Monday, July 21, 2014

Cuenca, making the best of it

Thursday morning we headed to the bank first, still trying to get that savings account opened. This is the account we tried to open in Manta with Fernando on Monday, let's make it happen! We were waiting on an email from Dave the landlord, but hadn't had time to check, so we went without it. Within about an hour we were almost done, still needed that current utility bill from Dave, but it looked good. We left the bank, and got dropped off at the office, where we checked email and tried to sort out our container inventory sheets with one of Catalina's associates Flor. We snuck across the street for a break, coffee and sandwiches and while in the cafe it started to rain, great, guess I'm not warming up today. During the course of the late morning, (Long story short) it became apparent that this was not to be a one day process, we were expecting to be back on the bus this afternoon, and since this is Ecuador, everything takes more time. Mike and I had to make a decision, go home because we'd left the pups alone, or stay one more night and finish this, the only thing that may help us get this mess cleaned up?! We decided to stay, the pups would be fine, we could always call Wolf to go check on them.

We did what we could to decipher the inventory sheets, found multiple things not listed, and other things listed we had no idea what they were...great! Another thing the shipper really screwed us on! But first things first, back to the bank for account #, and then try to do a wire transfer for the $1000 bond for customs. Flor had emailed the utility bill, so we were all set, got the account #, made our initial deposit and we were legit! Got all the info needed to do the wire transfer from Wells Fargo, just needed internet, Catalina and Flor had another appointment so they dropped us off downtown, told us there were plenty of Internet caf├ęs and free wifi. We picked a restaurant that said free wifi, ordered a club sandwich and a hamburger (first "American" food since leaving) and tried to do the wire transfer. Ended up having to call Wells Fargo, luckily Mike had magic jack installed on our old cell phone (don't ask, he's a magician) so we could call the States free. What I learned, was NOT good news, Wells Fargo said I could not do wire transfers because one has to initiate this process from a branch, pretty impossible at this point. I wasn't getting anywhere with this guy on the phone, so plan B? Plan B was get cash from the ATMs, but they have limits to how much you can get in a day...good thing we're spending the night, geeez! 

We talked to Catalina, she told us which bank had the best ATM, then we asked the waiter, who offered us a map, perfecto! Lunch was good, now we were on our way. We put on our "sightseeing hats" and tried to change our attitudes, this was how it was to happen, let's make the best of it. The rain had stopped, we had each other, and it was another new adventure!

We hit the bank, got what we could, and wandered. Found this flower market, didn't ask, but have read that a dozen roses is like $2. Not only were there cut flowers but plants too, wish we could have bought some. 

Somewhat modern building smack dab in the middle of really old ones, it was very interesting to see the mix. Can't label any of these, but they sure are pretty.

This one with the flags is some sort of Government building. It had a dozen armed police outside at one point. There were many police, we'd heard that pickpockets were rampant in the bigger cities, and maybe the police presence was to make the expats feel safe, and we did. Mike had the money and passports stashed in his shoulder sling backpack, and the zippers were padlocked, so we were doing all we could to be safe. Gotta be smart, just like any big city, anywhere! 

This was one of the greatest things we saw, the mercado. I've read about it in the blogs, it's three levels! Prepared food on top, fruits and vegs on second (which is street level) and meats on the first.

It was getting near dusk, Catalina was still with other clients, so we found a restaurant had a couple drinks, split a dinner and people watched. We decided to try and find a hotel, that way Catalina wouldn't be rushed, and we just wanted some quiet. We walked back to the mercado, and found a cheap room across the street. Quatro rios (4 rivers) $35, wifi, hot shower, tv in English, and free breakfast, perfect! I had bought some socks, and couldn't wait to get warm, hot shower first! We slept great, and had a nice view of the mercado getting started in the am. 

Nice little breakfast downstairs, were introduced to cafe con leche, instant coffee is on the table, and they bring you a cup of hot milk, a little sugar and it was really yummy! Scrambled eggs, fresh bread and juice, lovely. Back to the ATM, then did a little more wandering til it was time to meet at the bank. Asked Flor, she told us where to go, so we Jumped in a taxi for $2, but I think we could have walked. After a little while waiting at the bank, we had our bank bond, handed over our cash, and had one more stop to make. Had to get a print out from the migratory police, it seems to be a measure of your movements, every time your passport is "scanned" by customs it goes into the computer, it's how they track visa days etc. and for us determined we were not a flight risk. By 11am we were done! Yippee, now we could head home, only 8-9 hours on the bus....

Another $2 taxi to the bus terminal, a quick walk around to find the right bus line, and in about 10 minutes we were on the road. In Guayaquil bus terminal we saw an interesting sight, chickens traveling. I'm sure they're in bags because it's less bulky than boxes, and since only the head is free, they can't escape. Things are different in Ecuador, and I'm glad they weren't on our bus.

The trip was uneventful, long, but not unpleasant. We finally got home about 9pm, lots of kisses from the pups and ready for bed! We had sore throats, and I was hoping it was from the fumes in Cuenca (the bus fumes were terrible) but it turns out we have full blown colds! Stuffy nose, heavy chests, and not much energy, hammocks and fresh air for us. 

Thanks to all who have donated, every little bit will help. If you'd like to donate to the "release the container" fund, go to the goFundme button at the top right of the page, it'll take you where you need to go, and thank you so much! This adventure has turned into a big learning experience, and hopfully can help others not make the same mistakes, or trust the wrong people. 

Catalina thinks we can get our customs inspection late this week, so we may be taking the bus to Guayaquil again, at least now we are pros! Today, there is hope! Thanks for tuning in to our adventure, it WILL continue!

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