Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Care, Ecuador Senior Living, elder abuse, End-of-Life Care, Health & Wellness Mexico, Humanitarian Rescue Older Adults

Abandoned Elders Rescued in Ecuador


Wendy Jane Carrel with Diosalinda at rescue home in Chordeleg, Ecuador
Senior Care Specialist and health journalist Wendy Jane Carrel with Diosalinda at rescue home in Chordeleg, Ecuador

For those of you who haven’t seen it before, above is a photo of yours truly with Diosalinda. She led a terrible life of abuse by family before she was rescued by a home for abandoned seniors in Chordeleg, Ecuador four years ago. If I had funds, I would have adopted her. Such a gentle, loving, sensitive soul for all she endured.

Did you notice the Dios in the name Diosalinda? Dios = God in Spanish. At the end of her life she finally has peace, protection, and safety.


Please find below a link to my article at  on how impoverished and abandoned elders are rescued in Ecuador. It is far from complete, but it is based on site visits to almost every province in the country.

Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living

Ecuador National Treasures – The Three Marias (Las Tres Marias) – Singing Sisters from Ibarra

Every older adult is a treasure.

I am blessed to encounter many such treasures.

Here’s how I got to meet Ecuador national treasures Las Tres Marias, The Three Marias, senior singing sisters from Ibarra…

I was at Quito’s new airport waiting for the driver. A car pulls up, a man in a starched white shirt jumps out and with a lot of enthusiasm waves. Lo and behold, it’s Luis, an Afro-Ecuadorian. It’s the first time we have met. He is going to accompany me for a site visit to a luxury senior living home and then to my hostal. On the way to my appointment I ask where he’s from. Ibarra he replies. “Do you happen to know The Three Marias?” I ask.  The stars are in alignment, of course he does, and he can make the arrangements and drive me to meet them!

So a few days later, Luis picks me up in the La Floresta area of Quito for what will be a long, yet amusing, day trip.

First stop, the Otavalo market where we will ask and ask for one of the sisters through Luis’ Afro network. The market is huge and extends for several blocks. It takes over 30 minutes to locate Maria Gloria’s place on the sidewalk. All of a sudden (I was beginning to wonder) there she is with a huge grin on her face.

Maria Gloria travels every Friday and Saturday by bus (over an hour, sometimes two) from her home in the Chota Valley to sell produce from her garden, usually plantains, avocados, and guyabitos. I found her to be open-hearted, humble, and gracious.  She is also unabashedly honest.  “We are products of colonialism.  We have always been slaves, first of the Jesuits, and then racism.”  How did you learn to sing, I asked?  “My parents taught us to sing when we were children, and my father played in a band.”

Maria Gloria Pavon of Las Tres Marias
Maria Gloria Pavon of Las Tres Marias singing trio

We say good-bye to Maria Gloria in Otavalo and head for Chalguayacu in the Chota Valley, way past Ibarra. Ibarra is the largest town on the way to the Colombian border. When we arrive in the village (approximately 2000 inhabitants and completely Afro-Ecuadorian), lots of kids rush to surround the car. And there beside the car, on the sidewalk, are Maria Rosa Elena and Maria Magdalena Pavon.

Maria Rosa is 75 (not confirmed) and the oldest. She sells liquor out of her home. Every Saturday morning she takes a bus to purchase the liquor in Ibarra. She doesn’t say more, other than she has a husband.

Maria Magdalena is a curandera (a healing person) and has diabetes. I found her to be a gentle soul. She likes to go to the senior center each weekday to meet up with about 40 others. The senior center is not open on the weekend, otherwise we would have made a point to stop there too.

Wendy, Maria Rosa, Maria Magdalena
Wendy, Maria Rosa, Maria Magdalena

The sisters have never studied music. Their homes (all on the same street) have no running water and the tile roofs don’t appear to be sturdy. They love to travel and told me they wish to be invited to play in Cuenca. In 2012, Ecuador’s Ministry of Culture bestowed upon them the Bicentennial Medal of Cultural Merit for their unique style of music.

