Welcome to Salinas Life

My name is Bill Perry and welcome to Salinas Life. This is our blog about life in Salinas, both from my and your perspectives. It is not a place to just sing its praises. I will never say it’s paradise because it is not. Nor will I ever call it a dump because it’s not that either. Remember, wherever we go there we are, so I am sure that we all experience Salinas, with its percs and deficiencies, differently. Rember the saying: “Two guys look out from prison bars – One sees mud and one sees stars.” As we go along I also hope that we in this community, of expats and Ecuadorians, may meet more of each other and feel, maybe, just a little less lonely. I think that being an expat for many can be a very lonely experience, especially in the first year or so.

Now some of you may be wondering – “Who the heck does this guy thinks he is?  He has only been here a few months, so what can he actually know about Salinas?” The answer to that question is “quite a bit” and “not much at all.” It doesn’t take long for me to get the “vibe” of a place. I make friends easily, and I make a point to interact often with the local Ecuadorian population as well as us expats. And I talk to the taxi drivers – the best sources of information here (and practically anywhere else).  I’ve learned a lot so far. But hardly enough to be considered by myself or anyone else to be an expert on Salinas. I am clearly not that! But I want to become that and here’s where you come in:

I’ll be sharing my personal experience and perspectives on Salinas as we go along. But I need your help – those of you who have come before me and know far more than I do – I need your submissions, your ideas, experiences, and just plain information. I need you to teach me and other newbies either here or thinking of coming here what it’s like for you to live here. And I also need for you to listen to all the questions and concerns that us newbies have. So I want your submissions for this blog – guideline: Your own personal experience, opinions and perspective here, practical information about Salinas, first-hand experiences and things about yourself, that we may all get to know each other better.

My Ecuadoriana wife and I moved here from Quito, where I was since I left the US in May of 2013 when I came here to marry her.  It seems like yesterday and it seems like forever. But I notice that I no longer wake up in the morning thinking about having to pack my bags to go “home.” It seemed as if just one day I woke up and I was home. A psychologist by trade, although career opportunities are better for me in Quito I realized that I had just left a six-figure job in the US because I was so unhappy there, and I was not about to replicate that in my new life having given so much up to move here. So here we are – Salinas – Poor but happy. I had for years been thinking about moving south, but fear had prevented me, until finally after some very difficult personal and business setbacks as well as my meeting Anita here I felt it an opportune time to move, although I remained paralyzed with fear.  The final clincher for me was when my own therapist, knowing me for over 20 years, looked at me one day and said: “Bill, this boils down to two choices – Either you go through the temporary but severe anxiety of moving, or you spend the rest of your life regrettting not doing so.” That sealed my fate. I reduced my entire life to three suitcases, went to the airport, and realized that everyone else in San Francisco was just going about their own lives, not thinking about me or caring what I was doing. It was a very surreal and lonely and exciting experience. There is truly a real sense of freedom in having nothing left to lose.

So who am I anyway? I’m a 57 year-old psychologist recently married to the love of my life and my reason for choosing Ecuador as my new home. Ecuador, practically the only South American country I had not visited, was not even on my short list until  I had spent over a year Skyping and visiting my now-wife Anita, from Santo Domingo, Ecuador. Being too young and too poor to retire I am still working here, seeing patients both in person and online and I make housecalls (www.expatpsychologist.net). I’m both licensed and SENESCT approved.  I have been blessed with having had many wonderful and not so wonderful experiences in my life and many travels, all of which made me grow in ways that years and years of school couldn’t. I’m from San Francisco by way of Los Angeles by way of New Jersey. For the last 25 years prior to moving here I worked alone in an office off Fillmore Street. I got burnt out there about five years ago. I imagine you’ll learn more about me as this site evolves. Or feel free to just ask and I may or may not give you an answer.

“Evolves” is the best word for this. I see it evolving as we go along, much like I am allowing my life to do. There’s an old Spanish joke – “If you want to make G-d laugh just tell Him your plans.” I feel honored to have this opportunity and grateful in advance for all your help and input.

