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

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