all the time. 

That article highlighted four great spots, including our hometown Cuenca, Ecuador. But we realized there are a lot more places out there to tell you about. 

So we decided to pump up the volume and have just published a new, expanded ...

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Living Abroad: Expat vs. Immigrant ~ What's the difference?

 If I live abroad, am I an immigrant or an expat?


A subscriber recently wrote to ask, “You always refer to yourselves as expats. Since you came from the U.S. to Ecuador, doesn’t that make you immigrants?”

Great question.

The short answer is, yes, technically we are immigrants. Upon arrival here we had to immediately begin a legal process to become permanent residents.

Immigration policy has been a much discussed and debated topic internationally in recent years. 

Some nations provide open borders; others are seeking to be more restrictive.

Ecuador generally falls more in the first camp. We have always felt welcomed here, and although not citizens we can vote and participate in the national health care system.

But the country’s kindness and generosity have been strained by the influx of so many refugees exiting Venezuela. 

To the point that before borders were shut down completely because of coronavirus, Venezuelans were no longer allowed to...

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Retirement: Happy (Financial) Independence Day!

Cynthia:  Great job on those baby back ribs. Combining our son’s advice with the recipe you found delivered a great result. Glad we could enjoy some traditional 4th of July food. (Want the recipe? Click here...)

Edd:  Thanks. The whole meal was delicious. You know, since we were here at this time on our scouting trip in 2009, we’re actually celebrating our 11th Independence Day in Ecuador. Can’t say I remember all of them but THIS one won’t be forgotten.

C:  For sure. In all of our years on the planet we’ve never experienced what we’ve been living through during the first half of 2020. It’s been a total reinvention for so many. 

E:  Not just daily life, but how they’re celebrating milestones including this holiday. 

C:  Of course, we were disappointed our spring trip to visit family was cancelled. Grateful we’ve stayed healthy!

E:  Yep. I know many people’s lives have been turned...

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Expat Life: We haven't done THIS in a very l-o-n-g time!

Hooray!

This week coronavirus lockdown restrictions were relaxed as Ecuador appears to have “flattened the curve.”

We learned that a handful of restaurants have been allowed to reopen with proper safety protocols.

After 2 ½ months of our biweekly, grocery store trip being the “Big Event” at Casa Staton, we were beyond anxious to dress up a bit and walk into town to enjoy a sit-down meal somewhere other than our dining room!

Even though more cars are allowed out, we found most streets to be nearly empty.

Parque de la Madre, a large park normally filled with families on the weekend, is taped off and deserted.

It’s heartbreaking to see how overgrown and unkempt the entire space has become.

When we arrived at Café del Museo we were stopped at this table to have the bottom of our shoes sprayed. At the restaurant entrance we stepped into a tray to again clean our shoes (not sure what’s up with the focus on that particular...

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Expat Life: It's our 10th Anniversary!

Cynthia:  Do you know what today is?

Edd:  Is this a trick question? It’s Sunday, May the somethingth.

C:  It’s the 17th. Do you know why today is special?

E:  See, I know you. It was a trick question. OK, I remembered Mother’s Day and your birthday isn't until next month. So I think I’m safe saying, “No, baby, why is today special?”

C:  Because 10 years ago we got off the plane here in Cuenca, Ecuador. It’s our 10th anniversary of being expats!

E:  Shut up... Really?? That seems impossible.

C:  I know. I can’t believe it either. Remember how excited we were?

E:  I sure do. But you know what, I don’t remember us being scared. Do you? Honestly, we had every reason to be. We didn’t speak Spanish. We didn’t know anybody. Our shipping container was on its way and we had no place to live. What in the hell were we thinking?

C:  That this was gonna work no matter what because it...

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Retirement: It’s the PERFECT time to do this...

Cynthia:  It was so great to hear from readers this week about how things are going in their areas. Some even sent photos!

Edd:  And we were really appreciative of those who asked how we’re faring here in Ecuador.

