After living in the United States my entire life, I moved to Cuenca, Ecuador to a very high elevation – 8200 feet altitude/2499 meters high from sea level.  My career was as a mental health counselor – for 27 years I worked in a demanding and very rewarding profession.  I retired a couple of years early at my choice

I have fibromyalgia which had become pretty debilitating, mostly in my legs and feet. Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood illness that will not kill me but often robs people of their quality of life causing pain between joints and muscles and assorted other issues. I decided to be proactive and move to a higher altitude since my fibro responded well to that and it decreases my pain by 50% – 70%. Lower humidity than Portland, OR where I had lived my entire career, where I raised my children and where I still have many friends and some family.  Love Portland, get tired of so many months of rain. Love the beauty of Oregon and miss it. I miss friends and family like crazy!

But quilting…it is a wonderful hobby for my retirement.  I recommend you find something you love to get good at or spend time learning so that when you are retired, you have a solid thing to occupy your time between swimming, travel or whatever else you plan to do.


26 responses »

  1. Dear Sharon;
    I followed your ‘other’ blog & thoroughly enjoyed it and was sad to see it go. This morning lo & behold here you are re-incarnated! My husband and I are coming…yes, we are! after the first of the year. In the meantime I will be making my first trip to Cuenca & 3rd trip to EC in a couple of months.

    If you wouldn’t mind might I ask a couple of what I consider practical questions that aren’t normally addressed, that I can find, on the blogs or discussion groups? I won’t intrude, or take it amiss, if you tell me no. Thank you, Marsha

  2. Hello, Sharon!
    I have so enjoyed your blog on Cuenca and quilting. We saw the ABC news feature on retiring in Ecuador. We have long been thinking of retiring in a less expensive country.
    I am an avid quilter and would like to learn more about your experiences.
    As for your comments about 505 spray, it is a basic item for quilters, but a long arm quilt machine is something I would love to include in my quilting studio! Hopefully you are allowed to import your personal items.

  3. Dear Sharon,
    Thanks for sharing your quilting in Equador. My husband and I are considering moving to Loja and I know I will have to bring the fabric along. How did you find someone to share space in a container? We are going to come for a visit in October. We live in Hawaii – paradise I know, but after 17 years here I think I am ready for a little cooler weather and mountains.

  4. Hi Sharon!

    I’ve enjoyed to read your blog and see that living glutenfree in Cuenca is a great possibility. I’m also allergic to gluten and i’m going to Cuenca soon, as an exchange student, so it’s only for a year, but still: I would love if youhave some great tips, for living glutenfree in Cuenca. Where can buy flour,is there any good and attentive restaurants etc. ?

    If you have the time, you’re welcome to send me an e-mail:

    Best regards
    Anne-Sofie S Moeller

    • Dear Sharon,

      Thanks for an update on your quilt blog. My husband and I will be coming to Cuenca in mid September for about 10 days. We are planning on moving there, but thought we should visit before our big move. We live in Maui with 2 dogs and 2 parrots and it will indeed be a big move for us. As a quilter, I am going to have to reduce my fabric (I have too much if you can believe it!). I thought if you like I can fit a few yards of beautiful batiks from Maui for you. Just let me know 3 or 4 colors you love. Or oriental fabric. We have lots of that too. I figure that’s what we do for our fellow quilters where there is no fabric….bring some!

      Anyway we will be busy looking at properties to rent and getting a lawyer lined up, but wanted to meet you and just give you a fabric boost. Moving means leaving my quilt guild, but glad there are a few in Cuenca. Also I do try to eat gulten free. I just have allergies when I eat gulten – sinus. Nothing big, but I am so much healthier not eating it.

      That’s it from Maui. Again thank you for your blog and let me know what I can bring fabric wise for you!


      Lorraine Askam

      Sharon here – thank you Lorraine! See your email for reply. Thanks for your interest in my blog

  5. Hi Sharon,

    My name is Robin Hand and I am a quilter. I am going to be here until 11-02-13. I would like to meet you and other members of your guild as well assessment of the quilts. My telephone number is 09-68717705 and my email address is below. My phone is Claro.

    Thank you,


  6. Hi Sharon,
    I was so excited when my husband found your blog. We are arriving in Cuenca the end of this week and I was so bummed about not being able to bring a sewing machine and fabrics. I hope that I will be able to purchase some while there. We will be in Cuenca for 3+ months on an exploratory trip looking at retiring possibilities. Would love to meet up with you and if you have a guild, become a visiting member if possible. I did bring a couple of blocks to learn how to appliqué on as easily packed projects. Left behind oh so many UFOs and complete fabric projects. Oh well, when we go back I will be able to bring Miss Betsy (I hope) as well as projects.


    • Hey Shirley, how is your visit progressing. A woman is moving here in January who may start a guild. I’m not a good organizer. Let me know what your impressions are of your time in Cuenca and Ecuador in general. Have a great time, Sharon

      • Thanks Sharon. We are currently in Quito and flying to Spain on Saturday. We loved Cuenca and have loved all that we have seen of Ecuador. We will be back. Shirley

  7. Sharon,

    I found your website while doing some internet search on retirement in Cuenca and found your blogs particularly interesting, primarily that you are from Portland, OR.

