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Saturday, February 26, 2011

....and so it begins

Feb 15th, 2011

Getting ready for my exit.

To move to another country, much less South America, requires you to choose whether you ship all of your belongings via container (envision a 20 or 40 ft container…the kind you see being hauled by a freight truck) or sell everything you have and move with whatever you can cram into your luggage.  I chose the latter after reading countless articles about the itemization, customs, fees, bureaucracy, and mishaps that occur with container shipping.  Oh, and the cost….THOUUUUUUSANDS of dollars.  I was also hearing how many people found it to be ‘freeing’ to sell off all their worldly possessions and start anew.  I didn’t get rid of EVERY thing.  I couldn’t let go of my most personal stuff, so I stored it at Moms.  At some point in time, maybe I can gradually bring those things down, presuming I stay here.   Aside from those, I sold almost everything I had, down to the last roll of toilet paper.  I lugged 3 bags on this first trip.  My carry-on, a large duffle bag that looked I stuffed a dead body in, and another roller luggage.  Oh, and a large kennel with two kitty cats.  Yes, there’s no way I could move without taking my kids with me.  But, they only allow 2 animals to enter EC at a time.  So, Gracie had to stay behind until the next trip South. 

‘They’ (the government) don’t make it easy.  The rules give you TEN days to get all the necessary steps completed in order to allow pets to be brought into the country.  It’s a process set up for failure.  First, vaccinations must be done no sooner than XX days and can’t be older than XX months.  Then, 10 days before you leave, you must:

  1. See your Vet and have them examine your pets and complete a form (in BLUE ink!) stating the pets are healthy and okay to travel.  Cost $180.  Note:  The Vet must be USDA certified. 
  2. Send that paperwork to Olympia for them to bless and release it.  Since I was a mere 100 mile roundtrip from Oly, I drove down instead of Fed-Ex’ing.   BUT, an appointment must be made first as they only take people from to 12.  I had no problems with Oly endorsing my document.  Cost $72.
  3. Next, you must Fed-Ex that document to the Consulate/Embassy of EC for THEM to bless it.  I chose to send it to San Francisco instead of Wash DC because SF is closer, thus the turnaround time would be less risky.  Right?  Right!!!  At a cost of $35, I overnight the document and payment (must be Cashiers Check at at $8 cost).  Now, the worrying starts because I have to have that document blessed and in my hands by the time I fly out.  Oh, I forgot to tell you….the 10 day period in which all this has to happen does not start at the time you LEAVE, but the time you ARRIVE in EC. 
  4. I leave on Tues, right?  On the Thurs before I receive the Fed-Ex return envelope from San Fran (at another cost of $35).  WHEW!!!  I open it and find my documents returned to me with a yellow sticky on it and scribbled ONE sentence in Spanish informing me I need ONE document PER ANIMAL.  I had submitted ONE document with TWO animals on it…because the @#%$^## document has 10 rows on it for 10 entries!!!  San Fran REJECTED it!!!  I was spitting bullets and using every cuss word ever known to mankind and made some up to fill in the gaps!!!!!!!
  5. Let’s stop for a moment and think about the costs.  The Fed-Ex TO San Fran cost me $35 and the Fed-Ex FROM San Fran cost me $35 to send the @#$%@$#! Yellow sticky back to me!!!
  6. On Friday morning, 4 days before leaving, I called the Wash DC Consulate thinking they might have some power over San Fran and tell them to ‘get with the program’.  They told me, ‘yes, no problem with 1 document for 2 animals’.  I asked why, given they are both Consulates representing the requirements for the SAME country, do the two Consulates have different procedures?  They said ‘oh, San Fran has a different boss and to try to get them to make changes is a waste of time.  GRRRREAT!!!  He, (Marco), said to Fed-Ex him the document and they would approve it.  I informed Marco I am OUT OF TIME!!!   He said, Fed-Ex it to me right now and I will have it Monday then I will approve it and send it back to you and you will receive it Tuesday.  GREAT…I LEAVE TUESDAY!!!   But, luckily, not until at night.  So, another $35 Fed-Ex overnight clear across the country. 
  7. Monday I call Wash DC.  Is Marco there?  No, he doesn’t work today.  ARRGHHH!!!  But, they confirm they received my package,  I beg them to make SURE they Fed-Ex it back to me the same day so I get it the next day.  OK!! 
  8. Tuesday, I’m at my best friends house in Seattle sweating it out that the Fed-Ex will show up in time for my flight.   If it doesn’t, either the cats stay in the US, or I have to cancel my flights, hotel, cancellation fees, etc and start the 10-day WHOLE CYCLE all over again.  Amazingly, the Fed-Ex arrived at on Tuesday.  Thank God I didn’t have an early morning flight, which is what I typically would have done. 
  9. Interestingly enough, not only do the two Consulates have different procedures, but had I followed San Fran’s rules, it would’ve cost me $100 ($50 per form for 2 animals) whereas Wash DC only charged $50 because they ACCEPT 1 form for multiple animals!!!  GRRRRR!!!!!

