Monday, March 26, 2012

Learning from those who've been there.


Bingo! I purchased my round-trip airline ticket. ($1, 396.00 USD)  The flight leaves San Francisco 6:00 am Monday July 30, bound for Miami, then onto Quito where the jet arrives 10:00 pm that night.
Since the connecting flight from Quito to Cuenca, where I’ll be living, isn’t until 12 noon Tuesday, I’ll be staying the night in the airport in Quito. I land in Cuenca Tuesday 12:55 pm and get picked up at the airport by my Ecuadorian host family. I’m glad I’ll have at least a little time to get settled before Spanish lessons start the next day. I’ve also received my passport, so that’s good---I’m set to get there.

I’m going to make a point of leaving Cuenca on quite a few weekends to visit other parts of the country. Teachers at Simon Bolivar Spanish School sell tours and excursions to other places in Ecuador to students at the school, and I think that’s a plus because I'd like to taste some of the many flavors to Ecuador while I’m there.
I do read books on retiring in Ecuador, or books on what it’s like to retire abroad, most of the time five days a week while I walk on the treadmill at the gym.  I do this as it’s important to prepare, to read what experiences others have had doing what I will be considering in a very serious manner. The latest books I’ve read are “The Financial Guide to Retiring Abroad,” by Rick Todd, and “How to Retire Overseas,” by Kathleen Peddicord.  
After reading these books, I’m much more aware of the scope of what retiring overseas entails. As a consequence, I feel better able to assess what would be in store for me if I decide to go for it.

I’ve lived in poverty and been poor here in California, so I'm guessing the standard of living in Ecuador won't for the most part affect me adversely.  I lived two years in a 25 foot cabin cruiser anchored out in the waters of Richardson Bay. I lived in dilapidated hotel rooms. I lived in a cramped trailer for five years.  I lived in my own truck for another two years, although that experience was much ameliorated by my former wife, who allowed me to stay in her apartment while she was at work.

Houseboat in the neighborhood where I lived on my boat. (1971)

If I retire in Ecuador, I will at some point within a year or two get “kicked in the ass.” I will feel the move was the biggest mistake of my life.  I will feel incapable of adjusting to Ecuadorian ways to such an extent I will go into crisis mode, thinking the only solution is to return home. From what the pages of those aforementioned books tell, every expat goes through such a period, and if the emotions are successfully weathered, the crisis subsides and goes away.  

If I retire in Ecuador, I promise myself not to segregate. I won’t only congregate with English speaking expats. I’ll develop friendships with Ecuadorians and become fluent in Spanish. I’ll get involved with activities in the local Catholic church. Of course there is great value to having expat friends too. Time will come when an animated conversation with fellow expats is the best prescription for a melancholic case of being homesick.

Another thought spawned by the reading of those books is that if I retire in Ecuador, I’d encourage myself to attend cultural events and visit museums. I’d attend the symphony. I’d go on a tour of the Amazon forest and Galapagos Islands.  I’d live in a coastal town for two weeks. And there are so many varied types of birds in Ecuador, I’d be letting myself down if I didn’t get out to go bird watching with the powerful binoculars I have. Why in the world ought anyone relocate to another continent and then end up mostly sticking around the house?
So, I've finished reading those previous books, and ordered the selections listed below based on recommendations posted in the Facebook group, “Ecuador Expats.”
·        Portrait of a Nation: Culture and Progress in Ecuador,” by Osvaldo Hurtado.
·        Culture and Customs of Ecuador,” by Michael Handelsman.
·        The History of Ecuador,”  (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)