Monday, October 25, 2010

Textures of Ecuador

The Ecuadorians call the group of people over 65 Tercera Edad (Third Age).  Presumably, there's childhood, then your practical and fun filled adulthood and then third age; the point in your life that you longed for during the "bad days" while working & dealing with children & accumulating assets & dispensing with debts & taking care of business & raising yourself & others above the mud.  There's a respect here in Ecuador, shown in perks & courtesies, for those in third age; shorter line-ups at banks & bill paying places, 1/2 price tickets for the movie theaters, water parks, airlines & buses, etc.   The perks don't extend to a comfortable retirement system (oh well).  Just the other day Brian witnessed an unprecedented line-up of cars, waiting patiently (this is the unprecedented part), while a young man escorted an ancient old woman across the road, tiny-stepping, arm clutching arm, two strangers making their way through the traffic.  You'll see young people help the oldsters bring bundles onto the bus and Shelley is always surprised when a teenager rises and gives her a seat.  "It must be my gray hair" she explains to Brian.  Those of us from North American & much of Europe have reached a stage where those in tercera edad are often still healthy and vigorous, and so we move to countries like Ecuador bringing our retirement dollars to help with an economy we'll take little from.  Often we'll see bent over crones & wizened old men, ancient displays of a life of physically hard work & a lack of protein and realize these people aren't much older than we are.  We were lucky.  So, here we are in the middle of something very old and something quite new.  Seems to us that the North American baby boomers have spent an awful lot of time in that in-between spot demarcating the old from the new.

It didn't take us long to get back into our Cuenca groove.  We'd arranged to meet 3 people at California Kitchen for dinner, so we simply took a walk around the neighbourhood for our day time outing.  We also stopped in at Jo.Mar and picked up some frozen sea food in memory of our trip to the coast.  Brian had his nap, Shelley caught up on e-mails and eventually we wandered downtown to meet our friends.  One of the people had to beg off, but another one showed up so things evened out.  We had a nice evening, chatting about our trip and catching up with each other. 

It turns out Saturday was a kind of chore day.  Shelley washed the floors in the morning and Brian put together some meat balls and gravy for our dinner that evening.  We took Fredi for a walk to the strip of grass near the river where she can free run and had her charging between the two of us, getting tons of exercise, when an acquaintance jogged by and stopped to catch up on the gossip.  We then headed up to SuKasa because Shelley wanted to buy a mini vase to capture the stones & broken sea shells she'd picked up on the beach during our holiday.  Brian & Fredi sat outside while Shelley went in and found just the right thing ($0.75).  Nearing our apartment on our return home, we ran into another couple we know and chatted about boats & sealing wax until everyone's feet got tired and we parted ways.  At home, Brian checked the slow cooker on his meat balls and Shelley put together a batch of Puppy Cookies as Fredi was almost out.  Now it was well past nap time, so Brian & Fredi went down and Shelley computered & read her book while baking batches of liver cookies. 

Not quite back to routine on Sunday, we did stop by the market and get roast pig for Brian & a tube of tomatoes for Shelley, but instead of going to the park, we ended up at a restaurant meeting 3 friends for lunch.  It turned into a joke-fest, with everyone telling their favourite jokes.  Afterward, we caught a cab home and Brian just barely got down to his nap on time.  Monday we did our shopping, took Fredi for a couple of walks, but mostly lazed around the apartment.  Coming home from the grocery store, some relatively new gringos living in our building offered to help us bring our bags up.  We demurred and explained to them the building had a shopping cart for just that purpose.  They were minorly thrilled (!) and requested we supply them with any other "building" hints we knew of.  We, of course, couldn't think of anything. 

Apparently, by mentioning Shelley's whimsical wish to perhaps move to India, we've taken a small straw poll.  Everyone is against it!  It's dirty, the crime is terrible, it's hot, it's the last country on anybody's list, etc. etc. etc.  We're not serious (at this time) about making the move, but would point out to all detractors, that this is exactly what was said to us when (a) we moved onto the boat and (b) we moved to Ecuador.  OK....they said other things when we moved onto the boat, but they were similar.  Both Brian & Shelley have had "itchy feet" all of their lives.  They've scratched them by multiple spouses, jobs & living locations.    At this point, we seem to have eliminated spouses & jobs from the equation.  "Good for you!" some say, but....  Ecuador is a wonderful country, the people are kind, the weather is kind and the cost-of-living is kind.  What more can you ask?  The thing is, just because one reaches Tercera Edad doesn't necessarily mean that one's wish to learn & progress is diminished.  Brian & Fredi reach out beseechingly (not to move right now) to Shelley and she does as she's always done:  taken care of business & family. 

You may wish to check out our FaceBook Album Textures of Ecuador that we've recently downloaded.  Ecuador abounds with textures and we certainly haven't captured them all, but we're on our way at this point.


  1. My husband and I are expats and plan on returning to Cuenca after a sixteen year absence this November. We wish to rent a furnished apartment for a minimum of two months. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! In Mexico, those of the tercera edad can receive a card from the social services agency for senior discounts. Do you have to be a resident to qualify in Ecuador? Muchas gracias! Laura in Mexico

  2. Laura: You should check the section of our blog called "Answers to E-Mails". You'll see the link near the top. Regarding discounts if you're over 65, most are given by showing your Censo (which is the card you receive once you've established residency). You may have to get a special card to get a discount on the city buses...we're not sure. On the cross country buses, again the Censo is all that's needed.