2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Looking To The Future

Last Friday was my last day of teaching as the semester and my current career have come to a close. It was a good week. I appreciated the cake, cards, and congratulations from both students and colleagues. It was nice to end my career with a fine group of students. I wish my seniors well in their future endeavors. The fact that I taught many of them as freshman made the goodbyes more poignant. A number of them have matured over the four years, and its not often a teacher has the chance to witness his students' social and academic growth so directly. I hope in the process of my interaction with them, I instilled within my students a sense of curiosity beyond their own experiences, and a desire to travel and see the world. One thing is for sure, they all know where Ecuador and Cuenca is on a map. In fact, my retirement to Ecuador became quite a topic of conversation among staff and students, a number of teachers told me they had their students look up Ecuador and Cuenca in their map atlases. Not bad, considering I don't recall myself ever hearing of Cuenca until a year ago last Christmas season.

Meanwhile, I am now focused on the future. I have taken action to get all my paper work in order for my legal residency in Ecuador. I am working with Gabriela Espinosa, the attorney in Quito, who has come highly recommended by many expats. Although personnel in the Ecuadorian consulate in Washington tell me that visas are not yet being processed, I am told that the delay should not affect my time-table for returning to Ecuador. I tentatively intend to arrive in Quito on Monday, March 14th. I will spend a few days in Quito to finalize my residency requirements, and then arrive in Cuenca later in the week.

Well, on one hand, I am overwhelmingly excited about returning to Cuenca; on the other hand, I hope I have sufficient time to get everything accomplished. I am finding that the little things which don't show up in concrete form, like unloading my personal belongings, are very time consuming. Seeking out health insurance, dealing with the governmental offices, determining what will and will not be downloaded from my P.C. to my laptop, how to handle my finances and investments, notifying all the proper sources of address changes and cancellation of services, or scanning thousands of slides; these are only scratching the surface of things that need to be done, but don't process like an accomplishment the way an eventual empty apartment does.

For those of you who comment on problems and delays with Ecuadorian government and business bureaucracy, the Ecuadorians may have learned it from the United States. I was delayed for two weeks getting my social security information to the Ecuadorian Consulate, because of misinformation that was given to me twice from social security representatives, as I needed to procure my monthly income statement for authorization by the Ecuadorian consulate personnel. I have a friend who is 65, but is still working and has never applied for Medicare. Yet Medicare has been trying to collect hundreds of dollars in back payments for insurance for which my friend has never applied or used. It has been months of back and forth phone calls and letters between my friend and Medicare. The problem still has not been fully resolved. Medicare personnel tell him one thing and then do another. One would think with our government's advanced computer operations that such delays would be less likely than in a country like Ecuador where the computer operations are less sophisticated. At any rate, bureaucratic snafus and delays just seem to be a part of everyday modern life no matter where one lives.

I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, and making new friends and acquaintances as well. I read that you are having beautiful weather in Cuenca, I hope it will still be as nice in March. If anybody has any advice for me in my move, I am open to any suggestions.


  1. Hi Jim,

    You mention that you are "seeking out health insurance." Do you qualify for Medicare yet? If not, I am interested in what you are going to do for health insurance until you do. I have heard there are international health insurance policies that will cover you while you are abroad and will also cover emergencies when you are back in the states. I am leary of most companies I find on the internet and would like a recommendation.


  2. Hi Jim:

    We are really looking forward to your return. We have marked our calendar for your return to Ecuador on March 14th and look forward to having you back in Cuenca later that week.
    Good luck with getting all the "work" done to get here. We remember it well. It is a big job, and it seems like there is no way possible to complete it all before the departure date. If there's something left that isn't done when the departure date arrives, just forget about it!! The work that is, not the departure date.

    P.S. We haven't seen much of Ecuador or even the areas around Cuenca yet, so you'll have some travel partners in us.

  3. Jim, for information on health insurance, check out Connie Pombo's blog of 1/15/11. Her blog is called "living-and-retiring-in-ecuador.blogspot.com" She and her husband, Mark, have medical insurance through Humana of Ecuador. You might want to contact her. Good luck!! Sue Woods

  4. Good luck with your move. We enjoyed meeting you last summer. You will make it back to Cuenca before we do! Count your blessings - it hasd been -20 degrees here, and we just had to have almost 5 feet of snow shovelled off our roof that was causing a leak from a roof ice dam. The worst winter here in Edmonton Alberta Canada in 40 years! We so miss Cuenca!

    Garth and Orilla Bogart

  5. Candy, Sue and Pat, see my latest post for the 21st. Gil and Deborah, I'm stoked for my return. Garth and Orilla, maybe those winter snow storms I posted in an earlier post were actually from Edmonton instead of Siberia. Look on the bright side. At least it will be your last winter in Edmonton. Think how much more that's going to make you appreciate Cuenca.