Saturday, May 28, 2011

Predictions and Dire Warnings

I retired a year ago. Moved to Cuenca 2 days later.

Friends and colleagues predicted that I could never adjust to a life of leisure. That I would get bored within a year. That I would would be looking for some type of work. Something to keep me busy. That being idle would drive me nuts. I suspect the predictions were based on the last several years, I worked 80 hours/week 5 months a year and 50 hours/week the other 7 months. (Long story.)

I don’t know. Maybe they’re right. Maybe it has driven me nuts and I just don’t know it. Maybe doing exactly what I want every single day has loosened some of my screws. Maybe finding exactly the place we had been seeking for 15 years pushed me over the edge. Maybe all those years of being at work at 7:30 AM was the sane part and that this is the nuts part.

Maybe I truly hate my life of early retirement in south america but am too far gone to realize it. On the off chance that is true, we decided to take a break from our pitiful existence and go to the Hosteria Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba for a few days. Maybe a few days of spas, massages, long walks, good food and leisure would jolt us back to reality.

Sadly, it didn’t. Upon our return to Cuenca yesterday, I find that I am still deluded. Still saddled with this false contentment. Still lacking drive and ambition. But, please don’t feel sorry for me. We chose this life and will just have to live with it.

Maybe we will have to go to the coast soon. Maybe there I can find and re-kindle my good old Kansas work ethic. Gee, I sure hope so.

Some pics:

Life is sweet,


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This Has NOTHING To Do With Ecuador Or Cuenca.
In Fact, It Is Not Even Worth Reading

So, I was gong to leave a comment on Rich and Nancy's blog. Nancy posted about a bunch of 'bad' things that happened in their kitchen all at once. She wasn't complaining, just observing. (

So ........ I was going to leave one of those folksy little folk wisdom type sayings that just make me want to wretch. Something like, "Gee whiz Aunt Bea, it must be those bad days that make the good ones so .......... whatever.".

So, I get curious and I Google 'folk wisdom'. Holy Mother of God! Such collections of profound wisdom. I only went to a couple of the sites. They even LOOK like one would expect.

I do have two favorite folk wisdom sayings. But if I express one, I always make it a point to express the other immediately.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
- Out of sight out of mind.

Folksy - yep.
Wisdomy - dubious.

Aren't you glad you wasted your time reading this?

Life is sweet,

PS: I am not sure which is worse: Folk Wisdom or Pop Psychology.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Registering The Car



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I HATE long detailed blog entries. However, this is NOT a short process.

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Our car is used. A 2010. So maybe a new car is easier.

We got the car through Santiago so he had already gotten much of the paperwork done. He already had:

1. The purchase/sales contract (and copies) with multiple signatures. It is a 2 page contract.

2. Original and color copies of the Matricula (title/license) for the previous owner.

3. Color copies of the prior owner’s Cedulas (kind of a national ID card)

4. Original and color copies of the SOAT (proof of liability insurance).

5. Color copies of Brenda and my Cedulas

So, armed with the above, off we go:

1. SRI office. Some kind of taxing place where they determine the tax we must pay. Wait for 1 1/2 to 2 hours and then see ‘the kid’. The kid looks about 15 years old. Seems to be wearing his dad’s or older brother’s suit. In about 5 minutes, he tells me that I will owe about $1000 in taxes and that I need to wait an hour or two and go to a bank and pay it. Can’t pay it there. Remember the kid, because he screwed up and we will have to get back to fixing this.

2. Go to bank, tell them what I have to do and like magic we are $1000 poorer but I have 2 very pretty pieces of paper to be added to the things above.

3. Waiting a few days here because Brennie and I are in the process of signing up for driving school.

4. Back to registering the car. Go to transit dept and find the right line. The first window we go to is actually a exterior window in one of the old buildings. The officials are inside and the customers are outside. Luckily it is not raining. Hand them all the papers and they look at them and make some marks on them add some more signatures and stamps and send us down the street with something written on a scrap of paper ....... yeah, literally a scrap. We were in that line about 30 to 45 minutes.

5. Go down the street with the scrap of paper. Stand in line and pay ..... I forget. Maybe $20 and get another official piece of paper.

