Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You're Back!!!


Please, never abandon me again.
I missed you so much!

Are you back to stay?
Or are you just teasing here?

I promise to be good.

I will pay whatever you ask.

Just don't, please don't abandon me again.

I was so unhappy while you were gone.
My life is better when you are part of every day.

Life is sweet (again),

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Big Time FUN!!

Brennie and I have enrolled in a driving course that starts this Saturday. I have been trying to register the car. This entry is about the enrolling and registering ..... therefore the title of “Big Time FUN!!”

PREFACE (copies)

Every step of any process requires copies either of stuff gotten in previous steps or of our Cedulas (gotten months ago as part of the residency visa process....... kind of a proof of residency) or Censos (a ‘where do you live’ identity card?). Passport size color photos are often required. When submitting copies, you also have to show the originals ..... but you keep the originals .......sometimes. Incidentally, there are copy stands either outside or adjacent to every govt office. In the larger complexes there are copy stands within the complex as well as surrounding them. Making copies is a thriving small business

(I have been sick the last several days [throat, lung and sinus nastiness] so the Brennie just handed my my meds and stood there until I took them. What ever happened to trust?)

PREFACE NUMERO DOS (govt offices and lines)

Every step of every process is done in a different place or office. The most convenient variation of this is when you go to a different window in the same building. Next most convenient is when you go to a different building in the same complex. Less convenient is when you go to a different building within a block or two. Next is somewhere on the other side of town. The worst is in a neighboring town (car inspection to be covered later), and down a dirt road to a place that cannot even be found by GPS or satellites. Every single step involves a line ....... sometimes a very long line.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Prerequisite for this is the ‘Record Policial’. This is a document from the national police regarding your police record.

Clarke’s Record Policial:

1. Go to police window at Transit Commission complex where these are readily available for $5 and copies of Cedulas, Censos, (blood type?) and passport photos.

2. Oopsie. Clarke is not in the system. Therefore go to Judicial Police on other side of town and wait in a different line (same docs required).

3.. Get to window and fill out some kind of form with some personal info, submit all copies and fee and receive (very pretty) Record Policial.

4. Done

Brennie’s Record Policial a few days later:

1. Already know to go to Judicial Police and what to bring, so we do this and expect to fill out the same paper. WRONG.

2. Apparently the guy did me a favor by having me fill out the form and giving me my Record Policial. Apparently I had promised to return with other documentation later. How was I to know? Everything was in Spanish. He recognizes me as the lying scum that I am and cuts Brennie no breaks.

3. Told to go to another office at (or near ..... not sure) Fiera Libre on the other side of town and got some other doc. Not sure what. (He writes it on a piece of paper)

4. Told by someone else to get different doc at the central bus terminal. Again, not sure what. (Different thing written on a different piece of paper.)

5. We go to the central bus terminal because it is closer.

6. After standing in line (again) at the govt office at the bus terminal, the gal tells us we need to get something different at some other little office somewhere else. (She writes it on a piece of paper.)

7. Get a cab to the other office. Nobody knows what we are talking about. Actually, we showed them the piece of paper. So one guy looks a t the paper and says ‘oh yes, please wait here’. So we do. For a long, long time. A really long time. And that is it. We just sit there waiting and finally realize that nothing more is going to happen.

8. So we go to a line that everyone else is going to and show them our piece of paper. HUH? Nobody knows what the paper is asking for. Well, not true. Two people do (kind of) know and tell us two different things.

SO ......... we go home and call Lorena. Lorena is a friend of ours. A Cuencana from an old family with old money. She is also a lawyer. She doesn’t actually practice law ......remember the ‘old family, old money’ part?

Next day we repeat all the above, but with Lorena. She speaks both Spanish and Law. Same outcome.

So, we (with Lorena) now go to see our actual lawyer, Nelson. Lorena and Nelson know each other because they were in law school together. Lorena explains the problem. It seems that when we got our Cedulas, the data input people in Quito (the capital) failed to input complete info into the system. Lorena was told we would have to fly to Quito to have it fixed. Nelson shows us the submitted forms for the Cedula and the printed stuff received from the govt in return and all the info is there. Some of it was just not input into the (one of many?) systems.

Nelson makes some phone calls to Quito and asks us to come back In a couple days.

