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Monday, August 20, 2012

My Moving Experience

Though other things have been happening the past few weeks, the dominant theme has been MOVING.   No, the theme hasn’t been moving, I’VE been in the throes of moving from the house I sold to a new rental house.

Thank goodness I didn’t ship all my worldly goods to EC via a container like some folks do.   One look at the bureaucracy, red tape, rules, gotta dot your I’s and cross your 3rd and 5th toe at 2pm every other Thursday and, of course, the ungodly cost…I chose to sell all my things and store stuff I couldn’t let go of, at my Mom’s, and bring only what I could cram into 3 pieces of baggage.   Once here, I bought what I needed to fill the gaps.

The point is, when it came to packing up my Cuenca house (which I sold) it didn’t result in 97 boxes…more like a dozen.  I started a few weeks before the final date of handing over the house to the new buyers which, by the way, are a lovely couple (Franny & Robert) from New York. 

I’m going to digress now (big surprise).  I’m VERY flattered and amazed at my (blush) pseudo-celebrity due to my blog.  I’ve been approached many times at restaurants, social gatherings, etc by people who recognize me from the small close-up photo at the bottom of my blog…’excuse me, are you Dano?   I read your blog all the time’.  Several people have told me the blog was very helpful to them during their decision-making process on whether to relocate to EC or not.  What an honor!!   Maybe I’m not such an ‘Ugly American’ after all!!!   PPPFFFFFF!!!!!   When I drive people around the area, we often have conversations such as ‘oh, I remember you wrote about that in your blog’ or ‘how are your pets doing?’ or ‘geez, you sure were getting beat up by that reader!’. 

Well, one day, the ‘lovely couple’ engaged a real estate agent who called me to set up a time to show my house.  They heard him say my name and inquired if that was THE Dano who writes the blog?  Yup.   When they arrived at my door, Gracie (my dog) ran to check out the visitors and Franny said ‘oh, there’s Gracie!’.   I asked them how they knew her name?  Because they read my blog!!!  What’s more, she is a published author and editor by profession!   GAWD…talk about flattering and intimidating at the same time!  Anyway, they loved the house and remembered the various blog entries about the remodel process and now they were seeing it live and in person.   They went to see a few other properties, but by the end of the day, they offered to buy my house, which I wholeheartedly accepted. 

Which prompted the move.  See?  There was a GOOD reason for digressing!!

I had to find boxes.  Where?   Back home, I’d normally head for the liquor store.  Ummmm…noooo….not to take the stress out of moving, but to get BOXES!!!!  Not here.  I could NOT find any place to get used boxes.   I checked the yellow pages (which usually is worthless here) and found a company who makes boxes…boxes for pizzerias, boxes for any company who needs a box with their logo, etc.   I drove to their plant and purchased 20 or so boxes of 3 different sizes, which they made for me, and I picked up the next day.

Then, I needed packing material.  Here in EC, there’s very LITTLE in the way of one-stop shopping.  Back home, a run to Home Depot or Lowes, and you could pretty much get everything you need.  Here, I didn’t know of any place that I’d been in the past that sold packing material such as rolls of Styrofoam padding or bubble wrap.   Ultimately, I found a business who sells just that, and only that.   They had the tape, the tape dispenser thingy, Styrofoam, boxes, bubble wrap and all those goodies.   Funny thing…they said bubble wrap is NEW here!!!  I had to ORDER the bubble wrap and pick it up a week later.

As I said, I started packing boxes early so I wouldn’t get slammed at the last minute.  I packed things I knew I wouldn’t need for a couple weeks.   During this time, I was also looking for a place to rent.   After the initial fiasco with the wicked woman who wanted to charge me $200 a month for utilities, I was able to find a rental in a nice neighborhood.  

The house is brand new.  It’s situated in the back of a large property with the owner living in the big house in front.  The house was intended for their daughter to live in (family live with family it seems forever here!!), but they ended up deciding to rent it out.   It’s directly across the street from a river and a block down from where two rivers merge.  The neighborhood has NO commercial businesses.  It’s strictly residential, so the vast majority of the traffic in the area is just locals who live there which translates to…..QUIET!!!    Well, if you don’t count the dogs barking and car alarms chirp, chirp, chirping and whoop, whoop, whooping. 