Please contact me with your ideas, questions and submissions at drbill@drbillperry.com. Please tell us your story about life in Salinas. I reserve the right to edit only for style and length purposes but will NOT change anything substantial in your piece – facts, opinions, events.

Dr. Bill

Link to website and professional blog:

www.drwilliamperryonlinetherapy.com

Link to personal blog:

www.drbillsblog.com

About the Author

I suppose this is a required section, I mean who the hell is this guy, right? And the beginning is a fitting place to put it while we’re all waiting for Will to submit his promised story, but I don’t think he responds well to pressure. Anyway I think that in order to really understand where I’m coming from with my views and impressions of Salinas, you really need to – well, you know – know a little bit about where I came from and who I am. In regard to Salinas or anwhere else, “We do not see things as they are – We see things as we are.” So here I am:

I hail originally from Northern New Jersey, a stone’s throw from Manhattan, where I would often sneak off to at night to play. I never took well to suburbia, always seeking out better thrills in more exciting (and risky) environments. Los Angeles, where I moved at age 18 to attend college, was not even close to New York in that respect, but it too was a big exciting city and satisfied my long term urge to move away and change my life.

Now don’t get me wrong – I didn’t then and never have ran away from anything. I had a great childhood with loving parents a la June and Ward Cleaver. But I always had this urge to run toward new things, to see more, experience more. And as a traveler, not a tourist. I think a major determinant of which expats are going to be happy or unhappy is whether they’re going to something (happy) or running from something (unhappy).

My time in L.A. was spent fulfilling my dream of becoming a psychologist. I attended school for nine years to get that piece of paper hanging on my wall. But as a teen becoming an adult I drew my education from numerous sources. George Bernard Shaw once said: “The only time my education was disrupted was the time I spent in school.” I don’t think I’d go that far, but I do believe that I became a better person and psychologist more outside than inside the classroom. At any rate it didn’t hurt and the honors were good for my needy ego.

My heyday was spent in San Francisco, where I rushed off to after grad school to take a job as a Staff Psychologist at the state psychiatric hospital up in Napa. The job was interesting and educational for the first six months, and a boring drag for the following three years. When I realized that I couldn’t distinguish between the long-term employees (including the doctors!) there from the patients I high-tailed it out of there and started my own practice in San Francisco treating the “worried well,” among others, which I made quite successful over the 25 years I had it. Yes, my heyday – I flourished in San Francisco – I wined and dined, became an avid salsa dancer going out almost every night, went to all the “A-list” parties, published a few articles and letters, did volunteer work, chaired committees in my professional organization. I made a million friends, without Facebook! I contributed the max to my SEP-IRA every year. I was at the top of my game for many years.

And then it happened. One day, or so it seemed, I woke up realizing that for at least the past five years, maybe more, I’d been unhappy and unsatisfied. I felt old and burnt out. I got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I had never been in one place for so long, doing the same things for so long. I lost my gumption. San Francisco and I were like lovers who, through nobody’s fault,  just got tired and bored with each other over the years. There was nothing left to say anymore. We both knew it was over. Although I knew I was contributing to it with my burnout and ever-increasing bad attitude, it felt like everything around me was slowly crumbling away. I stopped dancing, removed myself from clubs and committees, withdrew from my friends, and drank too much. Then the worst happened: I realized that for some time I’d been hating my job. My passion was gone. Hence my performance dropped until I knew that to continue would not be fair to me or more importantly my patients. Ok, San Francisco, you win. You can keep the house and I’ll move on.

On some other level of my mind a much different framing of all this was happening: I had dreamed of living in Latin America since my first of 14 visits to Cuba in the early 90′s, and later to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru. I always felt more of a sense of “home” there. Can’t explain it, stopped trying to. So having heard (if not believed) that “the Universe is conspiring to make me happy,” perhaps it was paving a path for me – out of a life I was unhappy with toward a dream I had for a long time. It was offering me a way out. Most of my family was dead, my practice had shrunk to near nothing, and my colleagues, friends and dance partners would do very well without me, thank you very much, and I managed to squirrel away enough cash to buy me a fair amount of unemployment time down south. I realized that I was not being forced out of anything – I was being invited!

