"No, not exactly," Mark responded.
"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!