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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End almost in sight!

Today I am doing a happy dance as the last document we needed to obtain our Residency Visa-via-Cable has arrived. So with my Apostille FBI Criminal Background Check in hand, all the documents will now be forwarded to Ecuador Visas and our attorney. The documents will be translated into Spanish and we will be notified when we are to appear at the Ecuadorian Consulate in Miami. We are now seeing an end in sight to our adventures in obtaining documents that will allow us to live in another country.

It has certainly been an eye opener on all that one must do to be granted the privilege of becoming a foreign resident. It gives you a whole new respect for what many immigrants must go through in order to obtain Visas/Green Cards to live in the United States. If you want something bad enough, you will do all that you can, legally, to obtain the Golden Ticket (Visa) that will allow you to achieve your dream. The key is to do it legally! By following the rules, you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labors. You also will not have to keep looking over your shoulder to see if Immigration is after you to return you from whence you came.

Our packing and purging continues. All of yesterday was spent shredding old documents that are no longer necessary. I plan on scanning all our current documents, which will be needed for tax filings, to our computer so that  I won’t have to transport a lot of papers and it will make filing our taxes via email a whole lot more efficient. Sending PDF’s is a lot easier than faxes, especially if you don’t know if faxes are available in your new home country. I know that regular mail is almost non-existent there, so most of our mail will go to a central mail server who will scan what mail we do need and/or FedEx it to us. We will be able to ship packages and such, but mail is another story. I’m thinking of all the junk mail I will no longer receive!

Have a great week and enjoy life to the fullest. I must return to my packing and purging!

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Little Things Add Up

In getting ready for our move to Ecuador, it is amazing how much all the little things that need to be done add up. For example, it’s all well and good to purge those things that you no longer use or need, but it is equally important that one review all documents you have to see what need to be kept or can be disposed of by shredding.

Some of the documents that one must go through are all old tax receipts and records. According to the Federal Government, you should keep all tax records and supporting backup information for 7 years. If you are able to dispose of any of these documents, be sure that you SHRED them. This will help prevent identity theft plus protect you against fraud. Be especially careful that when shredding or even ripping up old documents that any signatures are totally destroyed as well as account numbers for banks, credit cards and any containing your social security numbers. If you have documents that have bar codes on them, be sure that those bar codes are destroyed as they will contain information that you cannot read, but someone with a bar code reader could. They sometimes have social security numbers, dates of birth, etc. embedded within their codes.

When you are shipping your household goods in a container, one of the things that they tell you NOT to include are personal papers, credit cards, jewelry, coin collections, etc. These are items you either need to pack in your suitcases or have boxed and transported in the plane with you or send to family members to ship to you once you are settled in to your new home country.

Today was spent going through documents and separating those items we needed to keep and those that could be destroyed. It’s amazing the kind of stuff one accumulates in the ordinary course of business.

In doing our income taxes for this year, we have found an Agent that is capable of doing not only our U.S. taxes but any foreign tax we may incur. That is definitely a plus as we can scan and transmit any and all tax documents to her and file our taxes that way. She is certified not only to go before the IRS, but to handle expat accounting as well.

We are currently waiting on our last Apostille document to be received and then all our documents will be forwarded to our Ecuadorian Attorney to be translated into Spanish and filed with the Ecuadorian Consulate. Then it’s just a matter of awaiting the Visas, temporary or otherwise to arrive. We are still looking at making our move by  the end of May or first part of June of this year.

It has been amazing just how fast everything has been obtained, finalized and sent to where it needs to be sent.

Now up to 61 boxes packed, which includes our collection of fine wines. You are able to take up to 32 liters of wine or alcohol with you without having to pay an import tax on them. For example a traditional size bottle of wine contains 720 ml. It takes 1000 ml to make 1 liter so a box of 12 bottles will equal 9 liters. Since wines and most other alcoholic drinks are more expensive to purchase in Ecuador, being able to bring those wines we enjoy is definitely a plus.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Until next time,

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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In Limbo, Sort of …

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the law has changed in Ecuador regarding permanent residency visas. You now have to wait 21 months before being able to obtain permanent residency according to the new law.

We have received additional information that the granting of Residency Visas, temporary or otherwise, are currently suspended while the Immigration Office works out all the details on how Visas will be handled under the new law. Some of the questions that we are awaiting answers for are whether or not after 21 months the “temporary” Visa becomes a Permanent Residency Visa or whether one will have to reapply and go through all the paperwork once more. Under the old law, one would get their Ecuadorian ID or Credula about one week after getting their Permanent Residency Visa. Now, under the new law, you will not be able to obtain the ID until after 21 months. How that will affect pensioners obtaining the temporary visas remains to be seen.

We will continue with our efforts and are still planning our move. Whether it takes 21 months or just 6, we still plan to be living in beautiful Cuenca. Laws change all the time all over the world, one just has to be willing to roll with the punches, so to speak.

Until later, have a great weekend and enjoy all the best that life has to offer.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Must Keep Up With Changes

Just like here in the good ol’ U.S.A. where you must keep up with changes in laws, rules and regulations, one must do the same if going to another country. We have been alerted by our Ecuadorian Attorney that a new law has just gone into effect that changes the rules for residency there. Before you could either have permanent status by purchasing a home or land or by obtaining Residency through the immigration office and once approved would be permanent. Now instead of immediate permanent residency approval, you are given temporary residency visas that are good for 21 months.

That is the only information our attorney has at the moment as the law is so new not a whole lot of information is available. She will let us know as soon as she has all the information. We still plan on going to Ecuador; however, instead of immediate permanent status upon receipt of the Visa, it will take 21 months before we can obtain permanent status. The questions we are awaiting answers to are whether or not after 21 months we are granted permanent residency or if we have to reapply for permanent residency and resubmit all the documents we submitted previously. Will we have to submit “new” documentation as the current is only good for 180 days to obtain the current Visa?

Regardless of whether it is immediate granting of the Residency or Temporary for 21 months, we plan to make our move. The biggest change for us will be that we will not be given our Pensioner’s Credula’s until after 21 months, where under the old laws we would have been given the Ecuadorian ID approximately 1 week after our arrival. This change can also affect any Pensioner discounts we could receive as those could also be delayed for 21 months. Again, this is questions that our Ecuadorian Attorney will be finding the answers to and providing them to us. A GOOD Attorney will keep on top of changes so that their clients are not at a disadvantage and can make plans accordingly and won’t tell you don’t worry about it. This we have seen happen to others who have put out good money and things didn’t go as plan and their money was not refunded as it was “beyond” the attorney’s control; however, the attorney did not keep their client advised.

To make a long story short, it is prudent that you as the traveler, visitor or hope to be future resident of whatever country you have in your sights as your new home, keep abreast of any and all changes in the rules, laws and requirements of your future home country. That you have an excellent Attorney in that country who will keep you advised of any changes and/or warn you that you may need to meet additional requirements to gain your Visa or that you will no longer be able to obtain a Residency Visa and refund any moneys paid to the attorney since you did all that was required and the changes are due to no fault of your own.

Our adventure continues and, though not as smoothly as it started out, the road to Ecuador continues with a few curves to the destination. As soon as I learn more about the changes in the law, I will post what I have learned here. Until next time, my friends, have a great weekend and God Bless.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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