Being in a new country with new ways of doing things can be frustrating at times unless you go with the flow and not try to get too much done right away. We have hired someone to help us with setting up our phones because it is a bit involved and requires a level of Spanish that we have not yet reached. I am so glad we have decent internet at this apartment that came with the lease. In the next apartment, gas and hot water are included but we need to pay for cold water, electricity, internet and t.v. separately. Our wonderful real estate agent, Liliana, will help us sign up for the first payments for water and electricity and we will hire someone to set us up with high speed internet and t.v. package.

yesterday from our window
the light was amazing

And yesterday we had a HUGE deluge with thunder and lightning but not much wind. We were at a gathering of friends and tried to get a cab home but when it’s raining the cabs are all busy, so we walked. And it wasn’t bad at all! I had my umbrella and Bruce borrowed Tom’s and it was warm enough to actually be pleasant.

Yesterday we signed the lease on the new apartment, which is another accomplishment. Sara, our lawyer, looked over the lease and made a few suggestions and we all came to an agreement. The owner is an Ecuadorian gentleman who lives outside of town. We met him at the apartment along with Liliana for the signing which took about two hours! Seems like EVERYTHING takes longer here. We brought the $1560 in cash (three months rent) and were required to write down the serial numbers of each one of the one hundred dollar bills, fifteen in total. Then Liliana checked the numbers against the bills and then the owner did the same! It was almost comical. We went over every item on the inventory list which included things like the kitchen cabinets and towel racks….items that are permanent fixtures.

A few fun photos
A really talented street musician
You wouldn’t see this in the US
or this…..
the sky here is dramatic and changes minute by minute

So yesterday was a very full and interesting day. In the morning was the signing of the lease. We went to a gathering of friends in the afternoon and walked home in a lightening storm. We got home and changed out of our wet clothes into fancy wear for an evening at Joe’s Secret Garden. This is an elegant old home with a luxurious garden where the owners prepare a set dinner for anywhere from fifty to a hundred people. Last night was Italian osobucco and it was delicious. On the way home we stopped off at Common Grounds to dance to Paco’s Blues Band. Just one dance tho……we were up past our bedtime!

So the minor frustrations and the fun new experiences continue. And we continue to find our new home fascinating!

A meeting with our lawyer

I was a little bit nervous about our meeting yesterday morning with our lawyer, Sara Chaca. The last two months before leaving our home in the states were consumed by obtaining a whole lot of paperwork and it had not all been delivered to us by the time we left. The remaining paperwork was to be mailed to Sara’s Florida office. No paperwork….no residency! Hence the nerves. But good news!!😃👍The final papers had arrived!

So young and yet so accomplished!
Sara’s office on Calle Larga
it’s really nice inside!

A little word about the paperwork for residency…….you need all new stuff!! Your birth certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce decrees must all be newly certified and then apostilled. The apostille is given by the Secretary of State for certification internationally. Then you also need an FBI background check with fingerprints, a state patrol background check, and if you want a retirement visa, certified social security reward letters, and all of them need the apostille. And…..all paperwork has an expiration date of three months or so. Everything has a fee, of course.

SO, I was feeling pretty darn good after our meeting! We walked home along the river.

The street side of the river
See? 😊 😊 Happy!
Then bought plums for sauce….they turned out to be small nectarines😮
Bruce ate them
Couldn’t resist these long stemmed roses at the market
one dollar a bunch!
even tho the roses Bruce bought for my birthday are still fresh
The day turned hot and we were overdressed….good thing I had my sunscreen.
the first couple of days here’s my nose got burned
Above ground wires spoil the picturesque scene, just like in the USA

Mi Cumpleaños (my birthday)

The day started with breakfast at the Oro Verde hotel. This is a very upscale hotel in Cuenca where we had the pleasure of staying a couple of times on our visit last year. The breakfast buffet is outstanding with an endless array of Ecuadorian and American style offerings. It is tempting to try it all, but I restrained myself to their freshly cut fruit….melons, strawberries, papaya, pineapple…..all fully ripe and sweet. And the Bircher oats…….And the tiny pancakes with maple/honey syrup…with bacon, of course! Next time we go I will take photos of some of the more unusual Ecuadorian delights. And it is so much fun to observe the rest of the guests, all Ecuadorian yesterday morning. The glamorous women of L.A. have nothing on these lovely ladies. Again, sorry for no photos, but it just feels so intrusive…..maybe next time Bruce can be a little sneaky.😉

Then back to our apartment, a nice walk along the river, to relax a bit before walking downtown to Esther’s Beauty Salon. I figured since it’s my birthday and we’re going to a fancy restaurant this evening, I would indulge in a bit of pampering…..something I have never done before. I had a mani/pedi and a facial. I have always worked with my hands and kept my nails clipped short, so she didn’t have much to work with! But I have to say, she made them look beautiful, even tho she was very disappointed😞that I chose not to use glittery, sparkly color!! The facial I would not do again. I had to sit with my face in a steam machine with a towel draped over my head and then a face mask with collagen for FIFTEEN MINUTES! That’s hard work! Can’t say it made much difference. I also had my hair trimmed and the ladies were VERY anxious to cut my long hair. They showed me a photo of a Farrah Fawcett do that they were sure would look great on me. And my eyebrows!! Something must be done! When I stepped out of the salon, Bruce was coming down the street with a huge bouquet of roses he bought for THREE DOLLARS! In case you were wondering, my two hour beauty ordeal cost thirty seven dollars and I left a ten dollar tip…..which was greeted with real joy and a big hug.

