Sunday, September 26, 2010

Residency Process in Quito

Our attorney contacted us to let us know that all the paperwork had been approved and that we could fly to Quito and meet with her on Thursday at 9:30. Our friends Clarke & Brennie also had to fly to Quito to get their paperwork done, but were going to go on Wednesday. Being the free spirits that we are, we decided to fly up on Wednesday and "play" a bit in the new part of Quito.

Luckily for us Clarke & Brennie got done early and we were able to hang out with them for a few hours, commiserate with them about the issues they had, and send them on their way to the airport when a huge rain storm began. We checked out a mall and then caught a taxi back to our hotel.

A bit of backtracking here. We have always stayed in the old part of Quito before, so we did a bit more researching and decided to look for a place in the new part of Quito. Randy picked out a cute boutique hotel called the Eugenia. It is on the historic register, and close enough to the main part of the new town to be great for walking. Also there was a king size bed, HOT showers with Massive pressure and they let us check in at 8:30 that day! We were not suppose to check in until 12:30... so I thought that was pretty nice. Me, being the sleeper that I am, immediately took a 2 hr nap.

After we returned from town and our meeting up with the Greens, we realized we were hungry. We had spotted a Burger King around the corner from our hotel so we indulged. Randy also was sweet enough to go down and buy a bottle of wine in the restaurant, so we had quite a interesting meal... burgers and wine!

 Thursday morning  we were in the attorneys office at the appointed time. A hour later her assistant arrived to tell us that she had been at the government office and they were closed. Apparently there was a very important offical who had a birthday that day and they all got the day off... lucky us.. Rebecca, the assistant seemed as confused by this as us, but told us that there was nothing that could be done and we would have to wait until tomorrow to continue. At this point I am thinking it was a good thing Randy booked our flight back in the afternoon on Friday.

Friday Morning... we are waiting in the lobby at 9am. We were to hear from and be picked up by Rebecca sometime between 9-10. 10:05 I called our attorney, she says that the person who was picking up our passports and bringing them to her office had not arrived. He was to be there in 30 minutes. When she got them she would call us back. 11:00 our attorney calls and states that we are to get into a taxi and she will tell him the address, and that we would be taken to the Censo office. Once there we are to get a number and wait, the assistant, Rebecca, would meet us there.

11:30..we arrive at the Censo office and wait in line. Once we reach the offical, we tell him we need a # for the Censo. He rattles off something at lightspeed and realizes we do not understand. So he writes on a piece of paper... 14:30..what? So after some pantomine and limited Spanish/English we determine that he will not give us a number and we are to come back at 2:30. Well crap.. so we walk outside to regroup and wait for Rebecca. At this point a very nice lady officer, speaking wonderful English, asks if she can help... She gets our numbers for us.. explaining that there were 12 others in front and he just thought we didnt want to wait...hahah.

12:30 our number flashes on the screen. We are immdiately refused because our documents are not in manilla envelopes with our pictures on the front with our pertinent info written on the outside. Rebecca trys her best to push through this but he is firm... so out the door she goes to get manilla envelopes, where upon she writes in spanish what we need to fill in...then she gets glue from somewhere and pastes our little itty bitty pictures in the corner... He is happy now. $4 later we get our Censo and we are off to catch a cab to go to the Cedula office.

Now I have to say, that I may take a bit of a tone occasionally, but you must understand, we as humans expect those who are "taking care of us" to know all the rules... some times that is not the case. They are only human after all and the rules changes very rapidly here in Ecuador. So that said, I will continue with this saga.

