Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sightseeing around Quito

Yesterday was our first day in Ecuador. Our driver, Jose came to our hotel at 9am to take us on a tour. We had already had a very nice breakfast over looking Quito, and we're told it was the first day without rain in several days. Jose wanted to take us to Cotopaxi Volcano, he said it was clearly visible as he drove into town to get us.

By the time we got to the National Park, (approx 1 1/2) hours, the clouds had rolled in and we couldn't see the beautiful snow capped volcano. Turns out you must have your own tour guide to get in the park, and we did not. Jose tried calling two students he knows but they weren't available. I couldn't have done much on crutches anyway, so we kept driving. We saw so many different landscapes from the van, and just enjoyed soaking it all in.

The yellow/beige in the above picture is wheat, and we saw oats, broccoli, onions, potatoes, beans and corn. The farmers would bring their bags to the road, and eventually someone would come pick them up, probably on donkey. The bags were this size.

The farmers were all dressed like this, and some of the farm plots were on very steep hills, looked scary. They all had a couple animals, sheep, cows, pigs and dogs. Sometimes the cows and pigs would be tethered by the side of the road.

It was an amazing tour, we ended the drive at a crater lake, Quilotoa, there was a good sidewalk, so I could use the wheelchair to the overlook.

Another large city we saw from above on the way back to Quito. It was a lovely day, but we decided to stick close to the hotel today, Ice and rest for the ankle.We will do some more sightseeing tomorrow as we head to the airport, we have a short 40 minute flight as we make our way to the coast. We have NOT been disappointed in Ecuador so far, certainly will have to come back to Quito after I'm walking again, not wheelchair friendly. Hotel, actually Bed and Breakfast is beautiful, owner speaks wonderful English and it's in a great location, if we were able to walk around. Next time! Stay tuned, the adventure continues...on the coast!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Our last week

This has been our last week in the States. We've been  "homeless" traveling thru South Carolina, and now Georgia. After we loaded our cute lil' container, we spent the next couple days doing final touch up paint, having a wonderful cleaning lady come in, and a couple of our friends come take what odds and ends were left over. What an ordeal! Poor Mike, had so much of it on his plate, since it turns out, even with a wheelchair, I'm pretty useless. But we finally drove away from our beloved Greensboro home about 7pm on Sunday. 

Phone calls was something I was able to do, turn off utilities, and make arrangements to return equipment. Apparently I should have thought if this a tad bit earlier, both Directv and Time Warner Cable want to send you boxes to return the equipment, with like 30 day notice...whoops! After MANY phone calls, promises of emailed return labels, and much time googling different scenarios, we just piled the equipment in the rental, and decided to try again after the holiday. From South Carolina, we tried again, got a new answer from Directv, finally an address, and even a promise of reimbursement for shipping if we faxed them our receipt.  (Not holding my breath) Time Warner is another story, but let me make a long story short, by saying...never again! What a frustrating company.

On a happy note, in Greenville, South Carolina we found a wonderful little mexican sandwich place (torta) and it was right next to this huge international market. I'm sure this is what we will see in Ecuador, they actually had an Ecuadorean flag on top. 

We were able to relax, and get some much needed sleep before we headed further south into Georgia. The hotel in Atlanta is right next to the airport, but super quiet, and has free happy hour, that we'll take advantage of soon. We had our appointment with the Consulate this morning to get the dogs Health Certificate approved, and I'm VERY happy to report that there were NO problems!! 

One thing we had to do before we left Greensboro, was have the Health Certificate translated and notarized, and the wonderful notary, Enrique actually hooked us up with an Ecuadorean in Quito. (who lived 16 yrs in High Point) Jose has a taxi service and called us the next day from his MagicJack, and is going to be at the Quito airport to pick us up- all 4 huge pieces of luggage, 2dogs with carriers, wheelchair and crutches! He will probably be our own personal driver for the three days we'll be in Quito, and take us back to the airport, when we fly to Manta. What a blessing! 

