Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why Cuenca?

Tres Cupolas

Every week, I'll post a question from the second edition of the book 101 Questions Answered. After five years of living here, some of the questions are vastly different and others are amazingly the same, like Question #1.

Question #1: Why retire in Cuenca and not one of the other top retirement destinations in the world?

Answer:  Cuenca was not really our top retirement destination; Italy was our first choice. But on $1,317 a month with my husband’s pension from UPS, we knew that our quality of life wouldn’t be that great. We had lived in Italy for six years in the 1980s. It was expensive back then, and the health care system wasn’t anything to write home about.
     When we looked at other countries in the running, like Panama, Mexico, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Spain, Malta, Colombia, Portugal, Thailand, and Uruguay, we realized they were too far, too hot, too cold, or too expensive. Cuenca kept rising to the top and still remains in first place.
     The things that drew us to Cuenca are the same things that keep us here:

     *Cost of living. Although items have gone up in price over the past five years, you can still find a $1.50 almuerzo (but $2.50 is about average). The things that will cause you to go bankrupt in the States aren’t even a possibility here, namely health care. Utilities are ridiculously low—almost a joke—and there’s no need for heating or air conditioning. Public transportation is great (a 25-cent bus ride or a $2.00 taxi fare will get you where you need to go). Fruits and vegetables are inexpensive. All this allows us to live comfortably without the fear of a medical crisis using up the rest of our hard-earned savings.

     *Spring-like temperatures. As mentioned, Cuenca enjoys a mild climate—there’s no need for air conditioning, and heating costs are minimal. The only place I know in the U.S. that has pleasant temperatures all year long is San Luis Obispo, California (hovering around 68˚F to 70˚F). Cuenca enjoys what is called a subtropical highlands climate, which basically means that lush green tropical plants flourish without the heat and humidity of the coast. Because of Cuenca’s altitude—8,300 feet—and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Amazon, with the equator in the middle, the climate remains relatively temperate with highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Yes, we have rain and hail sometimes, but no snow or ice, and no oppressive heat or humidity.

Parque Calderon where Humming Birds are Everywhere

     We have two “seasons”: dry (June through December) and rainy (January through May). Our coldest month is August, and our warmest months are November, December, and January. My least favorite month is April, which is called aguas mil (a thousand waters), when we average 4.29 inches of rain during the month. If you’re looking for tropical and hot, Cuenca will disappoint you!

     *Affordable health care. This has been the greatest part of living in Cuenca. As a cancer survivor, I’ve experienced how devastating a medical crisis can be and how it can wipe out your savings. We pay $145 per month for IESS, Ecuador’s medical Social Security system, which covers everything (no co-pays). We also have our private doctors—out of the system—with visits ranging from $25 to $40 and follow-up visits are free.
Laboratory Clinic

     Dental care is highly affordable as well. A dental cleaning and x-rays are $45, and fillings run about $35. My husband has had four root canals with implants and crowns, and they’ve never cost more than $500. Cosmetic surgery is also affordable. I can’t comment on the price tag as I haven’t gone under the knife, but many of the doctors who practice here have received their training in the States. Medical care is highly personal in Cuenca; you’re not just a number. It’s normal for physicians to spend forty-five minutes to an hour with you.

     *Even more reasons. Another thing that keeps us here is Cuenca’s colonial charm. El Centro (the historic center) occupies approximately 12 blocks by 20 blocks and contains a variety of restaurants, Spanish colonial buildings, and adobe houses alongside elegant hotels, cafes, and bakeries. I still marvel at the cobblestone streets, terracotta rooftops, and colonial period architecture, including the churches and cathedrals. From our condo, we enjoy a view of the Cuenca skyline with the blue domes of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (New Cathedral)—absolutely breathtaking at sunrise or sunset. I never tire of our city view and the Andes Mountains.
     Cuenca is the cultural capital of Ecuador, so tourists from around the world descend upon Cuenca every year. In addition, because of the many Spanish-language schools, there are people who come just to study the language—usually you’ll see them wearing flip-flops and shorts and carrying backpacks. Many events like concerts and symphonies are free. And the restaurants continue to grow in size and diversity. Outdoor cafes are also becoming more popular and you can find them throughout the city. My favorite place is still Parque Calderon—the center of the city—with the Nueva Catedral (New Cathedral) on one side with its pink
marble columns and the Catedral Vieja-Iglesia del Sagrario (Old Cathedral) on the other side (where the tour buses line up).
    As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s always something going on and buildings being preserved and transformed. But the diversity of the culture is what makes living in Cuenca so interesting. Alongside the indigenous women with their colorful velvet skirts, you’ll see conservatively dressed Cuencanos wearing European-styled suits. The contrast is fascinating. The Spaniards ruled Cuenca for 500 years, and we can thank them for the colonial period architecture, which is so prevalent in the city.
Santo Domingo Iglesia