A couple days later, Nelson takes us up to the Judicial Police office again with the sheaf of papers he showed us in his office a couple days ago (and copies), walks to the front of the line, argues with the official that sent us away twice, calls Quito and hands the guy the phone. When he is all done, he tells us that we can get the Record Policial at 9:00 the next morning. Which we do.

So, now we have the Record Policial and can go sign up for the driving class. Maybe. Maybe not.

Total time spent for Record Policial: About 16 - 20 hours spread over 4 different days.

Total cost: $5 each for the document fee and about $20 for copies, photos and transportation.

Definitely more than $30 worth of fun and sightseeing!

Tune in again tomorrow for (maybe) signing up for driving class

Life is sweet,


Monday, April 18, 2011



So here are some pics taken about 8:00 this AM. These shots are taken from the balcony facing east. What do you think? Rain today? Or not?

Life is wet sweet,

Sunday, April 17, 2011



Is that how chicken clucking is spelled?

OK now we are finally a little chicken.

I wanted to title this entry “Skeert and Afeared in Cuenca”. I have aways loved the words ‘skeert ‘ and ‘afeared’. (scared and afraid) But, I was afeared that it might sound stupid. Besides ... the 'buc, buc, buc' thing is both classy and crystal clear. (btw, another favorite word of mine is ‘stoopid’)


It is raining part of the day every day now. And, and, and.........some of it has been torrential. Usually it has been raining in the afternoons. Most of the days are dry and/or sunny in the AM’s and also following the afternoon rains.

Today it rained in the AM instead. So, I took a leap and told Breenie that baby jesus told me that it would be clear the rest of the day. Brennie told me that mother nature makes that call and that she told Brennie more rain.

mother nature - 1, baby jesus - 0.


I forgot about the whole chicken and skeert thing........

A car. Yes siree, We bought a car ..... over a month ago. We bought it the day before we left for Kansas for a couple weeks. We have it parked at a friend’s place. It is a 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara. It has 12,000 miles on it, 4wd and auto trans. (For those that don’t know, auto trans is fairly rare down here.)

So? What what has got us all chicken? Uh, that would be actually driving it. I have driven it all over town. And THAT is a new experience! It is difficult in less than 1000 words to describe the courtesies of the road here and the (unwritten?) rules. But I have been observing for about a year now and participating via bicycle and moto.

Basically, local drivers are very aggressive, yet not rude. (OK there is constant horn honking, but that is more of a cultural thing, and not actually ‘rude’. Kind of like cutting in line at the store if you leave more than a couple inches between you and the person in front of you. Cultural. Not rude. If you leave room, someone may take it. Period.) The same crowding and cutting applies with driving too. Leave any kind of safe distance (as thought of in the US) and it is an invitation for someone to take that space ......... I mean, after all ...... you’re not using it, right? It seems that once a person has taken the space that you ‘invited them into’, well, no hard feelings. That whole space thing applies to space on the sides of the car as well. If you are at a stop and leave barely enough room on the side for a small car to squeeze in ........ then a small car will squeeze in and edge it’s way in front of you. After all you left the space and it’s implied invitation to anyone that can utilize it. Right??

That whole crowding and squeezing in thing doesn’t apply only to traffic at a stop. It works with moving traffic as well. It is really interesting and you must be aware of all cars at all times ....... ALL cars at all times .....ALL CARS AT ALL TIMES ......... Someone behind you on the left could very well be passing you on the right 5 seconds later. True.


There are very few accidents and very few banged up cars. It is my opinion that these are some of the most alert drivers in the world. You really must be. Any driver here could teach courses in the US on defensive driving.


Leaving town. Sounds weird. Is weird. But for some reason we cannot bring ourselves to venture out of town. We have planned to 3 or 4 times. Don’t know what the problem is. Fear of getting lost? Mountain driving? ( I lived in the mountains before and drove them all the time in the snow.) Every time we have planned to leave town, we have thought of something else to do. (Wash the dogs. Trim our toe nails. Any excuse can and will do.) THE ONLY REASON WE BOUGHT THE CAR IS SO THAT WE CAN LEAVE TOWN. Maybe tomorrow.


The horns here are not nearly as loud as the horns on the cars n the US. Thank god.

Life is sweet,


Wednesday, April 6, 2011




There are a few things that I try to avoid putting on this blog. I try to avoid giving advice, making recommendations, bitching, whining, sounding like any kind of expert (on anything), taking myself too seriously, etc. Frankly, I am not sure of my mission ....... if anyone has figured it out, let me know.

