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Friday, March 7, 2014

3rd Anniversary is Leather, right?

Happy 3rd Anniversary to me!  

Last month marked 3 years I've lived in Cuenca, Ecuador, South America!!!  Also, 3 years into my retirement which was pretty much kicked off by the fact I was kicked out of job after job by Corporate America.  Maybe I should thank them for being the impetus for retiring early (albeit poor).  But, you'll never hear it coming outa MY mouth!!!

Kinda like looking back over the past year on New Years Eve, let's take a gander back at what transpired over these past 3 years, shall we?  It's not like I spent a lot of time in my rocking chair, or Barc-o-lounger in front of the boob-tube.

In no particular order:
  • I bought a house, I remodeled it, I sold it.
  • I bought 2 apartments and marketed them as short-term rentals for travelers who wanted more than just a room with a bed and bath for their stay.
  • I moved 3 times.  Once because my landlord, who lived in front of me, had 5 yappy dogs who yapped all day long at anything and everything and nothing, plus they had 5 cars which yelped (their alarms) every time they unlocked and locked their car and even let their car alarm wail and wail and wail while they casually vacuumed the interior!!!
  • I bought two sofas, two love seats, a dining set, two beds, dishes, a desk, a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, a TV, a lawnmower, artwork, and a partridge in a...oh....wait.
  • Oh, and two cars
  • The day I purchased my 2nd (and current) car, the window was smashed out and petty items stolen.
  • I transported my dog Gracie, and my two orange kitties Chip and Bozo from the USA to Cuenca.
  • My little boy Bozo died after only 1 month living in South America.   He was only 8.
  • I adopted Marcelo from my friend Marcelo...thus, the name.
  • I visited back home (Washington.....no, not DC....STATE) twice.  Once, for my Mommy's 80th birthday.   83 coming up on 3/26!!!!!
  • I had diarrhea many times.
  • I've eaten in over 50 restaurants in Cuenca alone.  Yes, I kept track of them.   I have many more on my list to try.
  • I attended Symphony concerts.
  • I've gone to 5 of the 6 Banos (thermal baths/resorts) located in Cuenca.  I regularly go to one of them at least once a week.
  • Didn't play a single game of Bingo.  Hi Mom!!!
  • Visited several cemeteries because their architecture I find fascinating.
  • My car broke down SEVERAL times!
  • Walked into every church/cathedral I encountered, if the front door was open.  Never got struck by lightning.
  • Went to a disco built in and around an old airplane.
  • Climbed the steeples of the Basilica in Quito.
  • Wandered amongst Iguanas in Guayaquil.
  • Rode the Devils Nose Train.
  • Went to places around Ecuador, such as:
    • Guayaquil
    • Salinas
    • Montanita (3 times)
    • Puerto Lopez
    • Poor Mans Galapagos island
    • Quito (3 times)
    • Banos Ambato (4 times)
    • Puyo
    • Tena
    • Edge of the Amazon
    • Macas
    • Paute
    • Chordeleg
    • SigSig
    • San Bartolome
    • Gualaceo
    • Loja
    • Ibarra
    • Vilcabamba
    • Malacatos
    • Zamora
    • Zaruma
    • Giron
    • Santa Isabela
    • Machala
    • Otavalo
    • Cotacachi
    • Molleturo
    • Saraguro
    • Playas
    • Riobamba
    • Ambato
    • San Fernando
    • Sucua
    • Azogues
    • Biblian
  • Saw more waterfalls than you can shake a stick at.
  • Attended a fundraiser/auction that raised over $7,000 to support spaying/neutering the out of control dog population in Cuenca.  Cats welcomed, too.
  • Got Marcelo tutored (or that's what I told him anyway) and his front tires declawed (my drapes are happy).
  • Been to many, many outdoor indigenous markets around the country.
  • Orchid farm tour.
  • Trebol rose farm tour.
  • Malls in Guayaquil and Quito.
  • Up the side of a volcano via an aerial tramway to 13,000 feet overlooking the city of Quito below.
  • Flown between Cuenca and Quito, and Cuenca and Guayaquil.
  • Went to the Ingapirca ruins.
  • Went to the Equator and straddled the North and South hemispheres.
  • Published 157 blog entries, with over 150,000 views.
  • Got my permanent residency Visa and Cedula (Ecuadorian Id).
  • Got my Censo, too....but they don't require it anymore...that is, 3 months after I was denied travel home because I didn't have my Censo card (but I did have a valid Visa and Passport) because I kept being told they were 'out of paper' and couldn't issue the Censo because of it.
  • Encountered a lot of stupid Bureaucracy.
  • Was hired by 46 clients to drive them where they wanted to go, 54 times (obviously, some were repeats) covering over 4,600 kms (about 2,700 miles).
  • Planted hundreds of plants and flowers and shrubs in my current house yard.   Two dump truck loads of dirt, somewhere well over 75 individual bags of dirt, lots of grass seed, and 210 bricks to create planters.  Even made a water feature by using a bathtub ripped out of one of my apts, sinking it in a hole, and installing a fountain pump.
  • Painted the entire interior of 2 of my homes.
  • In the little more than a year I'd owned them, I had 66 bookings in my apartments with an average stay of 12 days each.  Therefore, I have cleaned the apartments 66 times, too!!
  • Taken over 3,600 photos of people, places, and things in Ecuador.  Organized into 143 folders.
  • Been pulled over by the police several times...even got extorted by one!!!  But, I got my revenge, too.  hehehhehehehehe
  • Had my car broken into and the computer 'brain' stolen from it.  $3,500 to replace.
  • Attended many parties at Granny's.  Washed the dishes afterwards.
  • Stood in line at the Post Office waaaaaaaaay too many times waiting for that piece of mail that took between 10 days and 2 months to arrive!
  • Partook of many of the festivals.  Corpus Christi, Carnival, Independence Day, Day of the Dead, Christmas, Parade de Innocentes, New Years Eve burning of effigies, etc.
  • Purchased (at $1.50 - $2 a piece) and watched over 150 movies on DVD.
  • Cleaned my house myself, mowed my lawn myself, washed my car myself, did all my laundry myself.  But....my dishwashing machine washed my dishes!!!
  • Was an extra in a short film/video about family of circus/clown performers, whose father just died, and one of the sons failed at being like the others and became a banker.
  • Helped clients find apartments/houses, furniture stores, buy and set up cell phones, appliances, move, set up utilities, etc.
  • Got my EC drivers license.
  • Gone without water in my house for 10 days.  I'm now 'down' to an average of 2-3 days a month where the water has been turned off for unknown reasons.
  • Voted in EC elections.
  • Said goodbye to two friends here in EC who died way too early.
  • Signed up for the EC government medical program which covers 100% at $69 per month.
  • Ate Cuy (guinea pig).
  • Explored off the beaten paths on my motorcycle, discovering many treasures such as old-fashion 1-lane wooden bridges.
  • Hosted one visitor from back home.  ONE.  And it was my EX!!!!!!
  • Met people from Texas, Oregon, California, Winnipeg, Alaska, Rhode Island, Toronto, Idaho, England, New Zealand, Colorado, Argentina, Florida, and lots more.
    • Of course, in the mix from all these points North, South, East, and West were whackos, ding-dongs, and downright clueless, such as:
      • The guests who complained over paying $30 a night to stay in a 900 sqft modern fully furnished 2-level apt.  I was over-charging them.
      • The guest who complained an iron skillet wasn't provided.
      • The guest who complained I didn't pre-inform him to bring his laptop so he could watch American TV while in Cuenca....Ecuador....South America.
      • The guest (same folks from the 1st bullet) who complained the internet speed was too slow for all their internet streaming devices they brought with them....to.....Cuenca....Ecuador....South America.
      • The lady who asked how the water pressure is in Ecuador (the COUNTRY).
      • The obese man that complained about all the steps, while he unpacked large packets of Snickers bars.
      • The whacko who attacked a woman in the USA, changed his identity, married a woman who didn't know, escaped the Law and moved to Cuenca and married an Ecuadorian to use her money and get his residency and run a Bed and Breakfast!!!
      • The people (there's several) who can't be more than arms length from their dog, or let their dog set foot on the ground, or must be accompanied by their dog everywhere they go, and of course could never NEVER train their dog to not bark incessantly at anything and everything that moves (or doesn't).
      • And, one of my favorites, those who don't know when to shut up.  Somehow, they are able to breath without missing a beat in their endless yammering.
      • Ok....one more....kinda like David Letterman's Top 10 List.  Those that refuse to learn Spanish.  They expect the locals to understand them, or they pawn the task off to one of their friends who HAS learned Spanish to do it for them.  Why should they learn Spanish?  It's not like they're in Cuenca............Ecuador...............South America!!!!!!

