We are about to leave Knoxville, Tennessee to return to our home in Ecuador, and this time it is a little bitter-sweet. You see, the sun may be setting on our Ecuador adventure. We have our oceanfront condo on the market now, and if all goes well, we hope to have a buyer before the high-season is over.
It is not that we don’t love it in Ecuador. In fact, after living there for five years we love it now more than ever. We’ve been lucky to meet many wonderful people, and visit some incredibly beautiful places. The reduced expenses allowed me to retire early and take up writing, and the combination of the healthy foods and outdoor living helped me shed almost 90 pounds, no doubt adding years to my life.
It is not that we want to move back to the States to be with our grandchildren – although we do have nine (yes, nine) lovely nietos that we dote on. There’s no sick relatives to care for, and no personal health problems that are driving us away, and we are perfectly comfortable with living in a different culture and have enjoyed learning Spanish.
So what’s the deal? If we’re not leaving because of the major reasons that expats go home, then why are we selling our home?
The answer is very simple – because we aren’t exactly going home. True, we do have a new home just west of Knoxville, but we’ve always owned property in the US. The change in US properties had more to do with reducing our taxes than anything else. We’ve grown quite fond of Knoxville, but we are not ready to call it our permanent home.
Instead, we are selling our place in Ecuador because we are ready for the next phase – we are ready to explore new places.
Our decision to start looking for new horizons started very innocently a couple of years ago, when we decided to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. That set in motion a slow-moving chain of events.
First, it gave us a reason to explore more of Ecuador. We could travel around doing some shopping trips for supplies, as well as planning some practice hiking trips at altitude. Then when it came time to plan the hike, it seemed a waste to be in Peru and not spend some time there seeing a little bit of the country. So wrapped around our visit to Machu Picchu were side trips to Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and three glorious days in Lima.
As long as we were planning on being in Peru, I thought I might as well see if International Living would be interested is sending us on to Uruguay, so that I could spend two weeks doing research for some articles about life on the coast and in the capital city of Montevideo.
And of course, if we were going to be in Montevideo, it would be positively insane not to spend at least a weekend across the river in Buenos Aires!
See where this is going? We found that we absolutely loved every place that we visited. We yearn to go back to BA and spend a month there before going on and visiting some of the interior of Argentina, ending up in Patagonia. Uruguay also seemed worthy of a longer look, and when we were in Peru we didn’t get to see Lake Titicaca or Arequipo.
What’s worse, it made us realize just how many incredible things there are to see and places to experience – just think of what we may be missing out on! There’s so much more to Central and South America, and then there are places in Europe we need to get to, and what about Indonesia?
We didn’t go to Ecuador to get away from anything in the States (with the possible exception of cold weather), and we are not “leaving” Ecuador now. We are just too excited by the possibilities of travel to stay in one spot for too long. As long as we are able to travel, we want to embrace the “roving retirement” lifestyle.
We feel like we are done with the prototypical “vacation”, where you just visit a location for a week or two, hit the tourist spots, and go home. We want to experience living in new places for a minimum of a month, more likely two or three, before moving on to the next.
Ecuador has been a life-changing experience for us, and I still whole-heartedly endorse it as a place to visit, or yes, as an expat destination. In fact, I credit living in Ecuador for five years not only with the changes in health I mentioned earlier, but also in making the change in our perspective on life and travel that makes this new phase possible.
You see, Rita and I both travelled to other countries before Ecuador. But visiting and living there are two very different states of mind. Our time in Ecuador has given us many gifts that we could not have received any other way.
We are more comfortable with different cultures now than ever before. I’m not fluent in Spanish by any measure, but I can speak well enough that our travels around South America do not seem as daunting. We are both fine with arriving in a new country and finding our way, getting cabs, negotiating hotels and restaurants, and just generally walking around on our own exploring.
By the way, we aren’t finished with Ecuador either. We haven’t made it to the Galapágos or Amazonia yet, and we will keep our residency visas active too, just in case.
Because who knows where we will end up? Not us, that’s for sure. I just know that we have enjoyed and prospered in many ways from our lives abroad, and we are not ready to give up on that yet. We are looking forward to the next adventure, and all we can say about the future is that what will be … well, you know the rest.
***NEW!*** – Take a video tour of our condo on YouTube!