Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Some of our purchases....

Thought I'd share a few of the items we've purchased for our move to Ecuador. We wanted things that would last the five years, be as lightweight but serviceable as possible and not cost an arm and a log. Since we have an Amazon Prime membership, most of our purchases have been from there, giving us the free two day shipping.

French Coffee Press
We got a small, single cup coffee press while in Cuenca. It was overpriced but we wanted to try it out AND we missed our morning coffee. It worked so we ordered a larger version, one that is also thermal. It makes 3 large (8 oz) or 4 small (6 oz) cups. So far we really like it.

Coffee Grinder
Hard to make good coffee without a grinder for the fresh beans. We had a couple of requirements: removable cup for washing, choice of number of cups and coarseness, compact size and easy to use. We ordered this one and it's working great for us.

Wok Set
Okay, this wasn't specifically for our move but it will go with us (as our biggest single kitchen item). Hubby loves to stir fry but missed having a wok. The price on this set was too good to resist. So we didn't...LOL!

Pots and Pans
You can get good stainless steel pans in Ecuador but they are very expensive. The alternative is cheap aluminum pans, not an option for us. We knew we needed a compromise between weight, price and quality. We ruled out anything with Teflon, opting for the newer (and hopefully safer/healthier) choice of ceramic. When we opened the box we were both impressed with these pans. I think they'll be a real favorite with both of us.

Another item where we wanted a slight upgrade from what was available in Ecuador but needed to compromise on weight and quality while watching cost. Oneida has always been a favorite brand and this set is going to work out well for us.

We aren't gourmet cooks and a simple but good brand knife set will suffice. Due to weight, we opted out of a larger set with a knife block. Stu likes J.A. Henckels brand so we got this nice three piece set.

Electric Tea Kettle
The price on this was too good to pass up. We might have been able to get this in Ecuador but we never saw one in our store searches.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Next steps.....

The decision is made, the family and friends have been notified and a tentative date has been picked. So what's next? First we have to continue living our daily life here in the US - family and friends to visit, motorcycle trips to be taken as well as trying to continue good eating and exercise patterns.

That said, we know that December will be here before we know it. As in the joke, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.", we will work slowly through the things that need to be done. Some of that has already started, watching for sales on items we want to bring with us. Since we do plan on coming back in 5-6 years, we don't want to strip all our belongings to take them to Ecuador. Plus, that would be too much weight and too much luggage.

The things we plan to bring, other than the requisite clothing items, are:
  • Pots/Pans (good ones are available but quite expensive)
  • Coffee grinder and French coffee press
  • Single serving size George Foreman grill
  • Tableware and kitchen knives
  • Sheets and towels
  • Electric blanket (maybe only a throw, not sure of size yet)
  • Oven thermometer/Hand can opener/Cooking utensils
  • Electric teakettle
  • Laptops, Kindles, iPhones, iPods, cameras (VERY expensive in EC)
  • Reusable shopping bags (used them a LOT during our visit)
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Scuba gear
Some of the things we know we can get reasonably are:
  • Pillows
  • Blankets/Spreads
  • Dishes (definitely getting most of those at Artesa at the outlet on Fridays)
  • Glasses
  • Misc. general kitchen/dinner ware
  • Crockpot, toaster, blender & electric frying pan
  • Basic office supplies (pens, paper, rubber bands, paper clips, etc)
  • Printer (better to get there due to cartridge availability)
Some of the unknowns will depend on space/weight:
  • Silicone baking pans (may bring due to light weight and packability)
  • Travel iron (small but hefty, will we really need it?)
  • Dustbuster (handy but how much will we use it?)
  • Portable scanner
We will also be bringing some of the harder to find OTC meds like Benadryl and Tylenol as well as tooth flossers (Stu has one favorite brand), favorite toothpastes and Polident tablets (never found anything like that). Probably toss in a couple of boxes of baking soda, too, since that is regulated similar to Pseudoephedrine here in the US.

Most of the new items have already been purchased, next is to pick up a couple of Sterilite Foot Lockers from Wal-Mart. The come in a set of two for $40 and we know one expat that moved with a LOT of these. We figure these will be great for the heavier, bulkier, oddly shaped items with sheets and towels wrapped around them.

We plan to fly business class on American Airlines combined with our AA credit card, that means 3 free bags each - up to 70# each. We may have to do one more bag for Stu's scuba gear, that takes a bag by itself for the most part.

