Friday, January 25, 2013

First Step Planning

So where are we at in planning? Well, I have a spreadsheet with ten tabs right now...I'm sure there will be more tabs before we are done. There are so many questions and so far we're getting the right answers, even if they aren't what we want to hear.
  1. Medical Care and Insurance: There is good quality medical care in Cuenca. Many of the doctors are US trained so they speak English. Medical insurance is available for under $100/month for us both.
  2. Water Quality: Cuenca has some of the best water around BUT you need to remember parasites and amoebas are no fun. Here is the best analysis I've seen and probably something we will invest in ourselves if we move.
  3. Pollution - Air & Noise: It's there, ever present in the main city area. This will be an adjustment and we will have to weigh the option of being out of town slightly to get away from it or being in town and being able to walk to everything. Our visit in April will help in this decision.
  4. Climate: At an altitude of 8200 feet and nestled in the middle of the Andes Mountains, Cuenca is similar to Colorado Springs in the early- late summer. Morning low's in the 50's are the norm although there may be a few mornings in the 30's. Daily high's are in the 70's although a few days may hit the low 80's. The humidity? What humidity? Homes don't have air conditioning or heat. A few folks get a portable heater to take off the morning chill. Everyone dresses in layers, shedding them as the day grows warmer and adding them back as the day cools into evening.
  5. Seasons: Since the temperatures are pretty much the same year round, there aren't true seasons. They do call Nov-Apr the wet season and that is their summer. May-Dec is the dry season and that is their winter.
  6. Power/Voltage: Power is good but goes down from time to time (like when it rains). Typically it lasts less than an hour. Voltage is 110/120 but most outlets are 2 prong so I see a stash of adapters and power strips (surge protectors) in our future.
  7. Transportation: Buses (avg .25) and taxis (avg $2-3) are the major means of transportation. We do not plan on buying or shipping a car. The cost and liability are not something we want to get into, plus the need to get a local driver license. Oh yeah, and the poor roads along with the very aggressive local drivers. Gulp!
  8. Language: Spanish is the main language used in the area. We will be doing our best to learn enough to be comfortable.
  9. Currency: The US Dollar is the currency of choice. Ecuador is mostly a cash based country. Cash and debit cards are used the most often, with nothing larger than a twenty. One blogger wrote about paying for $2000 worth of furniture with all $20 dollar bills.
  10. Phones/Internet/TV: While on our exploratory trip we will use text messaging for emergencies on Stu's phone only (same as while we were on our cruise). If we move there we will get a local phone and use prepaid minutes. There is Internet available, the avg being $60/month, plus wi-fi in many public locations. DirecTV has a presence with some English channels.
We know there will be local, cultural things to get used business closings during mid-day and kissing each other on the right cheek. Still a lot to learn but this is a good start!

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