C:  Ironically, we’re supposed to be on a 5-week, family trip right now in the States. Specifically in New Jersey, one of the coronavirus hot spots.

E:  Yep. At the beginning of March we contemplated changing our itinerary and going early when all this craziness started. In retrospect we made the right decision staying put.

C:  I’ll say. Glad we trusted my intuition. Our country’s restrictions are more stringent than many places we’ve read about, but Cuenca has less than 200 cases in a population of over 600,000.

E:  You know, since we work from home anyway, our daily life is probably 90% the same as it was before. We just don’t get to go out for lunch a few times a week, and we visit the grocery store less...

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Health & Wellness: Have you done THIS yet during lockdown?

When did these coronavirus restrictions start? Feels like about 100 years ago, right? For most folks current conditions have been a jolt to normal life. Everybody under the same roof all the time and nowhere to go. Simultaneously trying to work and keep the kids, if you have them, productively busy (or even homeschooled). 

But there are still a lot of extra hours to fill with no commutes or, in many areas, no outside activities except visits to the bank and grocery store. It seems like people are falling into one of two general camps:

1)  The “get ‘er done” group. These folks are knocking out every neglected project in sight. They’re organizing drawers, closets, attics, basements, and garages. Cleaning rooms, windows, cars, and yards. Some are going deep, taking on dreaded activities like checking expiration dates on all the food items, spices, and OTC medicines (“We’ve had this for 10 years?!?”).

2)  The...

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Health & Wellness: Coronavirus ~ How to Stay (or Get) Fit During Lockdown

Your New Year's fitness program was going so well, but now the gym's closed. Or maybe your binge-watching, pizza-eating couch potato tendencies are in danger of going off the deep end.

Everyone's trying to figure out their new normal during this unprecedented pandemic. Comfortable routines have been turned on their heads. And coping with so much newness and uncertainty can feel quite stressful.

It’s easy to get sucked into focusing on everything that’s “wrong” with the current situation. Aimlessly floundering around spending too much time on your phone, the computer or in front of the TV. Making poor food choices.

Instead of dwelling on what’s outside of your control, why not focus instead on finding the pluses of where you find yourself? Being at home presents a unique opportunity for us to focus on improving our immune system and overall health through better diet, exercise, and sleep habits. 

We're using part of our time during this coronavirus...

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Retirement: Do You Have a Plan B?

With coronavirus spreading across the globe, hopefully you’re staying safe and you’ve been able to stock up (or at least find) hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Even toilet paper and bottled water are being rationed in many stores. Nobody really knows the extent or duration of this pandemic so it’s prudent to be prepared.

Things are happening at such a dizzying rate that it’s hard to even stay focused on what to do next, so we want to remind you to keep an eye on your future as well.

Specifically, what’s happening with your retirement savings? Have you even had the courage to check your balances recently? The stock market has been on such a stomach-churning ride that it’s understandable if you haven’t. Spoiler alert: the news isn’t good.

Everyone’s hoping once this worldwide illness runs its course things will quickly bounce back to normal. But what if that doesn’t happen? Do you have a Plan B if you’re close to...

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Health & Wellness: Super Agers and Discovering the Fountain of Youth

Edd:  Wow, we sure covered a lot of topics on the Now It’s My Turn! TV show last weekend!

Cynthia:  We never seem to be at a loss for words. I especially enjoyed our discussion of Super Agers.

E:  Readers may not know what that term means. Harvard Medical School defines this group as "people in their 70s and 80s who have the mental or physical capability of their decades-younger counterparts."

C:  Well, that covers one of us.

E:  Ha! You’ll be joining me in a few years. And as we pointed out to Lara McAra, the show’s host, our current state of optimal health and wellness isn’t a lucky accident. A lot of intention has gone into it.

C:  Yeah, you touched on our aspiration to become Super Agers in the blog you wrote about being a septuagenarian. Regarding the mental part of the equation, I feel like living abroad in Ecuador for the past decade has greatly contributed to our well-being and unshakeable optimism.

E:  Remember that...

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