The other item that needs to get started is receiving the paperwork for our pensioner's visa. We will each apply rather than my being a dependent on Stu's. Next week I will write a letter to the four folks on our short list as facilitator's. Then we will make a decision on who to use.

Phew...I'm tired already! ;-)

PS. As always, feel free to post questions and we'll try to answer them in a new post.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Learning more about Ecuador

When we mention Ecuador we get some interesting observations, like "Do you speak Ecuadorian?" or "Why do you want to go to Africa?" While we smile and change the perception, it makes us realize that many folks might not know much about Ecuador. So here are a few links to quickly acquaint you with a country about the size of Nevada with four distinct climate areas (we will be in the highlands) as well as other informational sites.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Ugly American

Not going to say too much other than the fact that we can easily say NO to all the questions asked in this blog post. Unfortunately, it only takes one really ugly gringo to wipe out twenty good ones if you happen to be the local dealing the the UA. Sigh....

The Ugly American in Ecuador Self Test

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Q&A - A few little notes....

As always there are things that I forget to put in the blog that might interest others about this journey to living in Ecuador. Here are a couple that popped into mind after a great night's sleep here in the US after 36+ hours of unbelievable traveling.
  • Q: Doesn't tossing used toilet paper into a trash can bother you?

    Nope, not at all. But then again, we've been RVers for more than a few years and have done this ourselves to help the waste tanks in our rig perform better. You dispose of it frequently and there is no real odor.
  • Q: Did you have trouble living at over 8k feet (altitude)?

    Not really. We did get an Rx from our doctor here in the US for Diamox (which can have some side effects). We took it two days before and after our arrival. The only side effect either of us experienced was a little tingling in extremities on the last day.

    It really helped us survive both the altitude and climbing the mountain of steps that first day. Then we stopped at every landing. By the time we left we were stopping mid-way only. Every day was different. For me, if I was talking while walking uphill, I had to slow or get out of breath. But in general, no major issues (maybe a little insomnia).
  • Q: Is it true that you can't use any bill higher than a $20?

    Pretty much. A twenty is the largest bill bigger places will accept and many won't have change for that. We also got a lot of Sacajawea dollars back in change. Why? Because they outlast paper dollar bills. :) We'll get a couple of rolls to take back with us.

    It does seem strange to travel with a pocket of change after years of using a change jar on the counter. It's especially important when out and walking a lot - some public baños (restrooms) - cost a dime. At the mercado (market), it's best to have exact change whenever possible.
  • Q: Do you have to shop at the open markets? Isn't there a Wal-Mart?

    No, you don't have to shop at the open markets. We did a little but know we got gringoed (overcharged) because we weren't fluent enough in Spanish to haggle. There are Wal-Mart type stores such as Coral that carry everything from groceries to baby items to appliances to minor construction equipment to musical instruments to...well, you get the idea. There is also SuperMaxi for groceries and a few household items. We picked up our pillows at our first SuperMaxi trip.

    Of course this all applies to Cuenca. Quayaquil and Quito are also large cities and have their own flavor of stores, including department and specialty stores. The coastal towns are smaller and there are many more rural areas where the markets are your only shopping spot.
Got a question? Post it in a comment and we'll try to answer in a future post!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hoping this doesn't ruin a good thing....

In the last few years there have been several articles written about retiring in Ecuador. International Living is probably the top promoter, then of course there in House Hunters International (where we discovered Ecuador and Cuenca), but most recently there seems to be a wave of new stories almost daily. The most recent was this feature from ABC News set in Cuenca.

While we were there, we didn't attend any Gringo nights. Will we? Maybe. Who knows. Someday we might. LOL! But for now we just worry that all this attention might:
  • Cause influx of expats moving to Ecuador without doing their due diligence - it isn't for everyone!
  • Said influx could conceivably increase the perception of the Ugly Gringo - because Ecuador isn't the USA
  • Correa might decide to make it more difficult to become an expat (in the loose terms since most do not give up their US citizenship) as well as more expensive
Only time will tell....