    Me too. A native Oregonian, raised in Portland, worked my career as a publicity staff writer for a large forest products firm, as well as office management for large corporations. After many years in the corporate world, I left that venue and pursued being a craft vendor at Portland Saturday Market.

    We have common quilting interests. I am probably about your age and have other hobby interests: crochet, painting, sewing/tailoring, interior decorating, ceramics, cooking, and gardening.

    Have been ‘noodling’ the possibility of moving to Ecuador if in the event of my becoming a single woman after 50 yrs of marriage. My husband had a debilitating stroke three years ago and is paralyzed.

    Would be interested to learn a new language, about the culture of Ecuador and share a common email interest until such time that I am able to travel.

  8. Hi Sharon,

    I am in Cuenca for a few months, hopefully longer. Quilter and a lover of quinoa, I would like to
    find out if the Quilt Guild is still operational, or if you’d be interested in meeting for coffee or whatever
    one of these days soon.

    Thanks, Micky

    • Hey Mickey,
      There is no guild here that I am aware of. But sure, we could meet for coffee some time. It needs to be after mid-March for me.
      I hope you are enjoying your time here. Do you hand sew – that is how you are quilting or did you bring a machine.

  9. You need to check out Connecting Threads! They sell their own fabric – all very high quality real quilting fabric – not seconds or nice prints on low quality fabrics! And their prices are almost half what quilt shops charge! They sell a limited line of fabric, but always have something to appeal to everyone – and at a variety of prices… from table runner kits at less than $20.00 to king size quilts at less than $100 or so… They also have backing fabric that co-ordinates with the kits. Along with fabrics they carry a lot of books at nicely discounted prices and a good quality line of thread in sets of colors and sizes. I’m sure you will love anything you buy from them!
    By the way, I was sent a link to you from Donna McNichol… She is a great friend! Good luck with your quilting and wishing you well with you disability. I’m so glad you found some relief for it. Prayers coming your way! dottie pietila (dots…)

    • Glad you mention them. I could not recall the company name but have purchased from them. Limited line but great for certain needs. Prices are pretty good, similar to sale prices on some other sites. Thanks for the info. Btw, I don’t consider myself disabled – there are so many with more difficult issues than mine. I have fibromyalgia and arthritis but it is quite well managed living here and eating differently, regular exercise, etc. Being retired helps tremendously too! Thanks for your interest, Dottie. Regards, Sharon

  10. Hi Sharon, I am a RN who recently returned from Cuenca on a medical mission. I am also a avid quilter and make quilts to raffle at our fundraising gala. I am looking for a pattern for my next missions quilt, any suggestions.

  11. Hello. I’m really new in quilting. Actually, I don’t quilt. But I’ve been visiting my husband’s family in Canada and a friend introduced me into it (quilting). So, I was wondering if there is a long arm quilting machine in Ecuador, whether in Cuenca or better yet in Loja, where I live. My friend has been helping me to put up a quilt together and we might not finish it by the time I go back home. If I can’t get it finished in Ecuador, I might just leave it here for her to do it for me and then mail it. And by the way, if it can be done in Ecuador, how much would it cost?
    Sorry for the inconvenience with all this questions. I’d like to keep on with this beautiful craft when I’m back home, but I guess I’ll have to read some of your blog to see if it’ll be possible for me.
    Looking forward to ‘hearing’ from you.

    • Thanks for reading my blog, Kari. If you read back just a bit you will see that I know of no long arm quilter in Ecuador. In fact I’d love to have someone move here who can do long arm quilting. If you can get your quilt professionally quilted there, it will be good. But shipping anything to Ecuador is very expensive – if you live in Ecuador, you already knkow that. But of course it can be done. Check the import regulations because they may want to charge you. Good luck!

      • Thanks for replying so soon. I was reading some of your blog today, and yes, I noticed what you just said. But read about someone who might bring one. It’ll be nice if she actually does.
        Thanks again…

  12. Like your bolg and your quilts.
    My wife has been quilting most of her life (major fabric hoarder). We will be moving to Ecuador in December.
    If you have the time maybe we can get together when we are in town.

  13. Hi, I’m an intern for a Leopard Films. We produce a variety of shows for HGTV. I’m finding expatriates for House Hunters International casting. Here’s a message from one of our casting directors!

    Hello! My name is Joe Pinzone and I work on a very popular international travel series that documents adventurous individuals’, couples’ and families’ experiences as they make the decision to move abroad. This series is a great opportunity to tell your story and share more about what you like/dislike about your new home. If you think that you or someone you know could be a fit for the show, or if you’d like to get more information, please contact me at Thanks!

  14. HI Sharon,
    Just found your blog. I too am from Portland, OR. My husband and I hope to be in Cuenca within the next 6 months. Our house is on the market and we are anxious to start our retirement in Ecuador. I enjoy quilting but have been told that 100 percent cotton is hard to come by in Ecuador. How do you manage? Thank you for sharing your craft.

    • It is possible to find other people here who are willing to bring a “shoe box” amount of fabric back for you. Most of us bring cotton fabrics back each time we visit the US. Some people bring a container, others bring only a few suitcases. There is nearly no 100% cotton here. Ecuador allows very few imported items to be sold, wanting the populace to buy “made in Ecuador”. The catch is that many MANY things are not made in Ecuador at this time. Some quilters use what is available. Some stop quilting. Most are adaptable and find ways to make it work if they really still want to quilt. Best of luck with your sale and move!

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