Almost time for the fat man!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, a HUGE day in Ecuador. There is the largest parade of the year, filled with children on floats, horses and even walking. All in costume in honor of the religious side of Christmas. We enjoy the photos of others, the huge crowds (and hordes of pickpockets) keep us away, as well as the fatigue of fighting our way to a good viewing spot and then trying to fight our way out when we are ready to head home. The parade often lasts from 10 am to at least 4 pm, and they start lining up by 7 am.

But we did get into El Centro the other evening and took a nice walk after another goodbye dinner with close friends (forgot to take photos of the dinner, sorry!). Not the best, my old iPhone 3G doesn't do night shots well, but something to show a little of what things look like at night. We listened to the police band play and watched some of the locals dancing. We walked past the dinosaur exhibit, right next to the "new" cathedral. Then on to the Tomebamba river, covered in strings of blue lights. A nice end to a good day.










If you don't hear from us for a week, our Internet at the hotel we are moving to on Sunday will not have great wifi. Don't worry - LOL!

   

Old Goodbyes bring New Hellos!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

As we prepare for our return to the states, things are winding down. We have sold or given away everything that isn't coming back with us. We have packed up everything that is, except our carry-on bags. We are meeting up with friends as we can - exchanging memories, hugs and "see you laters".

Today was a memory day - over forty friends came to say goodbye at our luncheon held at Magnolia Caffe. Friends we have known since our arrival. Friends we met when they were on their exploratory trips. Friends we've met recently. Friends....we took over the restaurant, inside and out. Here are a few snaps taken before everyone arrived.



We are so blessed to have them all in our lives and we look forward to following them on Facebook and blogs as well as, hopefully, during return visits to Cuenca.

The days until we leave continue to be full...we fly back to the states on New Year's Eve Day and will celebrate the birth of 2016 with family in Florida. Then back to our RV at Bee's RV Resort, where we will spend a couple of days before moving the rig to Alliance Coach for repairs to the jacks while we go on our 14 day cruise.

We continue to shift priorities, leaving some of the Facebook groups centered around Ecuador and joining those that are RV and cruise related.

For those who have followed both our blogs, we have made our last post to Retired in Cuenca. In another year or so, we will merge it with this blog. Be sure to follow this blog via the links in the right hand column! We also hope you will pass our blog link on to those who might be interested. We have a busy year ahead!!!

   

November Happenings - Cruising, Flying & Panicking

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Well, we are back in Ecuador for our final 6 weeks. It's been a bit of a whirlwind since our return, we came straight from our 14 day cruise here (after a nine hour wait in Miami airport, sweetened by spending it in the Admiral's Club).

Our flight was uneventful, other than being a bit late taking off due to the weather that had moved into the area. That meant a landing at 3am rather than the scheduled 2am which wasn't a huge problem. We sailed through immigrations and customs, found a taxi willing to load our 2 footlockers, 3 large rolling duffels, carry-ons and us on to the Marriott Courtyard in Guayaquil. As during out visit before, we enjoyed our stay there. Very comfortable, great free wifi, good food and wonderful staff.

Oh? You want to know about the cruise? Sorry, got a bit distracted. The cruise was great! Wonderful weather, no accidents during diving (remember Stu's little incident on our last cruise? 6 stitches from a brush with coral) We had an amazing room steward and made friends with the barista at the coffee spot where I got hooked on iced cappuccino (I'd never had a foo-foo coffee before).


Stu got in lots of scuba diving, I did a couple of solo excursions (Aruba: butterfly farm, natural bridge and, thankfully, the factory for Aruba Aloe. I had gotten terribly bug bitten our last night in Florida and the itching was bad. They had a product that helped me tremendously. St. Lucia: Aerial cable car ride through the rain forest - really enjoyed this.) Stu & I did a river tubing trip in Grenada. We really enjoyed the actual tubing but our transportation was a bit lacking.

Here are few photos to give you a flavor of our two weeks, way too many to even pick favorites. You can see all the photos we took on SmugMug.










We did have one memorable moment that wasn't captured on camera but should have been. Stu, being the sweet and thoughtful hubby that he is, brought me back a gift from his first scuba outing. It was a beautiful, small conch shell that he had cleaned for me to save.