This is just the "above and beyond" that we are so looking forward to. It seems to be lacking here in the States, and the " what's in it for me?" Is more the norm. There's so much we can't wait to experience, the family first culture, being one of them. (Work is secondary to family) Getting simple is another, that means no car.

While driving around Atlanta today, we've been amazed by the traffic ( not in a good way). From the Consulate, we wanted to find Walmart, Google maps said the closest one was 2.5 miles away...and it was going to take 23minutes! How does anybody get anything done? What time isn't spent at work, is spent in the car-YUCK, no thanks! 

**deepsigh*. This time tomorrow we will be getting ready to board a plane to our new life, wow! I can't believe it's really almost here! Stay tuned, you know... The adventure continues!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Container's here!

Yippee! It's really happening!

Isn't it cute? Our little 20' container

Filling it up, and it'll be taken to the port, where it will get loaded on a steamship.

The adventure continues!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The movers did WHAT?!

This blog is intended for informational purposes only. The situations posted here are real, names have not been changed to protect the innocent. This post may contain strong language, and may not be suitable for sensitive audiences.

We had a local moving team scheduled for Tuesday, they were to arrive, dismantle furniture, wrap furniture and get our boxes staged, so that when the container arrived, everything went in smoothly. When they arrived, we were still packing boxes, there seemed to be an explosion of odds and ends on the only flat surface ( the coffee table we are not taking) but we had 2 hours before the container arrived. Mike did a walk thru with the guys, showed them what was going, and they started taking table and chairs out, we got back to packing boxes. I'm doing this from the wheelchair, mind you. Fast forward about 10 minutes, I get a call from the container port in Charlotte, they aren't allowed to load the container on the truck because the driver doesn't have a release...phonecalls are made, messages are left, we keep packing.

Fast forward another 10 minutes, the moving teams boss shows up, and pulls them off the job! Says they will come back when the container arrives, and they leave...and they leave my furniture unwrapped in the YARD!!! We keep packing, we keep waiting for the movers to come back,  we're almost done, just gotta take shelves off the wall. Fast forward 3 hours and the phone rings, it's our shipping guy, the one who puts all the pieces in place, he starts out with, " in all my years, this has never happened...blah blah blah." The movers QUIT! 

The shipper had gotten the voicemail from the container yard, called, and got the release. The truck had the container loaded, and was DRIVING to us, that's when the movers called the shipper and said we weren't ready, the place was a mess, the job too big and they were going to bow out. WHAT??!! So, the shipper had to call the truck driver and have him turn around, back to the container yard. So now, not only have we packed everything, but Mike had to move the stuff the movers moved into the garage!! We have to wait for the shipper to find a new moving team, one out of Chatlotte that he's used before, and coordinate another container and truck...all this for tomorrow??!!?? Still don't have a final answer on when that's happening. MUST be before the 28th, that's when we meet with Ecuadorean Consulate with Health certificate for dogs ( in Atlanta 5 hrs away) And remember, we fly out on the 29th.

We had planned to take a mini vacation, down the coast, have hotels booked in Savannah, GA for Sunday and Monday, but if I have to cancel that, well...what ya gonna do?! We have to physically be here to see the container loaded, have to sign off for customs that nothing undocumented was put in the container. Blah blah blah

 We were waiting til the end to pack the tv, movers said they had boxes and padding to help. We left out some blankets, so at least we have had blankets (since the sheets off the bed were packed) and Mike hooked the tv back up, but WHAT A MESS! All we have is the overhead lights, because of course all the lamps are packed, it's kinda like camping. I'm remembering to be "flexible" all over again.

But, even thru this hiccup, we continue to move forward. Today we have power washers come and gutter cleaners, and we go to Raleigh (1 hr away) to the USDA certified vet to have him sign off on the Health Certificates. Then we get those translated into spanish, have that notarized, so we can take it to our appt in Atlanta on the 28th. It had been suggested that I fax a copy to the Consulate so I know they'll accept it before we leave the area, but I don't think I have time. The Consulate is not horribly quick at responding, translation will take overnight, and if I don't hear from them Friday afternoon, then Monday is a holiday, we can't just wait around. In this instance, I'v gotta trust that between my due diligence and the vets, we will be good.

