Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We're FINALLY legal!!!

This has been a VERY long process.  We came to visit Ecuador for the first time last February and met with Gabriela Espinosa (an attorney in Quito) who was strongly recommended by several gringos to help us get our permanent (investor) visas.  When we met with her in February, she told us that it would take around 30 days to get our visas.

So when we returned for good at the end of April, we thought "no problem".  We went to Banco Pichincha to deposit our money for an investor visa.  We had everything completed by around the middle of May and called Gaby and told her that our investor CD was in the bank, so could we get started on everything that was necessary to get our permanent visas.  We also asked her realistically how long were we looking at actually getting our visas.  She said that because of some of the changes that had taken place in the government, it would probably take around 60 days.  We thought, "fine, we are not going back to the States until Nov, so we should have plenty of time." 

As many of you have heard, there have been many changes in the government as far as visas are concerned, especially beginning in August.  Somehow, we were stuck in the group that came at the end of April through June.  We have all been stuck in "no man's land" of visa approval.   But we were still not very worried.  We had some friends, Dale and Joan, who were also working with Gaby, who had received their good news in September.  They told us that Gaby asked them to overnight their passports to Quito because their visas were approved.  Two weeks later, they were in Quito getting their cedulas and censos. 

SO....when we heard from Gaby in mid September to overnight our passports to her because our visas had been approved, we sent them on Monday, September 12th.  We thought, "Great....hopefully, we will have our censos and cedulas by the first of October".   Well, we waited.....and waited....and waited.  I had sent Gaby an email telling her that we would be going back to States for Thanksgiving, so we needed our passports and visas before then, and "could we have everything completed by the end of October?"  We found out that: 1)  the Director of Immigration was on vacation for a month;  2) the building where the paperwork was done had to be fumigated (really?); and numerous other excuses that the government was giving Gabriela.  I was starting to panic alittle about being able to leave the country and being able to get back in.

WELL....we finally got the call last week to come to Quito (AFTER they had our passports for almost 9 weeks!!), so we went this last Sunday.  We spent about 9 hours on Monday going from one place to another place, back to the first place, then back to the second place, but we are FINALLY legal!!  What a relief!!

We learned a couple of things during that day.  First of all, pay attention to the SMALLEST detail.  And second, just be VERY patient and be ready for a long wait.  First, we had a great guy from Gaby's office helping us--Raul--was very nice.  At the censo office, we got in to see someone fairly quickly, but there was a problem with our paperwork.  We never really found out what that problem was, but Raul had to talk to someone else in a different area.  That took about 30-45 minutes.  So, we went back to the first person, a very nice policewoman, and she took care of our paperwork and gave us our censo cards.  I noticed that she did not put my full name on my censo card, but I thought that was OK and didn't say anything.  Pat got his card and then we all three headed to the cedula office about a mile away. 

After not a very long wait, we got to see someone who started checking my paperwork.  There was a problem because my full name was NOT on my censo card.  It has to read exactly how it reads on your passport.  SO.....back to the censo office.   Here is where the waiting started.  The policewoman who we had used the first time was out to lunch, and I guess no one else can make a correction.  Although, I think Raul really gave it a try.  The wait back at the censo office was about 2 hours altogether.  After the corrected censo card, we all went back to the cedula office.  After about 20-25 minutes, we saw the first guy that we had seen there.  Everything was good this time for both of us. 

After that guy checks you off, you get a new ticket to wait to talk to someone else.  This is where the real wait starts.  Our numbers were  1154 and  1155 and the sign said that they were working on numbers 720, 721, etc.  We had 400 numbers to wait for.  The good thing is that lunch was over and they have many desks who do the same thing.  So they went through about 100 numbers in 30-40 minutes.  Bottom line is that we finally walked out of there around 5:15pm.  And we had started at Gaby's office at 8:30am that morning.  We celebrated at a nice restaurant in the El Jardin Mall near the Howard Johnson Hotel where we stayed.

