Here I go again.
This time though, my absence is planned to be temporary. Previously, my temporary absences were intended to be permanent. So hey then. I'll have to wait and see how this turns out.
I can't stand sitting in one place too long, and I hate traveling. Noodling along by car is OK, as is backpacking, my preferred vehicle of locomotion. And by "backpacking", I mean backpacking, staying outside and sleeping in the dirt. I don't mean attending drunken teenage parties in various countries recognizable only by their entries in a rumpled copy of some Lonely Planet publication.
Anyhow, by the time I leave I'll have spent 11½ months in Cuenca, continuously. My previous limit was six months, give or take a day. Besides being a record, this stay signifies a couple of other things. One being the fact that I'm older, and Cuenca ain't bad for geezers.
I have to watch what happens these days. Every few months, it seems, some other part of me goes off the rails, and I can't afford to be sick in the United States.
I can here, even without insurance, which is another whole separate topic. You know the phrase "get what you pay for". Here, referring to insurance, that has to be mended to "don't get what you pay for". Although the IESS (Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social) seems well liked. By those anti-socialist ranters as well as by actual humans. The private insurers, no.
So if I actually have a problem with Age-Related Macular Degeneration rather than another scare as I did about two years back, then I can both get it treated here, and afford to get it treated, here. Unlike the Great and Grand Exceptional United of States in the America. Where I can't even get an appointment with a doctor. That's one thing. Gettin' older, gettin' more cautious, justifiably so.
Another reason is that it's just cheaper here. I'm finally getting used to that. This time around I have two income streams instead of one, and the difference between living here and living up north is substantial. I can't spend enough money here to make a significant dent in my income. Lunch is either $2.50 or $3.00 at the two places I eat. Either way, it's cheap. Rent is $450, which is around the middle, or slightly on the high end, but I've got what I like and $450 it is. I don't care. Utilities included. Maid service included. DirecTV included. Wireless internet included. No probs.
And though I'm close enough to being deaf that I basically can't communicate with anyone who speaks Spanish, life isn't that different from being in an English-speaking country where I still don't have much of anything in common with anyone anyway. My companionship comes from what I read and write whether I'm in Ecuador or any other country. I don't do smalltak anywhere. So that's all a wash.
So I'm still an outsider, a stranger, a philosophical wanderer no matter what. I don't fit. No matter which round spot I try to dip my squareness into. It never works. I mind my own business and keep out of trouble, and stay on the lookout for interesting things, but life gets slow sometimes. And as for where I fit in — I'm still waiting to find out. If nothing else, a change of scenery refreshes my attitude from time to time, and if, as now, I'm headed for several weeks of backpacking, well that's good.
Outdoors, off and away somewhere, is about the only place I don't feel like a stranger. And I'm going there.
Bye soon. For a while.