We get to the Cedula office, and its HUGE. Its about 1:30.. Rebecca is rushing hither and yon (on 4 inch heels) finding the correct office for us to get in line... I guess while we were in the Censo office, Gabriela (our attorney),  was in line getting us the number that we needed in the Cedula office. We get to the area that we need, wait about 30 minutes and its our turn..We get 2 seconds of his time and he realizes that we do not have photo copies our our new Censo and the Visa stamp in our passport. Rebecca trys to push through again but he is adamant and we are back to sitting and she is off to find the photo copy station. At this point I am hearing Jeapordy music, so I breathe deeply and dive into my Kindle to read and avoid the stress that is building. (Note our flight takes off at 3:45). Rebecca returns and we dive in front of any oncoming persons to get back into see "the man" who will determine if our paperwork is order.. Again he finds that my paperwork that the attorneys office made is missing my middle name. This won't work as the Censo and passport both have my middle name. Rebecca again trys to push through, but he is even more adamant. We go back to sitting while she takes the documents, finds a cab and goes over to some other office to get the document corrected. Its about 2:30... Randy is really handling it pretty well. I am wishing I could take his valium.. Rebecca comes back and is very happy that they were able to make a quick fix on the bottom with new stamps and signatures from the authorizing person. So back we go, push in front of everyone who has a number way beyond our numbers and he authorizes our documents to go to another office.

Randy knowing we will not make it to the airport in time has Rebecca call and find out about moving out our flight. Because the airline is new, they did not have a number that could be found...great... No problem she says, its no problem. Randy says, "Yes it is. You will come to the airport with us and talk with them so we know what needs to be done about getting out of here today". I think at this point Rebecca understood that we were nearing the end of our patience and we had one more office to get through. She agreed.

It is now after 3 pm. The folks in these offices take alot of heat from very unhappy folks who are being told that their documents are not in order. So I have to say, they really are polite through it all. Our next station is more intense in that they take finger prints and ask your husbands name, what your birthday is, and parents names. Then they run all this info into their computer, take your photo, and tell you to take your fingerprints to another office to be checked... huh? So Rebecca takes me (Randy is at another station doing the same as me, but has yet to get to the fingerprints) to an office where a lady comes out... looks at the 3 copies of prints, checks them off with a pencil checkmark, and hands us back two of the copies...
We return to the lady who now takes all the fingerprints and photos all over again... why I have NO idea...apparently all is well, she smiles and tells me that in 4 working days I can come back and get my Cedula...oh joy.

Randy is lagging a bit behind because his fellow was not able to find the city that Randy was born in (some place in England) on his computer....too small.. So Rebecca talked and talked and finally talked him into putting Liverpool down as his place of birth, because they had it in their computers... OMG..then he warned Randy to remember that he was now born in Liverpool when he renews his Cedula..

It's late, the doors are locked and I think we are the last of about 20 people in the whole building.... its also after 4 pm.. flight is long gone... Rebecca takes us to the airport and we find the Air Cuenca airline to be very understanding and say that there is no fee as we are flying out on the same day... we just have to wait for 3 hours before our flight leaves...ok... we can do that... been doing it all day.

We immediately found a Cafe to eat... breakfast at 8 am was along time previously..and I was about to get REAL mean. Then we just hung out and people watched.  We were very happy to get home and relax, and know that its all done... a pain but its done.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


We have great news! Our residency papers have been approved and we will be able to finalize the documents on Thursday.

As I related in an earlier post, we came to Ecuador with a 90 day tourist stamp in our passports. Our attorney Gabriella Espinoza assured us that she would have all of our paperwork done in time. We had done alot of leg work before hand to be sure that we would be able to meet every road block with the paperwork needed. So now we are planning a quick flight to Quito on Wednesday and meet with Gabriella on Thursday morning. We have been very pleased with our attorney and how quickly she has reassured us and did all the hand holding that we required. It has made this process alot easier.

On Monday our first stop will be to the travel agency to buy tickets to Quito, then off to the Digital photo shop to get the extra photos we need for our Cedulas. Thanks to our friends who have "gone before" we know which places have the best and easiest services. Sometimes it pays not to be the early bird!

Last Tuesday we had another Ecuadorian cooking class. We enjoyed learning some more ways to use the Tomate de Arbol (tree tomato). We made desserts, Batido and a salad. It was all great! For me the highlight was that Arturo brought Kesha down so we could all ooh and awww over her. She is so tiny. Up to 7lbs now. I didnt take a picture, but I did get one of her cute little sleeper..

