Sunday, February 23, 2014

A little decorating around the house....

We have a large apartment with BIG WHITE walls and light tile floors. That means we need to add color any way we can. Pillows, throws and wall decorations. We obviously are on a budget so are always on the lookout for inexpensive ways to put something on the walls, both for color and sound deadening.

In our bedroom we initially hung one of our Artesa plates over our bed since there was already a nail there. (We have plaster walls so we don't want to add a lot of unnecessary holes to be patched.) It was a stop gap measure and one of our readers pointed out that we might want to move it just in case it ever dropped off the wall onto our heads! We did find a better wall for it.

Here is what it looked like with the plate and still using our guest mattress as our box springs.

Fast forward to a metal bedframe we found for under $300 delivered and a comparison of the blank wall our my new find - metal drapery rod for $16.05, handmade tablecloth for $25.

Amazing what a little color can do! I really like it in the evening when the bedside lamps are softly glowing.

Here are some other photos of how we're for larger images.

This is a shawl I bought on our first trip. The bench will eventually be painted in bright colors.
Biggest splurge, even on sale. From Artesa...same place as our dishes.

First item bought...last August via email with a friend. Love my rocker!
Yes, this is now hanging over our bed. Bench will be painted bright colors.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

How did we move all our stuff?

I know I've discussed this in various back posts but it was hit or miss. I keep getting questions about how we moved all our stuff and thought I'd put it all in one post.

At the Airport
Also, note that not everyone moves in suitcases like we did. Many folks ship pallets or shipping containers full of their stuff. Each person must make their own decisions about what is important to THEM. We had made an exploratory trip so had a general idea about what to bring other than clothes.

This is what flew with us on American Airlines, December 2013. We flew business class which gave us THREE FREE bags each! We paid $150 for each additional bag, thus our three extra bags cost us $450. Also, by flying business class we had a weight allowance of 70# each bag!

The next post will give more detail about what we packed in the above luggage!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Parque El Paraiso - Expat Meet n Greet

What a great day! It started out drizzly, overcast and stayed gray but we didn't mind. We took a taxi to Parque El Paraiso for our impromptu picnic meet 'n greet with other expats. The weather kept some at home but those of us that ventured out really enjoyed ourselves.

We were a diverse group with five of us currently living here, one recently moved, two on their exploratory trip, and four on extended vacations. Home areas ranged from Alaska to Tennessee, California to Vancouver. Oh, and one puppy, Chica, who enjoyed all the attention.

There was an amazing array of potluck food which meant no one went home hungry! We will have to do this again and the park is a perfect spot. The park is gorgeous and now on our must see list for anyone coming to town.

The conversations flowed for hours, various topics encompassing both Ecuador, past lives, future plans and coincidences. Around four we finally wandered off, leaving the gazebo as clean as we found it.

Here are a few photos, you can see the rest in our SmugMug album.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Normal? It's all in a day...or two, or three, or more!

Some things just leave us scratching our heads but we go with the flow and know it will all work out, eventually.

We opened our savings account several weeks ago, depositing a check from our US bank as a starter. Each month we will write and deposit a check to cover our anticipated monthly expenses. We will use the local bank's debit card and ATMs to make withdrawals as necessary.

Stu got his card and the first time we attempted to use it, everything was in Spanish. We tried the best that we could and he entered what he wanted for his new PIN number. The next screen gave us pause and we cancelled out. We knew we'd be back at the bank to get my debit card and we'd see if we could get help.

This week we did just that, got my debit card but this time the clerk called over a gal who spoke some English. She accompanied us outside to the ATM and helped me through putting in MY new PIN number. At the point where we had stopped with Stu's card was when we had to re-enter the new PIN for verification. A big AH-HA! She stayed to be sure Stu's card was changed and we were good to go! Phew!

Our other adventure was finding ink for our printer. We had been warned to buy a printer in Ecuador, not bring one from the US since ink cartridge refills could be hard to find. So we did just that, found a printer we liked (approx $20 more than we would have paid in the US for a comparable model). It's worked well for us....until it quickly ran out of ink.

After much research I discovered:
  1. The black ink cartridge is only rated for 120 pages.
  2. You can't buy the correct ink cartridge in the US, it's not available.
  3. The same model series in the US and EC take different ink cartridges.
  4. You can't get HP help for an EC printer on the US HP website.
...and more, but you get the idea. We've been searching for the refills every time we are out, never seeing the number we needed. So we finally posted in the Facebook Ecuador Expats group and got a couple of places to check.

Next trip to El Centro we headed to the address of the closest one to where we got off the bus but on the way we happened to pass an open door to a place FILLED with printers! We stopped in and met the owner, Wilson, who quickly helped us. He called his supplier in Quito and told us we had three options:
  1. We could have him refill our current cartridge. Not our first choice.
  2. We could have our printer adapted to use a tank on the side that you can refill with all the colors of ink. Also not our first choice.
  3. We could place an order with him and he would get it brought in from Quito the next day. Okay, now we're talking!
We placed an order for two black and one color at $15 each, made a partial deposit and planned to come back in two days to get it (even though he said it would be there the next afternoon). We dropped in on Friday morning - not in yet. Now it would be after 4pm that day. We didn't want to hang out all day so we didn't return.

On Tuesday I had a hair and pedicure appointment and afterwards walked to see if our ink was in yet. It was around 1pm and the doors were closed...okay, siesta time. Yes, many businesses do close for an hour or two or three anywhere from 11 to 3pm. Again, I didn't want to wait up to two hours so headed home.

Wednesday was the day we presented ourselves at the bank for the above Debit card adventure. From there we walked to our little ink shop. Doors closed...this was at 10am. Oh well, we did a nice walking tour of El Centro, enjoyed some coffee at The Coffee Tree, waved and made faces at a little one while there and saw our first RV in Ecuador.

Then we walked along the Tomebamba river, back towards the printer shop, always an enjoyable walk.
Lo and behold, it was at around 1pm and the doors were open! Now to see if our order was in. Wilson wasn't there but his assistant was..and yes! Our ink had arrived! We quickly settled, paying the balance and left with our brand new, made for Latin America HP ink cartridges.

Life is good....but what's normal other than a setting on a dryer. ;)

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