Miracle in the Mundane: The Ordinary as Extraordinary in Ecuador

This post offers neither the latest laughs nor greatest gaffs from our comedy of expat error.  Rather it updates you on a few essential facts from our Ecuador adventure, routine as those particulars might be.

It’s easy to overlook and, thus, omit from posts  the seemingly insignificant details of our lives—not news to us, of course—but important context for folks who don’t live here—which happens to be just about EVERYONE else.

I thought I was being merciful in omitting the mundane, but I’ve reconsidered, realizing life is lived one dreary or delightful detail to the next, that it’s only in the accumulation of ordinary that any experience eventually evolves into something extraordinary, indeed.  After all, the particulars are what distinguish one life from another.

Today, then, I’ll catch you up in a bulleted format meant to compensate for this post’s length.  I hope you can scan for information you may have missed, and while you’re at it, enjoy the photos I’ve included, ones a few of you have requested.

  • Our First Month in Ecuador

After spending a few, more tiring than restful, nights in a bed and breakfast with our two dogs, we lived for the remainder of our first month in Cuenca in a stunning colonial home in the center of town.  It was hundreds of years old but with completely modernized bathrooms and kitchen and walls more than two feet thick.

We made quite a scene arriving there with dogs Ralph and Lucy and our 10 (yes, that’s 10) suitcases.

Waiting for the keys.  Yes, the colorful bags are Kathy's.

Waiting for the keys. Yes, the colorful bags are Kathy’s.

Maybe I over-packed.  A little!

Maybe I over-packed. A little!

The living space inside was huge and open, with tile and wood floors and a charming garden for the dogs.

Lucy took full advantage of the garden in our short-term rental!

Lucy took full advantage of the garden in our short-term rental!

Living room in short-term rental--

Living room in short-term rental–

Master bedroom in short-term rental--

Master bedroom in the same rental–

  • Language  Learning

During our first 6 weeks in Ecuador, Sara took intense 4-hour-a-day Spanish classes.   We even traveled with her school to visit Ingapirca, the largest Inca ruin in Ecuador.

My Spanish, on the other hand, most folks seem to understand, if it also makes me sound foolishly infantile from time to time.  My efforts are not only far from perfect; they make me look toddler-like at best, staggering along, vomiting  my pathetical pronunciation.

An initial view of Ingapirca.

An initial view of Ingapirca.

Sara (far right) and I (far left) with friends from Sara's Spanish school during our visit to Ingapirca.

Sara (far right) and I (far left) with friends from Sara’s Spanish school during our visit to Ingapirca.

  • House Rental

Sara’s Spanish teacher helped us locate our long-term rental in her own neighborhood, an Ecuadorian suburb (as opposed to the opposite side of town where most of the expats live).

It may interest you to know that we pay merely $350 a month for a 4-bedroom house with one and a half bathes and front and back gardens.  The kitchen and main bath have been recently updated.

Front of our long-term rental house in Cuenca--

Front of our long-term rental house in Cuenca–

Our Cuenca kitchen--

Our Cuenca kitchen–

Dining room--personal items have not arrived yet--

Dining room–personal items have not arrived yet–

Living room (again, without personal stuff)--

Living room (again, without personal stuff)–

Bar we had made from our living room into our kitchen.   Sara painted the stools.

Bar we had custom-made.  It serves as a pass-through from our living room into our kitchen. Sara painted and decoupaged the stools.

Second floor bathroom--

Second floor bathroom–

Wall I painted in my studio--

Wall I painted in my studio–

Covered back patio--

Covered back patio–

Lucy and Kathy hanging out on our back patio.

Lucy and Kathy hanging out on our patio.

  • All in the Family

After we had been in our house for only a month, decades-long friends of my mom came to visit Cuenca for four weeks.  We had anticipated our own friends’ eventual arrival, but hadn’t ever imagined the first would belong to my 74-year-old mother.

Wayne and Judith rented an apartment in el Centro, one with a stunning, 6th-story view of the cathedral.

Kathy with Judith Erminger on a bus trip to Chordeleg.

Kathy with Judith Erminger on a bus trip to Chordeleg.

  • Writing Life

I joined a writing group (WIT, Writers in Transition) that meets for two hours every week.  I’ve also read the first chapter of my memoir at a literary event,  attended a memoir writing workshop, and will share the second chapter of Kids Make the Best Bookies at a reading this week.  The writing group has from 15 to 25 in attendance during most meetings, and these amazing folks have welcomed me, mentored me, and become fast friends.

writers in transition DSCN8541 (2)

  • Sara’s US Container Duty

Sara returned to the US for two weeks, so she could repack and inventory our boxes, not to mention supervise the loading of our 20-foot container—now aboard a cargo ship, steaming toward Ecuador.  It’s due to arrive here in another week— around September 9th.  We can’t wait!