Monday, May 13, 2013

Cuenca, Ecuador: Preconceptions, Misconceptions and New Viewpoints

As it turns out, many of our preconceptions (based upon reading online and books), turned out to be misconceptions (at least for us). Here are our current feelings about Cuenca, Ecuador.
  1. Noise, pollution and traffic
    For us thus far, the noise level has been tolerable. But this is entirely based upon where we are staying. There are many places noisier as well as quieter. The pollution hasn't been an issue unless caught in a trail of black diesel exhaust from a bus. The good news is that they are working on converting to propane powered buses in the next few years. There is also a light rail being built and a percentage of El Centro will become pedestrian malls. Traffic? No worse than any city and surprisingly not as chaotic as we thought it would be.
  2. Conservative dress
    I think we were a little mislead on this one. While business professionals wear conservative dress, we also see a lot of casual dress on all ages (locals and expats). Bright colors abound and not just on the indigenous people. The one item we only see on the young are imprinted t-shirts. Surprisingly I've only seen skirts on professional business women and the indigenous women/girls. It is true that you don't see a lot of shorts. The exception are a few (very few) expats, bicyclists (a growing group), University students (of all nationalities) and tourists (yes, we can easily spot most of them). Anyway, for the most part business casual plus jeans is all that is needed.
  3. Bad Coffee
    Every thing we read led us to believe that we weren't going to be able to find good coffee here. After trying two restaurants, we came to the conclusion that these folks must like weak coffee because the coffee we had was nice and strong (the way we like it). We haven't had a bad cup yet and recently found out about a shop where we can get the beans ourselves (the grocery store stuff isn't really up to par).
  4. Weather
    We both have really enjoyed the weather and the fact that it changes rapidly throughout the day has been fun, surprisingly. I do remember the first few days that were very gray and I wished for a little more sun. Well, I got it...we had five days in a row of sunny days without rain. Lifted my spirits and the rest of our stay has been wonderful.
  5. Stray Dogs
    Unfortunately this is an issue but it's a cultural one. Dogs aren't pets as we are used to them being. They are utilitarian if they have owners - they are alarms. We noticed a lot of behavioral differences in the street dogs as compared to our beloved pets in the US. Many owners let their dogs roam so just because they are on the street, doesn't mean they don't have a home. We rarely saw a skinny or sick looking dog but know that they haven't been vaccinated and do carry disease. It's sad to us but it's a way of life here. There are organizations doing rescue and spay but they are privately run and no telling how long they will having the funding needed to continue. There is one other downside - dog poop everywhere. Sigh...
  6. Finding our way around
    This was a bigger challenge than anticipated, mainly due to the Spanish names. By week three another expat (thank you, Mike L.) introduced us to citymaps2go. Works on both iPhone and Android and the free version allows the download of two maps. NO internet required once it's downloaded. LOVE IT!
  7. Language Barrier
    This, needless to say, has been our biggest issue. We have learned several key phrases and we appreciate every local who has helped us learn more (the maids here at Apartmentos Otorongo, the waiter at Magnolia Caffe and others). Another thank you to Mike L. for introducing us to the app, Jibbigo. Also good for both platforms and doesn't require the Internet. My iPhone has an old OS so I couldn't download either app but Stu put both on his iPhone 4S and they have been a HUGE help. Wish we had them earlier....
  8. Safety/Security
    One foreign gentleman said he couldn't stay here and live in a cage. We don't look at it that way but we can see how he interpreted the culture and surroundings. If you think traditional Spanish architecture, the house was built with an inside courtyard and all the rooms looked inward. Whether for safety/security in those days or not, the culture has continued. All buildings are well protected with walls, electric alarms, barbed wire or broken glass at the top of the walls, etc. Dogs are the secondary alarm system. From the exterior a house or apartment building may look less than reliable but inside is a different story. Being built in this fashion not only makes it safer but it provides a barrier against the street noise in many areas. We have grown very accustomed to seeing people reach inside a fence to unlock a padlock, search multiple keys to unlock a heavy door or buzz so the resident can come down to let you in.
  9. Graffiti vs Street Murals
    No misconceptions here - graffiti is alive and well in Cuenca. The sad thing is that a lot of the graffiti is painted on top of some very interesting murals. The good thing is that the town has instituted a program to change this. We are hopeful that it will help.
  10. Street/Road Condition & Pedestrians (Walking)
    We had seen photos of the sidewalks with metal sticking up, potholes and obstructions so we were prepared. We had been warned that streets might not be up to par and we've seen those as well as dirt roads. We'd been warned that pedestrians are targets and don't have the right of way. We have managed it all, gotten very good at crossing streets (even the ones without crossing lights as well as the ones with traffic coming from multiple directions), haven't fallen, have walked huge stairs (up and down) and still are amazed at the women here who gracefully navigate all this in stiletto heels. Phew! I do have to mention one last thing about walking. There are those times when you run into the smell of stale urine. Regardless of laws, some men/boys just can't wait and use various corners. No worse than a truck stop/rest area in the US though. Hasn't slowed our walking at all - we've been averaging 3-6 hours a day of meandering around El Centro.
What we've come to love about Ecuador...
  1. The People
    They are always willing to help, always willing to share a smile, hard workers with a love of live. Of course it's like anywhere else, there is always that ONE...but in general all our experiences have been wonderful. We look forward to learning more conversational Spanish so we can better chat with the locals.
  2. The Greenery
    The wonderful climate is responsible for the wealth of growing plants, bushes, trees and crops. There is something blooming all the time and the nighttime smells are amazing. In addition there is the added bonus of the hummingbirds that are much larger than we are used to in the US. That means they fly slower and they actually perch on branches. A great treat to see, even in the darkening light at dusk.
  3. The Climate
    While there isn't much change from day to day, you can experience several seasons in one day. It is normally cool in the morning, warming as the sun arises, at some point it usually rains a bit, then it cools again in the evening. Oh, and thanks to the constantly moving clouds, the view is always different. [avg nights are in the 40-50 range, avg days are in the 60-70 range, but at this altitude it always feels warmer in the sun] Homes typically do not have heat or air conditioning as neither is needed most of the time. Some folks have little space heaters for the extra cool am/pm time. Another bonus of the climate and altitude is the lack of flying insects. There are no screens on the windows, you just open and enjoy the fresh air.
  4. The Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
    What can we say but OH MY!!! Eating good food, inexpensively, without a lot of additives. How can that not be good.
  5. The Lack of Stress
    Regardless of the traffic and city bustle, it's hard to let yourself get stressed here. We both noticed it, the mañana attitude. It will get done, maybe not today, but that's okay!
  6. The Little Shops  & Markets
    No matter what you need, there is someplace to get it. We're talking the day to day things, not the big ones like major appliances (you can get them, too, just be prepared to pay - dearly for American or well known brands). The mercados (open markets) are where you can get the best deals on food as well as other goods and there are several. It's so fun to be within walking distance of your daily grocery shopping.
  7. The Artisans
    Panama hats, embroidered blouses and shawls, wonderful Alpaca sweaters, handmade sterling silver jewelry, carvings, painting, and so much more!
  8. The Family
    It's all about the family and we love that, watching the interactions, how they interrelate and how they take others into their family, la familia.
  9. The Country
    Ecuador is a small country, compared to the US, about the size of Nevada. But it is very diverse and we so look forward to traveling to other parts and visiting. The rain forest, the coast, the ruins, the rural towns with artisan specialties. And then there is the rest of South America!
So what are our plans? To return to Ecuador before the end of 2013 and make it our home for the next 5-6 years. Watch for updates as we start the process of telling our family, going through our belongings to determine what comes with us and purchasing a few new things we need to bring.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Feliz día de la madre