On the way back to Quito, a bonus. Luis brings me to meet his wife Silvia and daughter Alexa who live in a village down the road from Chalguayacu. Luis shares a flat with other family members in Quito during the week. He hopes to move his wife and daughter to Quito soon.  As you can feel from the photo, they have sweet energy.

driver Luis, daughter Alexa, wife Silvia
driver Luis, daughter Alexa, wife Silvia

The links below introduce the music and the Chota Valley of The Three Marias…


There are 1.2 million Afro-Ecuadorians. Their ancestors have been in the country since the mid-1500’s.  A brief, well-written history about them is at the link below…


Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Emergency Preparedness, Expats, Health & Wellness Mexico, Living Abroad

Cotacachi Health Chapters, Ecuador End-of-Life Planning Discussion

On June 7, 2015 I had the pleasure of speaking to the Cotacachi Health Chapters group at Gran Hotel Primitivo about End-of-Life Planning for Norte Americanos. (Cotacachi is a charming Andean city 2 1/2 hours from Quito).

My hosts were community organizer Caroline Goering – a true delight – and a team of other amazing, supportive people – Dan and Janda Grove, Mike and Linda Munhall, and Bill and Ann Henry. What to do in case of a health emergency, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, is their focus.

Caroline introduces Wendy
Caroline introduces Wendy Jane Carrel
Cotacachi Health Group, June 2015
Cotacachi Health Group


school marm...
school marm…

We discussed physicians, who to call and why, transportation, the importance of having end-of-life documents prepared, attorneys and notaries, cremation options, and disposition of remains to North America.

Fortunately, bi-lingual nurse practitioner Mary Grover, a former Peace Corps volunteer, can be of service to the estimated 200 expats in the area. I introduced Mary to those who had not met her.

A special thanks to CHC for the invitation. I was exhausted by the time I arrived, but content to meet a group that understands the importance of planning ahead, just in case, when living abroad.

Ecuador, End-of-Life Care, Hospice, Palliative Care

Hospice Nuns Offer Love and Palliative Care in Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca High Life just posted an article I wrote about the precious hospice nuns of Cuenca, Ecuador.  They offer the energy of love and light, plus comfort and serenity to those who are gravely ill and making their transitions.

Here below is a link to the article…

I shall miss these remarkable ladies (eight total) but am looking forward to meeting up with others of their order in Guadalajara and suburban Los Angeles.

Precious Servants of Mary - Sister Marina, Sister Magdalena, Madre Teresa
Precious Servants of Mary – Sister Marina, Sister Magdalena, Madre Teresa
Aging, Assisted Living, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Senior Living

Cuenca, Ecuador Nun Honored for Work with Indigent Older Adults

I am happy to say that an ode to one of my heroines, Sister Patricia Rodriguez, a nun with the Sisters of Charity, has been published.  (See the highlighted link below) .

The City of Cuenca recently honored her amazing contributions not only to seniors but to the community at large.

I have had the pleasure of following Sor Patricia’s work since 2011.  She is indeed inspirational, and, a lot of fun to be around.

The photo below was taken at an Italian restaurant in Cuenca.

I love Sor Patricia, "coordinadora" at Hogar Miguel Leon
I love Sor Patricia, “coordinadora” at Hogar Miguel Leon

At 86 and still going strong, Sister Patricia Rodriguez is honored for her service to Cuenca’s abandoned seniors and to the community.


Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Expats, Health & Wellness Mexico

End-of-Life Planning Discussion at Cuenca Chamber of Commerce, May 6

In March, I published an article on the importance of End-of-Life Planning for North Americans and others who live overseas.  Here is a link to the article in case you missed it.

There was quite a bit of response. Most responders asked for a seminar.

For those of you who missed announcements in Cuenca High Life, Gringo Post, and Gringo Tree the last few days, here below is the information for the event which will  focus on three main subjects:

1. Why you need a physician ahead of time

2.  Why you need a legal document (an Ecuadorian document if you reside in Ecuador) stating your end-of-life wishes

3.  What the process is for cremation and why it is so difficult


Cuenca Chamber of Commerce Sponsors End-of-Life Planning Discussion Wednesday, May 6

Mark your calendars for 11:00 am Wednesday, May 6 for an important discussion on End-of-Life legal matters and cremation/burial options in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Senior care consultant Wendy Jane Carrel will moderate a panel with attorney Grace Velastegui and Camposanto Santa Ana Funeral and Cemetery General Director Simon Toral.

Presentations will be followed by a question and answer session to address your pressing concerns.

