So it happened.
We packed up our five bags, two carry-ons and two personal articles, and left our home of 23 years to move to Cuenca, Ecuador. Full disclosure – I left two suitcases with each of my children for delivery later.
We planned to take four suitcases and a carryon each. Well, my husband did.
How do you outfit a brand new home in another country taking only four suitcases? I was lucky that my kids were coming to see me for Thanksgiving and New Year’s. They each got two suitcases to bring.
So I happily set about packing my favorite pans, new silverware, and comfy warm down comforters. Bang. I hit 70 pounds in each of four bags within days. Near tears, I told my husband I would have to leave most of my clothing at home. He relented and offered to pay the stiff $150 fee for a fifth.
THAT was a blessing and a curse. I got some favorite sweaters and jeans in, but also threw in some extras not on the original list. Boom. Seventy pounds just like that.
I looked at my remaining pile. My robe. My favorite short boots. A pair of jeans that fit. (All those clothes I had brilliantly taken and left on earlier trips? Now a size too big due to my recent weight loss!) A pair of leggings that were an everyday staple. A favorite shirt. A bulky sweater. My warmest jacket – a puffy parka – and a new warm scarf gifted me by my sister.
No problem. I would layer them all and just wear them, I thought. My husband quickly pulled the robe from the list of possibilities and wrapped his computer monitor with it. We found a place to stash the jeans and the boots would stay home this time.
The next morning at 4:30, I was dressed in layers. I was the only one in two airports dressed for the dead of winter.
My carry-on was a veritable treasure trove of potential bomb making materials. I had a set of portable phones and a base unit, a router, a Roku, two cell phones, a computer keyboard and mouse, several power cords, Bluetooth headphones, batteries, multiple chargers, an IPad and a camera. I still managed to squeeze in a few little items like a book, some underclothes and a clean shirt and sweater. (Yes. My clothes have been lost many times!)
We were so busy packing, organizing and leaving instructions, that we scarcely had time to feel sadness. Only on the plane did I feel the pangs of leaving my best friends, familiarity and security.
Other than a 24-hour flight delay in New York, the move-in was smooth. A driver met us at the airport and helped us with the embarrassingly large cargo. Our apartment isn’t ready, so we spread out between a rented condo, a small office and our future home. Try finding that special bottle of seasoning you carefully included, or those few precious T-shirts you didn’t think you would need when belongings are spread between three locations! It’s great for health, though, as we walk 10 blocks between each location.
Our first days have been packed with activity. With children visiting for Thanksgiving, sightseeing and enjoying their help for moving and cleaning tasks. Organizing utilities, cable and HOA fees in English is hard enough, but in Spanish it has been a challenge.
So far, so good. We have found lots of locals to be friendly and helpful. We even found a great English-speaking doctor and hospital, quite unintended as one child endured a food poisioning episode.
As I look out my windows to take in the breath-taking beauty of the Cajas National Park on one side and the Andes on the other, I feel at peace. For now, I have found home.