6. Go to another building couple blocks in the other direction (the window is in a parking lot) where they check to see if the car has any tickets or other claims against it owing to the state. This paper is only good for 3 days and it is Thursday. All govt office are closed Friday (Good Friday) so the paper will be no good by the time we need it on Monday.

7. So we go to the neighboring town where a physical inspection is made of the car. it is actually pretty cool, They seem to check exhaust, lights, brakes, VIN, etc. This is the place that would be impossible to find if you didn’t know where it was. Luckily Santiago did. Anyway, pay them $40 and get 2 more pieces of official paper. Total time there is about 2 hours.

8. Following the Easter Holiday, I go back to the window in #6 above and get another official piece of paper. The car doesn’t owe any fines to the govt. Good. This costs nothing. By the way, by this time I am carrying my Ipad with me so that I can read while I stand in line.

9. & 10. Then to another window in another building to have another fee assessed. The guy looks at all the papers and my Cedula, signs, stamps, makes checkmarks on my paprers and sends me to yet another window (different building) to pay the $50. They give me yet another piece of official paper. ...... signed, stamped, etc.

11. Finally, I should have all the papers and stamps, so I meet up with Santiago and we go back to the Transit Dept to get the Matricula (title or license). We stand in line about 45 - 60 minutes and get to the window with many papers. All signed, stamped, initialed, etc. The gal finds an error and sends us to another window.

12. We go to the window (stand in line) to find out that the kid that assessed in #1 above and that I paid in #2 above screwed up. He had me pay an additional fee of about $50 that I didn’t have to. We said “No problem. Keep it.” Unfortunately, they can’t do that.

13. Instead, we have to write a letter requesting the money be transferred back to my bank a/c. This letter must include multiple pieces of info and be accompanied by a form from my bank along with a couple other forms.

14. Santiago heads back to his office to have the secretary start the letter and I go to the bank for yet another form.

15. Two days later I collect the letter and accompanying docs from Santiago’s secretary, go back to Transito Dept and go stand in the ‘Edaunancion’ (or something) line again.

16. The gal tells me that I need a copy of the letter. So out to the copy stand and back to the gal. She looks over all the docs again. Stamps and signs the letter and the copy. Keeps the original letter and accompanying 5 pages of docs. She adds the stamped and signed copy to the sheaf of paper I am hustling around with me.

17. She tells me to go to the ‘Matricula line. That is either window #5 or 6. They are labelled.

18. I am not crazy about this because this is the same line as in step 11 from 2 days ago. After about 5 minutes, someone else in line tells me I should be at window (‘window’ is spelled L-I-N-E) #9.

19. So I go to #9. When it is my turn, the guy examines every piece of paper that I have now collected, had signed, stamped and verified. There are about 15 of them. No kidding! He signs some of them, stamps some of them and puts more check marks on most of them. AND HE KEEPS THEM ALL. He tells me to go to line #5 again.....empty handed. Line 5 was last seen in steps 11, 17 &18.

20. So I return to line #5 empty handed and nervous. When it is finally my turn to see the gal in window 5 (again), she asks my name and verifies my address, etc. She prints out two pieces of paper, asks me for $40 and sends me to window 10.

21. The gal in window 10 stamps and signs the papers that I got in step 20. Returns the 2 sheets of paper to me and tells me to return in 45 days for the Matricula.




1. None of the above is exaggerated. The truth is astounding enough without having to exaggerate.

2. What I didn’t mention is that at most of the steps above, the official, examined and made checkmarks on most of the previous docs. Often this included an additional stamp accompanied by his/her signature.

Life is sweet,


Friday, May 6, 2011

A Few Notes About the Driving Course

PETA and ASPCA will be happy to know that after the chicken mishap and the small incident with the dog, no other animals were harmed or killed in this production.

My driving time was 6 - 9 AM every day, so ...... a little sleep deprived.

Both the driving test and the written test (in Spanish) were today.

Almost had a wreck in the driving part. As I pulled away from a stop sign, a cab came barreling around a corner. Had to really punch it to get out of his way. The car I used in the test was MUCH BETTER than the one for all the practice driving. If I was in the practice driving car ..... well, no such thing as punching that wreck.

The driving test was from 8 - 9 AM ....... which is rush hour. Oh my. Not real fun. There are two rondelles (roundabouts) in town that always avoid on my moto or my bike. They are absolute nightmares. Wanna guess where I was during rush hour? Final score 19.3 / 20. I'll take it.