What's left to do?

Well, there's Peru (border is 3-hour drive away) and Columbia (Bogota, Medellin, Cali) right next door.   Still more restaurants to hit.   The Zoo and the new Planetarium are still on my list.  Haven't been to Crucita and Bahia de Caraquez (northern coast) yet.  Banos beckons me back again (before the volcano obliterates it).  There's always more plants to plant.  Maybe one day I can go to that new restaurant that just opened up that has purty murals in each room.  But, alas, at this point I can't because I can't have a table to myself or even with my date unless I'm willing to be glommed together at a larger table of strangers I don't wish to share my private conversations with.  SOME day us single folk or those that are identified as a 'couple' will have the right to enjoy their own private table.  Sighhhh.

And, there's my short-term apartment rental guests who keep coming and coming from all points of North America to either get away from the cold, or the hot, or the government that caters only to the rich and powerful, or the wars, or the insane medical costs, or the abandonment of common sense, ethics and integrity, or the Kardashians....or, all of the above.


Enjoy the photos.  All just random stuff I've been saving to publish 'some time'.

Common tree around here.  Flowers are referred to as 'Angels Trumpets'.

Someone decided to dump a truckload of dirt smack dab in the middle of our road.  It was there for several days before someone finally scooped it up and tossed it over the fence.

