Monday, February 7, 2011

101 Questions

As many of you know, I’m writing a book which will be available on Kindle soon: Living and Retiring in Cuenca: 101 Questions Answered. The thought came to me that I was answering the same questions over and over again; I don’t mind – really, but wouldn’t it be nice to have them all in one place?

It has been predicted that in the next five years 20,000 Americans will arrive in Cuenca (hence, all the construction going on), and by the way, that’s a lot of "questions."

A year ago this month when Mark visited Cuenca, I asked him an important question: “Honey, are there a lot of Americans in Cuenca?”

“No, I’ve only seen a few,” he responded.

A year to the day, there are more than a few Americans in Cuenca; in fact, I’m careful which direction I walk Mocha in the morning because my 20 minutes turns into a two-hour walk. It’s not that I’m trying to avoid Americans, it’s just that there are so many of them asking the same 101 questions.

It’s interesting that everyone goes through the same cross-cultural reactions as noted in the book we had to read 30 years ago: Culture Shock by Myron Loss. It’s a classic and it’s still in print. In fact, it was required reading for our cross-cultural training class before we left for Italy. It’s one of the few books that I brought with me and I’ve read it several “hundred” times—each time gaining something new.

I don’t have all the answers to everyone’s questions, but I can offer some suggestions. Sometimes, I actually cry when I read e-mails asking me personal questions about what they should do with their dog (bring him or leave him) or what about their family pictures and treasured heirlooms, and what about the “baby teeth”? I sympathize because yesterday I came across an envelope with the words, “Don’t throw away!”

Inside were notes that my dad carried in his pocket written on scraps of paper, old receipts, and on 3x5 cards. Some were Bible verses, others were words of wisdom from famous authors, and others were sound advice that a father would give his daughter. I remember the day that I asked him for those notes in his pen protector pocket all tattered and grease stained. My dad— with tears in his eyes—said, “Sure, you can keep them; they’re yours!”

Really, I just wanted to make copies and give them back to him because I could tell they were as much a part of him as they have become a part of me. I treasure those scraps of paper; they are a symbol of a dad’s love for his daughter.

No, they don’t have all the answers written on them (I wish they did!), but somehow a part of him will always be with me. In fact, I would have traded all four suitcases for that one envelope!

So when folks ask me what to bring and what to give away, I’m careful with my response. Your heart will guide you and on a rainy day (like today!), you’ll be glad you have at least a few “answers” to your questions.

Con un abrazo muy fuerte,


Karen Kimbler said...

Oh I know, I have some old work badges of my dad, and a work journal that is all done in his handwriting... those are memories that renew feelings that you thought you forgot..

Connie Pombo said...

Oh, how precious to find that envelope; I thought it was lost. Things you can do on rainy days. Loved the "colors" you sent me! ;-)

Debbie said...

20,000 in the next 5 years? Oh my...

Connie Pombo said...

Debbie, it's only a prediction but I hope that it's not accurate. I would certainly hate for Cuenca to become "Little America." I think we'll have to move if that's the case; the enchantment will be lost!

Cathy said...

Connie I think its a wonderful idea that you are writing a book! So necessary!! There are so many questions that people have, many are CLUELESS!!
I agree with you about a few years ago there weren´t many Americans.
I have been living here for over 17 years, back then there were only a handful, now.... you can just imagine!!

Connie Pombo said...

I know we have a friend who has been here for 15 years and he says the same thing; where did they all come from? ;-)

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