North and South America alike, but different

On Friday we attended a presentation on Cuenca and the changes that have occurred here over the years and it was put on by a gentleman from our new church who has lived the changes.

During his presentation, I could see how the two Americas are alike and how much they are different.

North America was founded by people looking for a better life for them and their families. They moved from one coast to the other to find that elusive dream. South America too had its explorers, however they did not come with families to find a better life, but to take all they could from the south and return to their homelands in hopes of returning rich. Where North America slaughtered the native peoples to take the land as their own, the people who came to South America slaughtered the native peoples to take their silver and gold.

In North America the Jesuits came and took the children of the native peoples and put them into boarding schools to learn English and took away their heritage. In South America the Arch Bishop of Ecuador threatened the families who associated with Lutherans with excommunication and anyone who supported these families were friends were likewise threatened. So the people of Ecuador sent their children to Minnesota to Lutheran Boarding schools where they lost their heritage to become indoctrinated into the way of the gringos.

When Ecuador changed from the Sucre currency to the U.S. dollar, many lost their retirements due to devaluation. For example, if they had millions of Sucres in the bank, when the conversion to U.S. currency, their retirement went from millions in the bank to $400. Those who were paying 2900 Sucres a month in mortgage suddenly found themselves paying $0.80 per month.

Where North America has lost its way with greed being the almighty idol many chase and families are disappearing and the elderly being thrown away with the wash water, South America has realized the importance of families, they take care of the elderly and everyone works together to achieve what they need. Here in Cuenca, even the land has rights. They are big on the environment and have some of the cleanest and safest water to drink anywhere in the world.

So where North America seems to be a land growing in stress and tensions, South America seems to be more relaxed and laid back. I am not saying it is perfect by any means as no where is perfect; however I will say it comes pretty close to being perfect, at least for his newly.

With that, I will leave you with pictures from the Cuenca presentation and wish each and everyone of you God’s blessings. Until the next time,

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drakes Nest

 

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Things just got a little easier!

Now I am one of those people who love it when someone comes up with an easier or new improved way of doing things. When you live in a country where you don’t speak the language, must less read it, easier is definitely on my do-to-list.

Thankfully, a wonderful young lady, Frances A. Hogg, has published a delightful book entitled, “What’s Cookin’ Cuenca?” It is an Expat’s guide to buying and preparing food in Ecuador. It is not only filled with where to find what, it has the Spanish names for them, recipes, how to substitute and what you won’t find in Cuenca, Ecuador. She is a delightful writer and the book is not only a great read, but a wonderful go-to-guide written by someone who has been in our shoes, by that I mean someone in a new country who hasn’t a clue on where to find items we are use to being able to obtain on our grocer’s shelves or what to use when you can’t get them.

For example, you cannot purchase a box of Baking Soda here like you do in the states. You can only purchase a tiny bag with perhaps a tablespoon or two in it. The reason is that baking soda is apparently an ingredient in homemade drugs and to help prevent illegal manufacture of these illicit items, they are restricting the amount that you can purchase.

Frances has become the equivalent of a fairy godmother of sorts with all the advice, descriptions and how to’s in her book. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!

The other thing that is going to make life easier is we will be meeting with a Spanish Tutor tomorrow and will discuss meeting for lessons so that we can, hopefully, become fluent enough that we can carry on a conversation intelligently and not use the wrong word and ask for something we do not want, such as when we are looking for toilet paper and Google translate gives us the Spanish word for tampon! Not something I am interested in nor have needed for quite a number of years now. Or when ordering eggs scrambled Google giving you the right word for eggs but toilet paper for scrambled! I can tell you that got me some interesting looks. Thankfully, a young lady who spoke English asked me what I was ordering and I was able to tell her. She got quite the laugh when I told her the word google had provided. She quickly gave my order to the cook and walked away laughing and shaking her head.

Life here in Ecuador is anything but dull and is full of challenges, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. We are so enjoying things here and the health benefits of all that walking are starting to really show. My belt is on the very last hole that I can adjust, so I either have to get a smaller belt or figure out how to punch in more holes. So far, we figure we’ve lost about 10 pounds in the three weeks we’ve been here. My darling husband, no longer looks like he’s six months pregnant! While that may look good on sea horses it is not a good look on the human male.

