Friday, June 21, 2013

We moved to Ecuador!



What's been happening?
Sorry for the long delay between posts.  The quickest way to get you up to speed is with a summary (next couple of paragraphs).  We are now in Ecuador.  If you would like details, my husband Scott provided them on his blog, sbphasethree.blogspot.com.  My summary version is:

We closed on the San Mateo, CA, house on schedule on April 12, drove toward Minnesota the long way (I-40) due to other interstate closures, spent wonderful (but too short) time with family members, obtained all necessary documents and apostilles, became South Dakota residents by staying one night in a Super 8 motel (really), took side trips to Toronto, Canada, Cooperstown, NY, Washington DC, and spent some fabulous time with our daughter’s family in Florida.  

The biggest delay in the process was finding out that the FBI background check cannot be obtained in person, contradicting what we read on their web site.  The FBI security guard even laughed at us for believing something we read on a government web site.  It ended up being a six week wait instead of the day or two we expected.  The US Sec of State turnaround to apostille the documents was 1-3 days, just as THEIR government web site said.  As soon as we sent off the documents to the US SOS, we booked our flight for June 19, giving them an extra day in case something went wrong.  We booked it exactly right – Scott’s apostilled documents arrived the day before we left.  

Departing Miami
A couple of days prior to our departure, we heard that there was an embargo on footlockers on flights to Ecuador.  Our luggage included four footlockers so Scott got on the phone with American Airlines and the person he spoke with said that there was no such embargo into Guayaquil.  Walking up to check in, I was still a bit nervous because you never know if that person had the information correct.  Thank goodness, they did and all of our luggage was accepted.  I suspect that the embargo was for Quito, which is at a much higher elevation than Guayaquil.

The flight was on time and smooth.  We flew business class to guarantee that we could each check three bags and increase the weight limit from 50 to 70 lbs.  It also made the flight much more enjoyable.  

Ecuador Arrival
AA flight 933 arrived on time in GYE.  Customs was so easy, it was hard to believe.  No questions at all.  Just had to send our luggage through xray.  The hotel sent a driver, Pablo (I had asked them to send two cars knowing that all luggage would not fit in one car but alas only one was there).  Pablo realized the obvious lack of space and called his brother (in the same profession) to bring his car too.  While waiting for his brother to arrive, airport security assisted Pablo with loading all of our checked bags into Pablo’s car.  It was stuffed and almost overflowing.  That left just Scott and I and our carry-ons for the brother’s car.  He followed Pablo to the hotel and sometimes it seemed as if he were being towed because he “tailed” him that closely.  In the end, we made it safely to the hotel with everything we’d packed.  The two taxis to the hotel cost a total of $20.  We tipped them each a dollar and gave a tip to the two airport security guards – they stayed with us and our luggage from the moment we left the airport doors until we were driving away.
Pablo while waiting for his brother & writing his own contact info for us "just in case"

We are staying at Manso Botique Hostal, right on the Malecon 2000.  The plan is to stay here for about a week then head on to the Olon / San Jose / Montanita area.  We will be meeting with a highly recommended visa facilitator on Saturday to ensure that we want to work together.  If that works out, she will assist us with obtaining our permanent visas and later our cedulas.

Guayaquil
While here, we have walked the Malecon 2000 one direction and enjoyed statues, shops, a free concert and people watching.  This weekend, we plan to walk the other direction to enjoy the gardens.  The area is well maintained, beautiful and clean.
The area directly across the street from Manso Boutique Hostel
Free concert last night!


We also walked many streets in this area checking it out.  We are clearly in a financial district - many banks and government buildings around the hotel.  The police building is on the next block.  Very safe.

Many people have talked about an Iguana park so we had to check that out.  The iguana's are up to four feet long and hang out on the ground and in the trees.  Watch out where you stand or one might just take natures call on your head!  After several close calls, we were sure to stand somewhere without a tree limb above us!
Iguana's on the walkway

Iguana's in the trees above

 Just beyond the park is a beautiful church.  Here is a picture of it with the Iguana park in the foreground:

The big news of the day today is that we now have a cell phone with an Ecuadorian cell number!  Yippee!!  Not only do we have a cell phone, but we remembered to also buy minutes for the phone, which means we can call people!  I have read about folks who buy the phone, thinking they've signed up for a plan only to find they can't make any calls.  We purchase the phone at one store, load $$ for calls at a different one.  Both locations are plentiful; you just have to remember to do both.  We are also keeping our home phone number from California thanks to Magic Jack's technology.  

I will leave you with a few pictures from our trip across North America as we prepared to leave.
The Uhaul trailer was stuffed - some went to relatives; some into a storage locker for future trips to EC

Kayla, Olivia, Lisa, Amanda after Olivia's amazing dance routine!

After Kaitlyn's great synchronized swimming show!

After Alyssa's cool history of rock play!

Jordan, Olivia and Sophia after a fun day in the backyard!

Mothers day! Aunt Barb, Mom, Lisa, me, Heidi

Aunts, uncles, cousin Laurie, Mom & Dave with us - more were there but not in photo.  Thanks for impromptu hosting Mom and Dave!

Dave, me, Mom - windy day!

Niagara Falls

Baseball Hall of Fame - Cooperstown, NY


 
GRANDKIDS!!  THE BEST!!

Lexi!

Justin & Grandpa Scott

Until next time,
Emily in Ecuador