It’s a decent-sized container, but with no real furniture to speak of—mostly full of the many little items that make our house a cozy and creative home.  And I do mean “many”—not only art, but nearly 1,300 books, as well.

Our boxes, packed and stacked in Sara's father's basement--Lexington, Kentucky--

Our boxes, packed and stacked in Sara’s father’s basement–Lexington, Kentucky–

Container being loaded with our 213 boxes--

Container being loaded with our 213 boxes–

Loaded container leaving Sara's father's  house, August 8, 2013--

Loaded container leaving Sara’s father’s house, August 8, 2013–

  • Kathy’s Baking Efforts

I’m learning to bake at high altitudes.

Some of you may remember, that I’ve rarely met a cookie I didn’t like—thus, perhaps, my love of baking.  However, doing it at high altitudes (Cuenca is 8,300 feet) isn’t the same as doing it at sea level.  Here things rise much more quickly and/or prematurely, depending on how you look at it.  Because of this, cakes are likely to fall and cookies tend to flatten.

So far, I’ve made Toll House chocolate chip cookies and a chocolate cake.  I experimented a number of times to determine the right amount of baking soda to use in the cookies—about half what the recipe calls for—but when I baked a cake this past weekend, it fell, even with the leavening agent reduced drastically.

The latter recipe adaption, clearly, needs more work, but I’ve had more success with pies, since they don’t require rising.  I’ve done several apple and a few “mora” (blackberry), as well.

In Ecuador baking soda is considered a drug and is only sold in pharmacies.

In Ecuador baking soda is considered a drug and is only sold in pharmacies.

Apple pies in our Cuenca kitchen--

Apple pies in our Cuenca kitchen–

Preparing to bake with a bag of Ecuadorian flour.

Preparing to bake with a bag of Ecuadorian flour.

  • Sara’s Garden and Kitchen Callings

Sara’s been working in our garden and cooking amazing dishes with the fresh ingredients available at the mercados.  Some of you may recall her lovely efforts to transform our Lexington back yard.  She’s begun the same here.

Garden in long-term rental before we moved in--

Garden in long-term rental before we moved in–

Sara's effort to tame that same garden space and add a mountain view--

Sara’s effort to tame that same garden space and add a mountain view–

  • Friendships and Social Life

We’ve made a number of new friends and find ourselves being remarkably more social here than we were back in the US.  We love the weekly Jazz Society Café, and this week, for the first time, we attended one of the Saturday night dinners held at Joe’s Secret Garden.

  • Sara’s Employment Opportunity

Sara has gotten a job here!

Many of you know that “mi esposa” has worked in international, disaster response for more than 20 years, most of it with Habitat for Humanity.  She directed their response to the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and their intervention in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

However, our residency visas here in Ecuador will limit our international travel for two years, so just this week the local, online, English language, newspaper hired Sara to take over some of their editorial duties.  This will allow the founders of the site to expand and develop new marketing opportunities.

Check out Gringo Tree and its sister site, Cuenca High Life.  For the more than 6000 expats in Cuenca, these are the go-to sources for news and information.

  • Marriage vs. Civil Unions

Our marriage license from New York is not recognized by Ecuador, which has not yet legalized gay marriage.  However, the government does allow gay civil unions, so we’ve gone ahead and had Ecuadorian civil union papers drafted and notarized.

We may not be recognized as married here, per se, but unlike in the US, our union is recognized as legitimate in the whole of Ecuador.  This grants us all the same rights as married couples anywhere in the country, while in the US, we are considered married in some states but not in others.  In many ways Ecuador is more progressive when it comes to gay rights than much of the US.

Kathy and Sara on wedding day in New York City.

Kathy and Sara on their wedding day in New York City.

Ecuadorian civil union contract--

Ecuadorian civil union contract–

  • 4-Month Anniversary

We’ve been in Ecuador for 4 months to the day that I’m drafting this.  We’ve gotten our residency visas and picked up our “cedulas” yesterday.  “Cedulas” are the national, photo-I.D. cards in Ecuador.  They identify us as permanent residents of the country—with most of the same rights as citizens, including, interestingly, the right to vote.

Kathy celebrating visa approval with Wayne and Judith Erminger at California Kitchen.

Celebrating visa approval with Wayne and Judith Erminger at California Kitchen. (Thanks to Sara for taking the photo.)

  • Visitors

We are thriving in our new country and invite you to visit!

Some of you may recall that Sara and I have had the opportunity to meet many of my blogging buddies, a number of whom visited our home in Lexington, Kentucky.

