I`m b-a-a-a-a-ck!

Well, the intermission is over, I’m blogging again. There have been so many competing priorities since my arrival back in Ecuador that writing-for-fun just never made it to the top of the to-do list. I take a pragmatic, practical line of attack in life: prioritize tasks; tackle one; complete it (or, as I like to call it – PTC). Friends will say that I’m a focused, unswerving, knowledgeable realist. A lesser person could say that I’m a fixated, uncontrolled, kneejerk reactionary. Either way, that I`m a bit of a FUKR… anyhow, here’s some blog.

The Visa

I returned to Ecuador on 16 February 2016 after 10 months in Canada. I am fully documented as a resident retiree and the only mildly irksome rule is that I can’t leave the country for more than 90 days per year for the first two years. Of course, that’s still plenty of time for travel.

The journey from no-visa to visa turned out to be an adventure, and, a rather expensive one at that. In 2015 I initiated my visa application in Ecuador and returned to Canada to await its arrival. That allowed me an opportunity to finish some business and spend lots of time with friends I wouldn’t see face-to-face for long periods of time. And, perhaps most importantly, if the visa process screwed up I would be dealing with English speaking consular staff.

Logical, forward-thinking I imagined. Well, it turns out that the visa process was uncomplicated. Working with an Ecuadorian facilitator, I obtained necessary documents and dispatched them accordingly. Emails and phone calls were straightforward and effective. In October, I was advised that my application was approved and that all I needed to do was to present myself and $USD250 at the Ecuadorian consulate in Toronto. Now, the USD was hovering at around $1.47 CAD. So, I decided to wait a while and see if the old CAD might improve in value. Ultimately, it didn’t. I thought, well, let the New Year roll over and see if there isn’t a little surge. There was. Not in the value of the CAD, but, in the cost of the visa. Effective 1 January, 2016 the cost for visas obtained outside Ecuador doubled! That meant that the $USD250 was now $USD500. Neither did Ecuador announce this to applicants. Now, for the Canadian dollar to increase enough in value to cover that increase, an exchange rate of $1.00 USD for $.50 CAD would have been required. That warn’t gonna happen. So, I effectively squandered the equivalent of $CAD367… . I was greatly saddened.

Visa-cedula blurredNonetheless, I am now a resident of Ecuador. And I have a cedula. What’s that, you ask with raised brows? A cedula is an identity card that you must have if you’re a citizen or resident. It is numbered and it’s necessary if you want certain services. For example, to get any but the most basic bank account requires a cedula number. Seniors are allowed discounts on a lot of things and to get them, you need the cedula. With a cedula seniors can get a free telephone landline. Seniors can also get a refund of most of their sales taxes – if they have a cedula. So, I have one.

With residency out of the way, I next had to worry about a residence.

Digs

2015 - Spring 038

Herb at the keyboard…

My first stop was at the home of a friend. Herb Lamb very generously offered to share his three bedroom space until I found something of my own. This meant that I could take my time checking out the rentals. It took two months, but I found a location within my budget that had everything I wanted – two bedrooms, full kitchen, new furniture, incredible view and lots more. I was even able to negotiate a small reduction in the cost. Then, a week before I was to move in the rental agent stopped communicating with me. I sent emails and left a phone message indicating that I was concerned. Nada. One day before my scheduled move, I learned that the apartment I had lived in on my previous stay was available. I called up, secured it and moved in.  Only then did the uncommunicative rental agent call wanting to know when I could sign the lease. On the one hand, his was a better apartment. On the other hand, he had abandoned me for no apparent reason[1]. I told him it was too late. Anyway, the place I live in now is $75 a month cheaper. That pretty much finances a vacation a year.

Upcoming blogs will focus on the recent seismic events, the Corpus Christi holiday, the bank and its ATM, food, and of course, the piano I bought…


[1] Well, I think he found another potential tenant who was willing to pay his original asking price but who backed out at the last minute.