Friday, August 1, 2008

Unlocking Ecuador

Up and at 'em fairly early as we had to go to the Doctor for the HIV and HEP B tests. We arrived at 10:00 am as agreed. At 10:15 a nurse advised us he was running late. There were 5 sets of people waiting for him by then. He arrived at 10:30 and we got into see him just before 11:00. He seems like a very nice guy and he has agreed to be our permanent Doctor. He said that you don't normally make an appointment in Ecuador, you just show up and it's first come first served. He whisked us down the hall to the lab and introduced us to the lab people and they took the blood in quick time (Brian didn't cry) and we'll have the results first thing the next day.

We received an e-mail from a gal shortly after we got home from the Doctor and she says that the health certificate is not required any more. We asked her if this was for the Pensioners' Visa or the Tourist Visa and she said "unbelievable but no residence visa require the health certificate anymore". We're going to talk to our lawyer about it next Monday because we just paid $25 each for the consultation with the Doctor and $25 each for the blood test. The lawyer did warn us that the laws are changing so rapidly it's hard to keep up.

It was still fairly early (before noon) when we finished with the Doctor so we decided we would go to the major mall in Cuenca to check out furniture and bedding. We were not very successful but we did go into one store in the mall that had an absolutely lovely living room grouping that was about $500 more than we have seen so far. They also had recliners (which are very scarce in Ecuador). We were not able to find decent pillows anywhere and now have been told by a couple of folks that it's very difficult to find a nice down filled pillow in Cuenca. We did see them at the big mall in Quito, so maybe at some point in the future we'll travel 6 hours on the bus to Quito to pick up some down pillows :-) Meanwhile, we haven't totally given up hope and we'll keep hunting.

Also we popped into a book store where you can trade English paperback novels and the lady there was a great resource and gave us a couple of names of folks who might assist us in finding an apartment and getting set up with cable, internet, etc. On Friday we'll be going to expat night and should get some more information there as well.

Incidentally, a cab driver told us that July and August are Cuenca's coldest months. We were overjoyed to get that information.

We went out with a real estate lady and saw 3 apartments. One was a duplex, 3 bedrooms, 2 living rooms and maid's quarters for $300 per month! It even had a little back yard but it was just TOO BIG. Brian was disappointed Shelley didn't want it but she just kept telling him she didn't want to live somewhere where everything echoed. Thirteen years on the boat has taught her to appreciate small spaces. Then we looked at a furnished 2 bedroom for $700 but we want to have our own furniture, so then we looked at an unfurnished 2 bedroom for $300 and it was just right (except it didn't have a balcony). The real estate lady was disappointed we didn't take an apartment right off the bat but we told her there wasn't any hurry and we were glad to see that there were apartments in the price range we had heard about and we could afford to wait until we saw just the right one. Guess you could say we're doing a Goldilocks and trying things until it's just right.

Cuenca and all the Ecuador we've seen so far is a vibrant, noisy place. There's music playing at restaurants and blaring out of stalls in markets and people going to and fro in cars and buses and walking. We've come from a large city but perhaps the Canadian reserve subdues everything. The Ecuadorians have a tendency to lump us in with the Americans. It takes some effort to explain Canadians aren't the same. Shelley will list a few points on her fingers and the listener will usually smile or laugh and nod their head "Yes, Canadians are different". When Shelley wears her Canada ball cap walking down the street we can hear murmurs of "Canadiense" behind us. It's noticed. There's big Canadian mining here and some resentment as they'll be despoiling the Amazon Basin but the money it'll bring in is too tempting to turn down.

We don't have a lock on Ecuador and probably won't have even after we've lived here for several years, but we're sure enjoying it.

PS:- Brian's caught Shelley's cold.

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