Saturday, March 28, 2009

Of Mice and Men

The day after we returned from our holiday, Shelley was brushing Fredi and noticed a lump. She at first thought it was matted hair but on closer inspection decided it was some kind of burr. She worked the mass out and was surprised to see blood on one finger and a tic on the other. "Eeeek!" We had dosed Fredi with medication that was suppose to suppress fleas & tics but we guess this one was particularly hardy.

Later on in the day Brian asked why Fredi was rubbing her rear end. Once again, upon closer inspection, we got a big surprise. It looks like Fredi is in heat! We'd already talked about going to the Vet and insisting Fredi be spayed at 5 months rather than after her first heat. We'd talked to several people and looked on line and felt this was the best thing to do. However, Fredi may have fooled us. She won't even be 5 months old until April 8th, but we guess the stress of our holiday may have brought it on? In any case, insisting to our Vet that she do an operation she wasn't comfortable with until after Fredi's heat, has now perhaps become a moot point. That's that "best laid plans of mice & men thing" isn't it? We'll be taking her to the Vet soon and we'll see what she says.

Getting back into routine was a bit of a surprise. We had 10,456 (exaggeration) things to take care of on the computer front & our Spanish lesson didn't go as smoothly as usual. It's not possible we really forgot everything by taking 10 days off, is it? We ended up spending way more money than the usual amount when we went grocery shopping too. Brian pretended to have a heart attack at the cash register and the pretty girl behind the counter giggled pleasingly. We've noted that our grocery bill has gone up since they've implemented the 35% import duty tax but this trip was ridiculous.

We ended up taking Fredi to the Vet ($5 for the visit) because we wanted to know if in fact she'd gone into early heat. The Vet confirmed this is what was going on and advised that first heat at 4 1/2 months was unusual but not unheard of. Since we've now missed the opportunity to have her spayed before her first heat, the Vet is now suggesting we wait until she's about a year old. This is all very confusing to us since in North America they are quite adamant about doing it around 6 months (presumably before first heat). Our regular Vet had the day off, so we decided to defer any decision until next time Fredi needs a hair cut and then we'll discuss it with her at that time.

We went downtown to the Post Office to pick up the income tax papers Shelley's daughter had mailed to us on March 8th. It's been almost 3 weeks so we thought the papers should be here by now. They weren't. Shelley had steeled herself to spend the weekend computing so it was a minor irritation the package hadn't arrived yet. We've overpaid our taxes for 2008 so if we're late filing there'll be no penalty but at this point Shelley just wants to get it done and out of the way. There's strong contention that doing our income tax is right up there on the hate list with Brian's teeth (you have to had read past blogs to understand this sentence). We're definitely having a Mice & Men week.

By the way, we ran into the contractor for the building in the elevator the other day (he lives in the building) and mentioned to him that no one had come up to repair the hole in our kitchen ceiling as had been arranged. He looked properly surprised and said he'd call someone and then set up another appointment with us. This was, of course, now 3 days ago and so far we haven't heard anything.

There's a group of about a dozen kids with what looks like the equivalent of an Ecuadorian Scout leader on the little island in the middle of the river across from our apartment. They've got 3 small camp fires burning and they're roasting something (cuy?) and seem to be having a ball. We're constantly taking pictures through our front room window because there seems to be a fair amount of action that takes places right outside our apartment building. It's probably because of the island & there's also a good place to wash clothes.

When we lived on our boat it didn't take us long to discover there was a "3 year rule". You weren't officially a boat person until you had passed your third anniversary as a live-aboard. The first year was the honeymoon year, the next the disillusion year and the third year most people sold the boat. Once we'd passed our 3rd year on board, when we'd meet new boat people and they'd ask how long we'd been a live-aboard, the reception we'd receive would be much friendlier and we'd get better advice, etc. After we'd passed our 10th anniversary, we were obviously old hands and there was a modicum of respect handed to us by the community at that point. We've conjectured that there might be some of the same rules for ExPats. Very few of the people that attend ExPat night have done their 3 years and the few ExPats you meet who have passed that anniversary definitely exude a seniority vibe.

Shelley's currently reading a book called "ExPat", edited by Christina Henry de Tessan which is a collection of essays written by women ExPats in various parts of the world. The book was lent to her by a fellow Canadian ExPat and she finds herself welling up from time to time while reading the various stories. There seems to be a thread throughout the collection that ExPats ultimately feel like an outsider. "Life in a foreign country is a dance of submission and resistance. Self-knowledge comes in small repeated shocks as you find yourself giving in easily, with a struggle, or not at all." This is not to say there aren't a multitude of reasons offsetting the negative. Certainly we missed our kids and there are petty annoyances but perhaps living on a boat taught us about coping with being outsiders, even within our birth country. We still have our counter going and it tells us we've now been in Ecuador 247+ days. Being around so many Americans has certainly taught us a finer appreciation of our Canadian heritage. In any case, we'll have to see how our attitudes adjust and how attitudes change towards us as we creep towards 1,095 days.


  1. We are also from Vancouver and are enjoying your posts. We are looking at a move to Ecuador. We have done a lot of research and subscribe to info sites. The best, I think, is to people who really live there...Can you stand the many questions???

    First off, what do you typically buy at the SuperMaxi
    that is charged the 35% import duty?

    I also read Bob and Roxanne's blog and have corresponded with your friend Greg.

    Big world but getting smaller.

    Thanks for any info
    Shelagh and Peter

  2. They have recently implemented a 35% import tax on anything not manufactured or produced in Ecuador. Thus, if we buy Hunts Ketchup (for example) we pay the tax, but if we buy the ketchup made in Ecuador we don't.

    PS:- Ecuador ketchup is not like North American ketchup. It's like it's made with cornstarch. We pay the 35%.

    If you buy strictly Ecuador, however, your food bill is very cheap!

  3. After visiting the coast do you find yourself wanting to move there or are you happy to be back in Cuenca with just the occasional trips to the coast. Being from Vancouver and former sailboat people we love the coast but don't like heat and humidity..... Have you been to Cotocachi?


  4. We love to visit the coast but wouldn't want to live there. You must like heat & humidity to do that. The coast of Ecuador is not like the coast of B.C. In B.C. there are islands etc. to make sailing very interesting. In Ecuador next stop is the other side of the world. While Cuenca's weather is warm the evenings are cool and in Cuenca you need neither air conditioning or central heating. We very much like Cuenca!

  5. "Being around so many Americans has certainly taught us a finer appreciation of our Canadian heritage."

    I'd LOVE to see this statement expanded upon!!!

  6. Well for one thing, Canadians DO NOT talk about politics near as much as the Americans we've been meeting in Ecuador. To reiterate: during the year and a half run up to the American Presidential election, Canada called an election & voted all within 6 weeks. Now that's a difference!

  7. True enough. Many of us here in Detroit have long thought your 6 week system far superior.