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Friday, September 26, 2014

Ode to the Simple Life

We can tell you one thing that is very special about living in Ecuador (or perhaps living the expat life, but as this is our first experience, we can't speak for other countries). What is that thing, you ask? Learning to appreciate the little things.

As we've mentioned before, things take time here and not all crises are created equal. Our building has been struggling with hot water - it was never there when you really needed it. I took to showering anywhere between 11am and 1pm, in hopes of actually having warm water, which is fine, unless you need to be somewhere or your hair takes 5 hours to dry (like mine). Often breakfast dishes would be washed in tepid water, or we'd have to fire up the kettle if you wanted good hot agua.
This is a minor inconvenience, but the owners decided to address the issue and have a second hot water heater installed. Wonderful, we thought! And it really is, but like many things in Ecuador there is a process to the installation. Week one: the new tank arrives. Week two: grade the space where the hot water heaters are to ensure proper drainage should the lines blow. (This entailed taking BOTH hot water heaters out of the space, setting up an on demand water heater (yes, one for the whole EIGHT suite building) and pouring cement, letting it cure, laying tile and reinstalling both water heaters.

Good on them, for making sure no flooding would ensue in the suite below, but the process took a week. Most of you will have little familiarity with on demand water heaters. They are awesome, environmentally friendly things that are mostly designed for a single residence. (We have friends that have two for their house alone.) So we went from mostly having hot water to do what we needed to not having any hot water at all. For us spoiled gringos, this is not fun. Lukewarm showers, boiling water to wash was a long slog.

But the point is that we now have reliable hot water and it is BLISSFUL.
Yes, THIS blissful.
The same goes for the lights in our refrigerator. Indurama is a brand name of appliances here in Ecuador, and I hate to say it, but they are notoriously unreliable. The fridge had little low wattage bulbs, likely of a fluorescent nature, but these weren't bulbs that you just unscrewed and replaced, no.
What our refrigerator was like without light.

You needed a whole little mini-fixture (and a repair man) to fix the problem. This also took a week and when we could finally see in to our fridge again, without cracking out our hiking head lamps, it was also a wonderful thing.
Yup, that's me, looking for a bottle of pickles.
Who knew that it would be possible to wax poetic over such things, but this is what happens when you slow down, smell the flowers and make the monumental leap to a whole new country. Our advice? Enjoy every minute of the quirks and quandaries of the simple things.

On a side note, we are heading in to spring here (not that there's a lot of difference, but the sun is out - it was 23 degrees (Celsius - just embrace it) and, wow, is it gorgeous! Chau for now!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Social Butterflies - a whole new world.

It's hard to believe that we've been here for over 10 months now, unless you subtract the time we were back in Canada and how different life is!

Our children are suspect of our increased social life. We do go out to meet friends several times a week which is a definite departure from our solitary status back in Canada. It's likely that we just have more time, but it's also likely that we've found more people with a similar mind set to our own, which makes it easy to make friends. (This is a pet theory of Ron's, and I can't say that I disagree...there's something about coming to a foreign country that is, well, adventuresome and others who come have that same spirit of adventure.)
Susan & Linda making supper for us!
Be this as it may, it can really get exhausting. (Maybe, like amateur athletes, we just aren't in good enough shape for it! Our advice? Pace yourself. I know, I know: people are heading north for a stretch and you may not get to see them for a while, or they got back from somewhere exciting and you want to hear about it. (Or BEST case scenario, they have hard to get goodies still neatly packed in their suitcases, with your name on them! Yes, dark chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter cups are a luxury.) There are a hundred and one reasons why you should probably go meet that person for coffee or have them over for dinner, but seriously...limit it.  We've had weeks were we were out EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. (Conveniently, or not, depending on your view, our apartment can only service 4 for dinner, which for us, is occasionally vexing, but in some ways a blessing.)
Bike Trips
Some of you are thinking "hey, that sounds like my kind of action." If that's you, pack your bags immediately and head to Ecuador. I won't lie, it takes time to build up a network of acquaintances, but if you work at it, your calendar will be full before you know it. If you're thinking "dear heavens, no!" well, don't come or learn to say "no". (Which is much tougher to do here than you might think.)

Even with all of this overwhelming social "stuff" we're thriving here in Cuenca. And since we've never been shy of taking on new adventures, we're taking to it like ducks to water. Despite all our roaming it's possible that much like Goldilocks, we feel as if we might have found something "just right" finally.
Day trips with visitors
Dinner with family
So if you're thinking of coming here, make sure you're ready to get your social on...I guess it's completely possible to NOT do that, but why the heck wouldn't you?

Until next time!