Friday, December 17, 2010

A Walk

Until lately, I have been having trouble adjusting to the idea of living in Cuenca.  Not because I don't like Cuenca, because I do, very much; it's just that I haven't felt comfortable going out by myself for more than a few-block trip. However, that changed this morning; while Ray was still asleep, I set off by myself for a walk.  I wanted to take some pictures of the places we walk past on our way to wherever it is we go every day.  The first pictures I took were of our neighbor, the woodcarver.  He carves his figures from solid mahogany, paints the background colors by hand, and then airbrushes the finishing touches.  Most of his figures are religious.

The figures look like plaster, but they are not.  His work is excellent.

Then I walked down to Parque Calderon.  There is a Christmas tree there.

At the bottom you see round pieces of paper.  Those are prayers and wishes.  Some people just wrote on regular pieces of paper. 
Ecuador is Catholic, of course, and Christmas is an important holiday.  There are decorations, of course, but the lack of the US Christmas hype is refreshing.

I then walked to the Plaza Rotary, near the Mercado 9 de Octubre.  The Plaza Rotary has a market where one can buy baskets, furniture, pots and pans, and things like that.  We bought a table for our TV there.  I bought a shopping basket there, and today I bought a bag to carry my wallet, passport copy, and small purchases in. 
Baskets . . .

Tables, chairs, and shelves . . .

Hats, wooden utensils, and two very adorable children . . .

I find the markets -- and they are all over the city -- one of the most interesting parts of the city.  Next week, I will walk over to some of the other markets in other parts of El Centro.

There are supermarkets and stores at the malls, but, most of the time, we shop in the neighborhood.  Ray can get Pepsi right across the street.  I am probably going to have to go to the mall for my next big purchase -- a copier -- but Ray found a store the other day that has all kinds of tools, household goods, dishes, pots and pans . . . no printer, though.

I need to remember to take  our camera more often.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2 weeks and loving it

On time and on schedule. I haven't heard that from people here in Cuenca but that's what I am saying. We now have been hooked up to the internet - on time and on schedule. This time the work we had done was by the government subsidized water company Etapa, it took 3 guys 10 minutes to hook up the internet. They came on the scheduled day about 45 minutes ahead of the scheduled time and called us when they were 5 minutes out. I have never experienced this kind of service in the U.S.. I may be jumping the gun saying that but this is 3 out of 3 so far and the level of service is great.

I have to figure out how to down load pictures onto this blog from this "mini", when I do I have some pictures for show and tell.

Barb will probably post soon with more interesting stuff. My main thrust is to replace my tools and find some land to build on. I have to wait for my paperwork ( visa, cedulla, etc. ) before I can actually purchase land here but that doesn't stop me from looking and I have a boat load of tools to replace. There are a bunch of places around here that have all kinds of tools and equipment. The only tools that cost more here than in the U.S. are tools made in the U.S.. A DeWalt drill will cost $200 here but the same size Chinese "Chicago" drill - you know Harbor Freight- will run about $25. No mig welders but a good stick welder for about $125. I think you get the drift. If it's made in Japan, Korea, China, etc., under a U.S. label it's cheaper here, the same tool with a U.S. company label is more expensive. The only building material I have found to be more costly than the U.S. is rebar and it runs the same to $2 a 20' stick higher.

We did alot of homework before this move, we are not disappointed. After all in the U.S. it's a little cold right now - 69 in Cuenca today and tomorrow and the next 363 days.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

After 11 days

We have now been in Cuenca 11 days and are settled in our apartment except for internet, which should happen tomorrow. We have not experienced any of the things people warn about in Cuenca. What we have experienced is moving into a very convenient working class neighborhood of friendly people and all staples within a couple blocks of the apartment. The city is very easy to navigate, the workmen are on time ( ahead of time mostly ) and quick about what they do. As an example we had Direct TV installed 3 days ahead of schedule and in 20 minutes by one guy.

Waiting for our visas is a pain but it is the process everyone goes through and it gives us some time to shop around for a vehicle and some land to build on.

