Opportunities that come with age are too often overlooked, which is unfortunate since, as an expat, there are so many to choose from
A close friend, Margie M., recently remarried after being single for nearly two decades. I was not surprised. She is adventurous and likes to be out and about whenever possible. Margie attends performances regularly at IdiomArt and the University of Cuenca, plus volunteers once a week for a local foundation. She has regular lunch dates in the afternoons, occasionally in one of the city’s many fine restaurants, but more often than not M. will entertain her guests in the courtyard of her small mid-block apartment near San Sebastian Plaza or visit a friend’s home in a surrounding neighborhood.
She met her Prince Charming during one of these events, and they fell in love. When I asked how she knew he was so special, she said, “He loves to love what I love to love.”
Although her prince is too old to get down on his knees without considerable effort and struggles to rise while registering his disgust with gravity, he swears allegiance. He promised to love, and honor Margie ‘till death do us part.’ She is 65, and he is 72.
You have my most heartfelt congratulations, Margie.
However, the way her friends responded when they heard the news concerned me:
“I am so happy for her! I wonder how she did it.”
“I am more than happy for her; I’m amazed and in awe.”
“I’m thrilled for her! I figured all of that was behind us.”
“Gee, I wish it would happen to me.”
Margie’s friends would be well advised to keep the faith and take heart. Love and friendship are waiting for them just around the corner. They need only to walk up and say, “Hello,” for it is never too late to fall in love — and hope really does spring eternal.
Many newcomers are astonished when they recognize that whatever career they had in the past is of little interest here – folks want to know who you are, not what you did. This is great news; the future is holding the door open for you to embrace new friends by fully expressing yourself in the moment.
It is time for fond memories to be made and good times to be had.
Opportunities that come with age are too often overlooked, which is unfortunate because we have so many activities to choose from and a lot more time to pursue them. Visiting Cuenca’s art galleries and museums will expose you to flourishing creative energy that is inspiring. Frequenting a neighborhood coffeehouse or two acquaints you with the staff and your surroundings. Soon enough, someone will be asking you to sit at their table. Joining some of the many establishments offering ongoing opportunities for learning – be it craft or language is a great idea. Cuenca supports scads of workshops, retreats, and classes that are excellent places to increase your knowledge of a subject and the likelihood that you will find new friends. Simply keep in mind that this is your time so hit the gas and enjoy the ride. I encourage you to stuff a little cash and a copy of your cedula in a pocket and head out to a nightclub if that is to your liking. What could be better than dancing the night away?
There is no good reason to stay at home. People are waiting for you, and some need your help. Volunteering for a local foundation will reap great personal rewards and will put you on the same path as other like-minded folks. Meeting people who share actualizing compassion suggests you may well share other like-minded interests that may blossom. “Hi. I am here to help” is always a good introduction.
Taking time to celebrate yourself is also a good idea – you left your friends breathless when you climbed into the Andes. You successfully made the arduous journey all the way to southern Ecuador, weighed down by baggage and buoyed by expectation. You broke fresh trail while former colleagues contented themselves by grazing on the familiar bluff of a barcalounger overlooking an icy blue stream of videos. You established a presence in a brand-new world.
I will mention this, as well: If you want to find love and have old friends in Cuenca, you must always be open to finding new loves and making new friends in Cuenca. Most people don’t stick around here for very long; the average residency for North American expats in Cuenca is under three years.
There is a reason why digital nomads are offered an easy-to-navigate two-year visa; it is about as long as many international wanderers stay before moving on. Keeping in step with the ever-changing landscape of friends and acquaintances is important, but what may at first blush seem inconvenient, if not unfortunate, has an upside. One of the many joys of living here is enjoying a fantastic parade of bewitched pilgrims, some fanciful, some charming, and some occasionally hilarious. All are in step. They are all treading lightly and alighting but momentarily, staying just long enough to be themselves.
It is the grist of great storytelling.