Returning to Ecuador Feels Like Coming Home

It’s been a few months since my wife, Suzan, and I have been in Ecuador.

After living in Cotatachi, high up in Ecuador’s northern Andes, for eight years, we moved to central Mexico to be closer to our three-year-old granddaughter.

Logistically, is was a no-brainer. From our new location in Mexico, just south of Guadalajara, we can get affordable, direct, two-and-a-half-hour flights to see her and her parents in Phoenix whenever we want.

But I have to say, flying back to Ecuador for the International Living Fast Track Ecuador Conference this week, we were pretty emotional.

It felt like coming home.

Suzan and I have made careers out of speaking with and writing about retirees who have moved abroad to improve their lives. That work has taken us all over the word, and we can base ourselves anywhere there are expats to talk to and an internet connection, which is pretty much anywhere on the planet.

But if you can live and work almost anywhere you want, you don’t spend eight years in one location without good reason—and that’s how long we lived in Cotacachi, Ecuador.

We started re-experiencing those reasons we love Ecuador as soon as we got off the plane in Quito.

The people of Ecuador are some of the nicest in the world, bar none. The immigration official who stamped our passports when we arrived at Quito’s new international airport took a look at all our comings and goings from Ecuador over the years and said, “Welcome home.”

That got us a little misty, and we hadn’t even left the airport yet.

We spent a few days in Cotacachi before heading to Quito to prepare for the conference. Same stunning equatorial weather. Same breathtaking scenery in the lush, green valley between two snow-capped Andean peaks. Same little tiendas (stores) where the same friends greeted us. Same strolls along the village streets, bustling with neighbors during the day, quiet and mist-shrouded at night. Small-town life personified.

When we arrived here in Quito, Ecuador’s modern capital, for the conference, it was the same predictably temperate equatorial weather. Same overwhelming variety of shops, restaurants, museums, and historic architecture. Same modern hospitals. Same neighborhoods of cafés and bars. Big-city life personified.

This little country has so much going for it—including a smooth transition of power during the last presidential election here. Ecuadorians are intensely political folks with deeply held views and beliefs—who also have the ability to settle their differences and accept political outcomes with remarkable calm and poise.

In fact, if I had to choose two words to describe the vast majority of Ecuadorians I know, “calm” and “poised” would fit the bill almost universally. These people are a joy to live with.

There, I just did something I’ve been doing ever since we got back to Ecuador. I’m talking like we still live here. Suzan and I have both been doing it. Eight years of habit is hard to break.

Will we come back to Ecuador? While the granddaughter is growing up, we will certainly come back for visits, but we will stay as close to her and her parents as possible.

We are told, however, by grandparents with more experience than us, that there comes a time when those little darling grandkids stop being overwhelmed with glee at the mere sight of grandma and grandpa and simply grow into their own lives with concerns more important than being dandled on a knee or taken to the zoo.

When that happens, I can guarantee that Ecuador, the old hometown, and our good and true friends will see a lot more of us again.

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