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Thursday, 26 April 2012

wednesday walk about............

On Wednesday we were up and out at 10:00 to look at some rentals and check out a different neighborhood.
We invited another resident, Kris, of the Hotel Otorongo to join us, as she is also looking for permanent housing.We managed to get ourselves lost, but had a great day meandering the streets, and had ourselves a another great almuerzo.
The Otorongo is a great place for people who are doing what we are doing. There are people from all walks of life and all parts of the world passing thru. We all gather in the lovely courtyard often and catch up on the daily adventures we have all had.
Yesterday was a birthday of one resident and several of us, along with the owner of the hotel took him out for dinner. We decided to go to a restraunt that we had stumbled across on our walk about. It was only 5 or 6 blocks away, so some uf us decided to walk. We got lost again and walked for 45 minutes before we found the place. I don't think anyone will accept our offer to walk with us again!
The meal was as excellent, the conversation lively, and the company enjoyable.
Today we are going to Banos for a morning soak in the volcanic water. After all our walking, we both have some aches and pains and look forward to this.
This afternoon we have a couple of appointments to view rentals.
Our lawyer phoned to say my paperwork was done for my cedula, but Doug's was not. We will wait untill his is done and then go to Quito to get them.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A beautiful day

Today was a gloriously beautiful day.
No rain at all. I got a bit of sunburn.Must remember to wear sunscreen all the time.
We walked for several hours today. It is so easy to find yourself very far from home base. We left our apartment at 10:00 a.m. and before We knew it it was 2 p.m. We found a few rentals that we will call about tomorrow, and met a woman in the park from Oregon who gave us a lead on a place.
We spent a lot of our time today looking at furniture and household goods so we could put a budget together.
I found the living room furniture that I would like to have. It's purple! Doug liked it too.
The young man who was going to help us has sold his vehicle, so we are on or own again, but have a few more contacts that we will try.

Here are a few pictures we snapped:

A street fair on Saturday
Karen.......here's a red dress that made me think of you.

A sculpture in a plaza.

Young ladies in thier native clothing.


Doug liked this court yard

A sample of the beauitiful  buildings in Cuenca




Sunday, 22 April 2012

3 Days in Cuenca

We have spent the last three days catching up on our sleep and getting our feet back under us.
I have had some pretty bad head aches attributed to the altitude, but they started fading away yesterday and I woke up witout one today.
We will try to go slow and easy untill we are better adjusted. I find myself winded quite often.
Each morning and afternoon we venture out and explore a different part of the city. It amazes me how familiar the city is to us. We have been able to find our way back to most of the places we found last year.
Most of the 4 suitcases have been unpacked. Unfortunately, we are unable to locate the charger for the camera. We do have the IPOD so once I figure out how to down load pictures to the laptop I will post them.

Pete is starting to get used to city life. The buses whizzing by had him pretty spooked for a while, but he's figuring it out. And he enjoys our afternoon siestas!

The weather has been mild, but stormy.
We have been told that la Nina has really had an effect on the weather pattern here. Much wetter than normal. Winter here is usually July and August, with mild temperatures but lots of thunder storms. But this year has been wetter than normal. We've been wet a few times, but we haven't been cold.

Our Spanish is improving a bit......or perhaps our pantomine is getting better,
There is a store here, Super Maxi, kind of like Safeway, that offers a membership card that gets you a discount on everything you buy. We were feeling quite pleased with ourselves when we were able to apply and get the  " tarjeta" all by ourselves.

Saturday evening we walked a few blocks to a plaza where a celebration of some kind was going on. There was a stage with bands, numerous food and craft stalls, and two huge fireworks towers.
We got brave and had a wonderful kabob of sausage, beef, and potatoes, served with some wonderfully sweet corn. We got really brave and tried some of the local hooch. It was mixed about 3 parts booze to 1 part of fresh, home made,warm apple cider. We were only able to finish a third of it.
The evening of fun and food set us bak a whopping 5.00. I hope our bellies don't pay for it later. We are trying to eat cautiously untill our systems adapt a bit.
We didn't stay late to see the fire works, we are a bit cautious about being out on the streets after dark, but there are many such celebrations in Cuenca thru out the year so I am sure we will get many more opportunities to see them. We ahve been told that Cuencanos love thier fireworks.

Sunday morning we had a marvelous brunch at the home of a couple from Vancouver, whom we met when we were here last year. They have a small dog so Pete was able to have some canine play time. We picked thier brains, and they offered us much appreciated information.
Just as we left thier place, the biggest rain fall we have experienced so far started falling. Thier place was only a few blocks from our apartment and we had our umbrella so we made it home wet, but not too cold.
We got into dry clothes and settled down for a rainy Sunday afternoon of Movie watching.

