When I first moved from the U.S. to Uruguay, I didn't speak Spanish. And while some English-speaking expats get by without learning any Spanish, my experience is, the more Spanish I learn the richer my expat experience becomes.It took just a little study to learn to greet people and show respect. Now, after a little more study and practice I can express my needs and wants and I’m starting to build rapport with my Uruguayan neighbors. More and more, it feels like I’m getting ready to take off my Spanish "training wheels" and learning to communicate like a local.
“Thailand is one of the world’s most popular locales for good living abroad,” says InternationalLiving.com writer Heather Van Deest, who has lived there with her family for the past eight years. “For pennies on the dollar expats gain a year-round tropical climate and access to modern comforts and conveniences, including affordable, high-quality medical care.”
Ecuador is famous for its colorful festivals and every town in the country has their own traditional celebrations and events throughout the year. Here are our five favorite festivals, taking place over the next couple of months, where Ecuadorians celebrate in style with fireworks, drinking, music and dancing.
When I started learning Spanish in Spain some years ago, I never envisioned how helpful it would become. Mostly, I just wanted to know how to order food, talk to people a bit and avoid embarrassing myself as much as possible. The more I learned, however, the more I discovered how much of a key that speaking the language is. Spanish has opened many doors for me—in Spain, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico.
Ecuador has been at the top of so many international retirement indexes and lists in the past few years that folks are beginning to wonder if there isn’t some kind of conspiracy at work. After all, how can a single country meet every one of the requirements that retirees are looking for overseas? Simple answer—it can’t. No place can.
"Quieres una lata o botella?" the friendly pulperia owner asked as I stepped up to the window and asked for cerveza. When I arrived in Nicaragua 22 months ago the simple question of "Would you like a can or a bottle?" was far beyond my level of Spanish comprehension. Back then I could say, "good morning, good afternoon and good evening". I could count to 10. I knew the two most frequently used words by tourists—cerveza and bano—but I certainly couldn't use them in a sentence.
On Tuesday, I will open my Ecuadorian bank account. No big deal; just a savings account with an ATM card. So, why am I so excited? When we arrived in San Vicente, Ecuador nearly 18 months ago, my wife Diane and I were as prepared as we were able to be, which is to say: we had a lot to learn! We had done our best to get ready for our transition, while attending to the myriad tasks necessary when making an international move.
A lot of folks look forward to and truly enjoy the change of seasons. Spring blossoms…the warmth of summer…fall foliage…bundling up in winter. I would not be included in that group. I’ve never been a fan of cold weather. Whenever it snowed I enjoyed walking around and throwing snowballs for about an hour. Then I was ready for it to go away so I could put on a bathing suit.
Every now and again, when life feels hectic or I fear I’m getting into a rut, I think of little Punta Gorda, Belize. It’s become one of my favorite places to dream of visiting again. Right down near the southern tip of Belize, Punta Gorda looks out on the blue Caribbean. The barrier reef and its wealth of marine life—one of Belize’s main claims to fame—is 30 miles offshore here.
We sold our house, re-homed our furniture, and put the rest in a storage unit over two-and-a-half years ago. We’ve been living internationally in rented apartments and houses ever since, and we have never regretted our decision to spend our retirement years exploring the world. By the time we reached Portugal, our ninth country, we were practically on automatic pilot.