My friend Brennie decided that we needed massages on Friday. She made the appointment and off we went. I was throughly impressed.  The massage was very good and it is the first time I have ever had the hot rocks used on me. I didnt ask, it was not special services, it was just included. My massage was for an hour, it cost $13. I have made appointments for the next 4 fridays...

And since I am talking about the services that you can get here, I should also say that getting a hair cut is also very affordable. There are hair stylists everywhere. Most do not speak English but taking a friend who speaks Spanish solves that, or put to use your best pantomine. $3 for a mans hair cut and womens start at $3 and go up depending on how fancy and how close you get to the Gringo type establishments.
Here is Clarke using his best pantomine to tell his barber how short to cut his hair.

As we were standing at the bus stop the other day I noticed that the trees had been clipped and all the clippings were piled up nicely along side of the road. The garbage service her comes at nite. We do not have bins here, set next to the road. It is plastic sacks or stacks of limbs. Some, like our landlord have made metal holders for the garbage so the dogs dont get into it. When the garbage trucks arrive, there are 3 people who hop off the garbage truck and shlep all the garbage into the truck; while we sleep.

As I was noticing all the clippings along side of the road, I also noticed a new method for keeping the droopy wires from hooking on the buses. I thought all my safety friends out there would enjoy this photo. Primitive but effective.

The last few days have been cloudy and chilly. Randy and I have been hanging out in the house watching the last of our Roswell series, studying Spanish and hoping for the warm weather to come back. We have decided that tomorrow we will throw off this babyish-ness and get back to business! 

Monday, September 13, 2010


I am very pleased to announce that I actually got a bit sunburned the other day! I know to most with all the worries about skin cancer and other ailments, this should not be something to celebrate, but let me tell you, I have REALLY missed the warm sun. So now I have it, and my friends say its only going to get "better". So hooray!

As I have mentioned, Randy brought his stereo system with him from the U.S. He is quite adamant about his music, and he could have nothing less than a custom made stereo table and speaker stands made. Randy loves wood, and the bigger the better, so a very stoutly made table was ordered, and delivered just the other day. Because it was so big and heavy it had to be assembled in the living room.

He had speaker stands made for maximum listening pleasure.
Randy loves the grain of wood so he made sure that the stain was very light. In this country most woods have dark stains with lots of gloss. After the set up we placed the table and stood back to admire the monstronsity... uh I mean the beautiful marvelous stereo stand.
Our friends came over to ooh and aaah appropriately, and they noticed that we had some cute tag alongs on the table...Can you see the shark?
Also here was some very cool Mesas.......

We have been all over town and sometimes buying items that are difficult to carry. We were on one such trip with our friends Clarke and Brennie, and this is what Brennie and Randy came up with for a carrying method for the fragile paper lamp shades.
We were invited to go for a day trip in our friends car, following the route the OF motorcycle gang took a few days previously. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I couldnt resist a photo of this church in a tiny little town, high up on the hills..
We have found in Ecuador that there are not alot of rest stops like in the US and you have to make do when and where you can. Here is Nancy getting ready to use a handy pull off with all the extras!
Not really... she is taking a photo...(disclaimer required by Nancy) 
When we were done with our trip, Chuck remembered a great restaurant someone had told him about in San Joaquin. This restaurant is centered around one theme... Che.. as in Ernesto "Che" Guevarra, who died in 1967. Yes, he is very big here in Ecuador. There are lots of patches, grafitti and posters in memory of him and his work for Latin American people. As students of US history, our books paint him in a much  darker color than here. 
We expected just the outside of the restaurant to be named after him. We didnt understand until we walked inside that the whole place was a memorial to Che. All the walls were covered with photos, posters and artwork commemorating him.
All the employees and even the owner were dressed in clothing replicating Che's mode of dress.
Luckily we were good traveling companions because we were invited on another trip to Paute. We took some nice curvy roads and popped over into a lower valley where they grow lots of plants and sell all over the country.  It was like plant nursery heaven for those of us who love to play in the dirt. We started with a great lunch at a restaurant called Corvels. I only took a photo of my food cause I was too hungry!
There were more but Randy nabbed one!

