Life as an Expat…the bumps, the bothers, the beauty


I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, grew up in a small town in South Carolina, did a decade in Nashville, TN and then lived for nearly 15 years in New York City. My first attempt to escape NYC was to Asheville, NC, but I suppose I wasn’t ready yet as I landed back in NYC. Finally, one run down neighborhood in Panama City, Panama stole my heart and I moved to Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where I was the only American living there…for awhile. It changed and I changed and after awhile, I headed for the most liveable climate in Panama…Boquete. Boquete is a remarkably beautiful place full of flowers, coffee and gringos, but it is just too small. Now, I am in Cuenca, Ecuador, another UNESCO World Heritage site, but also an isolated Andean city of 420,000 where the predominant social value…apart from family…is art, culture and education. As one woman here said of art, "It’s in our blood." Indeed, Cuenca has a 4,000 year old history of ceramics, metallurgy and weaving.

Not too long ago, I described for someone the difference between Panama and Cuenca for me (as I cannot speak to the whole of Ecuador) with the following analogy. Panama is as some men describe some incredibly beautiful women…instantly smitten with lots of drama to follow, but the attraction diminishes as you get to know them. Cuenca is the one you bring home to meet the folks.

I don’t know that this is the end of the trail, but I know it is ideal at this point in my life. I am 49 and live alone with my large, solid black, way too intelligent Belgian Shepherd - Page.


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