Kathy (L) with bloggers Tori Nelson (center) and Lisa Kramer (R) in our Lexington library, Summer 2012--

Kathy (L) with bloggers Tori Nelson (center) and Lisa Kramer (R) in our Lexington library, Summer 2012–

Kathy (L) and Sara (R) with blogger Colleen Brown in our Lexington back yard, Summer 2012--

Kathy (L) and Sara (R) with blogger Colleen Brown in our Lexington back yard, Summer 2012–

Ecuador may be a bit further to come, but we welcome your stopping by.  We have two guest rooms.

One has your name on it.

What’s new in your life?  How has your summer gone?  Have your kids returned to school yet?

Note:  Check out the sites of my friends imaged above:  Lisa Kramer’s blog, as well as Colleen Brown’s and Tori Nelson’s.  Other visitors to our home, whose blogs you might enjoy, include those of Miranda Gargasz and Emily Cannell.  When we were married in New York, we were honored to have my blogging buddies the Lame Adventurer and Jackie Cangro as witnesses.  They didn’t visit our home, but we visited theirs!

108 thoughts on “Miracle in the Mundane: The Ordinary as Extraordinary in Ecuador

  1. Kathy, You are the best. I love the minor details, they are what makes life so rich. I seeing this new adventure through your eyes.Your baking issues made me realize that I have something I’d like to pass onto you. Could you please send me your address so you can get a little care package from us? ❤ ❤ ❤


    • Wonderful to hear from you, Lisa! Sara reminded me that sometimes folks need to know the basics. I thought that was wise advice. Glad you agree. Why do I forget these things? LOL I will be happy to get you our p.o. box number here. Curious to know what you’re inclined to send. Can’t wait! Hugs to all of you—including the dogs, of course!


  2. Great post to catch readers up on the mundane — well, the stuff that we think about! Getting used to high-altitude baking seems like a reason to keep practicing on those cookies, pies, and cakes. Love the colors in your home! Thanks for sharing all the good news!!!


    • Thanks, Frank! Glad you enjoyed the post. Maybe if I never quite perfect the baking, I can keep coming up with excuses to make and taste more. Gotta test these things, you know! LOL Glad you like our colors, as well. It’s wonderful to hear from you this fine morning.


  3. This is wonderful! All the details I’ve wondered about, plus amazing photos, revealing your life there to be less “alien” than I imagined, even without – yet – your 213 boxes that will personalize the spaces. Thanks so much for this view!


    • Thanks so much, Cindy! It’s silly how invested we are in personalizing with our books and art. We don’t care about much else. Forget the furniture! LOL And, yes, life here isn’t really alien, at all. Our house looks a lot like what you’d see in the US, only LOTS less expensive. I love hearing from you!!!!


  4. I love the mundane—-that is what my blog is usually about! 🙂 What a great catch up post—loved all the great photos that documented your journey so far. I was telling the hubby about your fabulous mercado pictures and he asked me if I now wanted to move to Ecuador!!! You have certainly made it look very appealing! Good for you two—life is an adventure and you have embraced it with open arms. I absolutely love that about you!


    • I don’t think you blog is mundane–or maybe it’s just that it’s so rich in detail! I tend to forget that richness comes from the most mundane details at times. Thank God I have Sara to remind me.

      I’d love you all to consider a visit one of these days. Somehow, I imagine your enjoying it. It’s amazing to us how many North American retirees are moving here–so many interesting expats to meet–not to mention Ecuadorians. Thanks for stopping by, Beth Ann. I LOVE hearing from you!


      • Chris, who is wise about these things, told me that it is a destination for many retirees because of the fairly low cost of living. I would love to visit—we have several trips we would love to make and we want to do them before we are too old and decrepit to get around. 🙂 Those days are coming faster than we would like to admit.


      • To be honest, I’d call it an incredibly low cost of living. That is exactly why folks are coming. With reduced income upon retirement, they can afford to actually increase their standard of living and still have the funds to fly home and visit children and grandchildren. It’s a win-win–all around. We’d LOVE you to visit!


  5. Hey Kathy,

    You have had full life already in just those few months. I am thrilled to see you to have made yourselves at home, adding your creative touches. Wait until your “stuff” gets there!

    Great to hear from you! I did read the pervious blog as well. I have been lurking around. I have been using Chrome for most of my communications and art, but for some reason I can’t write and or access WordPress from Chrome, so jumping back to safari to communicate now!


    • Oh, Jeff, I’m thrilled to hear from you! Thanks for switching from Chrome just to leave the comment. Hope your summer has gone well. We’d love you to visit us, whenever or if ever care for your mother allows. So sorry we couldn’t get together in New York!