We will post more information and some pics when we get hooked up to the internet.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Two Days and 2900 Miles to Go

In 48 hours we'll be at the Springfield airport, starting our journey to Cuenca.  There are a few things left to do, but they are scheduled and I hope for no more major surprises -- we had a doozy on Friday, but we will take care of that Monday.  Our packing is almost done.  It's time to go, and we are having the usual "let's get going" reaction.

I will miss Springfield in some ways.  I've lived here 22 years, and in this house for 12.  I've moved a number of times, though, and I know that each new place seems strange at first.  It will take longer to become accustomed to a new country and a new language, of course, but we are up to the task. 

What will I miss?  I'll miss friends.  During my years at Missouri State, colleagues have become friends.  Some of them I can count on for anything.  However, with email and webcams and VOIP, we'll keep in touch.  I miss our pets, Max and Garbo.  Max, of course, you know about -- both Ray and I wrote about him -- but it would have been too hard on Garbo to take her with us.  She has a permanent home.

We leave with no unfinished business, no lingering doubts, and no regrets.  The next time you hear from us we'll be in Cuenca.  I can't wait, and I hope you keep reading.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 days left in the U.S. - so short I can sit on the edge of a dime and dangle my feet

The "to do" list for the U.S. is getting shorter and the list for Ecuador is getting some attention - finally.

The land in Willow Springs sold at auction on Monday and we closed on the refinance of Barbara's house in Springfield yesterday. The trash hauler comes today to take all the remaining stuff in the house to the dump and Barbara has struck a deal on her car. She did a really good job on delivery date, so we will only have to rent a car for 1 day to get us to the airport early Tuesday morning.

There are a lot of things that can still fall apart on the U.S. side of this move - because we cut a lot of legal and financial stuff real close. There is no stopping our move to Ecuador and our end is done, if someone decides to change the rules in the middle of the game the burden lies on them.

The Opinion Section 

 I have always joked about a mans tools and his truck, you know, you can tell about a man by the truck he drives or the tools he has .... etc.. There is some truth to that. Having been toolless and truckless now for a couple of weeks and having to ask my wife for the keys to the car whenever I want to go somewhere or do something, not being able to cut that tree down, you know if the toilet breaks I can't replace the ballcock, I mean I don't even have a framing hammer - that's how you fix a toilet isn't it ? You get the idea and it really is a problem. Next to my kids flying from the nest it's the worst feeling I have ever had. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon and thanks to the various blogs from Ecuador and google translate I have found some really good trucks for sale in Cuenca, motorcycles too. I gotten some leads on land outside the city and I have been to Coral where I can replace all my hand tools with like and kind. I have to admit the idea of building in Ecuador is going to be like trying to teach an old dog new tricks but the fundamentals are the same where ever you go and I am up to the task. The future looks bright once we get out of the brambles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

10 days left in the U.S.

The end is in sight and in less than 2 weeks we will finally be in Cuenca, Ecuador, for the next year anyway.

We have had a couple hard frosts this month here in Missouri, I sure won't miss the ice and snow or the associated utility bills. We've got all the paperwork done for the title company to handle the closing on the Willow Springs property and a new lower interest rate mortgage for the Springfield house should at least break even when the place is rented out. I have made some pretty decent money in real estate over the years, but in today's market it is kind of a crap shoot.

Of course the immigration laws have changed in Ecuador since we sent our papers to the lawyer a couple of weeks ago. It seems that in addition to having everything apostilled, we now have to have our marriage license and pension papers approved by the Ecuadorian Consulate. I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles and we will deal with it, or not. The funny thing about this is that neither the lawyer or the consulate agree on what papers need to be approved, I guess the solution is to have them all approved, so what else is new ??

                                                          The Opinion Section
No matter what you do, no matter where you go, no matter how hard you try to do what is right, there is going to be someone with their hands in your pocket. Is it intentional or is the situation so complicated that no one can figure the cost before all is said and done?  My money is on the former. As a people, we have become complacent with the idea of additional costs which has become the new normal for contracts and agreements. When a contract is made, written or verbal, actual or implied the parties are said to be bound to the terms of the contract. Today that means - bound to change the terms of the contract. If a piece of candy cost 10 cents, why do I get 14 cents back in change from a quarter ? I know this is an over simplification but when is the last time you bought a new car and paid the contract price or paid a lawyer the contract price ?  There are always additional costs - heaven forbid if you build a house or do any home improvement. Personal responsibility seems to be a thing of the past and I miss it.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A male perspective on selling everything.