It’s a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, two-level house with an office, shared laundry in-between the owners house and mine and, likewise, a small gym.  It does NOT have a dishwasher….WAAAGHHHHH!!!   The fridge is small, doesn’t have an automatic ice-maker, and no in-door water dispenser.  DOUBLE WAAAGGHHH!!!   I iwill survive....sniff, sniff.  The property is gated with an automatic opener, lots of parking space, and a multi-purpose concrete court used for volleyball, basketball, and soccer.  

The owners have FIVE dogs, comprised of shitsu’s, pekingese, one kooky bulldog and 4 parakeets and 2 outdoor cats and, ohhhh, two sons 25 and 27, daughter 23 and her 3 year old son.   When I moved from the states, Gracie lost out because she used to have free roam of 1/3 acre on waterfront but was relegated to a small yard behind walls at my former Cuenca house and had no doggie pals.   The cats (Bozo and Chip in case you forgot), won big-time as they were forced to be inside-only at my states house due to the dangers of raccoons and the property not being securely enclosed, but in Cuenca the property was fully enclosed and they could freely roam outside without any fears.    Now, it’s reversed.   The cats are back to being inside-only because the rental property has places to escape.   Gracie, however, now has 5 other dogs to run around with.  Dog-poop-pickup-day will be very different here.

Back to moving.  I packed and packed and packed.  Then it was non-stop cleaning.  It seemed endless….wall patching, painting, window cleaning, shelf-wiping, washing the glass sunroom roof, vacuuming, floor-washing, and on and on and on.  I wasn’t about to hand over the house to the buyers without it being in perfect shape.  Silly me.

The new house has a tiny living room.   I, however, owned a couch, two loveseats, and two large single seats.   No way were they going to fit ANYWHERE in the new house.  So, I sold them all…to one of my clients I did some driving for.  Well, at least that lessened the amount of furniture to move, but I still needed to find a truck and crew to do the moving.   In EC, there’s no such thing as U-Haul or anything like it.    When I sold my array of sofas, the guys the purchasers hired to deliver them showed up in a relatively small truck with cattle-type fencing on the sides.  Those guys just kept stacking things up and up and up (envision the back of the Beverly Hillbillies truck when they moved out West).    The loveseat was on the tailgate!   Yes, they wrapped rope around it, but not over the top.  Three guys hopped on board and flung their bodies across the top and away they went!

I didn’t want that.   I posted a request on Gringo Tree for recommendations based on others experience.   I received what turned out to be a great reference to a guy who owns large ENCLOSED trucks with all the moving blankets and pads AND he spoke English!!!    He came by the house to examine my goods (and the furniture, too!!!....RIM SHOT SMITTY…BUH DAH BUM!!!).    He estimated the cost would be $85 and could be accomplished in one trip.  SOLD.

Moving day, he was there on-time with a crew of 4 helpers.  They wrapped the bookcases, dining room table, coffee tables, etc in blankets and sealed them with tape.  The truck was full, but there were still all the potted plants and a few more things to take.  He asked me if he could charge me $20 more for a second trip.  Geeeeeee….I dunno!   ;-)   Sure, it’s ok.   The packing, loading, trip, and unloading took 3 hours.   Then, it was back to the house for a second load, the trip, and unloading again.   Unfortunately, I thought they could back the truck right up to my new house but I forgot the long driveway had a covered entrance and the truck was too high to clear it.  So, they had to unload the truck and walk everything to the house about 100 feet away.    Again, I have to tell you, Ecuadorian men (in this case, YOUNG men) are not afraid of hard work.   They hefted heavy boxes onto their shoulders and hauled them to the house and upstairs when necessary and without so much as a grunt or a grimace.    They had a dolly and my handtruck, but none of them opted to use them even though it would’ve been easier and possibly trimmed time.  I helped out.  I, on the other hand, was dying and leaving a trail of sweat on the ground.  

End result?   The move went smoothly.   4.5 hours of work by 5 guys.   Two truckloads.  Total cost?  $145.

UGH…now the UN-packing and figuring out where to put everything in a smaller house.   Like I said, the house is brand new, just finished construction.   That means construction dust everywhere.   After spending a week cleaning my former house from top to bottom, I now was faced with cleaning another house…every square inch.

I was EXXXXXXXXHAUSTED and utterly FRIED.  For 5 days now, I’ve been tackling the whole move-in process and I’m still not done, though now when I look across the room, I don’t see boxes and disarray.  Things are starting to fall into place and I think today was the first day I woke up without bloodshot eyes from sheer exhaustion.

