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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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Retirement: Lappy Labor Life!

Cynthia:  First conversation we’ve done in a while and it’s called “Lappy Labor Life?” I can’t believe I’m okay with such a silly title.

Edd:  Well, we said we’d be focusing on fun and the alliteration seemed kind of catchy. Anyway, Labor Day weekend. The last hoorah for summer. It’s an odd holiday, right? To celebrate work by---not working.

C:  Hah! And just another day in Casa Staton. Ecuador has more than its share of holidays but Labor Day isn’t one of them. Wow, talking about this subject makes me realize neither of us has had a real J-O-B in over a decade! How do you feel about that?

E:  Is that a trick question?? I feel absolutely great about it! Yeah, we consulted with a tour company here. I wrote for International Living for 5 years and we spoke at their conferences. And now we’re doing our thing with Retirement Reimagined! But since retiring overseas it’s all been on our terms.

C: ...

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Expat Life: Corpus Christi Festival in Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca’s annual Corpus Christi festival took place at the end of last month, but we’ve been so busy we’re just now getting around to telling you about it. Oh well, in “Ecuador time” we’re still early!

When we say “annual” we mean annual. As in since 1557! Although Corpus Christi means “Body of Christ,” somehow over the years the sacramental bread transformed into candy.

LOTS of candy and other sweets. Like 117 booths with over 60 varieties. The booths were set up all around Parque Calderón in the historic center of Cuenca so we decided to stroll over and check it out.

We crossed the Tomebamba River that separates New Town where we live from El Centro. First we stopped for lunch at a great Mexican restaurant near the festivities.

Edd had the BIG burrito...

And Cynthia barely finished her chicken tacos. With all that food plus a side order of guacamole and lemonade the bill was about $16. Love it!

We...

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Expat Life: Renewing Your U.S. Passport When Living Abroad

Edd:  Thinking about your passport usually only happens when you’re about to go on a trip abroad. It’s amazing you remembered that ours needed renewing.

Cynthia:  I must have been daydreaming about exotic travel destinations when I realized our passports expire in about nine months. We advise in our Program that most countries’ entry requirement is at least six months remaining on a passport. It was definitely time to take our own advice, especially since we don’t have an out-of-country trip planned at the moment.

E:  And how lucky was it that I just happened to see a notification online that representatives from the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil were going to be in town specifically to accept applications for passport renewals. I made an appointment for us immediately.

C:  Or maybe the universe coming to our rescue! We didn’t know if we were going to have to drive or fly to Guayaquil to retrieve the new passports, but what a blessing...

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Expat Life: Food for Thought

Cynthia:  When you told me you’d read about an expat opening an artisanal food market on Saturday I knew to start making plans for that day.

Edd:  You bet. The ad promised fresh breads and pastries, cheeses, organic produce, wines, aged meats, and a bunch of other stuff like coffee, honey, homemade chocolates. How could we miss it?!

C:  Gosh, hearing you rattle off that list makes me think about our early days as expats here in Cuenca. Were we looking for things like aged meat and organic produce back then? Heck, no---we were sometimes just trying to figure out how to get home!

E:  The expanded selection of food choices over the years has been amazing. I remember how excited we were when the supermarket first started carrying rotisserie chickens! Now we can buy Heinz ketchup and Grey Poupon mustard, exotic mushrooms, European wines. And places like this new artisanal market can open and make a go of it.

C:  So off we strolled on a glorious sunny...

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