It seems I spend a lot of time posting to this blog to give my perspective on something that Barbara has posted. I always thought that when we decided to do something it was our decision and we agreed, then it was done. It seems that in the decision to move to Ecuador there are so many smaller parts that we still agree on but the point of view is vastly different.

This past Sunday we sold all of our household goods, which included my left over tools - which were considerable and the truck. Barbara's post was about how well she did on items she had purchased at other auctions in years past and made a profit on at this auction. Tables and chairs, dressers and beds, pot and pans, blenders and juicers, even jewelry and her personal pistol didn't phase her - but to me it was a traumatic experience. I was out in the lot like a used car salesman explaining how a Missouri Fox Trotter stud colt had cracked the front grill on the truck and how many board feet of  red and white oak the planer had milled, that those are Craftsman ratcheting wrenches, the skill saws have new brushes in them and there is a new chain for that chain saw, be careful those are laser levels, the difference between London and Philadelphia trowels and why a Martin ratchet is so much better than any other. It was a terrible day for me - I am truckless, toolless and soon to be landless and I have smoked my last Macanudo cigar.

 This isn't really a Macanudo, it's the last of the Torano's - Exodus 1959 Silver. I have one Macanudo Crystal - Robusto left but I won't have a picture of that because tears will be rolling down my cheeks. I used to grow Connecticut broad leaf without an allotment, so I would trade a bale or two for cigars and of course Macanudo's have a Connecticut broad leaf, shade grown wrapper.

This isn't the greatest picture but you get the idea.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One More Step

Yesterday, our household goods, guns, and the truck were auctioned off.  I thought it would be difficult to watch, but it wasn't hard at all.  Some of my things went for more than I paid for them; for example, an accent lamp with an art glass shade went for $15.  I paid $1 for it at an auction about two years ago.  Our Churchill Blue Willow plates, saucers, cups, gravy boats, and sugar bowl, which cost us about $35 at the same auction, went for $80.  The truck went for more than Ray thought.  Our guns did very well.  Of course, this is part of gun country.

So, now we're down to it.  I will be taking more donations to the Disabled American Vets thrift store later today; then, we'll start serious cleaning so I can call the rental agent and tell her she can bring potential renters over to look at the house.  Someone is coming to look at the Subaru today.  In the long run, though, I think I'll have to talk to the used-car sales manager at the dealership and see what he can do.

Three weeks from tomorrow we'll be in Quito, then on to Cuenca on December 1.  I'm feeling my usual anxiety because I've been waiting to see the lease on the apartment we want in Cuenca.  I'm really going to have to give up this sense of time urgency.  I've been working on it, but it's my one Type A personality trait and it seems to persist.  You'd think that six months of retirement would have taken care of it, at least in part.

Our friends Paul and Natasha Simpson - we met them in Cuenca when we were there in September - are having a rough time.  Keep them in your thoughts, and, if you pray, pray for them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

25 more days

Yesterday Barbara's tractor was trucked to its new owners in Mt. View, Missouri. The new owners are happy with their purchase, planning to use it as a replacement for an old Farmall. They say the old tractor will be restored and used in parades and shows by their young daughters. They will be surprised at the power and versatility of their purchase compared to their old tractor - a definite step up.

After a long day in Willow Springs, I was surprised to find that the attorney in Cuenca had finally sent a draft of the lease on an apartment on Av Luis Cordero. It will sure be nice to know we are not homeless when we return to Ecuador. Our Visas have been applied for and according to the lawyer should be ready within 10 days of our arrival in Cuenca. We are still having issues with our bank in the U.S. about things that were " no problem " now being areas of concern since we are shifting things around. As a result I will be shutting down my contracting business. Fortunately for us, I know a thing or two about accounting, so we can make quick changes without consulting. Too many people have their fingers in the till - I guess I shouldn't say anything but I feel compelled to voice my opinion about the small business environment in the U.S., especially when your moving out of the country. Back in the day, business was conducted as a sole proprietor, cash and trade with no paper trail, expenses directly deducted and revenues under reported, never hire an employee, make everyone a sub contractor, never declare a profit and when you hit the 3/5th rule start a new business and transfer assets as personal investments. I am not saying I ever did that but it sure would cut out all the paper work and the never ending parade of taxes, insurances and fees. Sorry, I run up against things sometimes that kinda piss me off.

