Adjustments and Countdown

As I mentioned in my last post we were planning on leaving for Cuenca, Ecuador on May 7th or 8th. Well, a few adjustments had to be made and delayed our departure until the 16th of June. This date is set in stone as we have our airline tickets and a one night hotel stay in Guayaquil on the evening of the 16th. We didn’t want to travel to Cuenca in the dark from the airport as we have not been to this area of the country and wanted to see what it looks like as we make our way to our new “home” town. Also, we will be staying with a delightful friend and didn’t want to get there late at night so we will arrive there later in the day.

Our home will go on the market next week and the week after that we will be selling our car. On June 15th, the movers will arrive to load the container, wrap what little furniture we are taking and put it into storage until we are ready to have it shipped to Ecuador. Now we could ship it now; however, without proof of our Visas, we would be required to post a sizable bond. I would rather have that money being used for something else and we can wait. This will give us plenty of time to find a nice place to call home and get familiar with our surroundings.

When we are ready, all we do is send an email to the company, along with a scan showing our Ecuadorian documentation, and in 10 days time our belongings will be delivered. We are also obtaining insurance to protect ourselves in case of loss. Not that we expect anything to happen, but you never know.

It will be strange not having to jump in a car to go to the store or shopping in Ecuador, but so looking forward to no longer having the expense of car repairs, auto insurance, license plates or gas. Being able to walk everywhere will be wonderful and if we do need to travel by vehicle, there is always the bus for 15 cents or a taxi for $1.50. When we were in Ecuador last November, my wonderful husband and I lost 10 pounds with all the walking and we ate healthier.

I leave you with this thought, never give up on your dreams or put them off promising yourself “some day, when I can afford it,” or “some day when the time is right.” Problem with that is that there is no guarantee that you will have that “some day.” We do not want to look back on our life wondering what life would have been like somewhere else and wishing we had done what we are doing now.

Until later my friends, wishing you and yours all the best that life has to offer. Take care and may God bestow his blessings on you and yours and keep you safe and healthy.

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Going With the Flow

Things are beginning to move quickly here and we are having to make a few changes because of it. Ecuador has changed it’s immigration laws and the way Visa’s are obtained. Due to this change, our application for a Visa-via-Cable has been put on hold and the Visa’s are in limbo while they work out the new language and such.

As I stated before, sometimes you have to go with the flow and be willing to make changes in order to obtain the prize, in this case, our Residency Visas. When you apply for a Visa, you submit documentation that has been certified and apostilized  proving that you have a certain income, you have no criminal record and proving your date and place of birth or marriage. These documents, once obtained, have an expiration date, which is generally 180 days from the date they are certified/apostilized. In our case that end date is July 23, 2017.

In order to avoid having to re-submit and re-order documentation, we will be traveling to Cuenca, Ecuador on either June 7th or 8th and will go directly to the Immigration Office in Cuenca. We hadn’t planned on doing this so quickly, but sometimes things don’t always go as planned.

We are quickly finishing up our packing and doing some very heavy purging. Our house will soon be put on the market, our car sold and the decision to ship or not ship our furniture will be made. If possible, we may store our household goods until we have received our Visas. While we would love to have our things with us, if that isn’t possible, we can always rent a fully furnished home.  This is the decision we must make in the next few days.

Things may not be going according to plan; however, we are very determined to be living in the country that has stolen our hearts. To that end, we make adjustments, take a deep breath and say a prayer that things will go more smoothly once we are in Cuenca.

I will keep you updated on how our adventure progresses. We have our eye on the prize and are going forward.

Until later my friends, all the best to you and yours and remember, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Random Thoughts

As I finished painting the bedroom walls and trim, I couldn’t help but think about why we were doing all that we are doing. I reflect on various conversations I have had over the past few months with friends and family and their reaction to the news that my dear husband Ray and I would be moving to Cuenca, Ecuador.

The reaction of friends and neighbors went from shock and disbelief to the shaking of heads and wanting to know if we were out of our minds. The reaction of family was of complete surprise. The reaction of my daughter was of shock and then wanting to know why couldn’t I move to a closer country like Canada; my son’s reaction was “go for it Madre, but be careful.” Most wanted to know why, why now?

Looking back at all that has been done over the years, my answer is why not now? For years I have always done what I was told, what was expected of me or put what I wanted aside so that I could see to the happiness of others. First it was being a wife and mother, when that marriage failed, I did what I thought was the best for my children even though it caused me great pain. The happiness of my second marriage was short-lived when my husband was diagnosed terminal with a dread disease. We put off all plans of travel and exploring with the promise to each other that when he was well, we would resume our plans. When he died, that dream also died.