On to the airport.   There, I have to pay an overweight charge for my duffle bag and $150 for the cats to fly in the belly of the plane.

The flights were uneventful, albeit I was again flying first class and got my favorite dose of warm nuts!!  First, to Dallas arriving at the crack of dawn.  Then, on to Miami.  At each stop, I watched the kids (cats) go up the conveyor belt into the belly of the plane.  I could see them bobbing their heads around wondering WTF??  (I would spell that out but I know Mom is reading this).  Can you imagine what must’ve been going through their minds?  Airports, people, loud noises, conveyor belts, takeoff, landings, and the slamming of the brakes of the airplane probably squished them up against the wall of their kennel.  LOL!!!! 

I ultimately landed in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.  People were mesmerized by these unusual beings as I rolled their kennel thru the airport.  Everyone wanted to look and take pictures.  You’d think they (the cats) were a Hollywood celebrity!  A pre-arranged van picked me and the luggage and the kennel up and whisked us off to our Hotel where the kids finally got to be free of their cage and roam around the room, but still with that WTF bewildered look on their face. 


  1. lol well this sounds really stressful. I hope the process from Canada isn't quite so bad for moving one dog down with us.

  2. Your hell sounds about like the hell we are going through right now with the airlines. We're taking two dogs instead of cats. Both have short noses and thus are limited as to when they can fly due to the heat. Continental's website says they will fly them, they have a temperature controlled area for pets. So, we buy tickets. Later I called to arrange for the animals (you can't do it all in one step via the web), they tell me that I cannot do that until 3 days prior to leaving and even then, the plane has to be less than 75% booked and that never happens this time of year. So basically they lied to us. They will not fly them during the Summer.
    Thus our hell is still in progress. We do not know when we will be able to leave. Probably the Fall sometime. We can't cancel the tickets so we're stuck with Continental.

    We did what you did, sell everything. We sold the house totally furnished. We're kind of in limbo right now until we close on the house and figure out how to get there with the dogs. There will be much cussing I am certain.

    Thanks for the story though. I learned a few things.

    Steve & Shirley


  3. I too have been exploring taking my 2 small dogs and have written an article about my findings. There is a lot of misinformation. One rumor is that the Government has the 10 day rule--not true. it's an airline rule. Two, you don't need to get an embassy or consulate involved. All you need is the document from the USDA Vet office, in Florida it's in Gainesville. Three, you can put two animals on the same form and the USDA cost is $37.00 per form. Four, there is no quarantine period, you can take your pets from baggage claim directly home.

  4. I'm working on this process right now myself. Moving with my husband and Chocolate lab mix rescue to Quito in July and this is our biggest worry. Appreciate the detailed post. Any updates are appreciated!


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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