The household items auction is Sunday at 10am and the house in Springfield is pretty much empty. The rental agent says there are a number of people interested in renting the house. We are in a sad state of affairs but the transition to Ecuador is only 3 weeks away and we are nearly ready.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

33 days and counting.

It seems something is happening every day to get us closer to Cuenca, Ecuador. The big tractor left the place in Willow Springs last week - its new home is in Aurora, Missouri, where it is going to be a project tractor.
 "Old Stumpy" has skidded many an oak log and lifted all of them onto the log deck of the sawmill. That old tractor earned his keep on our place for many years.

The last load of books from Barbara's library going to the Public Library. To quote Cicero, "a room without books is like a body without a soul", our house had a lot of soul.

We thought we had found a rental house in Cuenca a month ago, but we were not able to work out the lease agreement we wanted. We found another rental the other day in the north section of the city but we were not familiar with that part of town. Thanks to Clarke Green, of fame, we were able to determine it was an okay section of the city and we are in hopes of the attorney getting a lease to us soon.

We've been taking a load or two of household goods and tools to the auction site every day, for the auction on the 7th of November. The Willow Springs property goes on the auction block on the 22nd of November. All of our residency paper work has been Fedexed to the attorney in Cuenca, signed and sealed. Early this morning I sold Barbara's tractor - she will be happy about that, but I don't think she will be happy about what I sold it for. A year and a half ago I bought that tractor for $17,500.00 and today I sold it for $11,000.00 and I am going to change all the fluids in it before it leaves the property. If I left it on the property unsold the auction company would sell it for what they could get for it, in the off season to a bunch of cattle ranchers who would pay what they would pay for a tractor with 3000hrs. on it - she only has 47 hours on it. I am trying to make my case, because I may be in the dog house for a while.

All things considered, I think we will make the plane on November 30th.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My view of things.

In the previous post Barbara wrote about Max (the dog) because she felt bad about me "putting him down", even though it was a joint decision - it was my decision. I guess there needs to be some explanation about this. Around these parts I am known as the Alpha Dog, not because I am aggressive ( although I can be ) but because I have a close relationship to animals. In humans natural instincts are suppressed by civilization, people aspire to what they are good at or forced into within the boundaries of society. That never happened to me, I was raised by animals. The short of it is that I am very fortunate to be married to Barbara - one of her PhD's is in animal psychology - who doesn't have the intuitive instinct, but has the intellect to recognize when someone does. Max deserved a chance to live in a non threatening environment and he didn't like it. Like animals in a zoo, out of their natural habitat, he developed nervous habits and ailments related to his new captivity. There is no question he would have died soon where he was when we took him in, but not all animals respond well to what people think are better conditions. Even though he was healthy for the first time in his life and given freedom he had never known, he couldn't overcome his previous life. Max survived abuse I can't imagine, we did what we could for him, no matter how bad we want to right a wrong sometimes we just don't have what it takes.

Max is buried on a knoll with my best skeet gun. When future generations unearth his grave they will know he was a dog worthy of a mans prized possession.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Goodbye, Max

