Repatriation #1: Having to Consider Going Back

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

A Peaceful Life in 2020

It’s a cool mid-July day in Cuenca, Ecuador. Our life here as expats has become peaceful, settled, joyful, even with COVID-19 restrictions. We’re glad not to be in the currently chaotic United States this wild year. Friendships have manifested. I speak Spanish fairly well. It feels homey.

Time for a Permanent Visa?

Relaxing at Home by Bonnie Willow
Relaxing at Home by Bonnie Willow

A year and a half into our stay, husband Gary and I are making plans for getting our permanent visas. Our two-year Temporary Residence Visa expires next April.

It’s wise to begin the lengthy process of applying for residency six months in advance. That means we need to begin the process by end of September.

Working backward from there, we need to research visa facilitators now and make a decision about whom to hire by late August. We want to time this right.

A permanent visa allows us to spend nearly half the year traveling outside Ecuador. That seems like an excellent choice for maximal freedom. There’s just one hitch: we don’t want to leave our beloved dog and cat with pet sitters for months on end.

We don’t have everything figured out, but it’s on our minds to make a plan for our future.

Planning Our Life Goals

One recent day, we wrote up a brief document about what we want for our marriage, lifestyle, hobbies, goals, and values.

Our beloved pets by Bonnie WillowOur beloved pets by Bonnie Willow
Our beloved pets by Bonnie WillowOur beloved pets by Bonnie Willow

The general summary is that we want to live in a community-type setting where a few families shared an organic garden. We wanted pet care, comfortable friendships, and help if someone was to get sick. As we get along in years, it’s wise to grow our own food with others’ help and to have good neighbors and pet-sit for one another.

We are keen on having a bike or walk access to cafes and shops and friends. Forests, mountains, and rivers are important to both of us, for hiking, kayaking, and meditating in nature. Privacy in our home but plenty of social life.

Much of that is available in Cuenca, though we need to travel outside town to have the nature we want and to connect with other communities.

There are plenty of “intentional communities” in Ecuador. We’ll have to figure out how to find a group of compatible people.

A Surprise Changes Everything

Two days after we agreed on our life goals, I received an email from my former office partner of many years back in the US.

Forest Near Retreat Center by Bonnie Willow
Forest Near Retreat Center by Bonnie Willow

She has bought many acres of forest in the mountains outside our town where we still own a house.

Her organization has begun building a large retreat center there. She wanted to see if Gary and I were interested in working at the retreat center in our respective areas of expertise and live in one of the cottages they’re building for staff members!

Gary would work in their extensive organic gardens that provide food for the retreat center. Let’s see….

  • Compatible, comfy, small community: check
  • Extensive garden, jointly maintained: check
  • Forest, Mountain, River: check
  • Built-in social life: check
  • Cafes and shops within walking distance: check
  • A town within biking distance: check
  • Other community members living next to us: check
  • Non-stressful employment to bring in extra income: check!


How to Decide

This out-of-the-blue surprise appears to be the answer to our dilemma! One day we’re planning how to get our Permanent Residency Visa in Ecuador. The next day we feel certain that returning to the US is our best course of action in alignment with what matters most to us.

For a week now, we have been floating on air over this delightful development. Now the ramifications are setting in. We love it here. Are we sure we want to return to the chaos that is enveloping the U.S. in 2020? A move like this will affect other people, too. This choice requires careful consideration.

Make sure to also read Repatriation #2 – Pros and Cons of Going Back. What effect will our decision have on others and on our life? What do we have to consider before making the final call?

by: Bonnie Willow