Im certainly glad that Mike had the where-with-all to schedule the container early, I originally had it for the 24th, but he insisted that it would be better to sleep on the couch, and have it gone early, than have a hiccup, at the last minute. What a good team. He really needs a vacation, bless his heart! With my broken ankle, he's REALLY doing double duty!

Here's to hoping the next post will be from the road, container loaded, and hiccups over. We'll keep you posted, the adventure continues!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Manta Ecuador Travelogue

This is a fun video. :) We'll be about 30 minutes from Manta and we may end up there. Who knows really. This kind of sums up Ecuador for us.

Our anniversary

Today is our 19 year wedding anniversary. We got engaged 6 months after our first date, and married 6 months after that. What a whirlwind! So many adventures we've had over the last 20 years, and embarking on a new one as we speak. No one I'd rather see the world with-my best friend, Mike Adams!

We sold our last car yesterday, got money from a stranger, ( wanting to bless us and our trip) and had a plumber friend come install the sink in our newly renovated bathroom. Getting the suitcases packed, and then all the rest of our clothes into the wardrobe boxes. Packed up most of the kitchen, just a few odds and ends left out, so we can still cook. We've gotten all our apostilled documents back, the only thing left to do, on the document side, is the Health Certificate for the dogs.

They've had their shots, 7 each ( one of which, went up their nose) had de-wormer, and tomorrow go back to have all that documented. ( yep, tomorrow is 10 days til we fly!) then on Thursday, we take the health certificate to Raleigh, NC to the USDA certified vet, to have him sign off on the health certificate...THEN we must get the health certificate translated into Spanish, and the translation notarized, THEN we will scan it to the consulate in Atlanta ( just to make sure everything is correct) THEN, if anything isn't correct, we hurry like hell and fix it. But if it is correct, we have an appointment ( I hope, never got confirmation) on the day before we fly to have Consulate approve. 


Follow these guidelines to ensure a smooth process when traveling with your pets.
Health Certificate
A health certificate is required when shipping your pet as cargo.Effective Oct1,2013 Delta will require a health certificate for all pets checked as baggage Some destination states may require a health certificate for your pet. Your veterinarian, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or the Department of Agriculture for your destination state may provide you with more information.
If a health certificate is required, it must be issued by a licensed veterinarian within 10 days of transport and must include:
  • shipper's name and address
  • tag numbers or tattoos assigned to the animal
  • age of the animal being shipped (USDA regulations require animals be at least 10 weeks old and fully weaned before traveling)
  • statement that the animal is in good health (If the shipper knows that the pet is pregnant, it must be noted on the health certificate)
  • list of administered inoculations, when applicable
  • signature of the veterinarian
  • date of the certificate

  • Not our dog, but cute picture. Would traveling be easier without pets? You betcha, but you travel with kids, even tho they're pains in the asses...we researched many countries before deciding on Ecuador, and one thing we knew was, we wouldn't move anywhere they made us quarantine. The dogs will be our carry on luggage, and won't leave our sight the entire time. Had an email from the family that's currently renting the beach house, their St. Bernard was in his kennel 38 hours when they flew from Az. Long trip, didn't fly nonstop, and then got held up in customs, no thanks! That doesn't sound fun for anybody! That's why I chose to drive down to Atlanta, for the nonstop flight.

    And speaking of Atlanta, we are making a last chance tour of some places we've always wanted to see. Booked a hotel in Savannah, GA, for two nights. We have a rental car we turn in at the airport, and will drive down the coast, thru Myrtle Beach, and Charleston, SC. Spend some time, poke around, and enjoy our pre-flight vacation. Might as well, we won't have any furniture left in the house after the container gets loaded. That'll be my next post, yikes! Guess I better get packing-it's a mad dash to the finish! More excitement everyday! The adventure continues!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Read the signs

The biggest lesson we have learned in planning our adventures, is...shit is going to happen! When we set off from Boise in our used motor home with the two 65 lb dogs and whatever stuff could fit, we thought the road in front of us was long. Not even an hour into the trip...we blew a tire! We limped into the closest town, found a tire place, and because it was close to midnight, had to camp out in the parking lot. Was it frustrating? You betcha!! But what we knew was it could be fixed, and it certainly wouldn't have happened if we were still sitting on the couch!