I picked it up and it felt heavier than I expected....I turned it over and.... SCREAMED AND DROPPED IT! Little red legs were crawling out towards me. The crab that had taken this as his home had survived a fresh water rinsing with all Stu's gear AND a soaking in the bathroom sink in tap water.

I am terrified by things with lots of legs - spiders and crabs, especially! Oh well, it was the thought that counts. Love you, Stu!

   

NEVER a dull moment!

Monday, October 26, 2015

We last left you at our arrival at Alliance Coach in Wildwood, FL where we were getting a new washer and dryer installed. In addition, we asked them to refasten some of the plumbing for the washer that had come loose in the garage.

I can't say enough good about these folks! Done in a professional and timely manner, all the staff we encountered were wonderful. In addition, the new generation of stack washer/dryer from Splendide (Ariston model) is wonderful. Quiet and efficient - a great combination.


We stayed over an extra night to get the trailer washed, polished and waxed by the detail service located on the Alliance property. Wow!! You never realize how bad something looks until it's clean. They did a great job - the rig hadn't been waxed since our last winter in Yuma, AZ (maybe 5 years ago?).

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Then it was on to Bee's RV Resort in Clermont where we had picked out our lot the previous day. Although we are arriving fairly early in the traditional season, many lots were already taken. We managed to find a nice long one with access from the back for the garage AND shade (always a good thing in Florida).

We got pulled into our space without much trouble at all. See how nice it looks?

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Don't let that fool you! This is what the other side looked like shortly after getting settled.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Due to the steepness of the incline on the site and the softness of the sand plus chocks that failed, we had slid forward and bent one jack. Thanks to our kind neighbors, Peggy and Pete, who had a 20 ton jack as well as straps, comealongs and brute strength, Stu managed to finally get the rig up enough to somewhat straighten the jack and get two jackstands underneath. (I love you, baby!!)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

He also bought wood and made some awesome chocks for the wheels - no more worry about failing chocks! Cost, maybe $20 plus a day of labor. Well worth it!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We will get the actual jack repaired when we return in January, the rig is quite stable now. Phew!!

Now we are preparing for our two week cruise as well as our final six weeks in Ecuador. Laundry & bills today, tomorrow the pickup gets washed and waxed while we take some time riding (and maybe a movie), Wednesday is the final packing & "setting up rig to be empty" day and Thursday we drive over to the east coast to stay with family.

Saturday morning we are taking a shuttle service to the port at Miami for our cruise. This is likely to be our last post until we get back to Cuenca on 11/17.

Ciao!

   

Where the heck are we?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ahhh, busy, busy, busy bees! We had a great month in the northeast, visiting family and friends. We almost had to move to Pennsylvania for a bit but Hurricane Joaquin changed direction. Phew!

All medical stuff is done - no major issues, even with a few extra tests. My internist told me my liver was unremarkable and my dermatologist said my skin was boring (both are good things). Stu may be getting his cataracts done this June, so we will be back in Maryland then to see how that goes. Mine are at least another year away.

The cold moved into the NE quickly and we made our escape on Sunday after a night of near freezing temps in Delaware. Our first night was spent in a nice campground,  RV Resort at Carolina Crossroads. They offer 13 nice, long, level pull-throughs set up for one night stayovers for a $30 rate. It was perfect since the temps were back down into the 30's. Brrrrr.....

The next two nights were spent Wally-docking and the same at Flying-J. Today we arrived in Wildwood, FL where Alliance Coach will be installing our new washer and dryer tomorrow. We've been here before and love the service. We are parked in their campground and they have extended their wifi out there! So we have 50 amp electric which means we can run both A/C units, water and wifi. We dumped as we came in and they are going to do the install without us moving. Ahhh.....

Now on to our connectivity. When we made the move to Ecuador, we knew we'd be gone long enough that it made no sense to keep our Verizon aircard, even though it was unlimited data. Reluctantly, we let it go and cancelled our plan. Now that we are back, things have changed a LOT. No more 90 go plans at AT&T for my cell phone, no more standalone data plans for aircards, etc, etc, etc. So we asked around and finally settled on getting Stu a new iPhone and my taking over his, buying a monthly data plan giving us 12GB. This is addition to our Karma broadband device for which we pay $14/GB.