Cuenca Symphony

     Lastly, the expat community is one of the largest and most well established anywhere in the world. When we first arrived, there were only a handful of expats. Today, we can’t walk around the block without seeing a Norte Americano. When we moved into our condo building, we were the only Americans. Now, we’re one of three in our building. With the expat population booming, there are a variety of volunteer opportunities, support groups, art and language groups, and two English-language magazines for expats.
     Personally, we love the diversity—not only culturally—but in the land with the Galapagos, the coastal regions, and the Amazon. We find our way to the coast (four hours away) by bus at least three times a year, and the Galapagos is only one and a half hours from Guayaquil by plane. We have yet to get to the Amazon, but it’s on our bucket list. In five years, we’ve grown to love this unique city and its people. And we have just as many Ecuadorian friends as we do American, which we count as one of our greatest blessings. This means we have finally integrated and have been accepted. We also volunteer and give back as much as we can.

     We live comfortably on $1,317 a month because we own our condo, so rent is not a consideration. One of our greatest luxuries is not having a car; we use public transportation, walk, or take a taxi. We also wanted to live somewhere where plane tickets to fly back to the States weren’t outrageously expensive. We fly to JFK on Avianca Airlines from Guayaquil (round trip) for $500 per person, which is less expensive than flying East Coast to West Coast in the States. 

Independence  Day Celebrations Nov. 3-5, 2015

Until next time...hasta luego, 

Connie & Mark 

Monday, November 30, 2015

101 Questions Answered -- Second Edition is Available!

Finally, it's finished! After many delays and setbacks, Living and Retiring in Cuenca Second Edition is available on

When I wrote the first edition in 2011, it was the first English book on Cuenca with the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts on just about everything you would need to know to get your life started in this lovely city. Since that time, many more have jumped on the bandwagon and wrote their own version, either on Cuenca or Ecuador. So do we really need another book on Cuenca? Probably not. But I was committed to updating and revising the first book and it was helpful for to me to see exactly what's changed and what's stayed the same. The infrastructure, of course, has changed considerably, but the people and culture are the same and that's what drew us here. 

In the five years that we've been here, we've seen friends come and go (usually back to the States after the grandchildren were born). It seems that the happiest couples in Cuenca are the ones with no kids or grandkids. Or maybe that's because they don't know what they're missing! In five years, we've married both our sons and recently became grandparents to Clara Joy in August. I spent a month with her in Pennsylvania and I wouldn't have traded it for anything (720 hours of pure joy). It's certainly something I couldn't have done if I was working a full-time job until I was 72 years of age, while living in the States. We plan to go back for her first birthday and in the meantime, we keep in touch with FaceTime and every Monday I send a video of me reading to her.

Yes, we plan to stay in Cuenca and in 1-1/2 years we'll receive our Social Security (if there's anything left), and we'll be able to travel more.

Prices have definitely gone up in Cuenca and my friend who lives in Mexico recently brought that to my attention. Food, clothing and electronics have increased (definitely), but the tariffs that were imposed a year ago seem to be lifting because I've been seeing more imports in the grocery stores, like: Campbell Soup, Mint Milano Cookies and Pam Cooking Spray (all for a price, of course). 

The cost of paradise: Nature Valley Almond Milk ($5.35). Last month it was $3.25. Some things go up and down monthly. If you see something you like, buy it because it may not be there tomorrow or it just may cost you more!

Cost of Paradise: $5.35

Oh, there's a retraction in the book "no visitors" yet! I stand corrected because my sister and her husband are coming for a visit in March for two weeks. They're still working on their passports, so I won't hold my breath, but that's HUGE! 

Hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one and I hope your Cyber Monday is full of great deals!

Until next time...hasta luego!

Connie and Mark

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What's New?

We have some great news!

On August 17, 2015, we became grandparents for the first time. What a game changer it's been. Our hearts are bursting with joy--the first girl in our family in a very long line of boys. We're thrilled. It also marks a transition in our expat life as we know grandchildren are one of the reasons why expats return to the States for good.