Over on the right, under my picture, there is a picture of Max.  We adopted Max a couple of years ago from the Southwest Missouri Humane Society.  The best guess was that he was 5 or 6 years old; all I saw was a scrawny abused dog who would not come out of the back of the pen he was in -- a pen he was in alone.  We looked at each other, looked at the dog, and went home.  Two days later we were back at the SWMoHS; we took him for a walk and decided to take him home.  We never expected much of him.  We thought he wouldn't make it through that first winter, he was in such bad shape. He'd lived his entire life in a trailer with other dogs; once in a while, I guess, someone would bring them food.  His back had been broken.  When they got him at the shelter, he weighed 55 pounds -- an old English Sheepdog, who should weigh 100 pounds.  At first, he stayed in the garage under Ray's desk.  He wouldn't eat or drink if anyone was in the room with him.  Max never really did get over that.  He didn't bark for two weeks after we got him home. But he came around.  He became a dog.  For such a big dog -- he did eventually get to 100 pounds -- he was very timid.  If someone came to the house, he'd bark and back up.  He hated to go out in the rain.  He came when we called if he felt like it. But he loved the place in Willow Springs, and he liked us, I think.  He didn't like many people and no other animals, but he did like us.

For a while, Max has had trouble running and walking; he had a hard time lying down, and his skin was a mess; no matter what we did, even when he was flea-free, he'd chew on himself till he bled.  We found nothing that would help.  He was miserable, and getting worse.  We left him with a pet sitter when we were in Cuenca, and he wouldn't do his business outside for her.  She tried her best.  And, even after we got home, he went inside.

Ray took Max to the vet today, and after a long talk and much thought, decided to do what we'd known for a while had to be done.  Max is at rest now, at peace (if I can say that about a dog), and I miss him.  For such a useless dog, he was the best.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting down to it.

Well we're in the stretch, I don't know if it is the final stretch, but things seem to be going the right way.

We've given up on selling the house in Springfield - decided to refinance and rent it out. Barbara's car is attracting attention, and we haven't even run an ad yet. The pictures for the auction have been published and the Nov.7th date for the auction is carved in stone. All of the Ecuadorian residency paperwork has been apostilled and is on the way to the lawyer - I'm sure something won't be right about who apostilled what and will need to be worked on, but it doesn't matter something other than spending money is happening and that's a good thing. The flights back to Ecuador have been booked with round trip to Miami, just in case. We are having a hard time deciding on either hiring a van from Quito to Cuenca or flying. There is some symbolism here, but I am afraid I'm not smart enough to pick up on it.

We are heading back to Willow Springs to do the clean up. Got to drag the old tractor out of the woods for pick up on Tuesday, clean up the construction site for the big house, decide what to do with the sawmill and burn a bunch of stuff. Barbara will be going back to Springfield after a few days and the big dog and I will be left in charge of finishing up. I'll have to bring a load of stuff back from Willow that Barbara has already sold and given away, then one more trip to take my tools and guns to the auction site and clean out the storage rental.

We've passed on a couple of rentals in Cuenca because of long term leases, our thought is short term until we get there and can see what we are renting. We will probably be moving out of town anyway when we find some land to build on, that way we can be closer to the building site. In my opinion there is nothing worse than driving a long way to work on a building project, it slows production and has a way of side lining the main purpose of the construction - kind of like living in Springfield and building in Willow Springs. I've done way to much of that - in my retirement I'd like to give it up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cuenca in my dreams

I've spent the last couple of days getting my bigger laptop back to almost what it was before it crashed (thanks to my friend Ed Matthews, emeritus professor of Computer Sciences and head nerd, for fixing it).  I had some help in getting the software I need reloaded, as you can see.

Garbo, our one-eyed cat, spoiled

Every night, I dream of Ecuador.  My dreams are about Cuenca, as are my daydreams (not very productive behavior, you know). 

We arrived in Cuenca in the evening and didn't see much of the area before dinner and sleep.  The next morning, I got my first view of Cuenca from the balcony of our room at the Villa Nova Inn.  The inn is on Av 3 de Noviembre, which runs along the Rio Tomebamba.  This was my first daylight view of Cuenca.

Across the river you can see Ave 12 de Abril and Parque Madre.  We walked across the bridge to the other side and through the park on our way to the nearest Supermaxi many times.

This picture represents the first thing I dream about.  Is it any wonder that we want to live near here if we can?