After the trim….a little short, but well done!!

Then home again to relax a bit before the big night. We toasted each other with a glass of fine Chilean wine and dressed as elegantly as possible…..again, sorry for no photo….we forgot to ask someone. Our doorman, Edgar, called us a cab and off we went to Tiesto’s in the heart of El Centro.

langostinos with several side dishes…….way too much to eat
our waiter suggested an Argentinian Malbec and it was perfecto!
a mural painted on the wall of the restaurant
and a painting we both loved

The dinner was a bit spendy for Cuenca, but what the heck, you don’t turn seventy every day! I know you’re curious…..the bill was seventy dollars for both of us which included four glasses of wine😊

Still looking!

The penthouse apartment that we looked at today had EVERYTHING that we would want in an apartment. It was awesome except for one thing. The guest bedroom was cramped and unappealing. So I guess we keep looking. Liliana is showing us another apartment in fifteen minutes so I shall write more later!

Happy birthday to me!!!🎊🎉 We liked the apartment!!! We have a home! And it is very affordable at $520 a month with a building fee (aliquot) of less than $100. Fully furnished except we are going to buy our own kitchen stuff like dishes, utensils and pots and pans. I am glad we will be able to do a little shopping!! It has three bedrooms and two and a half baths. It is on the sixth floor and has an elevator and twenty four hour guard.

So warm and comfy….we will add a painting here, another piece of furniture there…
beautiful wood cabinets, granite countertops and gas stove…built in oven and microwave not in picture
love the stone work and walk in shower

We will show more photos later as we live there and add details. We are keeping our little apartment through the end of February since we already committed, but that will give us time to buy kitchen stuff, our own bedding and other items we may need. So we will have two apartments for the month of February. Sheesh!

Looking for a Home

We have been here for four days now and each day is PACKED with activities. Our little apartment that we rented for the month of January is very comfy with nice views from the living area and master bedroom. The kitchen is small but we are eating out a lot anyway. We just had lunch at a yummy vegetarian restaurant for four dollars each. I couldn’t eat it all!

view from our dining room at night
Looking at apartments with our adorable agent, Liliana

We haven’t found the perfect place for long term yet and have looked at five or six so far. We are renting now on a monthly basis. We found our little apartment online before we came because we wanted to have something to go to right away besides a hotel.

A penthouse we are looking at soon with a huge terrace overlooking the Tomebamba River. I screenshot this image from the internet. This is in a very desirable neighborhood.
King sized bed and en-suite bath. The other bedroom has a queen bed and bathroom.
Both have huge walk in closets
One of the bathrooms……obviously!

Wish us luck!

What we left behind

Well, I intended to write primarily about the beautiful Pacific Northwest where we have lived for almost forty years. And I will. But this title now has double meaning to me since we also left behind one third of our worldly possessions at check in in the Seattle airport! We were not aware of a baggage restriction flying into Ecuador during their busy season. Wish either the airlines or our Ecuadorian attorney would have alerted us….but we are still smiling😬 We had to throw away two pieces of luggage and all the contents.

Here I am before check in with all of our luggage intact.

How things can change…one moment to the next!

I will write more on our flights and arrival in Cuenca later, but now to my original intent of this post. We were very happy in our hand built country house near Discovery Bay. Our company, Bentley Gardens, Inc was a successful and all consuming garden design, installation and maintenance business and we loved our work. But I turn seventy this month and we figured it was time to retire and shake up our lives a bit. We have been researching best places to retire for a few years now and Ecuador was always on the top of our list.

The day we left….January 7th 2020

We are starting a new life and we know it won’t always be easy, but if we concentrate on the good stuff, and we know there will be a lot of that, it will all be worth it. Our five week visit last year to Ecuador’s beautiful coast and to the beautiful city of Cuenca in the Andes, our new home, convinced us we were making the right move.

My First Blog Post

I can’t believe we are in the home stretch! As I write this in December of 2019, we have less than three weeks before we fly away to Ecuador. Bruce and I have been planning this for three or four years, researching best places to retire and narrowing it down to the city of Cuenca in the Andes mountains of Ecuador. We visited the country last January and February, spending time along the coast in Olon and Puerto Lopez, then traveling to the beautiful city of Cuenca. It sits at eight thousand, three hundred feet and has four mountain rivers that run through it.

A city of six hundred thousand that incorporates both old and new architecture,
Cuenca is a World Heritage site.
You can walk or ride your bike along miles of paved pathways.
This is the Tomebamba River
Laundry Day!
There are lots of these markets throughout the city where produce is fresh, inexpensive and grown locally.
Another part of the market.
HOW do they do that?!
The old Vegetable Bar, now relocated. One of many, many restaurants to choose from in the city, with a range of prices, but always way less than in the U.S.
A view of the city at night from the top of a flight of stairs connecting old town (El Centro) with the rest of the city.

These photos were taken during our visit almost a year ago and we can’t wait to go back! We have secured a two bedroom, two bath condo that is fully furnished for the month of January. We will fly into the port city of Guayaquil on January eighth, stay the night at the Holiday Inn near the airport, and have a van pick us up at the hotel the next morning for the ride to Cuenca and our new life.