A couple of other suggestions:  bring a small passport picture with you (we had some in Cuenca, but Gaby forgot to tell us to bring one with us, so we had to go to a photography place around the corner and get new pics made); bring food and water with you because it is a long day and you will get hungry;  bring a utility bill with the address of where you are living (Gaby did remind us to bring it with us);  bring something to read or do because otherwise it is a long day.  And be ready for it to take a long time.  If we had not had the problem with my censo, we might have gotten finished sooner, but I think we would have run into the people in the cedula office at lunch too if we had not had to wait at the censo office for the policewoman to come back for lunch.  Also, bring dollar coins for the taxi cab rides.  It really wasn't as bad as I had been led to believe.

One thing that Gaby did tell us when we went to pick up the cedulas the next day (we had already planned on staying 2 nights--we got there on Sunday night and left Tuesday around 6:00pm), the Director of Immigration is arbitrarily denying a visa to some of her clients and he gives no reason.  She did say that this particular director is only temporary through December, so she is telling those clients to re-apply in January.  Just a little warning for those newcomers.  You might want to hold off buying property until you know that you will definitely get a visa.  She also told us that unfortunately we were in the group that had not been entered into the new computer system (like those who have applied since August) and that we were being approved whenever the new Director felt like it.  That was another reason it took so long.

This was not an easy task (especially the wait over the last few weeks) for me.  But I am happy that it is over and we are able to visit our girls with a clear path to return.  Sorry this blog was so long!!   Hasta luego!!  Sue

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Public Apology

I owe my dear husband of almost 28 years, Pat, a public apology.  My last post (which has since been deleted) did not present my husband in the best light.  And I want to say that I am very sorry for that, especially since I wrote and published my comments so publicly.  I have learned (or possibly re-learned) a couple of things over the last couple of days.  1)  I am extremely hard headed; 2)  I should never write a blog post at 2:30am in the morning.   Good things will not come from that. 

I'm not sure how my husband has tolerated some things about me for so many years.  I have always been extremely outspoken and my mouth has gotten me into trouble many times in my lifetime (going as far back as elementary school when I got sent to the principal's office for saying the wrong thing to a teacher).  Anyway, I won't say anything else about that.  I am married to a wonderful, funny, and tolerate man and I really don't deserve him.  Again, I am very sorry, Pat.  I hope it never happens again (I wish I could say "it will NEVER happen again", but too many times, I speak before thinking, so it is possible that I will stick my foot in my mouth again in the future).  If I do, I am apologizing in advance.   I love you, Sue

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Pics

Hola from Cuenca!!

Every now and then, as we are walking around town, I take some pictures of my favorite scenes.  One night we went out to dinner near Chicago Pizza and I took this picture of Santo Domingo church at night:

Isn't it beautiful?

Then one day, Pat and I were walking along one of the streets and I thought this picture was really cute:

Isn't he cute?

He was just sitting there so patiently.   He looked like he was waiting for someone to take his order.  And he didn't even mind me taking his picture.  The dogs in Cuenca are not like most of the dogs that you see in the US.   Most of the time, they don't pay attention to the people walking around them.   They appear to be "on a mission", like they have "places to go" and "people to see".   This dog definitely looks like he is "on a mission".   We didn't stick around to see if he ever got anything from the owners.

Another picture that I thought my friends in the US would get a kick out of was this one:

Isn't this funny?

We were having lunch one day at a restaurant and I ordered a Pepsi to drink.  I thought it was funny that they would bring a Pepsi in a bottle to pour into a Coke cup.  You would NEVER see that in the US!   Does anyone else see the humor in this?

The last few days it has gotten pretty warm during most of the day.  Then late in the afternoon, we have had some wild weather---alot of wind, some thunder, some rain, etc.  Well, today, it started out sunny.  Then it got pretty warm.  Sure enough, in rolled the clouds.  We even had some pea sized hail.  Then a little while later, as I was cooking dinner, I looked out the window and saw this:

The skies are really unbelievable here.  Throughout the day, you never know what you might see.

Here was just a little bit different angle.

