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Travel gives you new perspectives; give it a try: Ed O'Connor

Posted 12/27/17

Dec. 12 was the fifth anniversary of our extended vacation in Cuenca, Ecuador, South America.

After returning from a three-week October visit to Olga’s former home of Chisinau, Moldova, in …

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Travel gives you new perspectives; give it a try: Ed O'Connor


Dec. 12 was the fifth anniversary of our extended vacation in Cuenca, Ecuador, South America.

After returning from a three-week October visit to Olga’s former home of Chisinau, Moldova, in Eastern Europe, we are still experiencing some reverse culture shock. When we were in Moldova, I started making a list of differences that I noted between the two cities/countries. The contrast tally is now at 88, be they good, bad or indifferent.

For you, the reader, to appreciate and understand the variances, you would have to experience both places and cultures.

I discovered that I have learned more about the world in the past five years than I did the preceding 65. I have seen and done things I never imagined that I would see or do.

I would highly recommend retiring as early as possible and experiencing the things that you have thought about for years. Get out of that cloistered Dauphin County life. Stretch your legs and your mind. Book that trip you always considered taking.

You will not regret it and will probably gain a whole new perspective on life, the world and yourself.

This and that

• Congratulations to the Blue Raiders football team for another fantastic season! No. 2 in the state, two years in a row! Those pesky western Pennsylvania teams — well, maybe victory next year.

I must be a jinx. In the past two years, the only two games to which I listened on WMSS radio were the two losses.

• Tell me it “ain’t” so. I saw in the national news that Harrisburg teachers are resigning because they are being attacked by elementary students as young as 6 years old. What kind of wimps are in the classrooms now?

• Cuenca is brightly decorated for the Christmas season. The largest “tree” in Ecuador, approximately 100 feet tall, is located a few blocks from our apartment. The reason I have “tree” in parentheses is that having a real Christmas tree here is against the law — I am not kidding. Only artificial trees are permitted. I know that would really ruin Christmas for my friend, Ollie, at Strickler’s Christmas Tree Farm in Falmouth.

• I was watching a Fox 43 News feature broadcast from Hersheypark. The reporters stated that there were in excess of 4 million lights at the park. I’ll bet Hershey is glad they do not have Middletown Electric Monopoly as a provider. They would probably have to mortgage the park to pay for the electric bill.

• When Olga first came to “The Land Of Taxes” in 2005, we started a Christmas tradition of attending the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Hershey Theater. It is one of the few things we miss at Christmas.

• For the first time this year, the Cuenca Symphony and local ballet schools presented “The Nutcracker.” It couldn’t touch the CPYB performance.

• The other tradition we miss is going to my cousin’s apartment in Palmyra for Christmas dinner, then going to Lancaster for another stuffing at the annual Peters and Etter Christmas dinner/get-together/gift exchange at the home of my late best friend, Jeff Peters, where we were treated like part of the family. I hope most of you have traditions that you experience and treasure this time of year.

• Our new tradition is a Christmas getaway. This year, for the second year in a row, we will travel about four hours to a beautiful all-inclusive 740-acre resort near the Peruvian border. The one problem is that we will have to suffer through wind chill factors in the low 80s, but somebody has to do it.

You must excuse me; the name of the resort makes me nauseous, grit my teeth and it conjures up bad images: the Hillary Nature Resort & Spa. And, no, it is not affiliated with the Clinton Crime Cartel.

• Since September, the Cuenca International Chorale, of which I am a member, has been rehearsing for our annual Christmas concert. This year we are being accompanied by the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra and a children’s choir. Our two performances will be presented in the oldest cathedral in the city which was built in 1557.

• It happened again in another outlying area of the city. Four thieves were caught by locals in the act of robbing a home. The neighbors descended en masse — one thief was beaten and the four were about to be hung until the police got there to rescue the criminals.

• Ecuador’s vice president got caught with his hand in the corruption cookie jar, was arrested, tried and sentenced to six years in prison.

• The officials here do not have a problem with “knockoff” merchandise. We went looking for athletic shoes recently and I was amused to see the names of the imitation brands complete with original logos: “Niki,” Peebok,” “Skatchers” and “Adipas.” I have a feeling you can figure out the real brand names.

• In Cuenca it is not illegal to discriminate in rental housing. We saw a rental sign that showed the owner was only renting his property to foreigners.

• I see more honors have been bestowed upon the Keystone State recently: Filthydelphia International Airport has been named as the third most hated airport in the United. States. Of the top 15 states for road rage, Pennsylvania is ranked No. 3. Of the 15 states that have the most dangerous bridges, Pennsylvania is No. 3. Of the 50 best cities in the United States in which to live, none are in Pennsylvania. Of all the 50 states, Pennsylvania is No. 11 with the most debt.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a wonderful non-PC “Merry Christmas” and a great 2018!

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.