Monday we hope to connect with a young man who comes highly reccomended for helping us to find a more permanent place to live

I am now going to try to post some pictures we took this morning. These are pictures taken in the court yard and back yard of the Otorongo Apartment hotel where we are staying for the month..............





WOOOHOOOO.....it worked.                                                        
The river in the picture is the Tomebamba. When we were here last year it was more like a small stream. It has been raising and dropping daily by 4 feet or more as the rains come and go.
It runs past our bedroom window and somtimes we hear the larger boulders crashing together as they are washed down stream.

Most nights the sound lulls me to sleep...................

Life is good.





Friday, 20 April 2012

Cuenca!.......Home at last.

I can't believe it's been only 6 days since we left Canada.
We have been without the internet, so I haven't been able to blog.
Grab a beer and have a seat and I'll fill you in on the last 6 days...............

SUNDAY
We got off to a rocky start when we got to the Vancouver airport and  discovered that I had left my travel vest, (containg all my ID,Passport, travel papers, and money) at the hotel. I have spent the last 2 years trying to convince myself and hubby that a vest like this was exactly what I needed to keep me from losing things while traveling. I was quite tickled when we found ourselves in front of  a Tilley store when we were in downtown Vancouver last week. In we went and out we came with my new vest. I spent a few hours selecting which pockets would be assigned which duties............

Thankfully Doug's brother and his wife  stayed in the same hotel to take us to the airport and Dave whisked me back to get the vest.
Anywho.....needless to say, I have barely taken the damn off since we left !

