On a hill above Cotacachi, at a bend in the road overlooking an impossibly green valley, someone has painted a sign on a post. It says " Dios esta aqui." God is here. No matter what your religious beliefs, this place makes you believe in a higher power.
As the clocked ticked its way from 2012 to 2013, we gathered around the bonfire and ceremoniously offered our human-size effigy to the flames. That's the Año Viejo (or "Old Year") tradition here in Ecuador, and one worth adopting no matter where you live.
Think you'd like to retire overseas but don't know what you'll do once you get there? Many people who retire abroad use the opportunity to not only reinvent themselves, but to become helpful resources in their new communities.
My husband, Dan, and I will soon celebrate 11 years of living the expat life. We've lived in seven different locations (in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Ecuador) and spent a considerable amount of time in many, many more - especially Belize and Costa Rica.
This year, 2012, marks the first year since 2009 that U.S. retirees will finally see a cost-of-living adjustment ( COLA) of +3.6 percent in their Social Security benefits.
I first met Laura and Joel (not their real names) a decade ago on the shores of Mexico's Lake Chapala where they were vacationing. He was retired and she was happily working as a network television sales executive. He wanted her to quit her job and move to Mexico with him and she was having none of it.
"I don't like being called an ex-patriot," my friend Jack said. He's a former elected official and about as red-white-and-blue as they come. His wife is a former trial judge. But now they're retired and living in Ecuador...for the adventure, the pleasurable lifestyle, and the lower cost of living.
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