  6. I loved reading this and looking at the pics, especially the shots of both houses. And I can relate to so many of the expat issues you mention, especially the high-altitude baking! It really makes a difference. (Joburg is nearly 6000 feet above sea level.) I don’t bake often but when I do, I struggle.

    Looking forward t more updates.


    • I had NO idea that Joburg was that high above sea level–fascinating. I’d be curious to know how that affects temperatures and humidity. We are cool all year round, and it’s incredibly dry, even during the rainy season. I have trouble wrapping my brain around that latter fact.

      Great hearing from you, Heather! Thanks for stopping by!


      • Yep, it’s very similar here. Cool and pleasant all year (at least compared to the East Coast of the U.S.) and very low humidity. Joburg’s climate is one of its greatest selling points. I don’t think I could ever go back to D.C. summers and winters!


  7. I love the inside peek to your life there. You picked both your temporary and permanent housing well. So beautiful. I want to live there! I love the extra touches you and Sara have added, but Tell me, landlord’s okay with you painting, etc? Tho they must love the garden mural. But 200 plus boxes?? All those books? Planning to stay for a while? Love the friends you’ve made. I had no idea there were so many Americans already living there. And that they have civil unions, though what’s the difference between civil union and marriage? Just curious. Other than that, are people from Ecuador accepting of LGBTQ community? You’ve clearly opened a Pandora’s box for me. I have so many questions! Thanks for sharing all the photos. Great post!


    • Dear, dear Monica–god only knows how I managed to no respond to your comment. I know I had read it, as I was thinking throughout the day about how to explain leasing here and the freedom to do what one wants with the house–ie–paint, install light fixtures, etc. It’s strangely different here than in the US–it’s more like you own the house and are responsible for repairs, etc.

      I know–lots of boxes and lots of books! Can’t wait for them to get here. I had forgotten how often I refer to books I’ve read in the past–that is until they’re not available.

      Wow, not sure I can explain in legal terms the differences between marriage and civil unions. I don’t understand in the US and certainly not here. I know that some Latin American countries are reluctant to legalize gay marriage, since they are catholic and marriage is considered a sacrament of the church. Though Uruguay just legalized gay marriage–so that’s not always the case.

      We feel just as well accepted here as we did in the US–if not better. But then we lived in the Bible belt.

      I think it would be hard not to love it here—especially for someone like you who already speaks the language.

      Again–so, so sorry I missed this.


  8. So not shocked at the checker board wall in your studio, Sista. LOL! The house is nothing short of GORGEOUS! Wow! What a step up for you two from Lexington. Also, I gotta love a country that has Snoopy on their flour bags. Great post!…….BTW, stubborn Ohio who refuses to recognize gay marriage just got smacked around a bit by a federal judge. A man who recently wed his partner of 18 years in Maryland passed away unexpectedly. His family is fighting to have their marriage recognized so they can be buried side by side (the cemetery requires them to be recognized as married for this to happen). A federal judge said Ohio MUST recognize it, whether they want to or not. Also, I was told by a local journalist–haven’t checked the facts myself–that the IRS is recognizing gay marriage for tax purposes. Baby steps, but so glad to see them happening……Yay, Sara! Employed at last and in a job I’m so jealous of, lol!


    • Damn. Hit a button and lost my lengthy response to your comment. I’d just call you, but Sara is working–and I can’t use too much broadband. We are getting an upgrade asap! I like to stream CNN while I do most everything.

      At any rate, delighted to hear a federal judge set Ohio straight–so to speak. LOL Had heard about the income tax development from a gay friend here in Cuenca over the weekend. Pretty cool!

      Also, SARA is the one now saying we need to save the flour bags–as they are cotton. She thinks we can reuse them for something. What am I–contagious?

      About the house–amazing what you can get for $350 a month. Plus, this month our electric was only $12 something and our gas was $5. Remember, no need for either AC or heat. It’s all too cool!

      I love you, sweetie. Talk to you soon!


      • Well, since Sara has caught your hoarding craft supplies bug, you should know that before the Depression flour bags were made of cotton here. Women used to save them–they came in many colors and designs–and made quilts out of them. You could probably make lots of things out of them. Who knows. Talk about UPcycling. Sara could be channeling her inner pioneer woman. LOL!


      • Okay, to be honest, I had forgotten that, but how cool. Now that you mention it, sounds like something I should have known. If we do anything with these bags it will, indeed be the ultimate in upcycling. Who knew Sara had an inner pioneer?! So proud of my woman!


  9. So good to hear and see you again, Kathryn (& Sara!). So much of our lives, no matter where we live, lay in the details. Love is in the details. Thank you for sharing yours….I feel like I’ve just had a visit! Take care, you two lovely adventurers! xoJulia


    • Oh Julia, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to hear from you! And I adore the sentence–“Love is in the details.” I swear, that’s gorgeous! May I steal it?