There was a huge backup at US Customs and it took us nearly two hours to clear. We were still behind about 60 people at 7:10, which was when our plane was supposed to leave. turns out there were about 40 people still in line and the plane was waiting for as long as it could. They closed the door right after we boarded and some people were left behind.
The rest of the trip went just fine. We arrived in Quito at our expected time, collected our bags, found an info booth and arranged for a cab to take us to a hostel for the night. By midnight we were ensconsed in a "quaint" little room. Not one we would have chose, but one that served its purpose, and, had a surprisingly good breakfast. We were in Ecuador! Safe for the night. Along the way we had lost one umbrella and Doug's hat.
MONDAY
It turned out that the hostal was only a few blocks from our lawyers so we waked over, with the dog, to see what the plan was.
We were immediately whisked away by the lawyers assistant, Anna Maria, to the Ministry of Extrajenerio to get our VISA's . WOW! ..........easy peasy! Doug & A.M. went inside with our passports while I stayed out with Pete (our dog). In less than an hour they were back out. our Passports would be stamped with our VISA's and we could pick them up at the lawyers office at 5:30.
Meanwhile another assistant, Manda, had found us a much nicer Hostel, even closer the lawyers, so we picked up our belongings and moved. Now Pete had a balcony patio where he could stay while we were taking care of business, and we felt safer.
We took Pete for a long walk, found some lunch and had a 2 hour siesta! Life is good.
We headed back to pick up our passports about 5:00, but when we arrived we found out they weren't back yet. No worries, we would get them in the morning and then go for our censo and cedula cards.
Out for another walk with Pete, found some dinner and then back to the hostel.
We were wide awake at 6 in the morning. Had breakfast, took Pete out for a walk. We were at the lawyers by 9.
A.Maria took us back to the Minister where we took a number and took a seat. After 2 hours our number came up and we went to the window. There was great discussion(in Spanish) between AM and the woman behind the counter. No passports were in sight. AM told us to sit back down and wait for her. She left the building. By now, I am feeling a bit of panic. What were they saying? Were we going to be sent back to Canada?!!??
(For those of you that don't know the history, we were notified on March 10th, by the Ministry in Ecuador, that our Residency VISA's had been approved. We were told they would be in Vancouver within 10 days. After much back and forth with our lawyer and the Director, we were told by the Director to come to Quito to get the final VISA stamp. This was on April 12th.)
AM came back in about 20 minutes with our lawyers associate.They had a letter typed up, in Spanish, and asked us to sign it. As near as I can figure out, the letter was to the Director and it explained that we were here at his request to finish our paperwork, we were homeless, had our little dog, and all our worldly possesions with us, and would he please, please, pretty please, give us our VISA's.
As we were getting ready to sign the letter, I noticed that I had been renamed and was now Linda Ham....oh crap....take a seat, we'll be back. Off they race and come back in 15 minutes with a rewritten letter with the name corrected.
We go back up to the window,more discussion, in Spanish, and still no passport in site. AM  steps away and tells us that the Director is out of his office and will be consulted when he returns later in the day. By now, I am pretty convinced that we are not going to get our VISA's and will have to return to Canada.
It is now noon. AM tells us to go for lunch and call her at 4:30. I wanted to sit on the curb and cry.
We called our banker and went to meet with her to get our Debit card for the Ecuador account....... in the back of my mind was the thought that we may be needing the money to get home........
Our personal banker, Maria, was a wonderful person. She got us set up and then sat and talked with us for a while. She gave us some useful information, and even took us out to help get a cell phone! Talk about "personal service!
After we left the bank we used our newly aquired cell phone to call AM. She informed us that the VISA's would not be done today. now, I am SURE we will be heading back to canada.
We start walking back to the hostel and the skies opened up and drowned us. Doom and gloom.
Doug and Pete took a nap and I had a good cry.
At 3 the phone rang and it was AM. She siad we needed to get back to the Ministry now!
When we got there she was waiting on the steps for us looking very stern. She says to Doug, "Senor Doog....this is muy importante so do not loose it", as she whips open his passport and shows us the VISA stamp. Then she hands me mine with that wonderful stamp in it. Just like that. We were official.
The only thing left to do was get the censo and cedula. We went inside to finish the paperwork and as Doug was signing his, he noticed that the last name was spelled wrong. AM says not to worry, she will have it corrected and that we should be at her office at 8:30 to go get our censo and cedula.
We had a relaxing stroll with the dog. Got some dinner and had a much needed good night sleeps.
WEDNESDAY
At 8:30 we were at the lawyers office where we were informed that the paper with the wrong name had already been filed with the Registrar and it would take at least a week to get it corrected. No cedula could be obtained untill then, but we could get the censo. OH NO! Another week in Quito? We wanted to get home to Cuenca.
After much discussion, it was decided we would get our Censo and go to Cuenca to wait for the paperwork correction, then fly back to get the cedula.We headed off to gtet our censo. That process only took 2 hours.
Off we went to make arrangements to get to Cuenca. We went to a travel agency and found out that Pete could not go on the plane with us. He would have to come on a cargo plane, 48 hours after us, and be put to sleep before the flight. No way that was going to happen. The wonderful travel agent, Catalina, got on the phone and found a van and driver to take us to Cuenca. The drive would be 8 hours or so. Arrangements were made for the driver to pick us up at the hostel at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Life IS good.
We had a free afternoon. no pressure, no worries. We had a long walk with Pete. When he was tired we took him back to the Hostel and headed out for a late lunch. This time we remembered to take the umbrella. Good thing we did, as the afternoon thunder shower was a drencher.
Sharing one umbrella was not working, so we ducked into an amazing little store, that turned out to be a 3 floor department store. We spent a rainy afternoon looking at all the things in the store and planning what we would need for our new home in Cuenca. We purchased another umbrella and headed back out into the warm rain.
We decided to stop and get some money out of the bank machine, and discovered that we could not get money from our US account. We ran from bank to bank and had no luck. We tried to call the bank, but discovered that the number we had did not work. Doug tells me not to worry, as we can always get money from the Canadian account. We called his sister, Karen and she was able to get a number for the bank that we could call the next morning.
Back to the hostel we go. Pete wouldn't go out in the rain, so we had a nice little siesta. It was dark when the rain quit and we headed out for dinner. We spent the rest of the evening getting things packed and ready to go.
THURSDAY
We got up early and went to McDonalds so that we could hook up to the WiFi and use the Magic Jack phone. We got ahold of the US bank and they promised our card would be funtional within an hour.
We took Pete to a beautiful park and let him run loose for an hour so he would be tired for the trip.
We stopped at the bank to get some US cash. The card still did not work. We needed cash for the driver, so we decided to take it from the Canadian account. SURPRISE......it didn't work either. that was plan B. There was no plan C.............
After a few more attempts, the US card started working. Life IS VERY good!

