flying into Quito

 

Viejo Cuba Hotel
Hotel Viejo Cuba, Quito

The moment we’d been aiming towards for a year finally arrived. Clusters of city lights emerged from the darkness as our plane sank lower, skimming over the nighttime Andes mountains towards our new home in Ecuador.  Our airline changed our flight from a daytime one to a much later flight. We had to accept a midnight arrival. As the plane touched down, I could hear Star, our Australian Shepherd dog, begin howling in the baggage compartment, right beneath our feet. Our cat Maya was surely huddling wide-eyed in her kennel next to Star’s, letting the howling speak for her. 

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We’re Moving To Ecuador!

The decision was made by both of us to move to Cuenca, Ecuador for a year or two as soon as we can get everything done that needs to be done before we can leave. And that is the problem.

flying into QuitoIt is no easy task to move to another country. We have an established life with a house, a dog, a cat, and lots of stuff accumulated over the years. Moving to another house or across country is hard enough, but it’s a heck of lot easier than moving to Ecuador. In country, you just take your stuff, put it in a truck, and move it to the next location. Not so much with an international move. Not only is it too expensive to ship our possessions to Ecuador, but we don’t want to have all of them there. The whole idea is to lighten our load and be nearly possessions-free. The free feeling that alone will give us may be worth all the effort.

We decided to rent out our house and sell most of its contents…furniture, tools, cookware, cars, kayaks, and a whole lot of other sh%*. This takes, as we are finding out, a lot of time and energy, not to mention the emotional toll of getting rid of personal treasures accumulated over a lifetime. The timing has to be right for renting the house, selling the cars, and making plane reservations; otherwise we may be stuck in limbo with no home or vehicles for a period of time.

We’ll also be taking the dog and cat. They are much-loved family members. The logistics for getting them there is challenging. They need a full series of vaccines and shots from a USDA certified vet. They need special kennels to travel in. Arrangements have to be made with the airlines to accommodate pets. The cat will probably go on board, under the seat, the dog with check-in luggage. I can’t wait to see our smart dog’s reaction when she’s stuck in a kennel, gliding on a conveyor belt into a hole in the wall as we slowly disappear from her sight. I can hear her yelps of protest already!

And then there’s the required visa paperwork which includes: FBI reports, state police reports, marriage license, birth certificates, and more all needing to be apostilled by different agencies in different states. Then, they all have to be translated into Spanish, perfectly. Ecuador is a Hague convention country, and has lots of hoops to jump through for a temporary residence visa. My understanding is that getting a US visa is a lot harder. Glad I’m not going that direction!

It’s December and we have been at this for about 3 months now. So far, even though we’ve sold a lot of stuff, bought a kennel for the dog to travel in, and received our apostilled FBI reports back, there is still tons to do.

One of the hardest things about this is keeping our heads in the game and keeping the momentum going. We live in a beautiful place, great town, super friends, and lots of amenities. Still, we want to have this adventure in our senior years. It’s hard to leave what we have. But when we look at what is ahead of us – freedom, simplicity, learning new things, trying new foods, and visiting new places – we get motivated. Ecuador is beautiful and friendly to foreigners. We have friends there too. Life will be simpler, less expensive, more challenging in some ways, less in others.

We have decided to hire a facilitator to help us with this whole process. It’s an expense but since talking with her we already feel so much better. She will handle translating all our documents into Spanish, and getting them notarized in Ecuador. She will help us with the pets, booking the tickets, arranging for transport and arrival in Quito. What a relief!

We figure we have about three more months before we get on the plane. We’re preparing the animals by sending them mental pictures of what’s going to happen. I hope it works and makes their trip easier. We are making sure to book a direct, nonstop flight to Quito to ease the pain. From there we will take one more short flight to Cuenca. We’ll spend a couple of days in Quito and get our cedula (identification card) before heading to Cuenca.

Moving to Ecuador is not easy, especially with pets, but we are really looking forward to the adventure and the change. Good times are ahead in South America. We can feel it!

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Thoughts From Bonnie

Gary and I were deep in sleep-deprivation mode, from a month of being awakened a dozen times per night by roosters, dogs, horses, church bells and burglar alarms. If we were to move there, we would definitely have to bring a white-noise-generating machine to block out the sounds of the Cotacachi nights.

Continue reading “Leaving The Equator”

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My dental work is DONE!!  So is Gary’s.  Our Spanish lessons are DONE!!  Finito!  The dental work seems to be totally successful.  Our teeth are now in relatively great shape, and our responsibilities are completed.  We are free to spend our last few days doing whatever we like.   This is our Ecuador journey so far. 

We exercised our new dental work on some freshly baked cinnamon rolls and chocolate bread.  Eating bread from the local bakers (panaderías) doesn’t seem to bother my digestion, here. Something is apparently different in the way the wheat is processed, or grown, or something along those lines.

Continue reading “Ruminations On Our Ecuador Journey So Far”

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Ecuador is a relatively poor country where most people cannot afford to own and operate a car or truck.  Also, many of the towns and cities are very walkable.  As a result, public transportation is abundant here.  Buses and taxis are the most common mode of transportation, but there are also a lot of motorcycles and scooters on the road, which are cheaper to buy, own, and operate. 