Until next time my friends, keep your sunny side up!

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Loving Ecuador!

Hard to believe that we have now been here three weeks. Time sure flies when you are having fun. While there are a lot of challenges to living here when you don’t speak the language, we are discovering that the more you try, the more the locals will help you. I am able to understand a little of what is being said and finding that I understand more of what I read. Now if I can just find that balance where I can understand what is being said and able to respond. But like anything worth having, it is worth working hard to obtain it.

Our Visas should be approved any time now and we are anxiously awaiting the word  to take our passports in to be stamped. One of the things we were concerned about was that our apostilized documents would expire before the Visas were approved. That does not happen. As soon as you apply for your Visa and you are in Country, your documentation time countdown stops. That in and of itself is a big relief and took a big weight off our shoulders.

Once you have your Visa in hand, you can order your belongings to be shipped to you. This you must do as soon as you possibly can as you only have the first six months you are here to have them come into country duty-free. After that, there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to have them shipped at all. Unfortunately, a lady who attends our church has discovered this fact the hard way. She has been here for over six years and decided that she wanted to ship her goods here that she had placed in storage. She figured that she would just have to pay customs and a duty fee. She was very wrong and is now upset that she can’t finally get her belongings here.

This is why it is extremely important that you pay attention to the requirements for not only obtaining the necessary documentation to live in the country of your choice, but also the requirements for having your belongings shipped to you.

When we first decided we wanted to live in Ecuador, we were told that yes, we could ship our belongings here without a Visa, but we would be required to place a $9,000 bond and there was no guarantee that the bond would be refunded in a timely manner once the Visa was approved. So we decided to place our things in storage until such time as approval is granted. It will only take 2-3 weeks to ship once we send proof of Visa approval to our moving/shipping company.

The same holds true if you decide to return to your home country. There is no guarantee that you will be able to return your belongings to your home country without being charged a fee by both your home country and the country you are leaving. There is also the possibility that you will not be allowed to return your belongings to your home country at all. Much depends on the rules and regulations that are in effect at that particular time.

We decided when we moved here that once our belongings are here, if we should decided to move elsewhere, then we would just sell everything we have and start anew. After all, it is just stuff and that which we wanted family to have, we already delivered it to them well before we left.

The next thing our on agenda is to prepare and Ecuadorian Will. This spells out exactly what we want done not only with our bodies, but with our belongings as well. Unlike in the U.S.A. where you can have a Living Will that says what you wish done or not done, it is not valid here in Ecuador. You must have a legal and binding document written here in this country. U.S. legal documents are only binding in the U.S. Now if we happen to be in the U.S. and something happens, any documents drawn up in the U.S. are binding while those drawn up in Ecuador are not. Since we currently have no plans to own any property in Ecuador, we only need to spell out what it done with our personal effects and ourselves.

Our son already has been designated on our U.S. bank accounts as having the right to access it and distribute the assets between himself and his sister. Anything we may have in an Ecuadorian account we plan on having it distributed to either a local charity or our church to distribute to those who are in need in our community.

This week, we will be attending a talk on the history of Cuenca and how it has changed over the years, that will be on the 21st of July. On the 26th of July, we will be going to a local zoo where we will be feeding the animals behind the scenes, going to a falcon rescue and then to dinner. Will definitely be reporting on that.

Until next time my friends, enjoy life. Don’t forget to spend time with your family and friends as they are far more important than how much money you earn or how fast you advance up the ladder.

Hasta Pronto!

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Carpenter Challenges

Today we had a carpenter come to see the space we have and see about building a storage shed there. He spoke no English and our Spanish is challenging to say the least. After several attempts with Google Translate speaking, drawing of pictures and measuring, we were able to communicate what we were looking to have.

He starts to work on Friday and it will take 15 days for him to complete. We will pay half when he starts and the remainder when it is complete and we will be able to lock it. This will be done to have a place to store our bikes and tools when they arrive from the states.