More pictures and more news about our move later.  Be happy and be well.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yes, we are still moving to Ecuador

We have been following quite a few blogs from expats who have moved to Ecuador. The idea is to learn from other peoples experiences. The blogs have been very helpful and have kept us on the right track. We got a local (Cuenca) attorney working on our papers right away, decided what part of the city we wanted to live in initially, made some contacts for rental properties while we were in Cuenca, sent off all the papers that needed to be apostilled as soon as we got back to the states - we're cooking, right ? Well, not exactly.

We've got a couple pieces of property here in the states to unload, equipment, tools, household goods - a life time of accumulation. Turns out that stuff is the easy part. Culture shock - the thing everyone talks about - that's the thing. We haven't even moved yet and we are getting killed by the stuff we thought was secondary to "Getting out of Dodge". It's not about learning spanish, finding the right flights, shipping and visa's - it's about us not being smart enough to figure out just how deep the water is ( cultural differences )..

The U.S. State Department is making up stuff as they go, I guess that is nothing new. The Consulate is still operating under the rules from several years ago, I guess that isn't news either. Who would think the Secretary of State where I was born would lose my birth certificate and not know what an apostille was, but cash the check to do it. In Cuenca we talked to a lot of people, shook a lot of hands and heard a lot of " no problems".  We figured it out after we got back to the states - what would I do if someone got in my face, jabbered a bunch of stuff in a strange language, pointed to things that were just confusing and acted like they wanted an answer. I'd shake their hand, smile and say " no problem ". I'd just want to be clear of these lunatics.  We'll be lucky to get anything done in Ecuador while we are still in the states because I was that lunatic. My wife is a lot smarter than I am so she wasn't counting on any of the contacts we made, but I was. So much for having things lined up before we moved.

Yes, we are still moving to Ecuador but I have a lot of humble pie to eat before we do.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunrise in the Ozarks

There was a little frost on the pumpkins this morning in the Ozarks of Missouri. We are really looking forward to not having this weather event in Ecuador. I guess as we age we become less temperature tolerant. In any case, we have spent a few days in the solitude of Willow Springs - we didn't even see the feral cat that normally hangs out at our place. Our dog was tracking new deer trails - we have a resident doe and the dog knows her scent, so this must be the start of the rut, he was a little nuts.

All the things I was going to do this weekend, I didn't. I was going to shot some clay birds, I leave a few guns out there but the skeet gun travels with me, it's the best of the best - you just can't miss with this gun - or maybe I'm just a god shot. At any rate, the skeet gun stayed in Springfield this weekend. There were some other thing I was going to do too, I was even figuring it might take a week to 10 days, but I lost interest even before we left Springfield. I think, I am sure I want to move to Cuenca, Ecuador.

Still a lot to do before we move - we are busy giving stuff away and Barbara is making a list of the stuff to ship to her relatives in Washington state. I'll know tonight if I have a buyer for the property in Willow Springs, I have one more lined up if this one falls through. If neither works out, I'll auction the place off. The Kubota dealer says he is interested in Barbara's tractor, but he hasn't gotten back to me yet and one of our friends is interested in the old International 460 if he can find someone to haul it for him. I didn't run the sawmill this weekend so I don't know if I want to sell it whole or "part it out", it's brand new, I just built it a few months ago to replace the one I had before.

The stuffy old college professor is busy grading essays for one of her on-line courses, so I don't think you'll see a post from her for a few days and if you are counting on me to keep you entertained - forget it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Still planning to move to Ecuador

Thanks to the great reporting from Clarke in Cuenca and the assurance of our Ecuadorian lawyer, we are still planning the move to Cuenca on The 1st of December - maybe sooner. The show seems to be over - for now. It may come back to bite us later but the benefits of life in Ecuador still outweigh staying in the U.S. despite a coup attempt once in awhile.

We have found a nice apartment in Cuenca that we will rent if the lawyer can get the lease arrangements worked out. Thing are moving along nicely. We've lowered the price on the house in Springfield and if all else fails we'll rent it out. There has been some interest on the property in Willow Springs, again if all else fails we'll auction it off. All the household items, my tools and equipment and my truck are set to be auctioned off on Nov. 7th and ads go in the paper for Barbara's new Subaru and a new home for the cat and dog.