First and foremost, Happy Mother's Day! The last several days the streets have been full of additional vendors selling flowers, jewelry and other trinkets. We made reservations at Restaurante Rustico for dinner at 4 pm, knowing all the open restaurants were going to be very busy.

Yesterday we had dinner with new friends, Bo and Linda. They are both excellent cooks and we enjoyed a great evening of laughter and sharing with them and their friends, Olga and Ed. After dinner we took a stroll around El Centro and enjoyed the sights and lights. Even at 9 pm, there were vendors out, ready for last minute purchasers. Linda stopped to talk to her flower lady and all three of us women were given a beautiful red rose to enjoy.

Keeping this short, soon I will post about preconceptions, misconceptions and new viewpoints. Chao!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Oh no! It can't be time to leave already....

But it is...and the next few days are just as packed as the last three weeks. We've walked every day, enjoyed the several mercado's multiple times, picked up a few nice souvenirs in local artisan shops, met more new friends, and just generally had a wonderful time.

The highlight of the day was picking up our custom, one of a kind, hand made, sterling silver wedding bands. We have been frequenting the Magnolia Caffe restaurant since our first week here and have become friends with the owner, Simon Cordero. He is an amazing silversmith and jewelry designer and we fell in love with his work the first time we visited. We showed him our gold wedding bands and asked him if he could do something similar in sterling silver. That was less than three weeks ago; we picked them up tonight and absolutely love them. (I wish the photos were better, will try again tomorrow in daylight).

Here is the only photo I currently have of our gold rings:

Here is the photo we took tonight when we picked up our sterling silver rings:

This is Simon Cordero with Stu....