After he left, we decided to take a walk and explore more of our new home area. We followed the walking path until we came to a foot bridge over the river and then followed the dirt road up the hill and around. We ended up in front of the Hospital Universidae. We crossed over the street bridge there, down a trail and back onto the walking trail we started on. Total walk time was a little under two hours and three miles. We were taking our time and enjoying the views.

We are thoroughly enjoying life here in Cuenca, Ecuador. Since our arrival on June 17th, we have walked thirty miles and lost ten pounds!

Tomorrow we go to El Centro to find the shop that sells the beautiful embroidered Ecuadorian shirts for men. Until next time, enjoy these pictures from our walk today. Remember to enjoy life and live each day to its fullest for tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drakes Nest

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Few Facts on Ecuador

We have now been here almost three weeks and one week in our new home. After going here and there, I thought a few facts on life here in Ecuador might be helpful. Now these may or may not be gospel, but they are based on my observations and what we have been told.

  1. Unless you are dealing with a bank, you will find that restaurants, vendors, shops, and taxi’s will not take anything larger than a $20.00. If you need to change a larger bill, then you need to go to a bank. Also, Ecuadorians prefer to use the $1.00 coins instead of bills.
  2.  Ecuadorians love to haggle over price and you can generally get a bargain with a little creative dickering.
  3. In Ecuador, unless an apartment building is a high-rise with a designated freight elevator, it is illegal to use the small elevators to move furniture and such. It is quite impressive to see them deliver furniture up 4 flights of stairs.
  4. Unless you live in an apartment building or house that has septic up to U.S. standards, or a high-class hotel, you do not put toilet paper in the toilet, it is put into a small trash can next to the toilet. Most toilets have two buttons on the toilet, one is for flushing liquid waste and the other is for solid. Saves on water usage.
  5. There are no handicap accessible sidewalks, buildings, or bathrooms so getting around can be a bit tricky.  There is a lot of walking, but the sidewalks can be very narrow and uneven, so if you have difficulty walking or getting around, you need to keep this in mind.
  6. Taxi’s can be very small and their trunks are almost none existent. They are good for groceries, but don’t expect to put a large suitcase in one. If you have need to transport a lot of luggage, you need to arrange for a transport van.
  7. When you board a bus and someone approaches you with their hand out, they are not begging, it means they didn’t have correct change and may have put in a fifty cent piece or a dollar coin and are asking for your change. You just give them your quarter and go take a seat on the bus.
  8. Riding a bus in Ecuador takes a bit of getting use to. You board in the front and exit out the back. You need to make your way to the back of the bus before your stop. There is a buzzer on the pole at the back of the bus to signal the driver you wish to get off at that stop, there are no pull cords. When the door opens, you need to exit as quickly as possible and they don’t always come to a complete stop before opening the doors to exit and don’t always wait until you are totally off before starting to drive off.
  9. While Ecuadorians are very calm and laid back and have a manana attitude, that changes when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. You will see drivers in the wrong lane trying to jockey for position in the direction they are going, pedestrians do not have the right of way, so be sure nothing is coming before you cross and that no one is making a turn into your bath. They drive fast, slam on brakes and love to blow the horn as soon as the light changes. Car horns and car alarms are often joked about as being the National Music for Ecuador. Also you need to watch out for motorcycles as they will weave in and out of traffic and will come in close to the curb.
  10. It is not unusual to see an entire family on one motorcycle. There will be a child in the front of the driver, the driver, his wife/girlfriend/family member behind him and perhaps a baby in a back or front carrier. I have seen as many as 5 people on one motorcycle. Surprisingly, there are few accidents here.

As we progress in learning about our new country, I will provide that information. It is certainly an adventure living here, but well worth it as the people, the food and the land are fantastico! Today we went exploring and purchase 3-shelves for our home. We were able to arrange to have them delivered, but had to ride with the driver. Unlike U.S. trucks, the cabs of an Ecuadorian truck is not made for a six-foot four frame. Watching my husband fold himself into a truck and then get out again is quite entertaining. With me in the middle, I have to twist my five foot eight inch frame a little sideways so that I’m not leaning on the gear shift. Quite the adventure.

