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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Think I need a break!

You know you need a break when you start having weird dreams connected to your packing, sorting and purging. Last night I felt like I was pinned to the bed and could not move. A huge figure slowly advanced towards me and try as I might I just could not move. Just as the figure reached the foot of the bed, I managed to break free of the bonds that held me. My poor cat went flying off the bed as I sat straight up. Apparently, my dear husband had rolled over on the blankets on one side of me, while the cat laid on the other, effectively pinning me in place. When you start dreaming of walking tape dispensers trying to attack you, then it’s time to take a break.

I have given away over 100 books on quilting, photography, painting, and other crafts, closed to 100 pounds of fabric, quilt patterns, china, bric-a-brac and a sundry other items. There are some Thomas Kincaid Christmas Village buildings that we are going to be taking to an E-Bay site to see if we can sell those, as well as a 1913 White Twig Treadle, that works like a dream. Current count is 149 boxes. In that count are the loose items, bed, book cases, etc. Each of those items have to have either a label or a tag with a number on it and has to be listed in the inventory. I have come up with creative ways to attach the number to the furniture without damaging the finish. Most will be stuck on the back and, hopefully they will stay in place. I am using mailing labels or address labels for this task. Some items, however, such as the band saw, rolling tool chest, will have to have a tag creatively attached in such a way that the number is visible, yet won’t be easily removed or torn off.

We have discovered that a 40-cargo container is about the same size as our garage, so what will fit in there will fit in the container. As we pack, we have to remember that we can’t mix clothing and shoes together as you are only allowed to ship 200 pounds of clothes per person and the shoes could throw the weight off. Gee, are there people who have 200 pounds of clothes? I can’t even imagine a closet big enough to hold that amount.

To give ourselves a break, we will be going to visit one of my husband’s cousins in Winter Park, Florida and attend a baseball game. I haven’t been to a baseball game since my children were little. Looking forward to eating some hot dogs. Baseball and football games always seem to have the best hot dogs.

Hope all have a great week. Wishing you all the best.

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Challenges for New Places

Someone asked me recently where I would be living in Cuenca, would it be in a community of nothing but expats/immigrants or would I live in a community surrounded by non-English speaking people?

One of the challenges of living in a new area, whether it be a new state in your home country or a new city in a foreign county, is being willing to adapt. When we started doing our research for living abroad, and even attending an International Living Conference in Quito, Ecuador, we were amazed at the number of people who planned on being surrounded by those who spoke English and had no plans on becoming part of the community and culture they were soon going to be calling home. To me, they have a plan for disaster, unhappiness and will, in all likelihood, be returning to the United States or from wherever they moved from.

When one moves to a totally unfamiliar area, you need to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, find a place to live, find out where the local banks, groceries, utility companies are to be found in order to start setting up your new home and life. If you sequester yourself and limit yourself to an area where things are pretty much like what you left, you have cut yourself off from what can be a rewarding experience.

During our last trip to Cuenca, I spoke with a number of people and found that those who reached out to get to know their neighbors, settled in non-expat communities and immersed themselves in the culture and lifestyle of the native people’s there, were a lot happier. One lady I spoke with at the park in El Centro, told me that she was from San Diego, California. She had lived there for over 30 years and never knew her neighbors. She would wave to them and say hello, but no one ever associated with anyone else. Since living in Cuenca, she has many friends, lives in a non-expat community and is totally enjoying her new life and home. She has now been there for over 5 years and is a widow.

One couple I spoke with have been there for a year and are planning on returning to the U.S. They complained that people there are not friendly, won’t speak English and it’s too hard to get around. They live in a total expat community and never leave the place except to get groceries or perhaps take a walk or medical appointments. I asked if they had learned to speak the language, the response was “no, why should we.” They are of the mindset that “everyone, everywhere,” should speak English and act like those in the U.S.