We've had some heavy night time rains the last few evenings, leaving a heavy dew in the morning. Here are a few shots of the sky at night and the plants in the morning as well as some interesting cloud cover moving in tonight as we walked to Magnolia Caffe.

Everyone has been telling us to take the double-decker red bus tour and we finally did. Best $5 (ea) we have spent and we'll do it again! Here are a few random photos. As always you can see all our photos from our time here in Ecuador on SmugMug.

Tomorrow night we are having dinner at a friend's house and they're going to show us the nightlife in El Centro. Sunday is Mother's Day (happy day to all the mothers out there) and we have reservations at Rustico Restaurant. For $15 we get minestrone soup, bolognese style meat lasagna or grilled Mahi Mahi, homemade tiramisu and a glass of house wine.

Monday we'll say most of our final farewells to all new friends, Tuesday morning we pack and that afternoon we take a van to the Guayaquil airport for our red-eye flight. (Ugh!) We will be staying in a hotel the first night and then we'll find out the status on our rig repair. Emails thus far aren't promising. (more later as we know more)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A few links of interest and where our plans are heading...

For those of you still wondering WHY, here are a few links that explain it better than I could.
Our time here is drawing to a close and unless something traumatic happens, we plan to return in mid-December (after our Tampa cruise). While many plan to live here forever, we still think we will stay 5-6 years, saving enough to pay cash for our log cabin and pole barn on our property in Tennessee.

We have a lot of planning to do, several decisions to make (our pup, Sadie, being one of those) and a few grand adventures left to do in the US this year. We'll continue to blog here as decisions and plans are made. We have made dozens of friends already in Cuenca, some Cuencanos but most expat Americans. We'll keep following them as well as they continue their life in Ecuador and will still use them as the best resource for information.

Since our last post we've been busy with meet and greets, wandering the city, checking out local festivities, talking to anyone who is willing to lend an ear and today, taking the red bus tour. Rather than glut the blog with photos, you can see them all in our SmugMug album. Here are a few fun ones....note the brooms used to sweep the streets after an event...love it!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Interim Lists

We've been here two and a half weeks so I thought it was time to list some pros, cons and just general differences and opinions.