Some time ago, I got stuck up in the middle of nowhere.  I flagged this guy down (like he was a taxi!) as he was travelling down the highway and asked him to help get me out, way up in the hills.  It took him over an hour to get me out as the road was slippery and he kept sliding towards me.  This is what I saw when sitting in my seat in the car, facing uphill towards him.  That's the tow strap (on the ground to the left) he hooked onto his bucket to pull me towards him a foot at a time.

Video (click arrow) of homemade fireworks from the past weekends' Carnival kickoff in Parque Calderon...the center of the universe in Cuenca.  I love how the pinwheels reverse direction towards the end of the video.  Click the lower right-hand corner to enlarge the screen.

Gracie in the dog house.
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  1. Muy informativo, Dano! We look-forward to occupying your rental (the one "You Can't be Closer to El Centro Without Being In It" apartment).
    Continued happy living in Ecuador!

  2. You forgot being stranded in the mountains and walking out for an hour and a half like The
    Sound of Music

  3. Great Blog. We stayed in your rental last year. Looks like a new TV and the South America map was moved to the Living Room. To anyone looking for a place, you will not find a better location, also, a great view off the kitchen.

  4. Three years! three years of reading your blogs. And I just found out (1) you've been married and (2) she has been you're only (North) American visitor.

    On to important stuff: if I am going to be bringing Swiffer's wipes, it's time to talk - please PM me at denisemic@bellsouth.net

    Less than 90 days before the move and I still haven't decided whether to bring the pink dress or the yellow dress (tee hee)

    Charlotte NC

  5. Dan I love your blogspots, so full of your personality and information! I chuckle at the scripts regarding Ecuador living (I am a recent expat) while at the same time learning a great deal! Keep the blogs coming and wishing you much FUN in your retirement! A little side note, I too love to haunt graveyards, visited many all over the world, the living think me to be crazy! Perhaps you can show me around the Dead here!
    Hasta Pronto,

    Hasta Pronto

  6. Hi Dano. CONGRATS! We appreciate your fabulous blog and your “unique” perspective on life in Ecuador. Our two cats are moving there in early 2015 and taking us along. Through Web searching we’re finding differing requirements for what vaccinations, etc they need to be certified to become resident Ecuadorian cats. Besides the vaccines for Rabies and the Tick/Tapeworm treatment, do they also need Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)? Also, do they need to be microchiped and have papers for that? Thanks for any advice you can share! moni n neil

    1. Hi Moni & Neil....I'm presuming you're the humans and I'm not responding to the kitties! Because rules and procedures change all the time, I suggest you go closest to the source...that being the EC Consulate in Wash DC (their website). You can call them too. They are very helpful. Stay away from the San Francisco consulate, they are rude and, believe it or not, have a different set of procedures even though they both represent the same set of rules for the same country!!! In my case, I was given only a 10 day window before my ARRIVAL date in EC to run around and get the papers in order for my pet's travel. Vac's have to be up to date and I believe some have to be given within a certain time period of your travel. You have to have an APHIS form filled out by an APPROVED dept of Agriculture Vet. I also had to send those papers to my Dept of Agric for my state for them to bless, rubber stamp, and pay a fee. In my case, I drove there. There's fed--exing that goes on which needs a pre--paid return overnight envelope included so you don't miss the 10 day deadline. I don't think your cats need to be chipped, mine weren't.


    2. Fantastico! Thanks mucho, from us and our furballs.

  7. Hi Dan. I found your blog through one of your listings on Trip Advisor (I think) unfortunately your smaller place us booked most of the time I'll be in Cuenca going to School to improve my Spanish (april 4 to 18) A couple friends will also be there then and I thought we might want to engage your services for some excursions. How will we contact you? My email is: jccmedi8@mindspring.com. I'll have a (I hope working) cell phone there but haven't figured out the details on that yet.

    I'm enjoying your blog. Here's mine on the transition and transformation that is retirement - but in the USofA: Frontage Road to Zen: The Retirement Chronicles http://zen-road-retirement.blogspot.com/

    Hope we can connect.

    Best, Joan C.

  8. Hello Dan,

    Happy 3-rd anniversary to you! I have been here a little over 3 years - 3 years and almost 4 months, to be exact, but have not accomplished as much, either travel wise, or otherwise :) Will examine your trips, use them as a travel guide, and may ask some questions later. For now though my question is about IESS.

    I have been testing a private insurance, with many abysmal results, including that yesterday, when I was handing them a claim (only 2-nd and nothing major), they gave me a letter, announcing that my insurance would not be renewed. Did not even had the grace email it a month in advance. Now have only 15 days before expiration. I would have cancelled it anyway - nothing but headaches, but 2-3 months later.

    Well, they pushed me into IESS. Have just signed up at their web site, but they did not ask me for any bank details, nor told me how to proceed. Could you, please, tell what to do next - have confirmation of my application, but nothing else. Perhaps you would not mind writing a blog entry on the subject. May be helpful to many present and future expats. Or, please, email me. Thanks Jane

  9. I enjoyed the summary. Fairly new reader to your chronicles but I see that I am going to really enjoy them. Hope to pick your brain and meet you in person once I'm there (later this year). You seem like an interesting one to know. :-)


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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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