Not knowing what to do or what the morning would bring, I moved from Nevada to Arizona and tried to make a life there. Being deep in debt with medical bills and bills my late husband had accumulated, I had to put my dreams aside and come up with a way to survive and get my head above water. Then I moved from Arizona to Michigan and thought a slower pace might be the ticket to help me get my head on straight and come up with a good plan that would allow me to be able to follow my dreams.

It was during this period that I met Ray and something clicked. I met his son and the three of us started making plans and I don’t know who was happier when Ray proposed, me or his son Bart. Our happiness, however, was cut short as his son died in a tragic traffic accident 2 months before we were to be married. That took the wind out of our sails, so to speak. We went through the motions of working, doing what we had to do to get through the trauma.

When Ray began getting ill every year, almost the same date every year, we decided to move to Florida. We gave sold the home that we loved with its acreage, beautiful pond, fruit trees and peacefulness for a home in a congested neighborhood where homes are close together, very little land and learning to live in an environment quite different from Northern Michigan.  Life in Florida has been good and we couldn’t ask for a nicer neighborhood or neighbors. But something was missing.

Once night we were watching House Hunters International and started talking about how “some day” we would do something like that. The more we thought about it, the more it became clear that if we didn’t try to follow our dream now, instead of making excuses of why we couldn’t, we might not be in good health to do it later. We decided that the time had come for us to do something for ourselves instead of doing what family or friends wanted us to do. To do something while we were still able to do it and not have any regrets later about not having followed at least one of our dreams.

It is all well and good to live for family, to do what is required or expected, but to forego your dreams simply because someone tells you that you are being selfish to think of yourself is unacceptable.

So here we are, packing and purging and getting ready to make a huge change in our life. Are we scared? You bet we are. But at the same time, we feel like high school graduates who are getting ready to leave the comfort of what they know for the unknown of college life in a different city or state.

We are making a leap of faith. After all, no one knows the day or the hour when they will cease to live. Only the man upstairs knows that and he isn’t sharing that information. Life is too short to say, some day I’ll travel, or some day I’ll write a book or whatever the dream you have on your mind. When I have enough money, or when I have more time. Trouble is that time is not on our side and you can’t take money with you when you depart your mortal coils. We have decided to live what life we have left to the fullest. When our time comes, we want to look back and say, “Wow! What a ride! We have no regrets, other than wishing we had done it sooner.”

My wish for all of you is that you follow your dreams. That you don’t fear the unknown or make excuses as to “why” you can’t do something. Instead of looking at the “cons,” take a look at all the positives. Live life to its fullest so that when you report to the man upstairs, you slide into home yelling “Man, what a ride!”

Until later my friends, take care and God bless.

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Touching Base

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter and that you were surrounded by the love and laughter of friends and family. Easter has always been one of my favorite celebrations on the Christian calendar. While I remember the reasons why we celebrate this holy holiday, I also remember dying Easter Eggs with my children, waiting until they were sound asleep and then assembling their baskets filled with chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps and lots and lots of jelly beans. Once that was accomplished, I then hid the eggs for them to search for in the egg hunt that would take place when we returned from church services. Even now I can hear their squeals of delight and yelling to each other, “I found one!” or “I’ll trade you this yellow egg for your blue one” or “trade you all my jelly beans for your peeps!”

There isn’t a whole lot to report in the way of news regarding the Visa, but we do know that it is being reviewed and, hopefully, we should hear something by the end of May. We are patient as we know it will come when Ecuador is ready to release it and not before then. While we wait, we are purging, cleaning, tossing and packing.

Today we had a realtor come by and look over the house to see what they thought would be a good asking price. We have a  3-bedroom, 2 bath, 1717 square foot home with new water heater, hurricane resistant garage door, new furnace, air conditioner, air-conditioning duct work, new dishwasher and microwave. We are even including a 3-seat hot tub. We have been told that the market is good and our house should go quickly; however, we do need to de-clutter before anyone ever steps through the door. The realtor told us that the optimum time to put the house on the market would be about mid-May, which is what we thought.

By putting it on the market then, it will allow the house to be viewed, hopefully sold fast, and the settlement take place while we are still here in the U.S. I have settled on a house out of the country before and I really don’t want to do that again. Hardest thing I ever did. So now in addition to packing, we are painting, cleaning, and prepping the house to be ready to be put on the market.

