Sunday, July 28, 2013

Staying connected.....

We are not moving to the Hinterlands of Zarnia, we are moving to Cuenca, Ecuador. Fortunately for us, we found Internet access is very available there, several companies offer the service and many apartment buildings provide it. There is a bit of free wi-fi as well. Since I am a writer, that's critical for me. But we also want to continue our blogs and stay in touch with family. Oh yeah, and visit Facebook. :)

We also want to keep things backed up so we have several portable hard drives for back-ups as well as storage of music, photos and movies. I use both Carbonite and DropBox to keep things backed up offline. DropBox is especially important for me since I use two laptops (my small one for writing and the bigger one for programs I don't have on the small one). Files are kept in sync between the two as well as my phone.

Since I can access the files on my phone, I keep important personal documents there. I can easily pull up a copy of our pup's shot record, a membership card, a travel itinerary, etc.  Comes in very handy.

Of course we don't know what will will get for a phone data plan when we get to Cuenca. Stu will bring his iPhone 4S (unlocked), I already have my iPhone 3G set up in Cuenca for phone/text only, and I'll have my Android which will probably get a pre-paid SIM card in the US.

We've got two Google Voice numbers which are working now, sending any calls to emails and texts. Those will be local numbers for folks back here in the US. We may get a MagicJack or some other VoIP system that will provide another way for folks in the US to call us without making an international call. We will have Skype, too.

So no, you won't lose touch with us when we move to Ecuador. We'll be CONNECTED!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another step forward!

Things are moving, sometimes slowly, but still moving. Stu has kept busy fixing things on the RV and property. He loves checking things off his To Do List (and I keep finding more to add).

We're moving to paperless statements for any financial institutions that provide the option. We're taking ourselves off of mailing lists. We're making a list of what "might" still arrive in our snail mail and what we'd like our mail forwarding service to do with it.

The big step, and first expensive one, was to use to order our birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce papers and my late husband's death certificate. We still have to get our TN background checks as well as our Social Security statements (stamped or signed). Oh, and 3 passport photos each (white background, no earrings). So we'll take a movie trip into Cookeville next week and hopefully can get an impromptu appointment at the SS office (or walk away with appointments) and get our photos taken. I'll also order our background checks online.

Then we'll package it all up together and send it to our facilitator, Maite Duran of Ecuador Movers. We'd taking the more expensive but expedient route. Most people opt to get their own notarization and apostiles done before sending the paperwork in to be translated into Spanish and apostiled again. We're sending them all the originals and they will get it all done.

Why are we doing it this way? Two reasons. The biggest is to reduce stress, we just have too much on our plate before our move. The second is due to time, which ties right back into reason number one. With my writing and publishing my second mystery book, our two month motorcycle trip, all the things we have to do to get ready to move in December, plus take our cruise...well, I think you can see the issue. So it's well worth the money to get this all done by Maite and her partner in Cuenca. When we arrive in Ecuador, they'll help us file the paperwork for our cedula (national ID card) as well.

Still a lot of items on our Ecuador To Do List (we also each have a personal list as well as our Route 66 list). But we're trimming them down daily. Are we crazy? Uh, yeah!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Off my rocker....

I love rocking chairs, wood or stuffed - as long as they rock. So when a friend in Cuenca advertised one for sale (at a great price), I asked for photos and before you could say 'Rumpelstiltskin', it was ours. There are two buttons that have popped off but I know that can be fixed easily.

Even though we hope to rent a furnished place, I'm sure I can find a spot for this adorable little rocker. Hmmm, I wonder what else I will find in the want ads before we move in December?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

#FREE is always good....

I found a great bargain today...some free PDFs to help us learn more about Ecuador and living there. They are available for download at the Hearts of Gold Foundation website. The system requires you to go through the shopping cart process but no payment information is required since they are all free. I got Culinary Ecuador - Knowledge and Flavors as well as several on various areas of Ecuador.

That said, I hope you will consider a donation. Did you know that $15 will buy a chicken...not for eating but for egg laying. $25 will buy a pair of school shoes for a child? $35 buys their school supplies for the year? Every year H.o.G. raises donations to send children to school, children that would have no way to attend otherwise.

Their website is still under construction and I did have a few issues with some of the files downloading under Firefox. I did download them without any issues using Chrome.

Oh...160 days and counting!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Still prepping....housing thoughts

When we spent our month in Cuenca, whenever we visited a new section of town we looked with an eye to whether or not we would like to live there.

We visited homes and apartments on several outskirts of town, houses in town, apartments in town and apartments in El Centro. This helped us decide on what we liked and didn't like.

We knew before visiting that we preferred NOT being in a "gringo high-rise". While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, we just felt that it would insulate us too much from the locals as well as put a "rich gringos" sign on our backs (which we are NOT). Plus, prices are definitely higher in those buildings thanks to HOA fees, gyms, cafes and other amenities.

Reading my good friend Linda's blog tonight, I realized we needed to start making our list. Yes, I'm a list person - what a surprise! So here are some of what our current thoughts are on a long term rental.
  • Close enough to walk to El Centro. Now this doesn't mean we need to be as close as we were at Apartmentos Otorongo, it does mean we want to be within a 30 minute walk one way.
  • It can be an apartment or a  house but it must have either a balcony or a terrace/patio. We need some outdoors space.
  • Minimum of 2BR, preferably 3BR with a minimum of 2BA.
  • Room for a queen bed in our bedroom, even if that means buying our own bed.
  • While we're interested in a furnished (incl utilities/fees), we are willing to consider unfurnished
  • Must have access to good Internet and English TV
  • We REALLY would like to be close to the Yanuncay River which has an amazing walking path. We realize that really pushes our walk to El Centro but we like the area.
What we know we don't want are the same things listed in Linda's blog:
  • Quiet area, preferably not directly on a bus route (but close to one)
  • Good landlord/landlady who will be responsive and helpful
  • No mold, mildew or dampness!
  • If in an apartment, no more than 2 flights of stairs without an elevator
  • We don't want to hear our neighbors through the walls!
And now I need to start our apartment look-see checklist:
  • Noise (morning, afternoon, evening)
  • Hot water
  • Look inside all cabinets
  • Appliances (stove/oven, refrigerator, washer/dryer)
  • Window coverings
  • Privacy
  • 3-prong outlets/location and number of outlets (esp. in kitchen/bathroom)
  • Counter space in bathroom and kitchen
  • Location of propane tank
I'm sure there are more things but this is what I can think of now. 163 days and counting!

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