First the pros - for us there have been quite a few.
  • We're walking - a LOT. Stu says we're averaging about 5k steps per nap (yes, afternoon naps are a common occurance).
  • The climate - while a bit cool at times (made worse by a drafty apartment), we don't really miss the heat. We're dressing in layers and always carry something in case of a rain shower. The weather here changes rapidly but the temperature variation from day to day is miminal - all year round.
  • The vegetation - never have I seen so many gorgeous flowering trees, bushes and flowers in general. Again, all year round.
  • The food - everything tastes so good. The fruit is amazing, no preservatives but so full of flavor. Since we aren't cooking, we're lacking in the area of vegetables but they look good, too. The ones we have eaten have been wonderful.
  • The restaurants - we've only been in a few but have loved them all. San Sebas, Magnolia Cafe, California Kitchen, Cafe Austria, Good Affinity all come to mind. 
  • The people - the includes locals as well as expats, most everyone has been welcoming and helpful.
  • Transportation - the most we have spent on a taxi has been $3, the least was $1.50. You can ride the buses for 25 cents, we've done that once and will do it again. It's easy to get around, just close your eyes if the traffic makes you too nervous. LOL!
  • The cost of living - some things cost the same as in the US but in general, you can save a lot of money living here. Rentals range from a couple hundred dollars a month to over $1000, all depending on what you want. We feel confident we can find something in the $250-450 unfurnished and $500-700 furnished. Many include the utilities as well as Internet.
  • No soda drinking - we haven't had one since we arrived. We drink whole milk, Limonada (fresh & delicious), Té helado (iced tea), cervasa (we both like Club Rojas when we can get it) and cafe americano con leche (strong coffee with a little sugar and whole milk)
  • Money is USD - yup, everything is in US dollars, no conversion!
  • Stress - ummm, none? Even when the mañana factor comes into play, that's okay. We're not in a rush for anything.
 As in life anywhere, there are a few cons. Some we don't consider as things that bother us, some are just quirky, some are cultural/regional and some we hope will change with growth in the city.
  • The buses - one day the diesel smoke spewing buses will be replaced with propane driven buses. That will be a good thing. In the meantime, the pro outweighs the con on this one.
  • The graffiti - there are some wonderful painted murals around the city but many have been "tagged". The same for any large plain wall, signs for businesses, houses. It doesn't bother the locals and while we don't enjoy it, we no longer let it bother us.
  • The dogs - it's very hard to see strays living on the street. There are a couple of expat organizations that are working to remove and spay them in hopes of finding a home for them. Dogs here are not so much pets as alarms. They aren't coddled or pampered. The surprising thing is watching them interact. If you have ever watched Cesar Milan, you will understand when we say these are very balanced dogs. We work daily to not "fall" for them and to adjust our view to the local cultural view.
  • The drivers - are very fast and ignore pedestrians for the most part. That said, we have seen almost no accidents, not even bumper taps. There is a rhythm and flow to the traffic that we have come to appreciate.
  • The language - this is only a con because we don't speak Spanish. We pick up new words and phrases daily and try to use them even when spoken to in English (by a local). Practice makes - well, it helps. ;-) We enjoy our chats with the maids at our apartments, the taxi drivers and the wait staff at the restaurants. All levels of English, including none, but they are all very patient with us as we work to get our point across. Lessons are a MUST. This is their country and their language.
  • The noise - everyone told us to be prepared for the noise from traffic, car alarms and barking dogs. We haven't found this to be an issue for us and we are in a busy area traffic-wise. May be due to being RVers and living in campgrounds beside interstates and train tracks. LOL!
  • Petty crime - as in many big cities, most crime is committed because an opportunity presents itself. We follow common sense guidelines - no large quantities of money, divide money into several pockets/purses/wallets, don't wear flashy jewelry (especially gold), don't flash large wads of money, when traveling by taxi at night call a driver you or your host knows, don't let anyone into your home area unless you know them.
Now for some of the quirky little differences that have caught our eye.
  • Paper products - napkins, toilet paper, paper towels all seem to be in a junior size. 
  • Matches - when we arrived in our apartment, there was a small box of matches for lighting the stove. We had trouble with them being so small and on a skinny plastic stick rather than wood. So intelligent Gringos that we are, we bought two big boxes of matches (50 cents). Opened them up and found....a lot of little tiny matches, just like were in the small box. LOL!
  • We have been able to find just about anything we need (toiletries, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, etc) in both local and US brands. We opt for the local at half the price (and works just as well).
  • The street sweepers - not the trucks in the US that roll down city streets at night, these are a large cadre of employees, dressed to match, rolling garbage cans and brooms around the city keeping it clean. BRAVO!
  • Living behind walls - this is the culture and it goes way back to courtyards inside the house. Some don't like it, we have no problem with it. Crime is everywhere in the world, there is no perfect paradise, deal with it!
  • The indigenous people are amazing! Their faces tell their stories, their brightly colored clothing make me smile, their friendliness is surprising at times and their strength is what legends are made from.
  • The little ones - we don't get the immediate smiles that we see back in the US but we intrigue them and they stare at us while we smile at them. Adorable!!
  • A smartphone or tablet battery lasts a long time without Internet access. Fortunately, where there is access, the speed is better (most of the time) than what we've been experiencing in campgrounds recently using our Verizon aircard. I love that I got my iPhone 3G converted to use here, 20 cents per call. Put $10 on it and won't use a tenth of the time.
  • Furniture - is usually low and smaller, just like the locals. Thin foam padding flattens easily under our ample frames. Ooops! You can get custom furniture made reasonably though.
  • Electronics ARE expensive - if you are thinking of relocating, check prices here to help decide what to bring.
I know I am missing some things but this has been a LONG post. At this point, unless something MAJOR happens in the next twelve days - we'll be back! We both love it here and think we'll be getting some culture shock when we return to the US on May 15th. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What day is it?

I have to look at the calendar to see what day of the week it is - this is real retirement! The days just keep running into each other - I have to check Google calendar so we know what we have planned for the day (if anything). Today was a nothing planned day. Yesterday was an evening out at a charity event to help fund the painting of 100 ft of murals for the children's hospital.

We continue to meet new folks, wander the city on foot and even try riding the bus system. A bus ride anywhere is 25 cents (and if you're over 65, it's 12.5 cents - you use a bus pass). Stu continues to lose weight with all our walking but the eating out is my downfall. We'll see at the end of our month here when we get home and weigh ourselves.

Here are some photos from the charity event:

Here are some general pics taken recently (the drinks are Iced Tea and Lemonade):

Here are some from walking around today, Labor Day, including peaceful demonstration walks through the downtown area (much of which was closed off to cars):

And finally, some of the new market area we discovered today:

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