      Delighted also that you feel like you’ve had a visit. Speaking of visit–will you come visit us?!!! Hugs and love to you, my dear!


      • Thank you, Kathryn, for the lovely note. You’ve made me smile on a saddish sorta day. I’m not sure if I’m the first to say the statement about love being in the details, but go ahead, girl! haha. I would LOVE to visit! But of course my budget just doesn’t allow….not only flight, etc…but a feline and crazy pomeranian at home who need caring for! It all adds up. But I thank you for the invitation! I would go CRAZY with my new camera there!!! Stay well. And as beautiful as you are! xoJulia (Hugs to Miss Sara!).


      • I know what you mean about pets keeping you home. Isn’t it funny how important those little creatures are to us? And pet-sitting costs a fortune! Still, let us know if you ever decide you can come. I’ll pass your hug to Sara, for sure! Take care and have a great week!


  10. p.s. I loved the pics!!! (Adore Sara’s luggage!).
    p.s.s. I find it absolutely shameful that the United States is SO BEHIND other countries regarding equal rights marriages for ALL couples. That you should travel as far as Ecuador and have more legal rights than in your home country, leaves me shaking my head. Take care and congrats on your marriage and on your Ecuadorian Civil Union! xoJulia


    • Thanks, Julia! I must have mistyped something in the post–as the luggage is mine–not Sara’s. Sara wouldn’t be caught dead with something that colorful. She loves color in her surroundings only–especially doesn’t like to wear too much. I have no idea why–even after 7 years.

      And thanks for the congratulations, as well. It is strange to feel so much more free away from my own country. It’s sad, isn’t it?


      • hahaha. I should’ve known that the luggage was yours! haha. I’m like Sara in my taste for colors – love them….just not on me….or my luggage! haha. Although our country is behind in certain basic rights…..it’s still a wonderful place….and better with you two in it! Have fun, girls! xoxoJulia


    • My mother’s friends rented a one bedroom apartment in the heart of el Centro for $350 a month–including all utilities and internet. It was a one-bedroom with the most stunning view I’ve seen yet in town. God, would we ever love you to come!!!!!!!!!!!!

      We have had no issues with the altitude. Some folks take a couple weeks to adjust, but around 80% of folks have no real issue. I imagine you will have to work harder on your bike. I know a lot of athletes come here to train, as then their lung capacity is so increased when they compete at more moderate altitudes–if that makes any sense. However, Sara did have a headache for a couple of days after we arrived–might have been altitude–might have just been one of her headaches, as well. Also, folks lose weight at this altitude. So much to share, David. We will call you one of these days if you like—or maybe Skype.


    • Oh, no, Emily. That doesn’t sound good. Hope you, indeed, survive! Can’t wait for your new posts. I’ve missed them–especially when I need a good laugh! Directed a cyclist friend recently to your post about stealing the bike in Tokyo. God, that was funny!


  11. Kathy, what a wonderful post that makes me feel like I am with you and Sara. I love your new digs. So when you decided to move you did not have any idea of the sort of place you would be renting? It is fabulous and with both your artsy skills so warm and personal!


    • I’m so happy you like the house, Chris! We had a sense of the kinds of places that were available and what the costs would be before we came. And, certainly, we were not disappointed with what we found upon arrival. Really, it’s been even better than we had anticipated. Delighted to hear from you, Chris. Hope you are well!


  12. Wow — another postcard from Cuenca (or would that be a magazine). I love it. So interesting. Your home does resemble many of those in Southern California. And those boxes — when my daughter helped me pack up to leave SoCal, she said, “Mom … you have a LOT of stuff,” meaning all the boxes of books and my writing files, pre computer.

    I just love these posts. Are you sure you’re not receiving a commission from the Ecuador tourist commission? 🙂


    • Yes, Samantha, I have LOTS of writing files from before computers! I can’t imagine how much I might have accumulated even in the past decade, had we not had them.

      LOVE the line–“Another Postcard from Cuenca.” Gotta borrow that one, okay? I’ll give you credit, of course.

      And about the commission–gotta work on that one! I like that idea! LOL

      Great to hear from you, my friend!


      • Kathy, you may use the “postcard” line; I borrowed it from Roger Welsch who reported “Postcards from Nebraska” on CBS Sunday Morning, as you may recall. I loved that series — “stories behind the stories,” he called it. Here again, the backstories and the details.

        Oh, and I meant to say earlier, that I love your bright colors in your home and Sara’s paintings. So much talent.


      • Goodness, yes. I love Sunday Morning. Kind of miss that here. In fact, when I have screened live TV on a Sunday Morning that’s what I’ve watched. And thank you, so happy you like the colors! Great to hear from you! Hope you’re having a great day!


