July 17, 2012

More from Cuenca, Ecuador

Well, the flu seems to have left our house. Thank heavens!
Just in time, too. Our friends John and Violetta decided that we all needed to get out of town. So we all hopped into their car and drove forty-five minutes from Cuenca up into the Cajas National Park to have lunch at one of the trout farm/resort/ restaurants the area is famous for. We ended up at Dos Chorreras and had the most amazing trout dinner ever. I didn't know there were that many ways to fix trout --- and all the lovely fish were boned in the kitchen. Absolutely delicious.
This past week was also insurance and banking. Banking can be tricky in Ecuador --- unless someone vouches for you, it is difficult to get a checking account without a permanent residency visa. Fortunately, in the process of buying our health insurance ($98 a month for a great policy --- eat your hearts out U.S. folks), our agent referred us to one of the banks here where he is known. (A family member is branch manager.) By Wednesday, we will have our account. Yay us!  

Regarding the other official stuff: We have been approved for our pensioner visas. We now have to fiddle with some more paperwork and send our passports to our attorney. A week or so from now, our attorney will return our passports, after which time we will fly to Quito to make an appearance at the appropriate government office to receive our cedulas (aka green cards). This will entitle us to enter and exit the country (which will be handy). The big benefit will come next year when I turn 65 (K. W., poor baby, doesn't get this one until two years after me). Apparently, there is a terrific retirement set of perks: certain types of sales tax returned each month, shorter lines at the bank, and the best one --- half price on all airline travel generating in Ecuador. Jackpot!

July 3, 2012

And, We're Still in Cuenca, Ecuador

Here's lookin' at ya!
Photo by Eva Schuster
Well, we had a bit of good luck — didn't have to move out of our apartment while the flooring/plumbing work was being done. After much discussion and a whole lot of experts coming in to opine, it was decided that the real issue was the cold water shower pipe and not how the floor was laid. This meant that the main bathroom was torn up for three weeks. 

In the process, it was decided to completely reroute the cold water plumbing above ground, along under the baseboards in the living/dining room area. Not the most attractive solution, but we don't own the place.

The bad luck was that in all of this, the place was covered with dust from all the sawing through the tile. Blech. And, of course, this three-day job turned into three weeks. But now all but the worst of the cosmetics is completed. In the process, we discovered that any project in Ecuador turns into a major group event. And everyone has an opinion. What a magilla! 

Not only were there engineers, architects, and plumbers, plus the owner, the neighbors got involved, too. It appears that the plumbers did two really duff things: (1) they routed the pipes in such an exposed manner that it was unsafe and unattractive; and (2) they used as the water source the outside (not necessarily for drinking) water instead of attaching the feeders to the main line. The other thing they managed was to install the pipe in the shower incorrectly, so it leaked into the wall. So they had to completely tear up the shower again and fix it.