Since I’ve retired in Cuenca, Ecuador, it takes someone with a cow prod to get me out of bed before 9 a.m. But something that will get me up early is one of Fredy Ordonez’s hikes through the countryside of Ecuador. Today we’re hiking through the hillsides of Huacarrumi to Uzhupud, small villages which promise beautiful views of the valleys and the rivers near the town of Paute.
Cuenca expat and photographer Jane Hiltbrand was captivated by the colorful Art Nouveau style façade, as well as its mysterious man on the balcony, and did more than just wonder. She went inside the China House and started photographing the polychrome brass designs on the ceilings and walls and climbed the wooden staircase to the second floor, where the mystery unraveled.
During the six years I’ve spent living in Ecuador, one of the key trends I’ve noticed is the rise in the number of digital nomads from North America and Europe. Some of these remote workers relocated when their careers migrated online. Others arrived here in retirement and built new incomes in blogging, freelance writing, photography, or one of dozens of other online professions.
I am riding along the streets of the quaint and cozy northern Ecuadorian town of Cotacachi. With me, real estate maven Jim Keyser cracks a joke that focuses on one of the key elements of appeal that draws expats seeking a comfortable place to settle into a new life. “You know what we call a person who makes a ridiculously low offer on a home here?” Jim asks. “Property owner.”
With a pastor father who used music to inspire, an actress mother who was a stand-in for Joanne Woodward and sang in the theater, and a brother who founded folk-punk favorite Violent Femmes, Glenn Gano’s DNA has music running through it. “My brother and I loved to sit around and listen to my father play,” says Glenn. And now, after moving to Cuenca, Ecuador, Glenn has the time to reclaim his dormant talents.
B.J. McNally knew it was time for big changes in her life when John, her husband of 48 years, nearly fell face-first into a plate of food after they had gone hiking in a state park in Wisconsin. That was the day they both knew John had to stop working 13-hour days at his hospital facilities management job and concentrate on his health. “He was working himself to death,” B.J. says. It was time to retire.
Before you shout “No, it’s Everest”, let me explain a little geology here so you can impress at dinner parties.
Laura and I are in our early 60s, and we are neither athletes nor daredevils. But we used to be. We come from an era where parents pushed you out the door at dawn and shouted, “don’t come back till dark.”
I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, where seniors flock to retire because they can lounge in the warm weather, drink pina coladas under the shade of palm trees, and not have to pay state income taxes. So why would I leave my seaside home by one of the best beaches in the U.S.? Well, Florida’s not so cheap anymore…and it’s hot.
There are two Cuencas in the world, one in Spain and one in Ecuador. Cuenca, Ecuador, shares a lot with its Spanish cultural twin, including art, food, architecture, and religion. Even the fresh trout from the rivers that run through the city, and the affinity for fiestas remind me of Cuenca’s Spanish ties right down to the Picasso-influenced murals that line the streets.