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Come to Ecuador, where the living is cheaper: Ed O'Connor

Posted 2/14/18

Hey, gang! I hope your 2018 is off to a great start.

It looks as though Olga and I have begun another tradition that, hopefully, will not remain an annual occurrence. For the second year in a row …

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Come to Ecuador, where the living is cheaper: Ed O'Connor

New Cathedral (Catedral de la Immaculada) in Cuenca, Ecuador.
New Cathedral (Catedral de la Immaculada) in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Hey, gang! I hope your 2018 is off to a great start.

It looks as though Olga and I have begun another tradition that, hopefully, will not remain an annual occurrence. For the second year in a row we moved residences on my birthday. What a wonderful present at the age of three score and 11 years.

The reason for the move? Noise most every night prevented us from sleeping.

Random thoughts

• I had to regretfully notify all the members of my fan club that I would not be able to attend the annual meeting of the club held on my birthday. It worked out well since the one gal got sick and the other did not want to attend by herself. So, that meant canceling the reservation at the TMI Convention Center and Massage Parlor that overlooks scenic Three Mile Island. Management of the venue would not return my deposit and said that they would use the money to lobby the Legislature to keep “The Island” open. Didn’t know if they meant Three Mile Island or Devil’s Island … .

• Oh, for a 2017 Christmas present to each other we went to the same exclusive, all-inclusive, resort as in 2016. Last Christmas it was so enjoyable we decided to do it again this year. Well, it looks like it will not be three years in a row. Being all-inclusive, there are three all-you-can-drink outdoor bars by the pools. The wonderfully relaxing rap and hip-hop “music” was so loud that we did not hear the squadron of B-52s take off and land. It was so loud that I could not sit at the bar and drink free adult beverages. That may give you an idea of the decibel level.

• Did you perchance get the new, terrific Christmas book as a present for your children or grandchildren? If not, there are still copies of “Santa’s Husband” available on Amazon for $11.72.

• I have been checking all this discrimination stuff. It is apparent that the only people that can still be legally discriminated against fall into two categories — Christians and whites.

• We experienced a sad time. Our friend in Cuenca who helped us online via Skype learn about life here before we left the Town of Middle and assisted us in getting our permanent visas in Ecuador died. He lost a two-year battle with cancer.

• The traffic here has gone from bad to deplorable. If it was not bad enough that major streets in the city have been closed four years due to the construction of a low-speed commuter train which is still not completed, the city in its infinite wisdom is creating bike paths that eliminate curbside parking or a lane that was formerly for traffic, thus exacerbating the traffic dilemma. The only thing you don’t see in the bike paths are bicycles. Plus, there are now low- to no-interest loans to purchase vehicles, hence more traffic. As usual, if it absolutely, positively must be screwed up — get the governments or unions involved. We were in center city walking faster than the traffic was flowing.

• Wow! I saw that Erie had 63 inches of snow. You experienced a cold snap with wind chills in the minus zero range. Olga received an email from her cousin in Siberia where the air temperature was minus-41 degrees and here we have been having a cooler-than-average summer. One town outside of Cuenca had 10 inches of hail. I attribute all this to “Gore”-bull warming.

• Are you watching the Winter Olympics? I look forward to my favorite winter competition — women’s curling. It does my heart good to see a woman with a broom in her hands for a change! Did you see what the Olympic committee is considering including in the next winter games? (And this is not a joke) — pole dancing. And, no, that is not dancing done by the Polish.

• We have noticed that prices are increasing somewhat. I checked the cost of living here in Cuenca and compared it to Harrisburg. I could not use Middletown, so the Burg of Harris was the closest. You would need around $3,745.80 monthly in Harrisburg to maintain the same standard of life you can have with $1,900.00 in Cuenca (assuming you rent in both cities). Consumer prices in Harrisburg are 80.02 percent higher than in Cuenca. Rent in Harrisburg is 165.29 percent higher than in Cuenca. Restaurant prices are 149.63 percent higher. Grocery prices in Harrisburg are 91.06 percent higher. These figures come from the January 2018, Numbeo cost of living calculator. You can compare any two cities online at this site.

• I went into a shop in Cuenca to buy a small canister of pepper spray. I like to keep honest people honest. I was told that I needed a government-issued certificate to purchase it. But there was no problem to buy a razor-sharp machete for $6. Now which do you think would be more lethal? More government sagacity.

• Speeding tickets here are not issued by police. They are disseminated to the driver by mail after a camera takes a photo of the offending car’s license plate. A taxi driver I know was going 62 in a 60 zone and received a ticket for $365. He is appealing.

• We went on an interesting day trip to the San Miguel rum distillery in Cuenca, and learned about the production of their various rums. Before we got on the bus, a woman who we had never met asked us the usual question: “Where did you live in the U.S.?” I responded that we lived in Middletown, Pennsylvania. She returned a blank stare. Then I told her that Middletown is where TMI is located. With a perplexed look she then said, “Does that stand for Too Much Information?” Another intelligent American.

On the tour at the distillery, can you believe that the guide kept interrupting while the Americans were talking?

Your expat buddy from Cuenca, Ecuador … Eddy O

Ed O’Connor, a former resident of Middletown and Lower Swatara Township, is an expatriate living in Cuenca, Ecuador.