The other day my wife Rita and I were sitting in a local restaurant enjoying a $3 almuerzo (lunch special, typically a soup, small salad, rice, and meat or fish with a juice) when I overheard a new arrival behind us say with obvious glee, “I got up today and had no idea what day of the week it was!” I had to turn around and tell him, “That’s nothing. Wait until you can’t remember what month it is!” Sounds odd, but it’s true. Living in Salinas on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, there are few changes to mark the passing of time. This close to the equator the days are always 12 hours long, and the high and low temperatures only change about 10 degrees between the height of summer and the depths of winter. It’s surprisingly easy to find yourself trying to remember if it’s March or October.
Recently, I spent a few weeks with my left arm in a sling. While walking on the malecon, the brick walkway along the Pacific Ocean at our home in Salinas, Ecuador, expat friends and neighbors would stop and ask me what had happened? When I replied that I had surgery, it was surprising to me how often the next statement was “Oh really? I didn’t even know you went back to the States!”
Sometimes, life can be just the luck of the draw. That was literally true for Noemi Gonzalez and Tom Bradburn. They met in 2000 while playing poker online. Romance bloomed, and soon they were married and living in Taos, New Mexico. But the cards were still being shuffled for them. Although they loved their lives in Taos—in fact, they still keep their home there and visit from time to time—they wanted to spend their retirement someplace warm.
For many, the American Dream of owning your own home is fast becoming more of a fantasy than a dream. But more and more North Americans are finding their dreams coming true in the quiet town of Ballenita on the southwest coast of Ecuador.
It's 8 a.m. on a typical morning in my oceanfront condo in Salinas, Ecuador. My wife Rita and I have just returned from our morning exercise walk...down the malecon (boardwalk) beside the Pacific, past Chipipe beach and around a lovely old church and back. With that two-mile circuit done, we're sitting out on the balcony enjoying our coffee and fresh fruit breakfast. The sound of the waves on the sand is accented occasionally by the call of flocks of parrots as they fly by, and by the splash of pelicans diving into the surf for their first meal of the day.
It has been almost three years since my wife Rita and I first purchased our oceanfront condo in the popular beach town of Salinas, Ecuador, and just over two years since we moved here to live. Sometimes it’s a bit mind-boggling when we stop and think about how different our lives are now. If I had to pick one of the biggest changes we’ve made that has had the biggest impact on our lives, I would have to say it’s living without a car. Let’s put aside the obvious effect on our pocketbook—to be free of the expenses of car payments, car repairs, maintenance, insurance, and gas—and look at the change it makes in our lifestyle.
Something really unusual happened in our beach community of Salinas, Ecuador last week. People were posting pictures on Facebook, and it was the topic of conversation in all of the restaurants and bars. What was this noteworthy event? It rained! It actually clouded up and rained—well, a hard drizzle anyway—long enough to make some puddles and wet the streets.
My wife Rita and I had a very good life in the United States. We lived in a beautiful riverfront condo a few hours from Washington, D.C. We had a boat, good friends, and access to great seafood and fresh produce in season.