We definitely plan on staying in Cuenca and making more frequent trips back to the States. I look at it this way. If I lived in the States, I would be working full-time until I was 72 and what job would allow me to spend an entire month with my granddaughter? So I feel fortunate that we have this lifestyle and the ability to come and go as we please. Well, at least I do anyway. I have the portable income as a writer, so my job goes where I go. Mark is not that fortunate in that he works at an international school and is lead teacher.

On October 3rd, our older son will be getting married in St. Michael's, Maryland and we get to enjoy quality time at the destination wedding with family and friends. We're so much looking forward to it. A new baby in the family, a new daughter-in-law, and I just turned 60! When we arrived in Cuenca, five years ago, I thought folks in their 60's were old. Well, it seems that I've joined the "old" folks club and I couldn't be happier. Two more years and we receive our Social Security and we can stop working and do more traveling.We're thankful that we were able to retire at 55, but it's been semi-retirement with my writing and Mark's teaching. I think at 62, we'll be ready to hang it all up!

More good news: I finished the second edition of Living and Retiring in Ecuador: 101 Questions Answered and it will be available on Amazon in November. It's with the editor right now and should be back to me for my final thoughts this week. When I wrote the first edition in 2011, it was the only English resource on Cuenca and now it seems like just about everyone has a book on Cuenca or Ecuador. But I think it's good thing that there's so much information as it's important to get as many perspectives as possible. I plan on keeping the second edition updated once a month because I certainly don't want to do that much work ever again! The rose-colored glasses came off and I think it's a much better portrayal of our life in Cuenca (five years later).

I also wrote an e-book on Secrets to Writing a Winning Chicken Soup Story as I've had quite a bit of success writing for them, so I thought it was time to help others get published. There's a formula and I share my "souper" secrets in the book. If you've ever wanted to write a story for the world's largest compilation series, now is your opportunity to do it. My newest story is in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back titled "Making a Difference" that came out on August 18, 2015. Unfortunately, I won't be doing any book signings while in the States this time because I'm in Mimi mode!

Visitors from the States: We've also had some company visiting us and more to come; it's only taken five years! Good friends from our hometown in Pennsylvania stayed for a week, a good friend in Pennsylvania who now lives in Quito came for a day, and my sister will be paying us a visit in March 2016. It's been so much fun playing tourist in Cuenca!

Cuenca is not the same city we came to five years ago--a lot has changed. The tranvia will be ready in 2016; we have a new Four Points Sheraton being built around the corner from us near Mall Del Rio, a new wing opened up in the mall with more shops, and we have a brand new Supermaxi grocery store right down the street from us, which is a blend of Safeway meets Whole Foods. It's supposed to be the biggest and the best Supermaxi in Ecuador.

Jardin del Valle
Last week, we had a mini vacay before our trip to the States and stayed at Jardin del Valle in the Yunguilla Valley. We've been going there for years, but hadn't stayed there after their big expansion. It's only about an hour from Cuenca or two hours by bus and it's so peaceful and relaxing. Alfredo and his wife, Sonya, are the consummate hosts. We only stayed three days and two nights, but our body felt like we had a two-week vacation. I highly recommend this "new" place!

View from Our Balcony
One of Three Heated Pools  
Butterfly Shrimp
Gorgeous Views from Every Angle
Family Pool 

Until next time...hasta luego!

Connie & Mark

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five Reasons to Love Salinas

For years we've been hearing from our friends, the kids that we teach and from our Ecuadorian neighbors how wonderful Salinas is and the old refrain, "You're going to love it there." Well, I was skeptical because I also heard how it's not so great six months out of the year. There are so many conflicting stories, so we decided to check it out for ourselves. Surprise, surprise, surprise...I loved it.
Here's why:

Reason #1: It's sunny. I guess that's not a big surprise. We're heading into the rainy season in Cuenca and after five days of rain, I'm ready for a change. Salinas showed us its sunny side all five days, so much so that I forgot all about Cuenca and that four letter word R-A-I-N. Blue skies, white fluffy clouds, warm ocean waters, and a beach umbrella and I'm one happy camper.

Salinas Yacht Club
Reason #2: It's modern. I already pictured the high-rise condo buildings because I had seen pictures on the Internet, but what I wasn't expecting was a modern mall, new and modern bus station, a beautiful new airport, and a Mi Comisariato that makes MegaMaxi pale in comparison.

