Cuenca, Ecuador…….Expat Life……..Not So Much! Yet!….But, Improving!
July 8, 2014 by admin
Update: I wrote the following post two days ago, in the midst of puzzling frustration ….. yesssssss……over the inability to get online and to stay online in my new apartment, here in Cuenca, Ecuador. It has finally taken three technicians repeated evening visits to get me up and running in a manner that hasn’t disappeared by the next morning. Last night, my new, dear friend, Emma, the apartment manager, stuck around while the new techie took the wiring apart for at least an hour.
We actually began to understand each other’s language attempts. She’s ten years younger than me, has six children and fourteen grandchildren!!! She lent me an extra cell phone when she discovered that I can’t keep buying them for every new country I enter and thus, depend upon my email connections for all my news, local or homebased. I showed her my three published books so she could know that I was actually an author, working on some legitimate ebooks and not simply overly-dependent upon an internet fix.
One humorous note was the fact that I could tell that the technician understood English perfectly well, as we had spoken before Emma arrived; but he wasn’t revealing that fact to her. Otherwise, she would have had him translating every time we hit a snag. He just kept his head down and worked away. With very satisfactory results….so far, anyway.
This morning, the weather reflected my change in fortune! It’s clear and sunny and I can finally see the surrounding mountains as more than just dark blobs behind the rain clouds. Analyzing these past two weeks and the grumpy post I turned out in frustration last Tuesday, I see things a little more clearly now, as well. My written reports are usually upbeat and optimistic but that’s not really good journalism. I ought to tell it like it is: settling in a new country is never smooth and frustration free. We are always warned that there will be surprises and obstacles.
Not that I’m settling. It’s more like I’ve spread out in some airport executive lounge (Cuenca) for a long layover before heading out again. But, I do have an agenda, which was getting delayed in my overall scheme of things and I suppose I’m a bookwriting curmudgeon. I can’t do this stuff on the road so I buy a space for awhile to get the work done. Isn’t that the only reason people stay home? Now, my new test will be to see how much I actually accomplish with the excuses out of the way.
Yesterday revealed another puzzling obstacle. My eyes have been complaining a lot lately; especially the left one. New prescriptions are in order, as it’s been over a year. So, I had an eye exam yesterday and the doctor said that my present glasses’ left lens is way too strong for that eye. No wonder it’s been so tired! No wonder I’ve sometimes squinted and used only one eye to read! The Optician in Cape Town, South Africa, had made a huge mistake and I’ve been compensating ever since. But, Ecuador can’t produce the transitional lenses I require, so this doctor recommended waiting until I get to the States in the Fall for new ones. Today, I’m going to ask him if he can, at least, give me a left lens of the proper strength to help me through the next few months.
So, sometimes, these new countries we settle down in lead to the correction of old botherations!!! Got to remember that! Okay, here’s the fusty, grumble I wrote the other day:
Cuenca, Ecuador is the darling of International Living Magazine, prime adviser to senior-citizen Americans seeking to move overseas. I’ve been here twelve days now and am hitting a wall of lowered expectations. To be fair, it’s much warmer than I gave it credit for, being still a little high in the foothills of the Andes. And, it has a very pleasant Historic section,in which I am now living. I quickly found a large apartment, half a block from the main square, and rented it for $600 a month, with no lease required….other than a $600 damage deposit….figuring that I’d spend that on a month’s-worth of $20 a night private hostel beds.
With two double beds and a whole lot of space, this place is really too big for me and most apartments here rent for less. But, I was in a hurry to get started doing some serious writing because I’m turning my three-years’ worth of blog posts into another four ebooks. Every now and then, I decide to put down roots for a month or two and live like a regular person. This fifth floor spot has great views and is sleek and modern.
I’m trying to load pictures here…. BUT, the wi-fi is horrendous! I didn’t listen to the “Try Before You Buy!” advice and I got stuck, though I don’t believe the landlady knew there was no signal….except a bleedthrough from the next-door apartment. Finally, a technician has been called and I’ve dutifully stayed at home waiting for him. But, so far. Nada! Even checking my email in the local internets has been a chore, though I’m not sure why.
Next, I’m getting a truthful look at my fellow Expats! To my shock and horror, they are more like the ordinary senior citizens I’ve met at the stateside International Living Conferences; than the internationally-minded expats I knew in Montevideo, Uruguay. I just attended a big and fancy evening in honor of Fourth of July, that was billed as a BBQ and Square Dance, but was actually a Country Club-type dinner with ballroom dancing only. People just stuck to their well-formed groups of friends and there was none of the “Dosey-Doe/Change Your Partners” rotation that this single-gal was counting on.
When there are 3000 American Expats living in the same city, and ten-percent of them have shown up at a big social event, there is absolutely no incentive to make a newcomer feel at home. So, tuck that factoid away in your memorybanks if you are thinking of becoming an expat here. Nobody much cares!
However, Jeffry and Ramona, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, are redeeming exceptions. Right after I moved in, I ran into Jeffry on the elevator and he took me in to meet his wife. We had a great visit and agreed to do it again. They are on the 6th floor and I’m on the fifth. We can’t knock on each other’s doors, as we’re locked into our own private hallways. This security makes me feel like I did in South Africa! I don’t carry a cell phone, as they become obsolete with every border crossed, so my only connection is through my email account. It was two days later that I even got online again and learned that I’d missed their invitation to go out the night before. Shoot! It’s not only my writerly life that this outage is messing with….it’s my social life, too!
Maybe I’m getting cynical? Look how dependent we’ve become in this modern era of gadgets. And if your apartment’s wi-fi doesn’t work, the technician might not show up until you’re ready to move out. They do warn us that in South America, things move slowly. Actually, the internet was very unreliable in the Montevideo apartment I rented six months ago. I think I’d better start pricing long-term hotel rooms in future destinations.
Now that I’m in the empty next-door apartment using that signal, I shall again try to load a few pictures of this swanky, imperfect place.