Usually, if someone asks me for a recommendation, I point them to one or several of the forums. Many of these are on the resource page at South of Zero. The reason that I avoid making recommendations is that everyone has different expectations, experiences, priorities, values ..... on and on. For instance ....... container vs arriving with suitcases, buy home vs rent, buy car vs only public transportation, bank locally vs 'other'. What is right for one person is not always right for another.

If you put together any group of expats and bring up the topics of lawyers, here is what you will find. Given any of the lawyers generally used by expats, you will find some people that love them, some that are neutral, and some that believe they are both evil and incompetent. It seems to me that many of the 'evil and incompetent' opinions are expressed by individuals that have never even met or used the services of the lawyer. Another problem, is the timeliness of the opinion. A recommendation from an experience of 1, 2 or 3 years ago, may no longer be relevant. It seems that many legal processes (like getting a residency visa) are a moving target. Also due to the influx of north americans and increases in caseloads for some lawyers, that the level of service and attention that a lawyer could give a couple years ago is different than they can provide at this time. A base this observation on experiences that some of my friends have had RECENTLY.

We have used Grace and Nelson (Idrovo & Velastegui) for all of our legal work. We have been very pleased with them. They handled the purchase of our apartment (in old town) a couple years ago and our residency visas last year. We have found them to be very competent, professional, and a pleasure to work with. Everything they told us was true. Everything worked out like they said it would. There were no surprises. They did not blow smoke up our *ss*s. It helps that Grace speaks English and that their para is an American that has lived in Cuenca 13(?) years.

Plus I have had to drop in a few times with the odd question or issue. I am so glad that Grace and Nelson are our lawyers.

For a more fluent recommendation, you can go to Bill and Loretta's blog "Our Ecuador".

Grace and Nelson's office is in downtown Cuenca:
Luis Cordero 6-41 y P Cordova
Office tel: (593) 7-2842225

Life is sweet,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Adios Lawrence (KS)
Hola Cuenca

Spending 10 days with the hijo and hija were fantastic. Can't say enough good about that.

Kansas weather is unpredictable. Sunny and warm the first few days. a couple days of rain. And a couple days of ..........

What can I say. I love this place like I never thought possible.

For the trip to the US, we took two suitcases. Inside each of them was another suitcase. We planned to fill up all four with much missed items for the return trip. We also each had a carry-on. With just enough clothes and personal items to get us to Kansas.

From Guayaquil to Kansas City:
American Airlines DID NOT LOSE either of the carry-ons. (Duh. We had them with us in the cabin.) Neither of the checked bags made it to Kansas City with us. They did show up the next day. Not lost ... just delayed.

From Kansas City to Guayaquil:
Once again, no carry on was lost for the same reason as above. Of the four checked bags, only one was lost ...... that would be my bag. Cigars for Randy and I. Chewing tobacco for Jim and I. Pretty much all the clothes that I bought Brenda bought me, and the guns, ammo and porn. Just kidding. None of the last 3 made it through airport security. The lost bag did arrive yesterday evening. Delayed ... not lost. So all is good with the world.

Our checked bags (4 of them) each weighed 50 - 50.5 pounds. We have a hand held luggage scale .... very handy.

The sad part. The JIF Creamy did not make the cut. I had to take it out of the checked bag. You can't have jars of peanut butter in your carry on either (voice of experience here). You know ..... it must be those famous peanut butter bombs that have everyone so scared. However, if you waddle your way through the new body scanners with a gut full of JIF. No problemo.

We brought some of our favorite bricks of cheese with us in 2 & 2 1/2 pound loafs. Airport Security x-rays all bags. At the KC airport, I saw them opening the bag with the cheese and examining the cheese. It must have an x-ray profile similar to c-4 plastic explosive .... I guess. They examined every bit of it and wiped each one with those special wipe pads that tell them if it is explosive. The only way it would be explosive is ..... maybe, just maybe ..... if you ate too much at one setting???

It is great to be back home in Cuenca where ....

Life is sweet,

PS: Oh jeez, I forgot to mention that it was nice to see Bugger and Wanker again. They had a great time at 'Randy and Karen's Summer Camp". Randy and Karen enjoyed it so much that they are hoping to have more dogs at their little camp. So be sure to get in touch with them. Thanks R & K!!!