We are still really enjoying ourselves alot.  I guess I am so thankful for technology.  Just like last week, in Louisville, KY where we are from, they were having the annual St. X-Trinity football game.  It is a really BIG event in Louisville.  They typically have 35,000 people attend a HIGH SCHOOL football game (years and years of tradition).  Well, I got on line and was watching LIVE, a local newspaper who was at the tailgating party talking to people.  I thought I might see my daughter or my niece on line.  That would have been really cool.  Then, I was able to watch the game live on line.  Sorry, St. X, but Trinity is ranked #2 in the nation in high school football.  Every now and then, I have to remind myself that I am in Ecuador.  Just like right now, Pat is watching Monday Night Football on Directv, just like he would have done back in the States. 

Well, enough for now.  Hasta luego, Sue

Saturday, October 8, 2011

New Rental Condo in El Centro

Well, we have finally become owners of foreign real estate.  We didn't do it immediately and we looked around at several properties, but we couldn't turn this down.  It is in an excellent location (just one block from Parque Calderon) and has been totally remodeled.  We are going to being renting it out beginning in January.  In fact, we already have it rented for this January and February.  We will be creating a website soon giving all of the details in the next few weeks. 

For starters, it is a fully furnished 1 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, with a living room, sitting room, kitchen, laundry room, and covered terrace that looks down onto Calle Luis Cordero at the corner of Gran Columbia.  We are going to be renting it as a short term rental (less than 3 months).  We will include all utilities, Directv, and WiFi Internet.  We are asking $600. a month or $250. a week.

Here are a few pictures of the condo and the surrounding area:

Living Room Area

Bedroom With Queen Sized Bed - We still need to get a nightstand and lamp.


Another View of the Kitchen with Bar Stools

Sitting Area by the Terrace

Covered Terrace with Patio Furniture

View from Terrace

Another View from Terrace (Calle Luis Cordero)

Around the Corner from the Condo

The Cathedral at Parque Calderon

Gazebo at Parque Calderon

Flower Market around the Corner

Please let us know if you hear of anyone who might be interested in staying at our new condo.  We will be setting up a link with our blog in the near future.  We are really excited about our new venture!!  Sue

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our New Digs

I'm sorry for the delay in posting pics of our new digs in Cuenca.  It has been a very busy couple of weeks.  First, we had to pack up everything and get it moved to our new place.  But even before that, I had to clean everything in the new place.  The landlords had it newly painted and there was dust everywhere.  But finally everything was clean and we had some young Ecuadorian friends (Beverly,  her husband, Saul, and a couple of his friends)  to help us move our "stuff".  I'm sorry that I did not take some photos.  I just don't think about it until it is too late.  But, I do have pictures of our new apartment, so here goes:

We don't have our living room furniture yet, it is supposed to be delivered next week

Our new recliners -  We LOVE them!!!  Notice our boxes we are currently using for furniture.  We just got a new TV stand last night.

Our bright and sunny kitchen

Guest Bedroom - don't you love the built-ins?

Now I want to show you some of the views from our windows and from our little balcony.  This is what really sold us on this apartment.  Take a look:

There is a wonderful Hotel next door - Hostale La Casone and you can see the blue domes by Parque Calderon in the background

Check out the mountains in the background

This is a really nice garden that we can see from our kitchen window.  I really love the beautiful palm tree.

It is really nice when the sun is out.  Naturally the last week has been particularly gloomy and cold, but today the sun is out and I am happy.  I will take more shots of the inside of the apartment when we have all of our furniture delivered or bought.  We are having a hard time finding some of the smaller pieces, like end tables to put by our recliners.  We might have to have them individually made.  But, it is amazing, that just when we thought we have seen all of the furniture places, we found the perfect kitchen table in a small place on .  So we are not going to give up just yet.

I am really happy in our new place.  For those of you who know us from Kentucky, it feels like when we moved from the country in Oldham County to the city in the Highlands of Louisville.  Everything is alot closer to where we live now.  The Supermaxi (supermarket) is right around the corner.  And El Centro (downtown Cuenca) is only about a 5 minute walk instead of 15-20 minutes.   

