The sun is out and brilliant blue skies with white fluffy clouds—that you can almost touch—overlook my morning jog next to the Yanuncay River. The linear trails, three blocks from our condo, are immaculately groomed with colorful flowerbeds and towering Eucalyptus trees that give off a familiar scent reminiscent of my childhood in California. Along the way fellow joggers greet me with “Buenos Días.”
When I arrive home, my husband, Mark, greets me after his morning classes of teaching English and we decide to take a stroll to our favorite sidewalk cafe for almuerzo where the special of the day is grilled shrimp on a bed of rice, sopa de papas (potato soup), jugo de maracuya (passion fruit juice) and dessert…all for just $3.
On our leisurely walk back to our condo, Mark stops to buy me Tropicana roses from one of the street vendors—a dozen for $2. It’s just one of the many perks of living in Ecuador—the rose capital of the world.
Every day is a “working vacation” because we both have portable incomes. I’m a freelance writer and my husband teaches English as a foreign language. We could work anywhere in the world, but we chose to do it from Cuenca, Ecuador, where we’ve been living for the past five years.
We work as much or as little as we want. I’m free to say “no” to an assignment or take on more work. Mark’s been teaching English for four years, so he has the freedom to set his own schedule or teach online but he prefers the classroom setting.
The best part of it all is we don’t have to do any of it if we don’t want to. We live comfortably on Mark’s pension from UPS and we own our condo, so the extra money we make goes toward indulging ourselves.
On the extra money we make from our portable incomes, we travel back to the States twice a year and have explored Ecuador and Latin America—including the Galapagos. Those trips also make great writing material, so now I’m working on an e-book about the Galapagos.
I’m a night person, so I write for a few hours in the evening and have my morning and afternoons to play. In Cuenca, there’s always something going on: an art exhibit, a concert, a gala to attend or lunch with a friend in El Centro at one of the posh new restaurants that seem to spring up overnight.
On the weekends, we plan an escape to one of the outlying towns, like Gualaceo (40 minutes from Cuenca). Our favorite spot is Hosteria Santa Barbara with its palm-tree lined entrance and extravagant pools and gardens for a fraction of what you’d pay in the States. If we want a longer getaway, we head to the coast of Ecuador to either Salinas (the Miami of Ecuador) or Puerto Lopez at the Hosteria Mandala for a lay-in-a-hammock type of vacation with the sound of ocean waves lulling us to sleep.
In five years, we’ve become friends with many of our Ecuadorian neighbors and they invite us to their finca (summer home) on the weekends—usually the Yunguilla Valley—where sprawling homes dot the landscape with pools and lush gardens.
Feeling comfortable in the language has afforded us the opportunity to make lasting friendships and it allows us even more insight into the culture, which is helpful in my writing and Mark with his teaching.
Mark and I have talked about traveling the world with our portable incomes, but Cuenca is home to us and reminds us of all of our favorite places—especially Italy—with its terracotta rooftops, cobblestone streets, and Old World charm.
Instead we prefer to take longer vacations or weekend escapes to see more of Ecuador and then when we come back home to Cuenca, I have another adventure to write about.
It’s not work…it’s play!
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