Until next time my friends, stay safe, enjoy life and remember that family is the most important thing in your life. Not money or success as you can’t take that with you. Steve Jobs made a fortune, but before he died, he lamented that in achieving “success” he lost the most important things in his life, his family and his friends.

God bless and will talk with you soon.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drake’s Nest

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Life is good!

We are really getting adventuresome in our explorations. Yesterday we hopped a bus we thought was going in the direction we wanted to go, which was in to the area near where we go to church so we could see how long it would take to get there.

I told my wonderful spouse I thought we were going in the wrong direction, but he was sure it was the right way, so we settled into our seats and were enjoying the ride when the bus began to climb into the surrounding hillside. The view was lovely, but it was a definite oops! Wrong way.

After a while the bus made a u-turn in an area barely big enough for a car much less a bus. It pulled behind two other buses and then stopped and turned off its motor. A very elderly Ecuadorian lady, probably the drivers mother, began to scold us and pointed to the door for us to get off. We walked to the first bus in line and I pointed to the bus to get on and it was fine. We finally ended up where we wanted to be and went to our favorite restaurant for lunch.

Today we decided to once again do a bus trip, this time to El Centro, the historic area of Cuenca. We knew which bus number and I told hubby that we could catch it in front of the Monay Mall, but he didn’t think it stopped there. So we proceeded to walk in the opposite direction I felt we should be going. After a bit, we turned to the Moveit app on the phone and found where we could get the bus. Once on board, the bus traveled toward the Mall and stopped at a stop there. My darling husband admitted that I had been right and I just smiled.

We made it to El Centro and went to the Sunrise Cafe for a delicious lunch. I tried the fish special, which was a marvelous white fish from the Amazon called spichey. At least I think that’s how it is spelled. We found some wonderful treasures for our home, some fruits at the Mercado and then headed home.

In the two weeks that we have been here, we have walked thirty miles and lost ten pounds between us. Life is good here.

Until next time, enjoy a few pictures of our new home country.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drakes Nest

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Wonderful day of Exploration

Today we went exploring our new homeland and headed to El Centro and Parque de Calderon. It was our trip there that we found a delightful taxi driver who speaks a little English and he gave us his name, cell number and cab number. I will help him with his English and he will help us with our Spanish. We will still have to find a way to church as he does not work Sunday mornings.

We went to the Sunrise Cafe for brunch and Thursdays special is steak and eggs. It was delicious and for both meals with potatoes and drinks was $12.00. After a pleasant meal, we went to the Mercado. This is a building three blocks long and three stories high where you can find fresh produce, fresh fruits, spices, meats that are fresh and not frozen, clothing and so much more. If you are not sure about something, they will give you samples to try. It’s amazing what a dollar will buy.

After the Mercado, we strolled down a side street that, every Thursday, has vendors plying their wares from clothing to shoes to fresh-cut flowers. We purchased two Ecuadorian style shirts for my wonderful hubby and a beautiful wrap for me. Also found a beautiful table cover and a queen size baby alpaca blanket. Total bill was $30.00. The Ecuadorians love to barter over the price and will state one price, but to make a sale they will lower the prices substantially to keep you from going elsewhere. What we purchased there today would have been well over $100.00 or more in the states.

While looking at some fresh-cut flowers, the church in the square had its doors open and you could hear the choir singing for the mass. It was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes.

From El Centro it was on to the Monay Shopping Mall and the Coral market. Here we had a delicious treat called a granita. It is made up of frozen yogurt and the equivalent of a fruit slush. Then it was on to get a few more groceries and a blender. One of the things that is impressive is that they will open your appliance and make sure it works before you leave the store.

Now we are home and relaxing after a marvelous day of exploration. Ami nuestro nuevo hogar. I love our new home. Until next time, may God bless each and everyone of you and may you live life to its fullest.

Hasta Pronto,

Terri at the Drakes Nest

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