In the evening of April 6, 2019, we arrived at our new home in Cuenca, Ecuador.  Traveling for 9 solid days had sapped all our strength and enthusiasm. Relief flooded our beings as we stepped onto the grass of our Ecuadorian house’s lawn. Home at last! This house had been posted on Facebook, so we had never seen it in person. it was far bigger and prettier than it seemed online. It had a big yard with flowers, fruit trees and veggie garden. The whole lot was perched on a steep hillside, overlooking the city and a range of mountains. The animals sniffed and explored every inch of the place. It felt like an oasis we could replenish within.

The view of the sunrise from our hilltop house was stunning! It was the first time of many many many future times that we photographed the sunrise over the landscape. Mountains filled our living room’s wall of windows. El Cajas is the wilderness park covering the mountains. Morning mists gave way to dramatic cloud sculptures that gradually thinned, leaving us with a sky of deep blue.

The owners were away for a vacation. They had invited us to stay in the house when we arrived, and we would all share the house for a week when they returned from their trip. It was good to have a couple days to rest and unwind from the arduous journey. When they returned, it went beautifully. We’d never met before, yet a nice friendship quickly developed. We discovered much in common. They took us to their Buddhist meditation gathering, and showed us hiking spots and the best mercados. Apparently we had slid right into the place where we were meant to be.

Our first week was spent largely resting, with the animals always at our sides. At an altitude of 8,500 feet, our bodies required a lot of adjusting. The dog and cat too. At first we napped twice every day. Any exertion required an immediate nap. We knew to drink a lot more water than usual. Still, it was a few weeks before we could get by on just one nap per day.

A view from the patio.

Our wondrous, helpful facilitator, Tina, helped us complete the process of getting our cédulas. This required three more days of cab rides and visits to multiple offices. First we took the papers we got in Quito to an office in Cuenca. They told us we had to go to another office in the town of Azogues, which was a 45 minute drive away. We hired a recommended local driver, Nestor, and were so glad we did. He was knowledgeable, familiar with both cities and was a safe driver. He spoke English very well, so he was a big help with translating. In Azogues, we waited and waited and met with people who told us to walk to their bank and deposit $10 into their account and return with the receipt. There were a few hitches in the process, so we had to return the next day with Nestor. Thankfully, he was available to drive us again. When that was complete, he drove us back to Cuenca to another office. After much waiting, we had our photos taken at last received our cédulas! By that time Gary and I, Tina and Nestor were all starving and drained.

Tina congratulates Gary on getting his cedula!

In the course of doing all of this, we caught the usual stomach bugs. Our digestive systems are not accustomed to the microorganisms that live in the water here. It’s best to avoid local food and water for a little while, while our systems adjust. Gary and I spent the next two weeks struggling with digestive distress off and on. We brought with us a powerful herbal tincture for digestion, which helped. We explored the city and explored the countryside near our rural house during the next weeks. But our digestive troubles necessitated short excursions.

Thus passed our first month: in a whirlwind of activity and illness, punctuated by naps and long hours spent wandering in the heavenly beautiful garden to ground ourselves into our new locale.

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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!

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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”

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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”

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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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Bonnie at San Francisco Park

Oh no… Only 7 days left in Ecuador. How could this month have flown past so quickly?! We don’t feel ready to leave yet.

Gary and I are eager to return to our comfy bed, our dog and cat, garden, neighborhood, and friends. We are eager to return to a city where burglary is less of an issue… although my hometown has experienced more burglaries in recent years and our house was robbed, our neighbor’s car was burglarized and friends in other towns have been robbed. hmmm… maybe it’s no more dangerous here.

On the other hand, we are sorrowful to leave this relaxed, interesting lifestyle among friendly people in this tranquil landscape.  I shudder to contemplate the amount of work that’s backlogged in my business during our month here.  Remembering how strongly we felt the absence of uncomfortable ‘buzzing” vibration in the atmosphere when we first arrived, I’m reluctant to return to that nebulous buzzing sensation again. My whole body relaxed tangibly, over this month without it.

Continue reading “Weighing The Pros and Cons”

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The rainy season began in Ecuador.  Our plans shifted fluidly. Instead of visiting Cuenca, we opted for more extensive dental work here in our beloved Cotacachi. 

Visiting Cuenca was on our list because it’s a whole different atmosphere.  We wanted to visit a few different areas in Ecuador, if possible, to get a better feel for the variety of experiences possible.  Cuenca is a popular destination for expats from various countries because it’s a more international city with two symphony orchestras, plenty of art, museums and cafes, and residents from all countries. It has a greater quantity of desirable features, such as hiking trails, parks, hot springs nearby.  On the negative side, it has urban features such as traffic jams, smog, and noise.  Our pal from the Ft. Lauderdale airport, “Papa” Ron Cropper, wrote to say: “I absolutely love Cuenca. It is the cleanest city that I have ever been in. There is lots to do here. It’s a shoppers paradise and plenty of parks. The people are fantastic. The weather is also fantastic.”  I hear it’s nearly as peaceful as Cotacachi. Gary and I were personally interested to go see it, in case we decide to retire in Ecuador.  Alas, that trip will have to wait for another time.

Continue reading “Allowing For Relaxation In Ecuador”

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cotacachi casa

 

We only have one week left to be in Ecuador! How could this month have flown past already?!

Gary and I are eager to return to our comfy bed and our dog and cat, garden, neighborhood and dear friends. Eager to return to a city where burglary is less of an issue… although my town in NC has had increasing numbers of burglaries in recent years. BUT we are sorrowful to leave this relaxed lifestyle among friendly people in this tranquil landscape.  And I shudder when I think about the amount of work that’s piled up in my business over the month of my absence.  Remembering how clearly we felt the absence of ‘buzzing” vibrations in the air during our first week here, I hesitate to return to that nebulous uncomfortable buzzing sensation we experience in the US.

Continue reading “Pros and Cons of Moving to Ecuador”

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Though the travel to Ecuador was an adventure in itself, it was a pretty boring adventure compared to arriving in this South American country.  The best part of Travel Day was meeting “Papa” Ron Cropper in the airport. He is a high-energy dynamo of laughter and joy, talking with everyone around him.  We have a lot in common with him, as he just turned 65 and is also spending a month in Ecuador to see if he might like to retire here one day. We will meet up with him again later in our journey.

Continue reading “A Day and A Half In Ecuador”

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On this rainy morning, we rose early and began preparing our house to vacate it for a month. Our housesitter is already partially moved in. The dog and cat are mournful and anxious.  So are we, looking at their big sad eyes! 
We fly today to Ecuador. Home of Galapagos turtles,  headhunters, Andean shamans,  beautiful music, festive parades, affordable dentists, and one of our best friends.   

The month-long adventure will be chronicled in photos and writing here.  You see links from the site “Transition Concierge International”, where they hired me as a travel writer for this journey. 

Come on back in a day or two for the next installments!

~ Bonnie & Gary ~

 

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