Saturday, January 22, 2011

Paris in Cuenca?!

"Is it like Paris?" I asked, hesitantly.

"No, not exactly," Mark responded.

"Is it like Rome?" I prompted.

"No, not really," he said, "at least not in the way you're thinking!"

Two weeks after we had that conversation during Mark's trip to Cuenca, we had our house up for sale and we were moving to Ecuador!

I know what you're thinking, Who in the world retires to a different part of the world without seeing it first?

It's simple. I had a point of reference and tons of pictures from Mark's trip. No, Cuenca is not exactly Paris, not Rome, not Vienna, not Bellagio, but a mixture of everything I've experienced in my past travels to Europe. Because we had lived in Sicily for six years and traveled throughout Europe, I could picture in my mind exactly what Mark was talking about.

Later Mark explained, "It's kind of like Paris without a lot of sidewalk cafes; it's like Switzerland with the huge Andes instead of the Alps; it's like Rome with a cosmopolitan feel to it; and it's like Sicily with some graffati on the walls, guards with guns outside public buildings, but it's amazingly clean."

"Are there Starbucks on every corner?" I asked.

"No. And there's no Macy's, Nordstrom's or Neiman Marcus, but you'll love this place called--Sukasa!" Mark added.

Seven months later we're still here and loving it in Cuenca (oh, and I do love Sukasa!). Under the circumstances, I think we did really well: we married a son, sold a house, packed up 35 years of marriage into four suitcases (mas/menos) and moved to South America.

My friend, Kathy, recently e-mailed me and asked if I would be her traveling buddy for Barcelona, Mallorca, and Paris this summer. I responded, "Nope, just can't do it!" We need to be careful during our first three years in Ecuador (we cannot be out of the country more than 90 days in a one-year period of time and we've already used up half of that).

To tell you the truth, I have no real desire to travel to another country. I found "Paris in Paradise"; it's called Cuenca! I'm as happy as I've ever been in one place. Traveling is a lot of work and this is a whole lot of fun!

I'm thankful Cuenca chose us and I'm grateful that Paris is waiting for me if and when I need to see the "City of Lights," but for now I'm basking in our "Paris."

Last night we attended a free "concierto" directed by Julio Levinas from Uruguay and special "guest star" Orlando Idrovo playing the "violoncello" at the Banco Central Auditorium. It was a free concert (like so many in Cuenca), and an amazing night of music--almost magical. Later, we "promenaded" up and down Calle Larga and ate at Cafe La Parola to watch the view of the city. Total cost for the evening -- $10. Where in the world could you do that?

We're looking forward to more concerts, more dinner dates and more "Paris in Cuenca"!

Until next time...hasta luego!


Debbie said...

Just curious, what did you do with your 35 years of household belongings? Storage, sold and or donated, maybe all of the above? My mind is planning for down the road. Thanks, Debbie
P.S. Beautiful day in Bend, crystal clear but 35 degrees! said...

Bend?!?!? That is where my son is! I am Kathy the friend who begged Connie to come to Barcelona etc. with me this summer. Sigh. I will survive, and have replaced you, Connie, I will have you know! But not without the memories of Paris, Bellagio and Vienna! I will come to you, and if I had realized that you had the days away limit, I wouldn't have bothered asking. Does this mean no more birthday parties at the lake?

Jim said...

I keep clicking on your email site. I don't know if it's my browser or what, but it won't respond. If you have not already seen my post on cuencaperspectivesbyjim, please do. Is your health insurance through Humana in Ecuador, or some other part of Humana? Do you have hospitalization or just prescription drug coverage? Does your insurance cover you when you are out of the country, particularly the U.S.?

I've done a great deal of travel to the Far East, but not to Europe except in fly-overs. I hope to get to Italy someday. I know I've found a gem in Cuenca, but was astounded to read you believe that you have a blend of all of your travels right in Cuenca. Great read!

Connie Pombo said...

I just made a lengthly comment post and "poof" gone! Let me try this again. ;o)

Debbie: Thanks for your comment and oh let me tell you, the sorting, sifting and selling was difficult in 3 months. We gave all our family photo albums to our oldest son to take care of; we sold or gave away most of our furniture; and made a lot of trips to Goodwill. To do it right you really need a year!

Kathy: Great memories of our travels; my favorite is in the Coffee Lover's book (sigh!) called "Bad Gastein"! I'll never forget looking out the window and watching the sunrise over the alps in a golden blaze of light. Simply amazing!

Jim: Thank s so much for your post (I just read it).I will link your blog to mine! We have Nova (a consolidator for Humana). The website is Our plan covers office visits, precriptions, and hospitalization. We chose the middle of the road plan (up to $20,000 per year). And we can only go to one hospital -- Mt. Sinai. It's basically like third party reimbursement, we fill out our part and the hospital fills out their part. At Monte Sinai there is a representative who comes into your room and does all the paper work for you! For $80.56 per month for both of us, we feel like we made a good decision. After age 55, the premiums go up so we're thankful we did it now as opposed to later. Hope this helps!

Jim said...

Muchas Gracias!

orcabison said...

Thanks for your description / comparison of Cuenca with Paris, Alps / Switzerland, Rome and Sicily.

Connie Pombo said...

Hmm...I might have to change that, I'm seeing more outdoor cafes (Coffee Tree is in town!).

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