  13. Fascinating — and so great to hear what you’ve been up to! Love the transformation of the garden and your studio – you guys are SO crafty & creative!!! Can’t wait to see all your things in the house … but 1300 books?? oh my! What a wonderful new life you’re carving out there — I love hearing about it!!


    • Thanks, Betty. Great to hear from you, too! The garden is all Sara’s doing. It’s gonna take time for things to grow, but it’s coming along.

      Glad you enjoy the crafty stuff! But we REALLY can’t wait to get our stuff, especially the BOOKS!


  14. So I get a call this morning from Husband saying “did you read Kathy’s blog yet”. No, I hadn’t. It came out while I was at work. He says “read it and take a month off of work. The more I read the more I am convinced we will go there”.

    🙂 How incredibly fascinating to see your entire life change. It is so inspiring and encouraging and beautiful.

    We will get there. Eventually. 🙂 Hugs to you both! And I love the banner! And all of the pictures. 🙂


  15. There’s so much to comment on here, I hardly know where to start! First off, I love the mundane, day-to-day stuff. That’s “real” life, after all! I’ve long subscribed to that philosophy, and strive to write about it myself, hopefully in an interesting and humorous way. There’s no such thing as a boring blog post if you write it in a way that will please your audience! You always do an admirable job, of course.

    Interesting that baking soda is considered a drug. Am I missing something here? I kind of want to go home and snort it now, to see what all the fuss is about.

    Love the custom bar, the colorful stools, and the garden mural. You guys both have a knack for dressing up even the dullest of interiors and exteriors.

    Sounds like you’re having a great time and have adjusted nicely to being an ex-pat in a foreign land. Looking forward to more “mundane” posts such as this!


    • So happy this post works for you, Mark. Thank you! I will tell Sara you appreciated her stools. I think they turned out so cool!

      And, yes, you always succeed with the humor in your writing. You can make anything so damn funny, my friend!

      I know what you mean about the baking soda. I had NEVER heard of such a thing before. I personally have not started snorting it yet. If I ever get that desperate, I’ll let you know how it goes. However, with pot being legal here, I might choose that over baking soda. LOL

      Tell Tara I said hi–and congrats on your upcoming wedding! I’m so happy for you both!


  16. Loved this ‘mundane’ post! Looks like you have settled in fabulously! I am sure there must have been stressful moments, but looks like you guys took it in your stride. If I ever get over to Ecuador I will definitely knock on your door!


    • We would love you to knock on our door, Gertie! There have been amazingly few stressful moments, to be honest–and they were fleeting. But then we lived in Haiti, so this is a piece of cake! LOL Great to hear from you! And thank you, my friend!


      • They reckon moving houses are one of the most stressful events in ones’ life, after death and divorce. Not sure if it is that bad….but moving to a brand new country must top that list somewhere!


      • I had forgotten about that. I’ve read that list–but it had slipped my mind. Plus, we got married–I suspect that’s up there on the list of stressors, as well. There’s good stress and bad stress and one can quickly devolve into the other.


  17. Every LITTLE bit counts and adds up to a LOT! I love the photographs — the grand tour! As a minimalist, I especially appreciate the aesthetics of “before our personal items arrived.” 213 boxes?! holy, Holy, HOLY Toledo!


    • Oh my God, I had fleetingly forgotten that about your, Laurie. What is wrong with me? The clean stream-lined look is nice, but we miss our art on the walls–and I’m dying for my books. So sad, really. I wish I were more like you.

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Great to hear from you!!!! By the way, I think you all would love it here!


  18. I LOVE this post, Kathy! I’ve been waiting to hear all the “mundane” details since I saw you here in NYC. And they are not mundane at all. It’s awesome that you both have been following your dreams.

    Please tell Sara that I adore what she’s done with your backyard. It makes this city person very envious!

    Can’t wait to come visit you someday and see it all in person.

    PS – when I saw the first photo the very first thought that popped into my mind was, I bet those colorful suitcases are Kathy’s. 🙂


    • How funny, Jackie, that you guessed about the suitcases! They are so me–aren’t they?! We can’t wait for you to visit us either! When do you think you and your friend might come–next summer maybe? We will have so much fun!

      Glad you enjoyed the post–and didn’t find my mundane too excruciating mundane. Great to hear from you!


  19. I’m so glad you wrote this post, Kathy. I’ve wondered about all these little details. You and Sara have made quite a commitment to Ecuador. I love how you’ve ‘You’d’ up your place. I hope you will be there a while so that we can come visit. We’ve looked into flights, but I know it will be next fall at the earliest. But hey, that’s only a year.

    I wish I could find a writing group like the one you’ve joined. There’s just nothing here.

