2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage
VIVA CUENCA

VIVA CUENCA!

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.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A EUROPEAN HOLIDAY: LONDON AND AMSTERDAM: INTRODUCTION

Traveling is fun.  I can't say enough good things about it. It's been such a thrill for me to visit places that over my life-time I studied from books, viewed in photos, or experienced from television programming and the movies.  I've always been restless, and I've always been curious about almost everything.  Traveling has given me a chance to experience so many different climates and topographies from all over the world--the plant, animal, and weather variations that can never be fully appreciated any other way than to be in the midst of them.  There has been no end to  all the types of people who have crossed my path from all the numerous cultures I have visited who proved so very mind-expanding. The acquaintances and friendships that result from traveling and living abroad; some which were enjoyed momentarily, others which developed into longer friendships is a major plus from traveling.  I am so glad that my openness to new experiences, my love of history, my search for what makes people tick, and my wonderment at why cultures develop as they do; have given me the opportunity to enjoy such an incredible myriad of people, cuisines, languages, and art-forms--all of which I experienced only because I could and chose to travel.

Software programs today bring the outside world into our living room in ways that when I was a youth were unimaginable. Yet, software programs have some distance to go before they can create a virtual world that equates with our mind and our bodies to simulate anything close to actually experiencing the tastes, sounds, smells, touch, and stimulated-feeling conjured from such experiences when we travel. Ultimately, if it were not for my experiences in traveling, I currently would not be living in Cuenca, Ecuador, which would be the biggest miss of my life.

In the distant past, I traveled to what proved for me to be indelibly conscious-raising experiences in the Far East and India in ways I could never have imagined.  In recent years I ventured into parts of South America, and last year I devoted a month to a fabulous trip to Italy. This year, I wanted to travel to something different from Latin American and Mediterranean cultures.  Off I went for three weeks to London, and a week in Amsterdam. Since my one month visit to Italy last year was the first time I traveled to somewhere which was more than just a layover in an European airport, I was looking forward to the continuation of my exploration of Europe and what it had to offer.

I would encourage anyone who is approaching retirement, and has the financial and physical wherewithal and yen to travel, do so while you can. None of us can predict when unexpected health issues may arise. Even if one's health is still good at seventy, one's energy levels continue to dissipate with age, particularly when needed for strenuous and/or long-term traveling.

I handled my month of traveling relatively fine. However, despite six to twelve miles of walking every day for almost all but four or five days of my vacation--and I have the walking-city of Cuenca to thank for my mileage endurance--it does get tiring to have to deal with all the minutia of traveling: Do I have everything. Am I forgetting anything? Is everything logistically-related covered? OMG, the frustration of getting Internets, GPS's, Uber pickups, etc, etc, etc all working, and my brain working with them.  The minutia can really take a toll on a guy my age. So not every minute of traveling is enjoyable, but the beauty of returning and resting from a vacation as the dross falls away, and what I most remember are those aha moments.

As I said, I am restless, and I knew there was no way I could make an eleven hour flight from Guayaquil to Amsterdam and then another additional one hour flight to London without going stark-raving mad in a claustrophobic coach seat. I traveled business with KLM, the Dutch airline, which I was surprised to discover has a slew of flights out of Ecuador to Europe, many of which are non-stop.  I was so happy to learn I could take a non-stop flight, and avoid the Miami Airport, and all of its logistical nightmares. 

The KLM flight attendants were the best.  The ladies were conscientious, and the service was outstanding.  I enjoyed my flight to and from Amsterdam as one of the highlights of my trip, which is the last thing I thought I would ever say about any flight. I actually slept on a flight.  I don't sleep on flights, no matter how long they are.  I could not believe I slept for four entire hours.  I would have slept longer, if the attendants hadn't served breakfast at 4:00 a.m. in the morning Quito time, but which was already 10:00 a.m. Amsterdam time. 

The movie selections were great, with a large array of films from which to choose.  I watched them on the back of the seat in front of me with every genre offered. Before I knew it, with all the seating and leg-room space in Business Class, and the ability to lay out my seat like a bed, take off my shoes, and indulge in some good quality drinks (I hadn't had Chavis Regal in years); the flight felt like it was over in half the time.  

I admit I enjoyed being spoiled, and certainly recognized why the European and American elites are so out-of-touch with everyday people.  This was only business class, imagine how out-of-touch these elites are with their own private jets, etc.  I must admit, however, that Air Italia last year, had the best cuisine I have ever had with any airline I've used. Unfortunately, the Italians have such a terrible reputation for losing passengers' luggage.  Nevertheless, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to fly KLM again.

NEXT:  MERRY OLE ENGLAND




Flying high above the clouds with KLM Dutch Airlines:  (You may notice me with my harp and halo on the center right cloud--okay corny, but what do you expect from a free-read blog.)



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