Our van picked us up at 10 prompt and we were finally headed home. The trip took us thru some amazing country. Unfortunately, clouds kept us from seeing the volcanoes.At times we were so high in the clouds that we could not see more than 5 meters. In the afternoon thunder storms set in and there were places that we were crossing what seemed like rivers across the road. It was very scary. This is the winter season in Ecuador, which means lots of thunder storms. I would like to do this trip again when it is summer here.
About a half an hour outside of Cuenca, we started decending into a beautiful valley. The sky turned blue, and just like something in a movie, a rainbow appeared. Doug & I just looked at each other with goofy grins on our faces and he said "welcome home!"
Life is VERY VERY good.
By 5:45 we were in the apartment that rented for a month untill we find a a longer term rental.
At 6:30 we headed out to find somthing to eat and get a few groceries for breakfast.
When we stepped out of the market, the skies opened up and we got soaked. That's twice we were out with no umbrellas. Lesson learned!
We ducked into a bar we had been to before and soon we were all( Pete included) enjoying a hamburger and a beer.
Have I said it enough?  Life, is indeed, GOOD!
FRIDAY
For the first time since leaving, we slept past 6.
We got up at 8 had a breakfast of fresh baked croisants and pineapple marmelade. Yummy!
We have to figure out how to make a decent cup of coffee with the drip system in the apartment.
After breakfast we took Pete for a walk by the river, which is amazingly higher than when we were here last year, due to all the rain.
We made a list of things we would need for the next month and headed out to find a department store we remembered from last year.
Having been drenched twice, I took my umbrella along. Doug scoffed at the idea of an umbrella on such a glorious day and went with out his.
We found the store, did our shopping, and had a wonderful "almuerzo", which is a tipical lunch served in numerous little cafes and restraunts. For 2.00 we had soup,salad,beef & gravy, rice, juice, and dessert! I am looking forward to eating big lunches like this, late in the day, and then having a lighter dinner.
As we headed home, the skies darkened and the rain came down in buckets. Hah! who's scoffing now? I shared my umbrella with Doug and we made it to the corner to catch a bus (for 25 cents) back to the apartment.
After a short rest, the sun came out and we walked to the big produce market to get salad fixings for dinner. We took Pete along and he had a great romp by the river.We both took our umbrellas even though the sky was blue.
The skies remained blue for our whole outing. Umbrellas were not needed, but you won't catch me without one for the next couple of months!
Pete's had a bath. Dinner is over. Dishes will be done by the cleaning girl in the morning.
I'm having a beer. Doug's reading a book. Pete's having a nap.
One more time................
                                         LIFE IS GOOD!
I'll start taking the camera with us tomorrow and will post pictures with my posts.

To our family and friends........... We love you. We miss you. Can't wait for you to visit us in this beautiful country we now call home.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Alive and well in Quito!

Hello All....

We have had a few hectic days in Quito running between the lawyer´s office and the different Government offices.
We are in a lovely little hostal, but do not have access to the Internet so we have been unable to post, or use the Magic Jack.

We have two of the three papers we need. Most important was getting the Visa! Done deal!

We have hired a van to take us to Cuenca, leaving tomorrow morning. Should be a great adventure! 8 to 10 hours.

Once we are in Cuenca, we will post the story of our adventure, (and it has been an adventure!) thus far.
Family and friends, we think of you daily. Love and miss you.

D & D

Friday, 13 April 2012

Leaving on a jet plane!

Can't get that song out of my head.

Things have changed and we have now been told to come to Quito to get our final paperwork.

I'mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm so confused..............

Our flight has been booked for Sunday morning.

Ready or not......here we go!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Thank goodness for family.
We are still at Doug's sisters waiting for "THE" final piece of paper.

Any day now, I'm told....................

Thursday, 5 April 2012

HURRY UP AND WAIT !!!!

We are back to playing the waiting game.
Our lawyer has informed us that even though we were approved for residency on March 10th, the paper work has not yet  been sent to the Ecuadorian Consolate in Vancouver. No idea of when it will happen......
We are  waiting for a call to see if we can just go to Ecuador and catch up with our Visa's there or if we have to stay here and wait for them.
If we can't go there, I think we will go sit on a beach in Mexico for a week.................

Thursday, April 5th

Still no idea of what our time frame will be.
Spoke with the EC Consul yesterday and he mentioned that the EC government offices would not be doing much work for the next two weeks, as this is Semana Sante, (Holy Week) and next week is Carnvale in Quito.
 Practicing patience is wearing thin...........................



Sunday, 1 April 2012

April Snow

We woke up to a light snowfall this morning.
The stress of not knowing when our paperwork will get here from Ecuador, so that we can leave, is getting to me.
But, it is a chance for me to practice patience.......not one of my better traits.......
and something I know I will need in Ecuador.
One of the main reasons for getting out of here and moving to Ecuador is to live a more relaxed and simpler life style.....................