So with a title like like that maybe the first thought that comes to mind is, “What do you mean ‘vacation’, these people are retired! Since when do you need a vacation from retirement?!”
Well, in the last two years we have (please bear with me here):
-Sold our home
-Worked through the process of officially retiring from the US Federal government (me, anyway, and believe me, it’s no mean task)
-Divested ourselves of two thirds of our worldly goods
-Packed the rest into storage along with the excruciatingly detailed inventory we knew we would need if we ever wanted this stuff to make it into Ecuador
-Circled the US by car, visiting friends and family and double checking to make sure there was no place in the US that was calling to us as a place to live
-Collected all of those lovely official documents and stamps and Apostilles and notarizations needed to get a residency visa in Ecuador
-Schlepped ourselves and the dog off to Cuenca
-Got our residency visas
-Bought and extensively renovated an apartment
-Bought and had built a house
-Schlepped all of that stored stuff to Ecuador to fill said house and apartment
-Moved into the apartment
-Rented the house
-Completed End of Life paperwork
-Learned enough Spanish to almost not sound like fools
-Made a whole circle of new friends
-Got into perhaps the best physical shape of our lives
-And basically adjusted to an entirely new culture
The above mentioned actions were the result of the highly personal decisions reached by two individuals after literally years of research, discussion and planning. This is not meant to be interpreted as any sort of advice or recommendation for anyone else. We realize now more than ever that everyone’s situation is different.
But back to our story.
We had briefly been back to the States to oversee the packing of our containers (yes, the plural there is not a mistake; we never said we were minimalists), and we did treat ourselves to a Valentine’s Day trip to the beach in Peru and a long-awaited trip to Macchu Picchu, but other than that we just kept plowing through stuff that needed to get done. You have to be an Expat here to truly appreciate the amount of beauracracy that must be dealt with to accomplish anything and be sure it’s legal.
So, we think we got all of that right pretty much just as the coldest time of year rolled in. Now, please understand that “cold” in Cuenca can mean anything under the mid 60s. The coldest day I remember last year had a high of 54 and a low of 42 but, given that central heating here is almost non-existent, I spent that day under a down comforter in front of a space heater, whining. This year I wanted my July and August to be spent someplace considerably warmer.
Welcome to Loreto, Mexico.
No, we have not been here since we left Ecuador a month ago. We actually just rolled in last Sunday; so let’s backtrack a little.
Seeing friends was our main agenda for this trip, so we started in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is lookin’ good
Too many people, though. Cuenca is just the perfect size for me these days; big enough to have schools, museums and symphony orchestras, but small enough that you bump into people you know almost every time you leave the house.
Anyway, we saw my college girls and my dear niece and, like always, we were so busy talking I forgot to take pictures. It was as easy as ever to find Cathy and Doug’s house,
and the weather was beeootiful!
We did some power shopping, of course. Merry and Andrew took us to World of Spices near the Pike’s Place Market and we loaded up on some things that are hard to find in Cuenca (Guajillo Chilis, curing salt, etc.). Since Ray has lost 60 pounds in the last two years he pretty much needed a whole new wardrobe (clothes to fit a 6’3″ man are not so easy to come by in Ecuador), and I was sick of the same long sleeved t-shirts and light sweaters I’d been wearing during that same time frame, so I did some serious damage to more than one Chico’s. I was also lucky enough to reconnect with a friend from my home town that I’d lost track of for quite some time, so I can proudly say my best friends have been my best friends for almost 50 and 60 years, respectively. How lucky I am!
After about ten days it was time to head down the coast to Portland to spend a few days with Lynn and Harry. They are starting to work on the whole sorting out and downsizing thing themselves. Not for expatrition purposes, but the work is the same, and the work is daunting. How did so many of us accumulate so much stuff? Probably by doing too much of that power shopping from the last paragraph; you’d think I’d learn…sigh.
And God bless Lynn and Harry, even with all of that to concern them they took time out to make sure we could get some of our favorite foods that just don’t seem to make it to Ecuador, like Dim Sum and fresh Alaskan salmon grilled on the deck and six kinds of yummy cheese with wine beore dinner. Have I mentioned that I’m very afraid of going back to Pilates after this little vacation?
Anyway,after some fine meals and finer talks with the Beloved L and H our next stop was San Jose and the gorgeous and brilliant granddaughters.
Baby Zoe is due in October and Alexa is very excited, as we all are. I’m sure she will be yet another beautiful and smart addition to the family. Ray Lewis does make beautiful children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren!
And Laura has this friend John, who happens to be with the Oculus Group at Facebook, sooo…
we got a little tour. That place is amazing! How would you like to work here?
They have racks of bicycles so you can just grab one to ride between buildings,unless you have to go under the freeway to the newer buildings. For that you take a shuttle that starts playing the theme from “Jurassic Park” as you enter the tunnel.
Anyway, Oculus has been developing Virtual Reality programs pretty successfully, and guess who got to play?
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have entered the Matrix.
At any rate it was awesome fun. thank you guys!
There just aren’t enough pictures in this post, are there?
So let’s move on to some more.
Next stop was Los Angeles and that great view from the top of the Standard Hotel. We only had a few days here, but they were busy ones. Our friend Michelle is not just an artist, she is a force of nature. So there were amazing exhibits to see and stories to hear and possibilities to discuss, culminating in a birthday celebration for the Bishop of her church. Concerning organized religion, Ray and I have always just said we’re not very good joiners, so we had never experienced anything like the phenomenon that is the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Michelle has been a member of the choir there for years and credits the Bishop with getting her through some very rough times very successfully. Obviously she is not the only person he has ever helped. It wasn’t a full house; there were only 7000 people there, but there was some major celebrating going on. It was technically a church service so I didn’t want to take a bunch of pictures, but this one I couldn’t resist.
That is a picture of Stevie Wonder singing Happy Birthday to Bishop Charles E. Blake as Bishop Blake is blessing him. This being after a bunch of birthday tributes from all kinds of people, including Samuel L. Jackson and Magic Johnson.
It was just an amazing experience. The service lasted five hours and it seemed like minutes. And what does a good bishop do when he has kept his congregation in church until midnight? Why he serves them sandwiches, punch and cake before they head home.
Speaking of food yet again, Perrin and I REALLY wanted Ethiopian, so our final day Ray and Michelle indulged us.
Do I detect a look of long suffering patience on their faces? I don’t care; it was delicious!
So now we’re here.
And we can be slugs for two more weeks. But we’re starting to miss home now; we’re definitely missing Commander Barkley of the Lost Planet Canines. Gringo Post is the first thing we look at every morning because that’s kind of our home town news, and I’m in withdrawal from Trivia Night at Roux. So thanks for reading all the way through this saga. I’ve really not kept up with the Blog thing for some time now. Maybe I’ll try to do a little more in the future because, as always, we miss our friends and family no matter what continent they’re on, and we want to poke our noses into your lives every twice in a while so you won’t forget us.
We still love you, Man.