    Congratulations to Sara and her job, and to the two of you for being legal in a whole country. xo


    • Thanks so much for your comment, Andra. I love hearing from you. Yes, next fall is only a year away. That time will fly quickly–no pun intended. LOL

      It’s fun to be legal here and have that official paperwork completed. It was a bit tedious but so much easier than for folks trying to get green cards in the US.

      Sorry you can’t find a writing group there. Mine has made such a difference. I wouldn’t have guessed how much it would help. Plus, I’ve even had a memoir workshop here. Didn’t have one of those in Lexington!

      Hugs to you, dear Andra. Can’t wait till you come–and MTM and Sara can chat about all things architectural.


  20. Kathy, it’s wonderful to hear that this transition is continue to go so well. The house looks great and I love all the “Kathy & Sara” touches especially the wall in your studio and Sara’s mural in the back yard. That’s great news that she landed a job. I skipped dessert tonight. I wish I could have a piece of pie!


    • I wish you could have some pie, too. It’s the thing I do best–especially here–with all of the leavening issues. So happy you like our touches–painting projects, especially. The only thing our house really lacks is a view–which is sad here since they are generally so stunning. Sara insisted she would not be without and decided to create her own.

      And so far she loves the job! Great to hear from you, LA! Hope your week is going well. Glad you’re resolving your internet-tv issues!


    • I’m afraid you didn’t miss anything. We can’t quite figure it out–though someone suggested that it can be mixed with cocaine. I wouldn’t know. Honestly, we don’t get it.

      So glad you enjoyed the painting. It’s wonderful to hear from you. I’ll tell Sara you enjoyed the view!


  21. Kathy and Sara,
    So wonderful to read all about your adventures in Cuenca! Cakes not rising: What do the Cuencanos do to make their bread rise? Their bread is certainly light and fluffy.
    Love the checkered wall in Kathy’s study! Love the garden “mountains.”
    You two are certainly special! Thanks for all you did for us while we visited Cuenca. And I would encourage ALL your friends to visit – just not all at the same time! Cuenca is really special and so are both of you!

    Wayne & Judith Erminger


    • It’s so wonderful to hear from you both! My mother said you both have been quite sick. Hope you are feeling better! Thanks for everything.

      Sara has begun baking bread here, and she succeeds by reducing the yeast by one-third. Take care–blessings to you both!


      • Yes, we have both been sick – allergies mostly – went into acute bronchitis. Lexington has never been great for allergies for us. Guess we will have to come back to Cuenca – had no allergy problems there!
        Glad the formula for baking bread is working out for Sara.
        We think of you 2 often. So glad you are having a wonderful time in Cuenca.
        Wayne & Judith


  22. The mundane is spectacular! You all are settling into your new home and new life as if it were made for you, perhaps it was. The garden, wonderful especially the painted wall to give it some additional interest.

    Were it not for my need to return to work now the summer is over, i would be on the next plane to you. Maybe it is good I still have a few more years to work given all the pictures the temptation might be to overstay my welcome.


  23. Kathy, this was fascinating–from the snoopy flour, to the civil-union info. I’ve been pondering living outside of the Sates for awhile. The details on rent etc. were really useful. Your blog’s opening up ideas for me. Thanks so much!!

    Hugs from the Bluegrass,



    • Thank you so much, Nikki. If living outside the US interests you, there may not be a more affordable place to live in the entire western hemisphere than Ecuador. We love it. You might, as well. Hope you will come visit us one of these days and check it out. Hugs to you, as well! Say hi to Lexington for me!


  24. I’m so glad you included the “mundane” which is anything but. This is exactly the sort of thing I hoped I would read when you announced that you were moving. I really feel like I’m going through the experience with you (a bit anyway). As someone who has entertained the idea of moving to South America, it gives me a little taste of the challenges you face!

    I LOVED your first rental and thought I would be sad to see the pictures of your new place. I was wrong. Also, I would kill for rent that low!


    • Great to hear from you, Nora. To be honest, I’m surprised more people don’t consider a move to South America–there’s little to lose and SO much to gain. If you ever want to visit, please let us know. We’d love to have you! So glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, the rent rocks here!


  25. Kathy, it was so delightful to read this update with the everyday details of your life in Ecuador. You might have thought “mundane” but the rest of us ere drooling. How cool that you’ve invited ALL of us for a visit! What if we all showed up en masse? Smiling. Would love to be taking that Spanish class or at least “getting by” with my infantile espanol. Do keep sharing!


    • Oh, I’m so delighted this felt like a visit! That’s exactly what I was aiming for. If you all showed up at once–yikes. I suppose we’d make do. We always do! Also, Happy Anniversary to you and Barry! 35 years! How cool is that?!!!!!