Got 19 /20 on the written test. The one that I missed was due to an interpretation problem. The question itself was 2 full sentences of Spanish ..... I mis-read the last word. It basically asked, if while driving, should we be concerned about the driving of others on the road? Duh. I interpreted it as ....... should we worry about 'women' drivers? I thought it was kind of a weird question. 'Demas' is not the same as 'Damas'.

Anyway the course is over. After I get the certificate (a couple weeks from now), I get to go take the government test. Yippee!

It was a dreadful and stressful week. Can't wait to go back to doing .......... well, doing nothing productive.

Time for a nap.

Life is sweet,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cujo of Ecuador
Driving - Day 2

Okey -Dokey Now.

I think that my behind-the-wheel driving instructor (Johnny) is a country boy at heart. About half the behind-the-wheel time yesterday was spent on every god forsaken unpaved road in the mountains south of town. Potholes, chickens, dirt, etc. A real ckicken-running-over type of day. Did I mention potholes? Or maybe potholes?

After todays 3 hours of behind-the-wheel time, I yearn for yesterday. This time we went into the mountains north of town. The villages, the scenery, views .... fabulous. But, holy mother of god, the roads! P-r-i-m-i-t-i-v-e would be flattering. Use your imagination here and you might, just might be close. Cows, chickens and all sundry of 2 and 4 legged beasties sharing the one lane dirt roads. Only actually had to wait once for the cows to clear me a path: and they were in NO hurry.

But What About Cujo?
Lots and lots of dogs in the villages. I don't know if they were pets or street dogs. But there were a lot. They were a mangy bunch of curs ...... actually many mangy bunches of curs. Many were pretty good size. Few found me charming. One of them (Cujo) went after the car. Seriously went after it. I was driving slow as there really wasn't much choice. Anyway, I DID NOT hit him or run over him. And I don't know if he actually attacked the car or what. But there was a distinct and heavy thump in the left rear of the car as I was passing that horrible creature.

I'm just happy that I wasn't on my bicycle or motorcycle.

I wonder where Johnny is having me drive tomorrow?

Life is sweet,

Monday, May 2, 2011

"I Know a Guy ....'
"I Have a Guy ....
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

"I KNOW A GUY ...."
"I HAVE A GUY ......"

It seems like almost everybody 'has' or 'knows' a guy that can 'fix' just about anything.
By 'fix', I don't refer to 'repair'. 'Fix' as in 'Put in the Fix'

Do you have an illegal car? Want to get it registered?
Someone will know a guy that can ........

Shortcut to a drivers license?
Someone will know a guy that for $50 will ..........

No matter what bureaucratic snaggle or red tape or process you mention ....
Someone will claim to .......... you guessed it .....know a guy.

Everybody seems to have the guy that can skirt the system.
BUT .......
I don't know of anybody that has successfully done it.

I think this guy is a cousin to Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy.

Today was my first day of driving in the driving class that you MUST take (and pass) before you can go to the Transit Dept and take their test. Anybody wanting to take the govt test has to take and pass the course first. The only exception is if you 'know a guy' ...... but that has been covered already.

Anyway. So I am driving this really fine bucket of bolts all over the place today. Highway, surface streets, dirt roads in the mountains, etc. Each 'at the wheel' session, lasts 3 hours and is actually pretty fun.

Anyway, so I am driving a dirt road full of pot holes and other yuck. Pretty much right in front of me, these two chickens run across the road ........ not really to get to the other side. I would guess that the one running away would have been a hen and the pursuer would be the rooster. The rooster was doing his best to 'rooster' the hen. He caught her on the edge of the road after both had crossed in front of me. I am pretty much at a stop. As he is trying to 'rooster' her at the far side, I start to drive by. Apparently, the roostering wasn't to her liking. She gets away and throws herself under my front wheel. She wasn't dead, but pretty injured. She drags herself to the other side (the original side), and ......... Well, lets just say that the rooster was no gentleman.

So, I look at the driving instructor, he looks at me, he shrugs his shoulders and remarks that chickens are 'tonto'. 'Tonto' means a fool. It is NOT a compliment. What was the name of the Lone Ranger's sidekick?

Anyway, I now know why some chickens cross the road.

Life is sweet,