We had no idea how much that would provide us so we've been monitoring our usage. We had 15 days left in our billing cycle and we started using my iPhone 4S as a broadband hotspot. It works quite well and has the added advantage of being a 3G device which uses less data than Stu's iPhone 6 which is 4G/LTE.

Now that we are paying per GB, we are more careful about watching videos and updating apps. We try to do that at free wifi spots (like now). This also means in the future, there may be less blogs and less photos uploaded. Time will tell..

That said, I have photos from our last couple of weeks, but haven't uploaded them from our phones and iPads. We have been SO busy, barely a spare moment to deal with the little things. And once we leave here on Friday to move to our winter spot at Bee's RV Resort, there won't be much spare time. We have a couple of days to pack for our 2 week cruise as well as our trip back to Ecuador.

We will have good Internet access while in Ecuador but will also be busy liquidating all our household goods before our return here the end of December. Oh, and seeing all our friends before we go...LOL!

Ciao!

   

Rolling right along....

Sunday, October 4, 2015

No, the RV isn't rolling along but our daily life. We have:

  • enjoyed visiting family & friends
  • seen a couple of good movies movies (No Escape & The Martian)
  • eaten out less than usual (a good thing)
  • completed 80-85% of our doctor/dentist/ophthalmologist appointments
  • escaped the wrath of hurricane Joaquin
  • done some rehab on the inside of the RV and the outside of our pickup
  • made some RVing plans for 2015 (including going to the 56th Escapade in Essex Junction, VT at the end of July)

We haven't done much motorcycle riding due to the amount of rain and wind the last week. So much, in fact, that the annual Red Helmet ride was cancelled. A disappointment for sure but a huge safety issue for the riders.

This week we take care of Stu's feet, both our epidermis, hopefully get the carpet in the RV shampooed and take delivery on a new loveseat, have a couple more meals with family and then move the RV to Greenwood, DE.

We are definitely enjoying the fall colors starting to show, the Halloween decorations popping up everywhere and the familiarity of the familiar. (Yes, that is exactly what I meant to say!)

All in all, it's been quite a satisfying visit.

   

VELCRO®, Ziploc® Bags and Post-it® Notes

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

For some reason, this topic popped into my head - how did we get along without these everyday products? Well, we did, and I remember a time before they existed. Do you?

I was the data processing manager (does that title even exist now?) for a small company just outside Orlando, FL when Post-it® Notes came out. They were so useful that I bought my own to use in my department. What did we do before then? You used paper clips and hoped the note didn't slip off, or you stapled it to the original (if allowed). Now sticky notes come in all sizes, colors, shapes and are used in many different ways than the original. I used to have a collection of funny notes, funny shapes and different colors - I loved (and still do love) them.

VELCRO®? I have love-hate relationship with VELCRO®. Sometimes it doesn't work well enough, other times it works too well. But it is handy...well, except for that burr side. You know, the one that sticks to everything except what you want it to stick to, just like the sand burrs in Florida! And shoes? Kidlets and the elderly, right? Okay, maybe not, but that's what I think of (I won't mention the great sandals I have that use it...)

Hello, my name is Donna and I am a Ziploc® Bag addict. I love them - all sizes, all weights, all fastener types. Before Stu and I got together, I had them all. Freezer and storage weight, traditional squeeze zipper as well as the slide zipper, gallon/quart/mini capacities. Now we only have freezer weight but I still get both fastener styles, to Stu's constant aggravation (hey, the slide zipper isn't as airtight or liquid containing as the traditional). I use them for everything! We even have the XL size for traveling by motorcycle (and now storage). Great products, no matter the use.

So what are you favorite small inventions that you would hate to live without (and remember when you had to)?

Have you tried the new Kindle Fire? Here is a hard to resist price!

   

Changes in Latitude (thank you to Jimmy Buffett)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Globe clip art
These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands,
If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.

When we moved from the northern hemisphere to the southern, from the USA to Ecuador, we definitely changed both our latitude and attitude.

But the only constant in life is....change.

We never intended to stay in Ecuador permanently and after analysis, we have met our financial goals. We still have things we want to do in the US, while we have the health to do so. Plus we want to do more travel and it's easier and often cheaper to do it from the US.

So, long story short...we will return to Cuenca in the middle of November as planned. But we will be selling everything and returning to the US and our RV lifestyle at the end of the year.