We're headed to Willow Springs for the weekend, clear our heads, fire up the sawmill, skid some logs, maybe shoot a few clay birds - that sure makes me feel better, especially since I have to sell my guns to move to Ecuador. Any question about what kind of person I am - does "redneck" ring a bell ? That brings up another question - how in the world did a stuffy old college professor and a construction working, gun toting, motorcycle riding redneck ever get together ? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Our Journey Began

The quest that led us to Ecuador began with the weather.  Here in Southwest Missouri, like in so much of the United States, summer this year was very hot.  We always have heat and humidity here during the summers, but as the days of temperatures above 90 degrees with high humidity succeeded one another for week after week, I found myself wishing for cooler days.  I spent all my time indoors; when we went to the country, I couldn't stay there overnight.  The heat affected Ray, my husband, as well.  He is an outdoorsman -- he's worked on farms and ranches and as a builder his entire life -- but he couldn't handle the heat this year.  What were we to do?

We had planned, after my retirement from teaching at Missouri State University last May,  to retire on 40 wooded acres we have near Willow Springs, Missouri.  Ray had built me a small studio where I could work, and for us to stay in while he finished the big house.  We were all set to have electricity brought to the property and, for the winters, we had a wood stove.  The winters get cold here.  So, I was all set -- heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.  But it occurred to us that living in an artificial environment -- indoors a good deal of the year -- was not what we wanted.  More than once we had tried to think of places we'd been to and liked that had "perfect weather" for us.  We thought of a few but, when we investigated them, we found that we couldn't afford to buy the amount of land we'd want, even after we sold the house here in Springfield and the property in Willow Springs.  And we didn't want to live like paupers.  We are not extravagant people; we live in jeans, tee shirts, and boots; but we did not want to spend the rest of our lives in an apartment or in a small house with a small lot.

Last summer, I was in the house reading the paper and drinking a cup of coffee when Ray came in.  He'd been on the internet, and he asked me "What do you know about Ecuador?"  I knew where it was, and the two main cities, and that Secretary of State Clinton had just been there, but that's about all.  He'd read an article about the best places to retire overseas, and he started investigating them.  More and more, over the following days and weeks, we came to focus on Ecuador.  We read all the sites -- International Living, Pro-Ecuador, Ecuador Central -- and started finding and reading blogs by expatriates who now live in Ecuador.  We focused on Cuenca as the place to visit and set about making plans to go there.

We were in Cuenca for a little more than a week earlier this month.  I had been skeptical about retiring outside the United States.  We spent our first night and part of a day in Quito, which we liked very much.  That evening, we flew to Cuenca, checked in at the Villa Nova Inn, and had dinner at Cafe Wunderbar.  I was so impressed with the city and the people we met that first night, especially a couple we met at the cafe who were also staying at the Villa Nova, Paul and Natasha.  The four of us became good friends and we know we will stay friends.  But the Ecuadoran people at the inn, in the stores we went to, in the cafes and restaurants we ate at were all friendly, helpful, and patient with our almost non-existent Spanish. 

Ray liked Cuenca right away; I'm sure he wanted to move there the first day we were there.  It took me a day or two longer.  We'd walked up to Parque Calderon and sat there for a while.  A sort of serene feeling came over me.  To find such an oasis of calm in the middle of a big, bustling city seemed to me to be a miracle. We loved the old city, and walked all over the streets.  By the end of our third day there, I was determined to give Ecuador a try.  We started the process to become residents and will be in Cuenca by the end of the year.  We are going to look for some land so Ray can build a house; in the meantime, our lawyer, Dra. Lina Ulloa, is finding an apartment for us.  She's really great; she has a move-to-Ecuador website, too.  It's

In future posts, I will be sharing pictures and relating our experiences as we move there.  Ray -- Alpha Dog -- will be offering his views, too.

DocBop (Dr. Barbara Turpin)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1st blog post - This and That.

We figured that starting a blog was a lot easier than trying to keep up with which friend or relative wanted what information about our pending move to Ecuador. In addition it will be a lot easier for them to keep track of us when the move is complete and we do - who knows what, who knows where ?

Barbara's tractor is on the list of things to sell before we move. Anyone interested ???