Maybe since we don't have to do so much extra walking, our backs won't be bothering us so much.  My back has doing alot better over the last couple of weeks and I think part of it was my shoes.  I was wearing my Reebok Princess shoes everywhere.  They are the shoes that I would wear casually around the States, but I think they were not good enough for all of the walking that we do here.  So I have been wearing my Nike workout shoes everywhere and I think that has been helping my back.  So when I go back to the States for the holidays, I will have buy several pairs of good walking shoes.  One thing I have learned about Cuenca, Ecuador, is that they definitely do not carry my size shoe, especially in a good walking shoe.

Well, enough for now.  Will try to blog again soon.  Hasta luego, Sue

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Moving to a new place in Cuenca

It has been a few difficult weeks for Pat and me.  First, he hurt his back, then I hurt my back.  And then back to Pat being in pain.  It has not been alot of fun.  We have decided a couple of things. One, we have lived too many years relaxing in recliners in the States.  We moved into a furnished apartment here in Cuenca and it does not have any recliners.  So, we have decided that it is time to buy our own furniture.  And I have changed my walking shoes to a more comfortable pair.

Also, our six month lease is up in our current apartment, so we are moving in a couple of weeks.  We are very excited about the move.  We are moving into an unfurnished apartment, so we will be able to buy furniture that is comfortable to us.  So we have been spending the last few days shopping around.  And the location of the apartment is much closer to shops (Supermaxi--like Kroger in the States, and Millelium Plaza which has movie theaters and a food court) and el Centro.  This Saturday, we are going shopping with our new Ecuadorian friend, Beverly Gonzalez.  I am going to write another blog with more details about her.  She is interested in becoming more available for gringos coming to Cuenca.  She speaks very good English, is a newlywed, and could use some extra money.  I will post a separate blog with her qualifications and her services. 

I will post some photos of our new place after we move in.  Hasta luego!!  Sue

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back Pain

It's funny, but my sister (in the States) and I were talking one day after I had been here for a while and I told her that I really missed Dr. Kathleen Wisdom (my chiropractor in Kentucky).  Sally said, "That is the FIRST thing that you have said that you have missed!!"  So of course, I felt it necessary to say, "Well, I miss you TOO!!"  I DO miss family and friends, but we stay in contact through Magic Jack, Skype, Facebook and email, so I really only miss hugging everyone.  And maybe going to the casino with my sister.

BUT, I have been going to my chiropractor for the last 19 years and she has been able to keep me relatively pain free during that time.  Pat and I even went to see her the day before we left Kentucky back in April.  So, I knew that low back pain might be one of the things that I might encounter when we moved here.  Well, I went longer than I expected, but eventually severe back pain set in.  I KNEW that I needed an adjustment, but wasn't sure who to see here in Cuenca.  I had been to see one Gringo chiropractor after we had been here for about 6 weeks in early June, but I did not like his techniques.  He was too rough for me.  But I know that not all chiropractors are the same.  So I was not ready to give up.  And I continued trying to do my stretches and exercises to keep me out of trouble.

But about 15 days ago on a Saturday, I totally seized up and could barely move.  It was not pretty.  Even when I had to sneeze, it was excruciating.  So I laid on ice packs off and on for the next two days waiting for Monday to come.  I had read about a new chiropractor on the Gringo Tree (which is an email newsletter that lets us know various information about Cuenca).  So I called him on Monday morning, but his office was not open until Tuesday at noon. So Pat and I  took the bus there and he was able to do alittle bit of an adjustment.  He couldn't do much because I was SO tense.  Then, I went the next day AND the next day.  Each time, he was able to do alittle bit more.  Dr. Gary Leidy is having a promotional special now where he will charge $49.00 for a month and you can go in for as many adjustments as you need during that month.  I don't think he has made any money off of THIS patient.  But he doesn't seem to mind.

I also went to see him 2 more times this last week.  I am definitely better, but I am still not where I need to be.  So, I guess I will go see him again this week.  I knew better than to let my spine get so twisted, but I did not know who to go see.  I think I will be fine from this point on.  I would definitely recommend Dr. Leidy to people who are living or visting Cuenca and find themselves in pain.  He also has a referral program, so please let him know that I recommended that you see him if you decide to go.  His office (Cuenca Chiropractic) is on Doce de Abril close to Parque de Madre and his phone number is  08-4457364. 