  26. Well, this post and your new life in Ecuador seem anything but mundane! Your new home is BEAUTIFUL and so spacious! I couldn’t help but notice that your kitchen is so much better equipped than your kitchen in Haiti. You sound very happy with where you’re at in life right now, and that makes me happy for you! Hugs, my friend!


    • OMG, I had to laugh when I read your comment, Terri. I hadn’t even thought to compare this kitchen to the one in Haiti. Who knows why not! Why didn’t I think of that?

      So happy you like the house. We are enjoying it SO much, I must admit. Great to hear from you, Terri. Thanks for reading–and hugs to you, too!


  27. Oh Kathy and Sara. I am so happy for you both. Your new life is working out so well and thank you for sharing the “mundane” with us. I just love to hear how people spend their day to day lives. We all have highlights (I am in London with my sister currently) but it’s the every day things that make us who we are. Hugs to you both. I would love to take up your invitation but Ecuador is so far from New Zealand. Hugs to you both from your New Zealand friend.


    • Oh, I know. It IS far from New Zealand. Maybe you can just enjoy the vicarious visit for now. Hope you enjoy London, however. I’ve not been there in 25 years. Have a lovely visit with your sister. It’s wonderful to hear from you today. Have a great weekend, also–and hugs to you, too!!!!! And hello to your sister!


  28. I’m so glad you shared the “mundane”. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about it. Tell Sara I think she is a wizard at gardening and congratulations on finding gainful employment.

    Keep the cards and letters coming.


  29. Hi friend! I’ve taken awhile off from blogging. I have a bad case of writers block… But I wanted to stop by to see how you are. It looks like you are settling in well. :). Your space is gorgeous! And those pies look delish! I would love to come visit…. I love that you extend an invite to your blog buddies…. And maybe someday I will. For now, my life is falling apart by choice. So let me rephrase that, I am taking every piece of my life apart and rebuilding from scratch…. Lots of fresh starts on the horizon for me. Anyway, glad to see you are well and thanks for sharing the mundane beauty that is your new beginning.

    Are you a paid writer?



    • So wonderful to hear from you, Currie! I took some time off, as well. Sometimes that’s what’s needed. We truly are loving it here. Interesting process that you describe. It actually sounds quite productive and deliberate. Blessings to you in that process, my friend. One day, we would love you to visit! Take care. Oh, and yes, the pieces I write for Gringo Tree will be for pay. Hugs to you, too, my dear!


  30. What a rental, beautiful bargain of a home for now. Plan to be there for awhile? It’s great garden wall mural art that your partner created also to make it friendlier and homey.


    • Thanks so much. Glad you like the mural. I’ll tell Sara you enjoyed it. Yes, we plan to stay. At least we plan to stay in Ecuador for a long, long time. It’s a beautiful country.

      So great to hear from you. Sorry it’s taken me a couple of days to respond. I’ve been sick.


  31. I am far behind in visiting and reading, but so glad I didn’t decide to skip ahead as this post answered a lot of questions for me. I love what you and Sara are doing with your new home. It looks like you’re both settling in nicely. Congrats to you both! 🙂
    As for baking, check with my daughter-in-law (Meredith). I saw you stopped by to visit her blog (thank you!). She’s big on backing and did quite a bit of it when they lived in Boulder, CO, so I think she got the hang of high altitude baking.


    • I was delighted for the introduction to Meredith’s blog. No need to thank me. The privilege was all mine. I appreciate your mentioning her knowledge of high-altitude baking. That’s great to know.

      I know how it feels to be behind on blog reading. Sometimes it’s just impossible to read everyone all of the time. Stop by only when you can. You have been so loyal for so many years, Robin. Can’t tell you how I appreciate that. You were one of my first 2 or 3 subscribers!

      Take care, my friend!


  32. Oh my, Kathy! What a gorgeous rental place! (And $350 per month?? That’s AMAZING!) I notice you guys have done a lot of personalization and painting in that place– was this something you had to negotiate with the landlords? (Is it a local or a foreign owner?)

    Congratulations to Sara for landing a position. It sounds (and looks) like everything is unfolding perfectly for you two down in Ecuador!


    • Glad you appreciate the house. Rentals work differently here. We are generally allowed to do what we want to the house as long as it’s an improvement, but we are also responsible for repairs. However, nothing has broken yet. We painted and Sara has worked a lot in the garden. But, for example, plants are incredibly cheap, so that has been a very affordable process.

      On a related note, we get 20 long-stem roses—stunning, stunning, stunning, for 4 dollars. Our house is always full of fresh flowers here, as well. You may be able to see them on the dining room table in this post. I forget if there’s a photo of them here.


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