Buses

buses in ecuadorThe major mode of transportation to get around Ecuador is buses.  The majority of the people living here cannot afford to own cars, and there are many who simply choose not to own one because it’s not necessary.  A bus ride from Cotacachi to Quito is currently about $2.50. One from Cotacachi to Otavalo is .35, and they run all of the time.  The buses are all diesel so they are noisy and polluting but they are a necessity in Ecuador. 

Continue reading “Transportation in Ecuador”

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dentista in EcuadorBefore we came, we heard that Dr. Bolaños, in Ibarra, was good. He is one of the few in this part of the country who takes credit cards.  We emailed him and made an appointment. 

After a few days in Cotacachi, we began asking for referrals to dentists here.  We chose to switch to Dra. Martha Guerra, before seeing Dr. Bolaños, and are satisfied with her expertise. She studied and practiced for 17 years in Europe (Spain and London) so she has all the latest techniques AND she speaks English fairly well. The one drawback is that she doesn’t take credit cards. Hers is a one-person office, where she does it all.  A person preferring a more familiar style of professionalism might want to try a different office in a bigger city. Gary is having two crowns replaced. He was pleased with his first appointment, wherein she removed old crowns and installed temporaries. I have had two appointments to take out old metal fillings and replace them. I was happy that she used a dental dam when taking out the old mercury-filled fillings. Dr. Guerra was gentle, compassionate and soothing with me. We have had great conversations in half-English-half-Spanish, with plenty of laughter. Together, we spent an hour translating her intake form into English, for the benefit of future patients. 

Quito

Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, has plenty of holistic dentists and doctors, as does the next largest city, Cuenca.  A person wanting to visit a lower-cost dentist in Ecuador can do a search for “Dental Tourism”.  We figured that the cost of our entire month in Ecuador – staying with a friend rather than in hotels – will cost us far less than seeing a U.S. dentist to have this work done.

Ibarra

In a city near us, Ibarra, there is an integrative medicine clinic called The Jade Center. They have a holistic “biological” woman dentist there who gets rave reviews.  There seem to be more women dentists than men, from what we’ve observed. The Jade Center is the place to go for chiropractic-type adjustments, as well as yoga classes and courses in herbalism, and more.

Cotacachi

Happily, natural health care products are available here in Ecuador. Even in a town as small as Cotacachi, I found two natural products stores. One is called Prana Vital and sells primarily organic food and herbs and soaps and such.  The other is called Natural Heath Store or Naturalezay Vida.  It is like a natural supplements store in the US, but tiny. 

Every Thursday, there are two outdoor organic markets that happen in little nooks off the sidewalk downtown.  One is next to a gringa-owned bakery, where expats sell their organic produce, organic yogurt, organic bread, blueberries, crocheted items, organic meats, etc. The other is in an arcade-type space between buildings and sells similar items.  It’s nice to see that over the years, the gringos who have been here a long while have been opening up businesses to serve the town and the expat community both.  Some of the local Ecuadorians have also opened cafes that cater to expats/tourists.  That type of place tends to become a hangout for  English-speaking residents. The most popular here in town are called “Serendipity” and “Rock Solid Cafe”.  A family from Texas – Mom and Dad, their adult sons and their wives, and a few babies – moved to Cotacachi recently and opened a sports bar. People can get familiar US food there, smoke cigarettes and watch sports on TV.  It’s looking like “Travelers & Sportsmen’s Bar” will be successful.  Although we are looking for places with health-oriented food & products, some people will be glad for a place to get hamburgers and smoke cigarettes with cheerful Texans.

For health buffs, Cotacachi even has a wonderful “Parque Activo”: a city park with an expansive view of the volcano, filled with exercise machines for adults.  These machines are brightly colored, and are really like large-sized playground equipment!  We had fun exercising on them.

For those who consider moving to South America but wonder if natural alternative health practitioners and products are available, the news is good in this region. It’s even more prevalent in the larger cities like Ibarra & Cuenca, and in focused areas such as the valley of Vilcabamba (where the hippies all gather and drive the locals nuts). For people like me, it’s great to be able to support my health with herbal products while doing my dental tourism!

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And so it begins, our Ecuador journey starts with trying to arrange a shuttle ride from the Quito airport to the Wyndham Hotel where we will be staying. We were advised to arrange the shuttle to the hotel ahead of our arrival, at 11:58 pm. I called the Wyndham 800 number to get both the confirmation number and number for the hotel. When I tried the confirmation number on the website, it didn’t work. So, I called the Wyndham in Quito or tried to at least. It took me several tries before I discovered that you have to put 011 in front of the phone number for it to work. That’s Quito’s area code.

After my third try, the hotel answered with the person at the other end rapidly answering in Spanish. My Spanish still stinks, so I didn’t understand a word she said but assumed she was welcoming me to the hotel. After confirming that I didn’t speak or understand enough Spanish, she spoke in English beautifully. I only wished I could do the same in Spanish. As we were speaking, and trying to arrange the shuttle, the call started breaking up, badly. We tried for a good five minutes to find a good connection but it never came back. I ended up just hanging up. I think she got the information but I needed to make sure we had a shuttle pickup arranged.  I emailed our friend, Lesley, in Ecuador, to call the hotel from her location and confirm our reservation.

It was a lot of work and time to just arrange a shuttle ride from the airport due to bad connections from the US to Ecuador. 

Gary

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