Reason #3: People walk around in shorts, flip-flops, and bathing suits -- even in the grocery store. Can you imagine if you did that in Cuenca? It reminded me a lot of Miami; there's no dress code. You roll out of bed and onto the seashore.

Reason #4: Restaurants. I thought we had a lot of restaurants in Cuenca. Oh my goodness, we dined at the Italian Gourmet on pizza night (Wednesdays) -- all you can eat -- for $5.00. Yep, you heard me right...on the terrace with a gentle breeze and great conversation. It was perfect. Right next door was the Common Grounds Waffle House. In fact, there were so many restaurants, I simply stopped counting.

Reason #5: Sunsets. I guess it's no surprise that I love sunsets (I'm a California girl) and we saw plenty of those during our stay. In fact, we stayed at El Faro Hosteria and the owner, Gabriel, took us on a tour of Chocolatera at sunset and I was almost ready to sell our condo in Cuenca and set up house in the lighthouse. It was simply breathtaking with the ocean waves crashing against the rocks, the pinkish red skies and the blow holes spraying water like a geiser. Gabriel was kind enough to show us all around Salinas, including the yacht club where he's a member and I decided Salinas wouldn't be a bad life!
La Chocolatera
Blow Hole at La Chocolatera

Sunset at Chocolatera
Sunset at El Mirador
La Puntilla
We stayed at El Faro (The Lighthouse) in a tropical paradise with exotic flora and fauna, so it was easy to fall in love with Salinas. Who wouldn't enjoy a private beach and garden filled with every type of bird imaginable and listening to wind chimes? As soon as my head hit the pillow every night, I was out for the count. After the second day, I decided I wanted to apply for the job of groundskeeper, so I could hang around a little longer and pay for my room and board. By the way, if you want a great place to stay -- away from the crowds and noise of the Malecon -- then El Faro is the way to go.
El Faro Private Beach

The Lighthouse

Dining Area
Pathway to the Ocean
As much as I loved our stay in Salinas, I don't think I could live in an air-conditioned society full-time. We had that life in Miami, Florida and after three years, I wasn't so fond of it. It's a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there. And, unfortunately, mosquitoes adore me. They lick off the Off Spray, call their friends for a mosquito party, and I'm the honored guest. I came home with welts the size of sand dollars and now I'm recuperating with Calamine Lotion all over my body. I look like a pink leopard. I'm not sure what it was because I've never been devoured like that before and we go to Puerto Lopez every year.

I understand the attraction to Salinas -- the resort city of Ecuador. I would like to go back (as soon as I heal from my bites). But I think my pictures of the sun, the surf, and the ocean will have to sustain me through April and May.

In the end, I'm so thankful for Cuenca's weather without the need for air-conditioning and bug spray. I love Salinas, but only for a visit!

Until next time...hasta luego,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Weather in Cuenca

If you wonder where I've been, I've been writing--just not blogging!

I'm revising the book, 101 Questions Answered on Cuenca. I've uncovered so much material that it really can't be considered a revised edition any longer, but rather a second edition. And my commitment is to keep it updated every month because I never want to go through this much work ever again.

Also, since it's been raining all day in Cuenca, it's perfect writing weather (for me anyway). I gain a lot of inspiration when it's pouring outside because I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. When the sun is brilliant with blue skies and fluffy white clouds, who wants to stay indoors and write?

Not me!

Anyway, next week we're taking off for Salinas (we've never been there before) and it's supposed to be beautiful and sunny all week, while it rains its little heart out in Cuenca.

That leads me to the question of weather in Cuenca, which is one of my favorite subjects. Cuenca is very forgiving in that regard. You forget about the rainy weather when the sun is shining; it's like Cuenca casts this spell of amnesia over us.


What rain?


Before I get into specifics about the weather, I'm going to share with you the truth. I don't know anywhere else you can live in the world with an average temperature of 68.5 degrees for a high and an average of 48.6 as a low. You can tell I'm working on the weather question in the book, can't you?

All these years when everyone has been saying Cuenca's highs are in the 70's and lows in the 50's; they really mean to say that the average yearly high is 68.5 degrees and the average low is 48.6 degrees with an average yearly rainfall of 34.57 inches. The city that compares to that perfectly is Camanche, Iowa (34.57 inches of rainfall). The average number of rainy days in Cuenca is 179.

