We met Barbara, who was previously from Maricopa County, Arizona at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport waiting for her flight, as we were, to Quito, Ecuador. A very engaging married woman that - Serendipitous moment - lives in Cuenca, she is about our age and retired from contract administration with a major Defense Company. Her adult children rent out the house in the Phoenix area, and that leaves her free to be with her husband, who has a love of Ecuador and its people.
Barbara now has her Cedula, or resident visa, and has been back in the States for family visits, especially to visit and help her Mother in Law who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas. One can't go back for too many days in a year's period or you lose your Cedula and you have to wait, then start the whole process over again. She had just a few days left to stay in the US, and was glad to get back to Ecuador and her beloved, Cuenca, which she now states is where her home is. "Soy una Cuencana!," she exuded to us as she explained her situation vis a vis Cuenca.
Cuenca has been her home for the last three years, and she and her husband rent a penthouse condo overlooking the scenic Rio Tomebamba in downtown Cuenca - El Centro - for $680 USD per month. She walks everywhere, and has lost weight since coming to Cuenca. She intends to live here 'til death, and has no plans of ever again returning to the United States to live permanently, although she will no doubt visit family and friends that remain in the USA.
A word about that condo price of $680 per month: most gringos don't rent at that price and/or can't afford it, renting at a more realistic price range of $250 to $350 USD per month. FYI.
On board our United flight from IAH to Quito, Ecuador we met seatside of us an Ecuadorian national returning to his native Ecuador (for a family visit) named Luis. Luis was short in stature like many Ecuadorians, and very polite and soft spoken, too. Carolyn Anne engaged him in all manner of conversation on the five hour long flight, and started to pick up on Spanish right away (kudos to Luis for doing that, too. . . just what the linguist in me knew she needed, and I was able to come into the conversation as needed to translate).
Luis is a technical manager for one of Silicon Valley's best known and well respected IT companies, and is married to an American woman for several years now. (We saw photos of his wife and kids on his cell phone.) He himself is now a US citizen, while remaining a citizen of his beloved Ecuador. When I explained the reason for our visit - to explore the possibility of living in Ecuador permanently - he understood, but brightened up considerably when I further explained we were not coming in to his country to drive up prices for apartments, condos and the like by throwing money to the landlords greedy enough to go along with that line of thinking. Luis smiled broadly at that last part. We prayed for the passengers and crew as we landed about a half hour behind schedule in Quito, and left him on wonderful terms. A good family oriented guy with two new gringo friends!
We got through Ecuadorian immigration, then got our bags less the "Not Yours" luggage ID tags in baggage claim, then proceeded out to Ecuadorian customs (nothing to declare), restrooms (clean and well stocked( and soon found Ernesto, our taxi driver, with his white sign stating our last name in black capital letters. Bags now packed in his newer model Toyota taxi, we took off from Mariscal Sucre airport - just 13 months old - and went downgrade towards the large capital city of Quito. Soothing Chinese music was played on the taxi radio while Ernesto engaged us in some friendly conversation, in English (conversational level) and Spanish. We soon met Hernan, our Ecuatreasures bed & breakfast host, after a 45 minute drive through much of the surrounding metro area. We had made it to Quito for our first night's rest at last!
(Blogger's note: this post took place on Sunday/Monday. It is now Thursday as I type this. We are now safely in Cuenca, and in our second lodging in el centro (downtown) with a working wifi connection again after traveling about 300 miles south via Sucre Express intercity bus lines. However, the wifi connection is only as good as the weather, and increasing clouds and/or rain cuts off the wifi connection. Patience, please, everyone!) We'll try to post in the mornings when the clouds are not so prevalent. Please keep up your prayers for us too, especially for safety in a stange and new location we have never been to before. Thanks, and I'll keep posting in hopefully a more regular fashion as time and conditions permit.)