I did not take any photos while we were shopping but did get some after we got them home and set up!
$5, potted...
$10 Pine,$5 pot, and they used their soil to pot it at no extra cost...
No Comment...
This next little guy was just so cute with its flowers and its "mutated" look, I could not resist..oh, it was $2
So as you can see we are settling in, and getting a bit of nesting done. We are not sad that we came only with suitcases. We get to practice our Spanish and see all kinds of wonderful artisans as work. This is the most delightful part of being here. Every day is filled with new experiences, as well as a feeling of satisfaction that we are able to negotiate throughout the day easier than yesterday!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Randy and I are endeavoring to expand our language skills beyond the daily Hola and Buenos dias. You would think this would be easy as I have taken Spanish about 3 times now, and Randy twice, but not so.  Randy will say its due to his misspent youth but what about me? I didn't have a misspent youth! So now I am starting to believe that old dogs theory.

We have twisted our land ladys arm to teach us privately in our home twice a week for 1 hour. Her name is Susanna, we call her Susi. She is the sweetest thing and I am not sure that she has the stamina for these two gringos who interrupt and question everything.

As you can see she is trying her best to get our attention with a classroom white board. She works so hard to get us to tell her what we did yesterday.(I cant remember what I had for breakfast, let alone yesterday). Patiently correcting and coaching. Then she pounces with, "ok, now remember that because I want you to tell it to me at the end of class..." What????  Randy immediately wrote it down while she turned her back. I on the otherhand took a different ploy.

Randy is a much more studious student than I. He must have spent alot of time writting sentences 100 times on the blackboard because he has continued with that method of memorization

He has pages and pages of  Present, Past and Future tenses written down in a handy pocket sized notebook. He told me he is going to redo them on the computer and print off the pages for us... OH BOY.. cant wait. I guess I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of student... maybe I should let up on my daughter about her study skills... nah...She gets A's. Must be that old dog thing again...

We have taken our study area to a new level. We used to work on the dining room table. So when we had company we had to move it all to the window sill.. a we went hunting at the Rotary Market, or as we like to copy Clarke, the Straw Market.  Randy negotiated and we got two nice basic matching tables. We had to squeeze into a mixto to get them home but now we have a nice long study area and our dining room table is ready for company!

So I think my sentence to practice for class today will be..   hoy me escribió un nuevo blog sobre nuestra clase (today I wrote a new blog about our class). Better start now.. and repeat 100 times....

Friday, September 3, 2010


Today we had a very full and fun day starting with a really nice breakfast at the California Kitchen, at 8:30 a.m.  We were meeting Chuck & Nancy and Clarke & Brennie and "kids". I say kids because they are all under 27 yrs old! As you can see we were having a great time and as usual the food was delicious.

After breakfast we rode a bus to Ricuarte, then we all loaded into a Mixto (pickup truck) and we were ferried up the hill to the mountian where our destination for the day was Cuenca Canopies. A company who meets the needs of thrill seekers. There were Zip line rides, Tree walks, and something that involved climbing inside a huge blown up clear ball and rolling down a hill.. luckily it was not available.

After arriving the brave ones of our group harnessed up for the upcoming thrill ride.

Some had more trouble than others.........
But eventually they were all ready to go......
Here are a few photos, but as I was not one of the brave ones I was not very close during all the hair raising action. This one is Randy at his post to get some video.
Here they are getting their last rites.. ugh I mean instructions....

And off they went! There were a series of 6 zip lines that worked their way from "the bunny slope" to the "black diamond" (in Ski speak). I thought as I saw them take off that it really wasnt that scary. Until I saw the ones that came later... they were definately a thrill. None of these photos really show the depth of the canyons they were going over, but lets just say that they got their $8 worth!

After awhile we could not really see them any more unless we hiked way down a hill so Nancy, Randy and I retreated into the wonderful chalet style waiting area.

Every one agreed it was a great time, and that they would return with friends. Cuenca Canopies called a Mixto, and we all got in for the ride back to Cuenca. It was a nice day, lots of laughs and the adrenaline junkies were ready to rest up abit before they are off to their Salsa lessons tonite!