Hopefully, I will still have my sanity when all this is over and done. In all seriousness, I welcome the challenge to see just what I can accomplish in a short amount of time. Most of our packing is completed, but still have items we use everyday, clothes and such that will have to wait until the last possible moment to be packed. As it stands now, we have 199 boxes/tubs packed. They are occupying space in the garage and in closets. Amazing just what you can hide when the need arises.

May each and every one of you have a wonderful week and may you enjoy all the very best that life has to offer. Until later my friends.

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Getting Closer!

All the paperwork has been completed, translated into Spanish and filed. When we receive notice that the Visa’s are ready to pick up, we travel to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Miami to obtain them. In checking with our immigration attorney to see how things are progressing, I posed the question of do we wire the remaining half of our fees to their Florida office once we’ve been told to go get the Visas.

The answer we received was no, you don’t wire to us, you pay the balance at the Consulate. Okay, that’s cool. Do they take a check or credit card or do we wire the funds to them. No, no and NO! Hmmm, so we pay cash? Yes and it must be in twenty-dollar bills, nothing larger. That is an interesting twist and I’m not crazy about carrying $1500 in twenties around Miami, Florida at any time; however, their rules are their rules, albeit a bit unnerving.

As I’ve stated before, when one deals with another country, you have to play by their rules. I do understand their reasoning, however. Credit card companies charge outrageous fees on foreign transactions and that can be problematic and checks can take forever to clear. Cash has no such problems and easily rendered.

Now I have to contact the shipping company to find out we are expected to pay the remainder of the fees for them once we are in Ecuador. Before we leave, no problem. We pay 90% of the fee when we order the container. The remaining 10% is paid upon its arrival in Ecuador and when we arrive at the port for its custom’s inspection. So I need to find out if that will also have to be paid in cash, or if we will be allowed to wire the funds to their offices.

All and all, this entire process has been fairly smooth and, with the exception of how the final payment is made, has held no surprises. For that I am thankful and equally thankful that every step of the way we have been guided by a very knowledgeable person who has clarified anything we were unsure about or may have been confused on a particular issue. No matter how many times we may have asked the same question, her patience and answers have never changed. Once we are in Ecuador, she will even help us open our Ecuadorian bank accounts, obtain utilities, internet and find a place to live. All of this is without any additional fees or costs, except the rent and utility payments for our part.

By totally researching and doing our homework, we were able to find a wonderful immigration attorney, a company to ship our household goods and, so far, there are not been any of the horror stories that we’ve heard from others on their experiences with other companies or attorneys. By following their instructions to the letter when obtaining and submitting our documentation and by asking for clarification when we were uncertain, there have been no problems with this process.

When we first met with our immigration attorney, she explained everything to us, showed us in writing what was required, what to expect and everything the fees for her services covered. She made sure that we understood everything she explained and has always been there when we have had a question. There have been no surprises or hidden fees. What she told us and what we have experienced have been one and the same.

Our next big hurdle will be the loading of the shipping container to Ecuador, and then having the goods arrive in Ecuador. As with the process of the Visa, I will keep you up to date on how that plays out and if we run into any problems.

Hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter, which is hard to believe is fast approaching, and that you are surrounded by the love and laughter of friends and family. Until next time, take care and God bless.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest.

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Land that time forgot? Maybe!

The more I look at Ecuador, the more I love what I see. When we were visiting, before we had made up our minds to move to Ecuador, I kept getting the feeling that I had stepped back in time or I was reliving a previous life. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand how or why I would have these feelings when I had never even stepped foot in the country until that wonderful day when we arrived for an International Living Conference.

The more I thought about it, the more puzzled I became. It wasn’t until I started going through an old family picture album that I suddenly understood “why” I had these feelings. In the old family pictures, there were scenes of family picnics, pictures taken at church, family outings or even a visit from the family doctor in our home when we were sick. Back when I was growing up family, faith, living a full life and enjoying the outdoors were the important things in our lives. We played outdoors, helped neighbors when they needed it, learned important things we would need in preparation for our being on our own, like how to cook, balance a checkbook, talking out differences of opinion and how to get along with those we don’t always agree with. We learned how to do give and take, we sat as a family at the dinner table and said grace before we ate and had evening prayers before we went to bed.

As I look around me today, I see kids with their noses stuck in video games or texting as they walk, or worse drive, around. Even walking next to friends, they text each other rather than have a vocal conversation. I have watched as children, and grownups, have walked into signs, into people and into the street without looking up from their phones or iPad. Some have even walked into cars or off a cliff because they were oblivious to their surroundings.