We have learned to expect the bumps in the road, those bumps are part of it. Those bumps are what make other people stay home. We forget from time to time, and seem surprised when an obstacle arrives, but then we think back to that first night on the road in Boise, and know, it's Supossed to happen.

So, our advice is to read the signs, be prepared for obstacles, hurdles, and speed bumps. Don't let them discourage you, but embrace them as a new challenge you get to tackle! Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, right?

This sign, I did not see coming...but, we ordered a cheap wheelchair on Amazon, and I'll get back to business. Fractured ankle, choosing not to see orthopedic doc here, for free healthcare while visiting on my 30 day passport, and after we apply for 180 day Visa. Mike can wheel me down to the beach, and what a great way to recoup! Since we started packing the house in April, we are in pretty good shape. I've hired some people to help, handyman comes tomorrow to finish some projects. I've got gutter cleaners, and house power-washers next week, and a cleaning service that will come after we load the container to do the inside of cabinets, base boards, windows and well, stuff I could have done, but for $125 why not relax, and put my feet up?

So, in closing remember, you only run into speed bumps if your moving. There are no road signs in your living room, you must be on the road to see the signs. Not all signs are scary, they can be, but they don't have to stop you. Use caution, follow advice, and apparently hold on to your dentures!

Monday, May 12, 2014

T is for transportation

Today's motto is "it'll be hard to take it home on the bus". This motto, or phrase is being used when we think about what will go in the container next week. For instance, trash can

And laundry basket, new microwave, plastic drawers for me to store/organize the supplies for making Veronica's dresses, basically big bulky items that may be easy to replace, but difficult to transport on the chicken bus.

Let me explain what a "chicken bus" is, very common in Latin American countries, they are retired school buses that are now being used as  "public transportation". The users of these buses often have cargo they are transporting, live chickens, I guess being the strangest, hence the name. "Grocery bus" or "package bus" doesn't quite capture the reality of it. They are .25  cents in town, and approx $1/hr for long distance (destination town 2.5 hrs away = $2.50)

On the subject of transportation, we bought a trailer for the bikes. It zips totally closed, and can haul not only the chihuahuas, but groceries, and picnic supplies. It looks like this, and for now stays in the box, to be loaded in the container.

My last tidbit on transportation, is yesterday while puttering around the house, I rolled, and fractured my ankle. So I am immobile for most of this week, trying to stay still while it starts to heal. I've opted not to see an orthopedic doctor here, will wait and have more X-rays done in Ecuador, and see what needs to be done, if anything. It'll be a great first hand way to research the health care system, right?!
Stay tuned, it's a bumpy ride, but at least I know I'm moving. Stay safe and healthy, mantenerse sano!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

News from International Living

WHEREBallenita, Ecuador. This quiet beach village was the premier vacation getaway on this stretch of coast for decades. Then visitors moved on to newer, shinier destinations. But in the last couple of years, local and foreign buyers are starting to realize how much their real estate dollar will buy in Ballenita.

It’s got a wide, sandy beach that’s mostly sheltered and good for swimming. Low bluffs fringe the beach. The village feels small-scale and local rather than touristy, with basic grocery stores and rustic beachside restaurants. It’s low-cost, too. Lunch specials start at $3 and a 22-ounce pilsner beer will set you back $1.50. And you’re only 10 minutes from a modern supermarket, mall and movie theater and 20 minutes from the heart of Salinas.

WHY: Ballenita is already great value, with some of the lowest per square foot property prices in the area. More expats are buying here for that reason. We’re also starting to see small new residential communities aimed at well-heeled locals and foreign buyers around town. A new bus terminal for the entire province opened in Ballenita in 2013. That will bring more tourists to Ballenita. But the big news is the municipal plans for a new boardwalk. The plan calls for upgrading the existing boardwalk, extending it and adding commercial areas. Once done, it will change the look of the village, creating a nice amenity for both visitors and locals.

