We have had a busy couple of days. First here in Cuenca. We found a nice apartment, I should say a nice penthouse. Matter of fact, it is the only penthouse in the building. It has 5 terraces, 3 guest bedrooms, which share 1 bath, the Master with a fabulous en suite (shower, jacuzzi tub and a view to the stars and the mountains), a wonderful kitchen, fireplace and a loft which will be my studio that goes the entire length and width of the building, plus a bath and office there. I am head over heels about this place. The rent includes all utilities and is only $900 a month and, not counting the loft, is approximately 2000+ square feet of space!
The place also came with a few kitchen items, washer, dryer, 5 burner gas stove, built-in oven, refrigerator, dinning room set that seats 6, and all the beds with a few linens. We went and purchased a microwave, dishwasher and living room set. In Ecuador when you rent a place it is either furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished. Of course furnished means all you need to come with are your clothes and toothbrush. Semi-furnished means there may or may not be furniture, but there will be appliances and unfurnished means just that, nada. No furniture, no appliances, nothing.
This will be sufficient until our container arrives with our belongings once our Visa’s have been approved. Next we went to open a savings account at a local bank, but along with the immigration changes there were also changes to the bank’s requirements. Along with your passport, you now have to have your social security card showing your social security number. Even though my Medicare card shows my number and is government issued, it is not acceptable. So we will have to wait for the copy of our cards to arrive if the letter from the Social Security Administration is not accepted.
On Thursday and Friday of this week we were on our own as our host had other plans and felt that we no longer needed to be led by the hand. That in itself was an adventure. Ordering a taxi, presenting the driver with a slip of paper on which was drawn a map as well as the written directions to our new place. Not all the driver’s here are familiar with all of Cuenca, some only have their little areas they drive but sometimes will go into unfamiliar areas. Few speak English and, at the moment, our Spanish is muey un poco or very little. But we were extremely successful! We even went out to eat and were able to order from the menu. We are finding that we can read Spanish more than we can speak it. Thank heaven’s for Google Translate. You can either type in the words you want translated into Spanish or have them speak into the phone and translate what they say into English.
So far, in the taxi’s, we have not been the same way twice. We have gone and explored El Centro and Park de Calderon where there are shops, vendors and fabulous restaurants. So far, our favorite there is the Sunrise Cafe, it is where a lot of expats go to eat, the owners speak English and will help you with your Spanish. The bus ride there and back was a unique experience.
In Ecuador when you board a bus you enter via the front, but you exit by the back. There are no pull cords to signal you want to get off, instead you walk to the back of the bus and when you near your stop, you push a button. If someone does not have exact change, for example, fifty cents instead of the quarter, they will drop the fifty cents into the box and stand at the front with a hand-held out. The next person on the bus will give them their quarter and they both sit down. If you are standing on the bus, you best make sure you hang on as you will be jostled all over the place due to the fast pace of the drivers. Sitting doesn’t guarantee that you won’t end up in your neighbors lap. When you get off the bus, do so quickly as they don’t always wait until you are totally off before taking off on the route. The drivers are paid according to how many routes they complete a day, so they try to get in as many as possible.
We next ordered internet service, which we can pay for 3 months at a time. There are several services available and the one we chose they come out and look at your place and complete all the paper work and come back later to do the install. Our particular service was $88.92, install and first month, after that it will be $31.92 every three months! We will try this one for a while and if we don’t like it, will try another. When you get internet, you have to provide either a cedula, Ecuadorian ID, or your passport and a Ecuadorian phone number. We do not have that as yet so our property manager/facilitator allows us to use her number and they call her with any questions. Next on the list is getting Direct TV, but we will need the facilitator for help with that one as they don’t speak any English. But we are patient.
Today we went to the apartment with the intent of getting in some groceries; however, the elevator was out of service and we did not want to carry it up the stairs. But may have to do so if it is not repaired right away. Oh, another interesting piece of information is that in Ecuador, unless there is a freight elevator, it is illegal to use the elevator to move furniture, appliances, etc. It was quite interesting to watch these people deliver our furniture and dishwasher and haul it up 4 flights of stairs. I can well imagine what it will be like when our belongings arrive!
Hopefully, we will get a phone installed soon, but will have to talk with our wonderful facilitator, Veronica Arpi of Cuenca’s Best Properties, to find out how we go about that. If you decide to make the jump, I would highly recommend her. We have no vested interest or affiliation with the company, just very happy customers. We may have to wait until we get our cedula.
Hopefully, on Monday we plan on leaving the home of our gracious hostess and move our suitcases full of what we brought with us to our new home. First we have to arrange transport as most of the taxi’s do not have a trunk big enough for our huge luggage. It is so funny to watch my husband get in and out of a taxi as he is 6 foot 4 inches and if he has to sit in the back, he can get stuck. We all have a good laugh as even my 5 foot 8 inch frame sometimes has difficulties.
Until next time my friends, remember to live life to its fullest! I’ve included some pictures of our new home and the views from our terrace.
Terri at the Drake’s Nest