Gracie is playing with Chahyo, the bulldog who’s just a big loveable 8-month old clutz who should be named, more appropriately, ‘CHUNK’.   The owners have their kitchen door open all the time and Gracie just runs into their house and joins the family gang and gets treats and lots of attention.   All the rules I’ve taught her seem to have imploded.

I have to get internet set up at the house and the water and electricity accounts established here and transferred to the new owners at the old place.  Not a simple feat here via a phone call.   Nope, gotta go to the various offices, provide your ID, property tax records, property ownership records, copies of this and that and who knows what all else.  

WARNING!!!  Bureaucracy Ahead!!!!!


 Dano

Moving crew wrapping the furniture

Moving truck

Dining room table headed out the door

The Crew

My new digs

Volleyball slash basketball slash soccer court

Riverside park and pathway across the street

The river across the street

'Chahyo'  (8 months old!)

The little shitzu


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nuttin but Photos

August is an eventful month in my family circle.  
  • The 1st was cousin Roy's birthday.  60!
  • The 5th was Auntie Edna's (Roy's mom) birthday.  She turned 83.
  • The 6th is, in my miind, THE most important day of the year....Lucille Ball's birthday.  She would've been 101.
  • The 6th is also my dog Sydney's birthday.  She would've been 19.
  • The 7th is my parents anniversary.  They got to 55 years.  Dad is gone, but I'm still countin...63 years ago they were married.
  • The 8th is my 'baby' brother David's birthday.  Turning 48 this year.
  • The 12th is both my best friend and my nephew's birthday and they're both named Brian.  Also cousin Connie's birthday...still sexy at 52 (or so I've heard).
  • By the 15th, My sister and her hubby (whatzhizname) will be closing on a house in our hometown, Port Angeles, WA...to which they'll ultimately move from Laramie, Wyo. 
  • The 20th is the birthday of my adopted boy 'Chip'.  He'll be 7 in human years.
  • The 24th is my niece Kami's birthday.  Lost count.
  • The 28th is my Auntie Pherecia's birthday....still zippin along at...I dunno...87?  She should have a hunky cop pull her over for speedin!!!
  • I closed the sale of my house
  • I move to my new place on the 15th
  • I'm in the midst of buying not one, but two small apartments
  • Shortly into Sept, I'm off to the USA for 3 weeks
  • ...and every Sunday I clean up the dog poop in the yard.
I'm BORED!!!

Since I have nothing going on and nothing on mind to speak about, I'm gonna just let you enjoy the following photos....32 of them!!

BUFFET!!!

Dano


Me holding an Alpaca


Cuenca - Cenaculo church


Inside the Cenaculo church


Altar inside Cenaculo church


Cemetery in the town of Chunchi


Art made solely out of coffee beans of different colors/roasts


Cuenca - Church Corazon Jesus

Cuenca - refered to as the 'Old' Cathedral

Cuenca - Military bands playing in Parque Calderon in front of the 'New' Cathedral

Ditto

Ditto again

Cuenca - Church on Pio Bravo street.  In other words, I don't know the name of it.

Shrine inside of church on Pio Bravo

Cuenca - interior of church on Pio Bravo

View of Cuenca from a hill where all the antennas are located.  The lines of green you see are the rivers that traverse the city.

Me and a client I drove for, at Hosteria Dos Chorreras on the way up to the Cajas.

Cuenca - Church on Plaza Merced

Interior of church on Plaza Merced

Carvings on the front doors of the church on Plaza Merced

Carvings at the front entrance of the church on Plaza Merced

Carvings on the front doors of the church on Plaza Merced

Cuenca - I dunno.  But every time I drive by it, it reminds me of a train station.

Church in a small parrish outside the town of Giron

One of the intriguing winding, dirt roads I explored in my 4 x 4.


Me holding a Falcon(?) owned by a person I was considering renting a house from.


Cuenca - Church in neighborhood known as Misicata

Cuenca - Another church in neighborhood known as Misicata

Church in the town of Progresso, near Playas

Cuenca - the recently restored church Todo Santos (All Saints)

Cuenca - Front of San Blas church

Dome of San Blas church

Cuenca - Interior of the church San Blas

Cuenca - Church Virgen de Bronce

Anyone for chicken feet in their soup?
Me thinks the reason this bird got whacked is because he was in the middle of flipping off his owner.

Ma' Boyz.  Chip (left), Bozo (right)

About Me

My photo
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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