WHO: Ballenita isn’t for everyone. It will suit if you’re looking for a quiet beach village that’s well-connected to bigger towns and an international airport (a 2-hour drive). It will also fit the bill for anyone on a tight budget that doesn’t want to give up on their dream of living near the beach.

WHAT: There are currently two houses for sale that are good value. One is a rustic house that needs a significant remodel. It’s concrete block construction and five blocks from the beach. It’s priced at $39,500. The other is a three-bed two-bath house with a separate two-bed one-bath apartment. It’s got a large back yard with enough space for a pool. It needs some updating but could become a nice tropical villa with a rental apartment. The asking price, $60,000, is negotiable.

This is a typical "postcard" that I would find in my email inbox on a weekly basis, this one is Ballenita, I searched some pictures to add.

This could very well be the block construction for $39k, or this...

"Significant remodel needed"? 

These two, are probably more like the  $60k the postcard spoke of. If real estate was like in the States, and we could qualify for a home loan, the mortgage on $60k is less than $400 per month. 

Here's one more house picture, pretty cute, just needs some landscaping.

And of course a map, to let you know where Ballenita is on the coast. Sounds like its more humid down there, but I'm sure we will check it out firsthand. 

This is how we got hooked on this crazy idea, I'd check my email over coffee in the morning, then look up pictures to see what the places really looked like. I'd search blogs, and learn some tidbits, share with Mike and we'd dream and scheme...and well it could have ended there, but we crave new adventures, (and it keeps our clutter down if we move every 10 years!) If y'all think about it, you've probably done some things that were "crazy", some may have worked out, some maybe not but it's the stepping out that's the risky part, So... hold on, it may be a bumpy ride, but at least you know you're alive. Stay tuned

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Less than a month to go

My last post was about speed bumps, I left off with the brilliant idea to have my documents re-routed to Boise...didn't happen. I spent quite some time online and on the phone with UPS, but until they attempted to deliver they could not re-route, at one point the "lovely" customer service rep said, no threatened...she would put a 5 day hold on the package, before re-routing. I decided to cool down, and let them try to deliver on Tuesday, then I would re-route, but I neglected to tell our dog sitter not to sign for it, and she did. Which turned out to be fine, I just had her open the package of documents and take a picture of the marriage license, so I had a copy. Got word last night on the way home from the airport, that the new marriage license had arrived at the expeditors, he was on the way to apostille it, and it's now on its way back to me, via UPS, but oh well, it's done! 

We had a great time visiting our families in Idaho and California, most are up on the blog, but of course we love to talk about our upcoming adventure, so much of the conversations were about Ecuador. The most frequent question was "where is Ecuador?" So here is a map, notice how Mexico and Central America are twisted, and South America ends up being under the East coast of the United States. Some of Ecuador is on the same longitude as Raleigh, North Carolina. Ecuador is the little pale blue country on the northwest coast. (West coast, Eastern time zone) 

So, now that we are home, with less than 30 days...23 to be exact! It's a mad dash to the finish. Last yard sale this weekend, having handyman and plumber friend next week to finish projects, veterinary appointments for the pups (7 shots each) must meet with property management people at the Winston house, (because the girls are talking of moving out) and if we do inspection now, when they do leave we will all know what needs to be done for new tenants. We want to go to Ikea to buy some items to ship in the container ( May not happen) finish packing, because the container and moving crew come on the 20th! (Yikes, is that really only 14 days from today?!) I need to follow up on our background checks, (hopefully they are in the huge pile of mail) because they need to be sent to Raleigh for apostille, then I think we'll have all our required documents for visa when we get there. I have a visa helper in Ecuador, ready for us to arrive, said he would pick us up from the airport if needed, so that's good to know. 

Lots to do, and the puppies are especially needy, which we don't mind! We missed them like crazy, a week is a long time, and we have kisses to catch up on. But, must get busy, I mentioned that huge pile of mail, guess I'll start there. Stay tuned, much more to come, Hasta ma├▒ana!