garage sale

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!

My 3 weeks spent scouting Cuenca, Ecuador was enough to give me a feel for the city and enough information was gathered to make some major decisions about living there.  In 3 weeks time, I walked close to 200 miles within a 2-mile radius of where we were staying in our AirBnB.

Continue reading “Scouting Cuenca Ecuador”

We spent part of the 4th of July taking a car tour of Cuenca neighborhoods with Jeff.  Jeff is an expat married to an Ecuadorian woman.  He has been in Cuenca for about 4.5 years, speaks decent Spanish, and unlike many gringos, has a van, and drives. 

We were joined by Stephen, from Atlanta, who was also down here on an exploratory tour to determine if he and his wife want to live here. 

cuenca map

We started the tour by driving to the top of a mountain to a lookout point with an overview of the neighborhoods.  From there we had a spectacular view of all of Cuenca.  Jeff pointed out the different areas and the good and bad points of each one.  We drove back down and started our neighborhood tour.

 

There are eight main neighborhoods that we toured in Cuenca and here’s what I remember.

Continue reading “Cuenca Neighborhoods”

tranvia

We walked out the door to our quaint little basement AirBnB apartment to a sunny day and gorgeous blue skies, to one of the main streets of Cuenca, Ecuador,  Remigio Crespo.  From the crisp, clean air of the apartment, we waded into a cloud of fumes, from diesel buses, two-cycle motorcycles, and cars.  We were enveloped in the smoke, fumes, and the noise of traffic.

Continue reading “Cuenca’s Dirty Little Secret”

jet blue

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”

asheville

After being home for a month and a half, we still have many memories of Ecuador and our trip there and back.  Our thoughts after Ecuador keep evolving as we live our lives back home, visiting with friends, going through our normal routines, and watching the happenings here and around the world.  It’s good to be home…. but…. here are my afterthoughts.

   Continue reading “Thoughts After Ecuador”

la mirage

High tea in the Andes Mountains?  That sounds highly unlikely! Unlikely, yes, but not impossible.  One fine Thursday, we visited  La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa in Cotacachi for their weekly tea.  La Mirage is a 5-star hotel on the grounds of a 200-year-old Andean hacienda.  Their website is worth perusing, so you can see the photos of their beautiful offerings. 

peacockAfternoon tea takes place in the Pandora Lounge. It is decorated with carved furniture, Victorian paintings, art nouveau lamps, knick-knacks and even a carousel horse. Servers bring course after course of fine tea, coffee, crustless sandwiches, and one dessert after another. Gary and I were amazed every time another course was delivered on a silver platter.  We spent several hours lounging, eating, then walking the lawns to watch the many peacocks strolling and displaying their feathers.  All this cost us $20 – a pittance in the US, but a fortune in Ecuador.

Continue reading “La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa”

cuycocha laguna

Cuycocha is a 10,000′ high volcanic caldera containing a sublimely lovely lake, above Cotacachi.

cuycocha ecuadorRecently a U.S.  friend visiting Ecuador hired a driver, an Ecuadorian tour guide, and an Indigenous tour guide to take us up to the park for a hike around the caldera. 

For over a century, the lake has been called Cuicocha, or Cuycocha.  “Cocha” means lake and “Cuy” means guinea pig, which is a common food animal here. (We managed not to eat any “cuys” during our stay. )  Our indigenous guide, José Antonio, explained that the real name for this lake, in Quechua, is “Kuychikocha” (kwee-chi-ko-cha) which means “rainbow lake”.  As rainbows are not common in this region, a lake with rainbows is a sacred thing. The Spanish conquistadors apparently changed the name of the lake. 

Click here for more info:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuicocha

Continue reading “Hiking A Volcanic Caldera”

On our last weekend in Ecuador, a “taxista”  drove us to the far side of Otavalo, to Lago San Pablo, a lake at the foot of the volcano Imbabura.

The original plan had been to take a bus. Gary and I and our friend were waiting with a dozen other people at the bus stop when a taxi driver pulled up.  He shouted out that he’d take anyone to Otavalo for 50 cents each.  We jumped in, and so did a teenage girl from the bus stop.  He explained that he lives in Otavalo and had to go home anyway, so he offered discount rides to us.

Continue reading “Lago San Pablo at the foot of Imbabura Volcano”

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”