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Friday, March 23, 2012

Grab Bag

My Mom has had a lot of garage sales in the past.  When closing time nears, she starts assembling 'grab bags' of miscellaneous items from the sale and posts a cheap price.  Buy the bag and get the surprise of whatever is inside!

Well, so goes this post.  I have lots of little subjects laying around, nothing to write a whole lot about, and most of them have no connection to one another.   So, let's start jumping around in my 'grab bag' brain shall we?

Costs

Awhile back, a person left a comment to one of my topics which focused on the cost of things.  She asked:  'Would you please post an update about your cats? Food? Vets? Litter?'   Ok.   My boys are doing great, they love their new house and walled-in yard.  Vets...there's lots of them around, but I haven't had the need to visit any for either my cats or dog.  ProCat 17lbs dry food $20, Tidy Cat 20lbs $15, Dry dog food 33lbs $22.   (check that one off).

Satellite TV

I recently bailed on DirectTV services.  Even though they had a lot of channels, the handful available in English did not have much programming I liked.   I mean, I LOVE The Simpsons, but I can't handle 3 hours of it every day!!   On the flip side, I HATE Two and a Half Men...the stupidest show on TV, but regularly the highest rated, which tells me something about how dumb-downed society is becoming.  The Kardashians is almost better, but BARELY.  I digress.   And, many of the shows are episodes from a year or more ago.  

When I went into the offices to cancel, they put me on the phone with a person who's job it was to retain my account.  He went on and on and on kissing my butt (during which I was banging my head on the lady's desk I was sitting at....causing her to laugh because she knew what i was going through).  He ultimately got to the meat of his point by offering me a whopping $7 a month discount for 6 months and a few extra channels thown in.   Whoop-tee-do.   'No'  'Set me FREE!!'   'Let my people go!!!'  'Free me from the binds that DirectTV enslaves me!!'.  Ok, a bit dramatic, but after telling him I still wanted to cancel, he then offered they would store my equipment in the back room of their offices and MAYBE I knew a friend who wants to sign up for DirectTV and I could simply transfer my account over to them!!  'I don't have any friends...I'm an Ugly American, remember?'.    He tried valliantly....he went down in burning flames and I won.

Medical

I had another medical experience this past week.   Back in November, I signed up for medical coverage with Coopera (see past post in archives) for $2.63 per month.   They require a few months of paid premiums before they provide coverage.  

I made an appointment to see the doctor to find out if any of my existing prescriptions were covered.   I was able to see her the next day.   They don't cover hormone medications, nor anti-depressants, but they do cover cholesterol medications.   However, they will only fill a 30-day supply at a time.  I can either buy the medication at their pharmacy down the street and get it for 80% off, or I can get it filled at my own pharmacy and submit the receipts and get reimbursed.  The cost for my visit with her was $2...sort of like a co-pay.

Coopera has 1 doctor (who also speaks English) and 1 dentist at their main offices in San Joaquin, a neighborhood in an outlying area of Cuenca.   If they are not able to meet my needs, I can see my own doctor or specialist and still be covered.

Since it's been a year that I've been in Cuenca, I have not had my regular blood tests that my USA doctor always monitored for me.    The Coopera doctor recommended a panel of 6 tests.  I could go to any lab I wanted to.  I went to a lab at Mt Sinai hospital and, for $45, got the blood tests done with the results available the same day.  Coopera will cover the cost of the blood tests IF the test results show a medical need (ie; cholesterol too high).  If the results come back in the 'good range', then the cost of the test is not covered.  Interesting.

Speaking of Coopera

Coopera is involved in several lines of busineses such as organic farming, grocery stores, credit union, medical/dental, restaurants that serve their products, etc.   Their grocery stores are a nice source to buy healthy, organic products.   But, what drives me NUTS, is the fact they don't post their prices on a LOT of their goods!!   Wine, oils, pasta, desserts, marmalades, coffee, and many, many more items are sans price.   Chicken, fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables are all priced...why not the other?  It is true of all their stores I've been to.  I've been to several and each time I'm there, I ask someone 'where is the price?' and each time, the clerk smiles and runs to the checkout person, has them scan the price, and returns to me and announces how much it is.   EEESH!!!   I don't think I'm being overly 'Ugly American (or insert any other country name)' by thinking everything should be priced (just like it is in every other store I've been to in Cuenca) so I can make my decision as I shop and not stop to find someone to run and get the price for me every time I run into a product that's unmarked.  

Being a member of Coopera and, therefore, having a vested interest in their business success, you would think (oops, there I go again...thinking) they are losing business because people will forego buying many products not knowing how much they cost.  And, some people may even stop shopping at Coopera out of frustration and have a more positive experience elsewhere.   

Before I get whacked over the head for A) complaining, or B) not doing anything about it, or C) writing about something negative because my posts should contain solely positives about Ecuador...because no negatives exist...riiiight, or D) trying to do something about it but I shouldn't because it's the culture and it's always been that way and it will never change unless the natives want it/initiate the change and because I'm a foreigner my suggestion has no merit and I should be complacent because I'm a guest in their country and they are my hosts, or E) all of the above.......ummmm.....where was I?

Oh.....now I remember....I did contact a person in Coopera who represents most of the English-speaking members.   He, himself, finds it troublesome they don't post a lot of prices (as do other Coopera employees I've spoken to).  And, he has forwarded complaints as well as written his own email to management describing the frustrations (regarding the lack of pricing) his English-speaking clientele have conveyed to him.  

Silence.

Rain

Last year we got over 70 inches of rain!!!  The norm for Cuenca is about 29.   It looks like we've started off 2012 in the same direction as 2011 as we are 60% ahead of our normal rainfall thus far.   UGH!!!   I'm from Seattle which is tormented with the image of 'it rains all the time there, doesn't it?'.   No, it doesn't.  In fact, it gets about the same amount of rain as Chicago, Boston, NYC but it doesn't have the same bone-chilling winters or hot/humid summers.  I don't know why Seattle gets such a bad rap.   Funny thing is, the next thing out of a visitors mouth is usually 'But it is sooo beautiful and green there!!'.   Well, how do you think it gets that way??  RAIN!!!    I'm just glad when it rains in Cuenca it POURS...not dribble, dribble, dribble.  But, I doubt the folks in the hills and those with dirt access roads would agree with me, as they get a lot of muddy runoff.

Enjoy the photos.  They don't have diddly to do with anything I said above.  Just more 'Grab Bag'.

Dano

Out exploring neighborhoods the other day, I encountered this plank bridge (no railings) to cross a roaring river to get to a fairly populated area!!  EEEEK!!

The river the plank-railing-less bridge crossed.

A church on the road leaving Banos headed to Ambato.

Another church in a village on the way to Ambato.  In the village, there is a stretch 3-4 blocks long of nothing but stores selling jeans.

Approaching the town of Alausi, this large statue looks over the village below.



Hmmmm....anyone know the guy??
Carolina Park in Quito

Carolina Park ice cream vendor

Carolina Park has a lot of soccer fields, basketball courts, lagoon for pedal-boats, running paths, and this fun area for bicycles.

All the vouchers I had to buy and display to cover one evening of parking in Quito

I was inspired by this statement.   ;-)

2 comments:

  1. It was like being in a desert without water, breathing thru a tube without air -- but, then, you returned...two weeks is too long to wait (three homonymns in one sentence!)

    Grab bag or hodgepodge - doesn't matter - all info is good info.

    It may take 12 months, but don't you dare move before I get there.

    Denise, Future Friend
    Charlotte

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for the grab bag post, Dano. I enjoyed reading and looking at the photos.

    Tay, a blog reader in Texas

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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