May 6, 2015 11:00 a.m.
Cuenca Chamber of Commerce 3rd floor (there is an elevator)
Federico Malo y 12 de Abril facing Parque de la Madre (view map)

☎ 07 284-2772 ext 233 attn: Gabriela Maldonado

Here below is a photo from the May 6 meeting, deemed a success by the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce.  Almost 250 persons were in attendance.  There are approximately 10,000 North Americans resident in Cuenca , Loja/Vilcabamba, and places in-between.

Director General Simon Toral, Attorney Grace Velastegui, Senior Care Consultant Wendy Jane Carrel, Chamber President Atty Jaime Moreno
Director General Simon Toral, Attorney Grace Velastegui, Senior Care Consultant Wendy Jane Carrel, Chamber President Atty Jaime Moren
Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, End-of-Life Care, Health & Wellness Mexico, Long-Term Care, Palliative Care

Palliative Care Training for Healthcare Professionals in Cuenca, Ecuador at Hospice Foundation FASEC

Ethical dilemmas at End-of-Life
Ethical dilemmas at End-of-Life

FASEC (Fundacion al Servicio del Enfermo de Cancer/Foundation Serving Those Ill with Cancer), together with Care Partners International of Washington state, and the University of San Francisco, Quito hosted a palliative care training in Spanish for five days, April 20-24, the first in a series of four trainings for physicians, nurses, psychologists, volunteers, and others. The well-attended event drew healthcare workers from Cuba, Cuenca, Europe, Mexico, and the U.S.

The main speaker was Dr. Susana Lua Nava, a highly regarded Mexican educator and nun who teaches throughout Mexico and at UAG (Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara). She runs a hospice, Juntos Contro El Dolor (United Against Pain), with three nurse nuns and a staff of volunteers. Dr. Lua and her team are dedicated to the alleviation of pain in all – no matter a patient’s background, religious belief, or economic position.

Dr. Lua, author of El Enfermo, Terreno Sagrada/The Ill, Sacred Terrain, offered several slides of her work in Mexico and Spain, gave stunning examples of patient care, and spoke about dying at home or in a hospital (advantages and disadvantages of both), myths and realities on the use of morphine, the art of sharing sad news, and preparing the spirit, among other subjects. The most riveting discussion was on ethical dilemmas, a subject she teaches often – why and who one tells or does not tell of their terminal condition based on socio-economic backgrounds, culture, expectations, and other factors.

The next FASEC trainings are scheduled for the second week of June, the third week of July, and a week in October.

For contact information and more story details please click on the link below.

Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Health & Wellness Mexico, Senior Services

Cuenca, Ecuador Inaugurates New City Senior Center

Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, his wife, city dignitaries, employees, and approximately 150 seniors were present Sunday morning, April 19, as Cabrera proudly inaugurated one of Cuenca’s special projects, the “first free public senior center” also known at El Hogar del Abuelos (Home of the Grandparents).  Eight other city senior centers are in the planning stages.

See Cuenca High Life article at link below

Cuenca Ecuador's new city senior center in the El Vergel neighborhood
Cuenca Ecuador’s new city senior center in the El Vergel neighborhood
Aging, Ecuador, Ecuador Senior Living, Expats, Health & Wellness Mexico, Retirement, Senior Living

Guidelines for Choosing a Healthful Home or Apartment in Ecuador

Here below is a link to an article I posted on offering 12 key guidelines for selecting a healthful living environment in Ecuador or wherever else you choose to be.


wide doors for easy access, glass panels for energy of light
wide doors for easy access, glass door panels for energy of light
concrete pavers instead of slippery tile or marble, safer when raining
concrete entry pavers instead of slippery tile or marble, safer to walk on when raining
round, soft furniture, no edges to hurt yourself
round, soft furniture, no edges to hurt yourself
Aging, Ecuador, End-of-Life Care, Expats, Living Abroad, Retirement, Senior Living

Why Creating an End-of-Life Plan When Living Abroad Is a Good Idea

Here below is a link to an article I wrote that was posted on CuencaHighLife.  It’s about the importance of creating an end-of-life plan if you live in Ecuador.  The bigger message is that it is wise to have such a plan in place where ever you chose to live.

Ecuador, is ruled by civil law. North America and England are ruled by common law. Different systems, different procedures.

Why creating an end-of-life plan in Ecuador is a good idea for expats | CuencaHighLife.


Camposanto Santa Ana, a    cemetery in Cuenca, Ecuador
Camposanto Santa Ana, a
cemetery in Cuenca, Ecuador