Hopefully, it won't take me as long to blog the next time.  Hasta luego!!  Sue

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Continuation of Turi

When we finally got to the top of Turi, we really had a good time.  It was nice that we were not in a hurry and took our time looking around.  First thing that I did was use the restroom.  As I came out, a man was standing there saying something to me in Spanish.  I thought he was trying to sell me something, so I just said, "No, gracias," and started to walk away.  He repeated himself alittle more urgently.  I still said, "no, gracias," and continued walking away.  After the third time, I realized he was telling me that I owed him a dime for using the bathrooms.  If I knew how to say it in Spanish, I would have told him that if he is going to charge someone to use the bathroom, then he should make sure there is toilet paper available.  One of these days, I hope to feel proficient enough to speak easily in Spanish.  Anyway, on to some pictures:

Some buildings to the side of Turi.  We ended up climbing MORE steps to the top of this section.

We thought this looked like a cemetery behind the church.

We decided this guy must have been a famous priest.

We loved the looks of all of the stone.

More stone...

I wonder what this used to be?

Beautiful views!!

More beautiful views!!

This house is at the very top of the hill

Pat from the top of Turi with the church in the background

Me from the top of Turi

We had a really great time on our walk to Turi.  We were going to walk back, but decided that we might be pushing ourselves.  And the bus was there as we were heading down, so we hopped on.  It only took us to downtown, so we went by Kookaburra's for a couple of BLT sandwichs and then headed home.  One of our most enjoyable days since we have been here. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our Walk to Turi

Unlike most ex-pats, we don't do the typical "touristy" stuff.  We have been here for almost 3 months, and we finally walked up to Turi last Friday.   For those that don't know, Turi is a really cool looking church that overlooks the city of Cuenca.  Here is what it looks like up close:

I have some other pictures that show most of the area.

So we set off on foot from our apartment.  Thankfully it was cloudy, so it wasn't too hot.  Someone had given us directions to find the steps at the foot of Turi, but we had come to a crossroads and weren't sure which way to go.  And of course, our first choice was the wrong one.  So we backtracked and came to a road that looked like a driveway up to some houses.  Luckily, a Cuencan man was walking down the "driveway", so we asked him if this was the way to Turi.  He breathlessly nodded "yes" and pointed out that we would need to have some water to drink for our journey up.  So we started up and this was the first set of steps:

Phase 1

Then I decided to take a picture at each junction of the steps.  It reminded me of Disney World when you are standing in line to get on a ride and you think that you are ALMOST there, until you go into a new section and there are another SLEW of people standing in line.  You think you will never get to the front of the line.  We thought we would never get to the top of the steps.  See what you think:

I don't know if you can see the dog to the right of the steps.  He must be a wild dog because he would not come near anyone.  There was a huge green space here where he must live.

More steps...

And yet even more steps...

As we got higher, there were a couple of workers doing something.  We weren't sure exactly what they were doing--either digging to put in lighting or digging to install drainage ditches.

Almost there.......

I can see the end in sight!!

Look who was munching grass to the right of the top of the stairs!  You never know what you might see!

Our destiny----Turi!!!

It was quite a trek up the steps, but it was well worth it.  And it took us about an hour and 45 minutes from our apartment to the top of Turi.  When we finally got to the top, we saw some wonderful sights of the city.  We had even remembered to bring some binoculars with us, so we were able to pick out our apartment building, Mick & Kathy's apartment building, and some other buildings downtown.  Here a pretty good shot:

Mick & Kathy's building is part of that complex in the foreground.  Our building is further back by the Coliseo (I don't know if you can see the blue domed building by the second set of trees).  Everywhere you see a section of trees, there is a river.  The Yanucay River area is in the foreground and the Tomebamba River area is further back. 

This was a shot going down Solano Avenue(the avenue with the green space, trees and lights) toward downtown.  It was really fun to try to find things using the binoculars.  We even saw Clarke and Brennie's blue awning on their apartment downtown.

I am going to continue with more pictures tomorrow.  I took some nice pictures of everything else up around Turi, but I don't like to go on too long.  So those pictures are for tomorrow.  Hasta luego, Sue