*** We've published a comprehensive TRAVEL GUIDE ~ Best Trip from Buenos Aires to Iguazú Falls! Check it out HERE. ***

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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 2 ½ 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 2.5 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 our...

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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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Exceptional Experience: Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

 

Planning to attend this year’s Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival from March 20–April 14, 2024? Make the most of your visit with our insider tips and must-do recommendations.

Edd:  You had been wanting to visit Washington D.C., for as long as I can remember.

Cynthia:  I know, but the timing just never seemed to be right. And you hadn’t been there since the seventh grade. This year the stars aligned and we finally planned a trip.

  

E:  To make it extra special, we decided to go during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. We’d seen photos of the beautiful flowering trees there during springtime, but nothing beats experiencing a spectacular display like that in person.

C:  The peak blooming season varies from year to year. Because the Festival is so popular, we booked accommodations far in advance and crossed our fingers.

E:  Thankfully, the weather gods smiled on us. The beginning of peak blooming...

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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 Experience: 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.

Iguazú...

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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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