I remember at the conference a woman made those same complaints and I asked her a simple question, suppose you opened your home to me to stay there until I found a place of my own and was able to get on my feet. You go to work one day and when you arrive back home, all your belongings were out on the street and I had totally redecorated and repainted the home to suit “my” tastes, how would you feel. She looked at me and said that it would be damned rude! It was “her” home and … Then the light went on and she saw what I was trying to get her to realize. We are “guests” in the home of Ecuadorians and it is up to us to make the effort to adjust to their way of living, their culture and the laws and rules of the land. We are NOT there to try to change their home to what we left. Many of the people I spoke with left the U.S. because it became unhealthy, too expensive to live there, poor quality of life and getting more polluted and unsafe each day. They moved to Ecuador for a better quality of life, healthier, safer and less complicated. Why on earth would you want to change a place that has what you were seeking into the hell that you just left?

The Ecuadorian people have a strong faith, a love of living life and a respect for the land. Yes, there will be challenges for us as we go from the comfortable what we know life to the out of our comfort zone and the unknown. The challenges of our new life will keep us stimulated, exploring and wanting to learn and that will help keep us healthier, learning to take life at a slower pace and, perhaps, even living longer as we keep body and brain active learning the new. I’m up for the challenge as is my wonderful husband. We wish we had done this years ago, but are grasping the chance to live better, healthier and happier while we still have the ability to do so.

Have a great day and enjoy the upcoming weekend. Until later my friends,

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Decisions, Decisions

We have been alerted by our Ecuadorian attorney that we have an option for obtaining our residency visa other than Visa-via-Cable under the new law. That is of a Partial Application, which means we would sign a power of attorney here, have it witnessed by a Notary, apostille and then sent to her to translate into Spanish, along with all our documents. She would then file them with the Immigration Ministry there in Ecuador. It would take one and a half months, approximately, for it to be approved. Once approved we would have ten (10) days to appear in Ecuador at the Ministry to pick up our Visa. We could then return to the states and finish our packing and putting the house up for sale; however, we would have to be back in Ecuador before 90 days has expired or we lose the Residency. During the first two (2) years you can only be out of the country a total of 90 days.

While this is tempting, there are too many unknowns in the equation, such as how long will it take to get the house totally packed up, cleaned and put on market and how long will it take to be sold. There’s also the cost of flying back and forth between the U.S. and Ecuador, not to mention cost of staying in a hotel until we find a place to live. Once our household goods ship, we have to be in Ecuador when they arrive three (3) weeks later. Rather than tempt fate, we have opted to continue with the Visa-Via-Cable, which will allow us to get things accomplished in a timely manner, get my husband’s pre-paid dental work completed and tie up all loose ends. By the time the Visa-via-Cable is ready, we will drive to Miami to pick it up. I believe that requires 2 trips, but we will be told what the next step is once our attorney has all of our paperwork in hand.

One must be adaptable when preparing for a move, whether it be elsewhere here in the United States or to another country. You have to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected and make what ever decisions must be made, preferably one that has been thought out rather than in haste. Often times decisions made in haste can have unpleasant or unexpected results. Such as our move from Michigan to Florida where we rushed to pack and ended up giving away things we had wanted to keep because they wouldn’t fit on the moving van and because the movers did not listen to HOW I wanted items put on the truck, i.e., furniture and appliances first and then boxes. We won’t make that mistake again.

So now that we have made our decision, we can continue to pack and purge. My inventory list is growing day by day. All loose items have to have sequential numbers attached to them either by tags or labels, just like the boxes, and are identified as “loose items” on the inventory. They can be inter-mixed with the Boxed items, but each time as change between boxed and loose, they must be identified as such. Our biggest challenge is how we are going to attach a number to the mattresses for our beds. My husband came up with a wonderful suggestion, since I am a quilter and fiber artist, I will baste stitch numbers directly onto the mattresses and box springs. Easily identifiable, easily removable and will not damage the mattresses!

This whole process as been a wonderful learning experience and, because we have a wonderful and patient Immigration Attorney who has clarified any confusion we may have had and answered all questions, it has been rather smooth.

I have been asked by several people if I plan on continuing to blog after I have completed our move. My answer is most definitely. I will be posting pictures and telling about our adventures, and misadventures, as we learn a whole new way of life and a whole new language. As we explore, it is my plan to show you how people live, the beautiful areas and share trips that we may make. At some point, I will also be posting my art pieces that will represent some of the areas we visit and people we meet.

Until later my friends, have a great rest of the weekend and wish you all the best that life has to offer.

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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