People have no time for family or friends, they don’t eat together much less go to church or pray together. They don’t know how to have a good conversation or how to work out a problem by talking it out. Instead, they yell, punch, or worse, shoot to solve their problems. Society has turned into a rude, combative, what’s in it for me, group of people who have put on blinders and can’t seem to think for themselves and have become a throw away society.

The country of Ecuador and its people are like a land that time forgot. Family, their faith and the land are the important things in their lives. Children play outdoors, they are curious about what is going on around them, people talk with each other and, for the most part, they are healthier and happier than their northern neighbors. Children respect their parents, help neighbors, take care of their elderly and work out their differences. Doctor’s there still make house calls when they are needed.  They have all the modern amenities that we have here in the U.S., yet they do not appear to be a “throw away” society. I have seen some marvelous ways that worn out furniture, appliances and clothing have been used. People help each other and work together to keep the environment healthy and themselves in the process.

I am looking forward to returning to the land that time forgot, where family, faith, neighbors helping neighbors and the land are what is important. Where fresh food can be had year round, and people take responsibility for their actions. They aren’t quick to file a law suit against someone to reap compensation for their own stupidity, like placing a hot cup of coffee between their legs and getting burned. Where the air is fresh and clean and the water is good, where people don’t pollute the land with their trash and you can safely walk and enjoy life.

People in Ecuador seem to live longer, are happier and healthier and thoroughly enjoy life and I, for one, see nothing wrong with that. Have a great week, my friends, and don’t forget to tell family and friends that you love them and that you care. May each and every one of you be blessed and enjoy all the best that life has to offer. Until next time,

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

 

 

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Just Thoughts

On Thursday, my husband and I went to Lakeland, Florida to spend some time with his cousin and on Friday we went to a spring training baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and the Atlanta Braves. We had decided to take a little break from our packing up of our home in preparation for our move to Ecuador.

While enjoying the game, I got to thinking about some of the differences between sports in the U.S.A. and sports in Ecuador. When someone mentions football, here in the states we think of muscular men donned in helmets, pads, which makes them look even bulkier and running down the field carrying the ball in hand towards a goal post. In Ecuador, football, which we refer to as soccer here, is played kicking a ball down the field and hitting it with heads and feet and no hand contact is allowed. Top that with no helmets or protective equipment of any kind and you have a very energetic game where bruises, bloody noses or scraped knees may be the norm. In U.S. football referees throw down a flag to denote penalties while in Ecuador they hold up a red or yellow card. Seems more civilized to me where throwing down a flag is like throwing down a glove and demanding satisfaction.

People there seem to genuinely enjoy the sport and are not restrained by a lot of restrictive rules and regulations that complicate how the game is played. In U.S. football, it seems they have a rule for everything including just how much the ball must be inflated, while in soccer, its more of a competitive sport and you don’t see the coaches or players shunning the other team when the game is over. In good sportsmen conduct, they shake hands with the opposing team and congratulate them on a game well-played. While in the U.S., that scene is rarely played out, instead you see players ignoring the extended hand or worse yet, not paying respect to the Nation’s flag or National Anthem when it is played. You do not see that kind of disrespect played out in any other country around the world.

Yes, sports are big money items no matter where you go, however, it seems that here in the U.S.A. money is more important than good sportsmanship or giving it your best. Whatever happened to the old saying of “it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game that’s important?”

At the spring training games, at least in Florida, they have 50/50 drawings where people donate money to win half of what is collected. The money goes towards the Girls and Boy’s Club and the charity de jour of the day. Yesterday’s game raised $10,510 dollars and the game the day before raised over $11,000. There was a lot of entertainment both on and off the field and a good time was had by all. I had never seen a spring training baseball game before and was amazed that they had a 50/50 drawing, plus other spontaneous games and prizes to keep the fans entertained and interactive with the players. It was wonderful. Wish other sports did that kind of thing and concentrated more on being positive role models for young fans than the kind of impressions they are making now where money is king, unacceptable behavior, like doing drugs, beating up on women and illegal conduct is now the norm.

Did not mean for this to be a commentary on social norms in sports, but just thoughts on differences I noticed. Yesterday was a wonderful spring day, with plenty of sunshine and cool breezes and a good time was hand by all. Oh, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in a 10-inning game. A very enjoyable day with family. Until next time I leave with a few pictures of yesterday’s Detroit Tigers Baseball game.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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