Why am I going into such detail?

Well, mainly because there seems to be so much controversy about the weather. Highs in the 70's and lows in the 50's have been thrown around for so long, I think we've come to believe it.

Today I'm setting the record straight: it's an average high of 68.5 degrees and 48.6 degrees for an average low. From now on, I will refer to the weather in Cuenca as high 60's and high 40's. That has a slightly different ring to it -- doesn't it?

This is what Cuenca's weather looks like this week: You can check it out for yourself at For rain it's 90-100% likely through Tuesday, March 24th and only 60% chance of rain through Sunday, the 29th (Palm Sunday). That's why we're leaving town (sunny days in Salinas all next week).

I was going to write out the entire year of highs, lows, sunshine and rain, but I thought it might be better if you took a look. Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page. I realize that nothing is 100 percent accurate, but I've been recording daytime highs and lows in my calendar for the past five years and I've gotta say it's pretty spot on.

So what's the big deal? It's only a couple of degrees here and there. Well, it is a big deal to me. I've been throwing out average temps of 70's and low 50's since we moved here because that's what I've been reading since we checked out Cuenca in 2009.

I realize that we live in the subtropical highlands near the equator, so our temperatures would be downright hot and humid if it weren't for the elevation of Cuenca (approx. 8,300 feet and 8,200 feet in some areas), but I intend to be more accurate in my weather reporting. In fact, I just might blog about the weather forecast every day (how boring would that be?). Then again, I would have a year of accurately reported weather from a boots on the ground source.

Today weather looks like this from; the most accurate place I've found for the weather in Cuenca.

Until next time...your Cuenca weather correspondent is taking a break!

Light Rain
Light Rain
13.7 °C
Feels Like 13.7 °C
Wind from SE 
Gusts 0.0 km/h
Today is forecast to be MUCH COOLER than yesterday.
High 13 | Low 10 °C
60% Chance of Precip.
High 12.9 | Low 12.9 °C
Precip. 189 mm

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Five Things I Can't Live Without!

We've lived in Cuenca for almost five years and most days I feel like we brought too much stuff (and we only came with four suitcases). And then other days, I lament over what I left behind (mostly sentimental stuff -- photo albums). I didn't have time to make copies of all the pictures because we were in a time crunch. In three months, we sold our house, packed up, married a son, and left the country. Not a bad way to do things!

These are a few of my favorite things!
But there are some things that make my life a little easier here and one is not an iPhone. I do not own one and I will not have one. I'm like Gibs on NCIS, I use a flip phone. It does the job. And quite frankly, I can't be bothered with phone calls; I have enough e-mails to answer.

Here's my "I can't live without it" list:
(1) Samsung Galaxy. I read my Kindle books on it, listen to the news, watch movies (Netflix). It's three years old and still going strong.
(2) iPad Tablet for my hubby. He can't live without his iPad like I can't live without my Samsung. I only borrow it when I want to listen to the ocean wave app. Pure heaven!
(3) Good set of earphones. I love the Sony ones that hook around your ears. I listen to music to go to sleep, so they're comfortable. Cuenca can get noisy, especially on the weekends, so the fireworks can pop, the dogs can bark and the roosters can crow and I'm fine with it!
(4) Brita Pitcher and water filters. I've seen them at Supermaxi (grocery store for gringos) and then they were gone. I think they were a knock-off brand. But you know the drill...if you see it or else it will be gone.
(5) Internet Extender by Netgear. This little gadget makes our life easier by extending our Internet to all the rooms. Our condo has an American set-up, meaning the bedrooms are not all in one hallway. There's the master bedroom and bath on one side of the apartment and the other bath and bedroom are on the other side, separated by the living room, kitchen and hallway. Well, our Internet is in our master bedroom and the other bedroom we use as a study/guest room. You see where I'm going with this -- don't you? Someone in the study isn't getting Internet! Problem solved and now everyone is happy...thanks to Netgear.

The last item(s), I wasn't going to mention, but since we've had an unusually wet "springtime" in Cuenca, I'm so thankful for my rain boots. They're by Chooka and classy enough so they don't look like I've been working in the fields, but practical enough that my feet stay dry while puddle splashing.