We will miss the many, many friends we have made but we will be past our two year anniversary and our visas will still be valid (as long as we return every 18 months or less OR unless the rules are changed). This was not an easy decision to make but we feel it is the right one for us at this time in our lives.

So as of January 2016, we will be RVing full-time again, based out of Clermont, FL for the winter. Current plans are to enjoy our winter there and at the end of March we will take the rig back to our property. From there we will fly/drive to Tampa to begin our European vacation. We are taking a repositioning cruise from Tampa to Barcelona.

  • Tampa, FL
  • Key West, FL
  • Funchal, Madiera, Portugal
  • Malaga, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain
We spend a few days in Barcelona and surrounding before taking a 10 day Mediterranean cruise.
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Marseilles (Provence), France
  • Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy
  • Rome (Civitvecchia), Italy
  • Naples (Capri/Pompeii), Italy
  • Crete (Heraklion), Greece
  • Rhodes, Greece
  • Athens, Greece

Neither of us has ever been to Europe so we are really excited about this trip. We will return to our property in TN for the summer and do our typical fall visit to the northeast.

Life is good!
   

Back in the U.S.A. (and a thank you to Chuck Berry)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Yup, we're back!!! Been too busy to blog and will continue to be busy for a bit until we arrive in Maryland next week. We've:

  • Had a family outing in Florida
  • Met a couple traveling to Cuenca the following day
  • Met another considering retiring to Ecuador
  • Met with my BFF of many years - we hadn't seen each other since 2001
  • Drove to TN
  • Spent 2+ days getting rid of mouse sign and more mildew than you can imagine (still fighting it)
  • Getting tires lined up for the Freightliner (tomorrow's chore)
  • Getting a recall done on the Harley Tri-Glide
  • Enjoying my birthday
  • Unpacking all the goodies that had been shipped to my brother in FL
  • Tomorrow is also laundry day - going to the laundromat since our dryer still is kaput (have 6 large baskets full of stuff...eeek!)
  • Went on an all day group motorcycle ride to benefit the Tennessee Firefighter Memorial (below is a slideshow of a few photos from our SmugMug album).

We will check back in once we are settled in Maryland. Ciao!

Karma! (but not the Buddhist doctrine)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

As full-time RVers, we needed a way to connect to the Internet while traveling. Since 2006, I had a Verizon Aircard with unlimited use. It was wonderful but for $70 a month, we opted to drop it when we moved to Ecuador.

We have DSL when we are on our property in Tennessee and we hop on to our stepdaughter's WiFi when parked in her driveway in Maryland. But last year we realized we were going to have an issue when parked in Stu's oldest daughter's yard in Delaware. She is a on a pay-as-you-go Internet plan and it was inconvenient for her and us to constantly have to add use.

So we've been watching for a good WiFi pay-as-you-go for us, not wanting to sign up for a contract. When we read about Karma, it sounded like a good plan for us.

When we checked it out a couple of months ago, they were sold out and anticipating having more available in August. Visiting their page a couple days ago, we found that we could pre-order and it should arrive early on in our visit to the states this fall. Of course this is only good in the US and only where they have coverage - and they do have coverage where we need it in Delaware.

When you buy data (in GBs), it never expires. At $14 per gigabyte, its data prices are more expensive than some other alternatives , but less expensive than places like hotels and airports that sell WiFi access. We love its "buy it and forget it" model for data usage, which allows you to truly pay as you go for your data.

If you have a need for "sometime" data access and don't want a monthly contract, check out Karma. (And we will report in after using it this fall while traveling and parked in Delaware.)

Helping a child discover her heritage...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

We have good friends here in Ecuador, retired teachers, that adopted two wonderful children years ago. As these children approach their teens, Mark and Sherry are trying to show them their heritage.

The first is Tali who is from China. Sherry and Tali want to participate in the Heritage Tour sponsored by the adoption agency that was used. This special opportunity came up sooner than anticipated and the costs were higher than expected.

We have donated and ask if you can find it in your heart and pocketbook to help this adorable little girl with her trip, even if only $5, please CLICK HERE, where you can contriburte and read the whole story.

We went to the Galapagos!!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Green Tortoise Cartoon clip art
We took a five day mini-vacation and went to the Galapagos with friends. I know some folks aren't reading our Retired in Cuenca blog, so thought I'd list the article links here for you.

Lots of photos, hope you enjoy the trip!