Being retired has saved my life. I better add to that. Being single, away from my family and retired has saved my life.
I have a loose daily routine that begins with a dog walk, then yoga and then I start to research, to read, to write. I get to look at things without responsibility. I get to watch and listen. I have the opportunity to know a person without them knowing I know them.
I meet a lot of people. I sit and listen, sometimes from a neighboring table, and if allowed, I will ask a question or two. I guess your reading level, your religion, nationality, family situation, finances and more. My mother used to say, “The purpose of any conversation is for the other person to talk.”
The other day I decided that there were a few things I had needed to organize. So I decided to fix things that needed fixing and organize things, page by page, if necessary. I found two complete manuscripts.
I reread them and decided to do additional research as the times had changed. Needless to say my repair work took a serious hit.
I read an article by a young girl telling me the reason Gringos come here to Cuenca. I actually took offense and I held back giving my opinion. I remember once knowing everything and figured she might need a go at it as well.
Honestly, I don’t know why I am here. Funny but I don’t know why others are here but I can listen to their reasons. I don’t believe them. The reasons that people give change the longer they stay here. I attempt to gauge the stage they are in according to my measurement scale.
There is the Pollyanna stage where “the people here are so nice and friendly, they seem so well adjusted”
Then there’s the Papa’s Gotta New Pair of Shoes stage. This person or couple decides to visit other places and write about it. “Oh look at this museum, look at this flower, see the whale.” I never see pictures of the museums from the U.S,
PAUSE Here’s the grist of my point. I think Americans are deeply angry people, Canadians are angrier because their not Americans (that should get some responses) It is how the American lets out his/her anger that tells the length of stay, where they decide to live, etc.
At this juncture the American mind makes a move. Sometimes a bold move, sometimes a long overdue move, but the real person emerges. If they retire and come here they are doomed. They no longer have the job or hectic life to keep a wedge of comfort between them and now they are actually spending long hours together , often not able to speak the language and they say life is great. They can’t manage the streets, they can’t stand buses let alone Cuenca buses, they have to adjust.
Once successful busy people are faced with the reality that their livelihood in the U.S. ain’t worth squat here. So you volunteer your services. For crying out loud you are an American. You worked all your life, perfecting your craft to play Mother Teresa here. You aren’t even a practicing Catholic. Now the anger simmers.
Many Americans open businesses. A large portion of those businesses are selling things that are intangible. There seems a lot of information about alternative health options. Personally I like when somebody sells me something I can put my hands on like food. I sound like Andy Rooney here and that worries me.
Suddenly, the topic
missing the kids and grand kids comes up. Talk takes on the form of ‘cognitive dissonance’. You have made up your mind to return to the U.S. now you have to find reasons to substantiate it. Now the people aren’t so nice, they seem to take advantage of your ignorance learning curve, and volunteering has limited rewards. The kids are suffering. Meanwhile the kids back home are trembling with fear that you might return.
Another group of Americans have found bread crumbs on the path to internal understanding. While the other group seethes in anger over politics, this group does yoga, travels around and avoids anything that reminds them of the life they came from. They have controlled their anger by covering it up. They have not replaced it. Like a seed it waits for the right conditions to open.
Then there’s me trying to figure out WTF?