And, of course, my Lindsay Phillips ballet flats. One shoe and 30 snap-on pretties.Can you believe it? I've had them for three years and they simply won't wear out. You can dress them up or dress them down and everyone thinks I have 30 pairs of shoes. Not! I call it "jewelry" for shoes and wish I had thought of the idea myself. Way to go Jennifer!

Anyway, it's a short list and everyone's different, but the longer I'm here, the less I miss. Of course, you can find electronic stuff here, you're just going to pay more for it. It's not like we live in a third-world country!
Lindsay Phillips Ballet Flats with Snap-Ons

Chooka Rain Boots

Remember: Less is more!

Until next time...hasta luego!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ecuador is in the Super Bowl!

Los Frailes
It sounds strange, doesn't it? Ecuador is in the Super Bowl, but it's true. Although it's a commercial spot (the first one ever done by a country), it's going to be a hit.

At 3.8 million dollars for 3 minutes (or 30 seconds) depending on what version they use, you will be impressed. In fact, I keep watching it over and over again!

We'll be attending a Super Bowl Party with some dear friends and I'm looking forward to the commercials, but I guarantee the guys will be glued to the game.

So whether you're a Seattle Seahawk's fan or Patriot fan, be sure to watch the commercial on Ecuador!

Here's the link:

Until next time...hasta pronto!

Connie and Mark

Friday, January 30, 2015

We're Going to be Grandparents!

When we were home for Christmas, we received the best gift ever. I can't share the whole story because I wrote a Chicken Soup story about it for the Christmas Edition regarding how they told us (priceless). But let's just say it was one amazing moment and we're still not over it.

Jon and Kim 
Mark and I wake up every morning and say, "Can you believe it...we're going to be grandparents?" Now that the official announcement has been made, we are released to shout it from the rooftops!

What does that mean for us living in another country? Well, I have to tell you that I've already made plans to set up house in their basement and write by night to pay for my room and board. You think I'm kidding? I'm the one with the portable income -- meaning, I can write anywhere in the world. My hubby isn't so fortunate; he works teaching English in a classroom. We're two years from receiving our Social Security and at that time, we'll triple our income so we're already counting down the days until we turn 62 and can travel more.
Jer and Audrey at their engagement party
We live perfectly fine on our $1,317 a month, but my writing and Mark's teaching income pay for all our vacations and trips to the States, so we don't have to touch our savings. We are so thankful we bought our condo a year ago -- best investment ever! You can never go wrong with investing in property in Cuenca and if you buy in the right place, you're guaranteed to make a profit the moment you sign the "escritura" (deed).

So we're happily counting down the days until August 11th (the due date of the "Pombino") and also the week of my birthday. We've heard and actually seen what happens when expats have grandchildren. We've seen couples get divorced, separated, and/or change their lifestyle -- meaning spending weeks to months at a time in the States. We don't plan to be one of those couples.

This is a big year for us: a grandchild in August; we're both turning 60; our older son is getting married on Oct. 3rd; it's my parent's 65th wedding anniversary and our 40th. I'll be flying out for the birth and staying until the wedding. Mark has to teach, so he'll be joining me in Maryland where the festivities will take place.

We are now in the phase called "postparenthood," which means our children have their own lives and we have ours. Many couples never get past parenthood, meaning: they're still clinging to their children. We will not and cannot do that. We love our kids, but they need to follow their own dreams and make their path in life and we'll be cheering them on from the sidelines.

At the Christmas Gala -- Mansion Alcazar
An event not to be missed!
Christmas Gala at Mansion Alcazar

When we were home I saw how our friends are still stuck; they're babysitting their grandchildren and still working full-time. They literally don't have a life. Mark and I raised our kids in a foreign country (Italy) and never had any help with childcare. One or both of us was always with our kids and never needed a babysitter. I worked nights at the hospital and Mark took the day shift. Our parents lived thousands of miles away and we survived.

We had this discussion long before we heard the news that we were going to be grandparents because in the last 4-1/2 years in Cuenca we've seen the good, the bad and the ugly that can happen with grandchildren in the picture.

It's one of those "talks" you need to have long before you hear the words, "You're going to be grandparents!"

Until next time...hasta luego!

Connie & Mark 

P.S. I've been writing a lot lately and have quite a few Chicken Soup stories out this year: Power of Forgiveness; Hope and Miracles; Thanks to My Mom; and finalist in Time to Thrive (due out May 5, 2015). Also, the second edition of 101 Questions of Living and Retiring in Cuenca will be out and another Kindle book that I'm working on.

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