Now I said a “fair” amount of unemployment time – I had no intention to retire. I was too young and too poor for that. And I also realized that I really do love my work, and I really am passionate for it and good at it – I always considered helping others to be an honor and a privelege. I just stopped liking it in the venue I was doing it up in the U.S. There I ended up spending more time arguing with clerks at insurance companies trying to dictate to me how to treat my patients than actually treating my patients! I’m grateful to be off that bus.

Not realizing that the decision had already been made to move south I agonized over it for months. Is that a light at the end of the tunnel or a train coming at me? I’m sure I even bored my own therapist, who one day just looked at me and said “Bill, you have two choices: You can go through the extreme temporary anxiety of making this move or you can spend the rest of your life regretting that you didn’t do it when you could have.” My ambivalence ended right there. I recalled my “long term urge to change my life.”

Now about three years prior I began seriously talking with an Ecuadoriana on a Latin dating site. Do you see this? Like, maybe on an unconscious level I was already planning my new life? I mean, why would I have spent all that time talking to someone who wasn’t going to move out unless I had some seedling of an idea that I was goint to move down? This was after being single for 20 years and convinced that by now “love had passed me by.” Ecuador, truth be told, was nowhere near the top of my list. It was one of the few South American countries that I hadn’t visited and I had no particular desire to travel here, let alone live here. But the Universe just opened a door for me, which happened to lead to Ecuador, and beckoned me in. Who was I to argue?

What I walked into just under a year ago was the beginning of the best years of my life. Sometimes you just know these things. I have an incredible wife that I would walk through fire for, who loves me even though I’m old, crotchety and poor. All I had to offer her was someone who was finally able to have a healthy and happy relationship, loving unconditionally, and that was all she wanted. Some time back I stopped rushing to pack my bags when I got up in the morning to go home, finally realizing that I already am home. I went from a six-figure income to just getting by month to month, and I have never been happier. I’m doing my work again here and I’m loving it all over again! I have met so many kind, wonderful, interesting people, locals and expats alike, and I have been welcomed here with lots of open arms. Truth be told I never had it so good!

So onto Salinas, the topic of this blog – After a miserable cold and wet 6 months in Quito we came here first on a scouting mission, made much more productive with the help of Susan S. and Will T. Thank you both for your time and kindness. My first thought here was “Hey, this isn’t a ‘little Miami Beach!’” I just wish International Living would leave Ecuador alone alltogether, but don’t get me started. Truth is I don’t want Miami Beach. If I wanted Miami Beach I’d have moved to Miami Beach! I love the quaintness and quiet, often subtle, beauty of Salinas, the kindness of its people and its expats, the beach and the Malecon, where Ani and I stroll most (weekday) nights looking at the sea and stars. I love the humbleness of this town. I like the smallness of it, but also the not-too-smallness of it. The seafood is good and it’s not Salinas’ fault that Ecuador doesn’t have good beef. But when I’m craving some I can get a great burger at Will’s Place, if he feels like turning on the grill.

Most of it is just intuition. I feel that I am home here. And as you know by now that is not something I’ve felt very often.

But enough about me. This blog is about Salinas, from as many points of view as I can get. Most of you have a lot more experience here than I do. Let me and other newbies learn from you. Talk to me, write me your stories, or about anything in particular about Salinas that you’d like to share. I promise you that every one of your stories will help at least one other person. Guaranteed.

And thanks for taking your time to learn a little more about me. I hope to learn a little more about all of you in the coming days.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll dance again.

Dr. Bill

Contact: drbillperry@gmail.com

Website/Blog: www.drwilliamperryonlinetherapy.com

Personal Blog: www.drbillsblog.com