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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cedula's Achieved!

It is with much relief and a certain amount of satisfaction that we finally have our cedulas. There were some interesting hurdles, one being that Ron's town of birth was not "in their system". It took them 5 hours and a call to Guayaquil to fix the issue. It's something to have that little green card in our possession, as we've been working for 6 months to attain it.

Things to know about the process: you may have to go to the oficina de extranjera a couple of times to get your actual Visa in your passport and then complete the paperwork for your cedula. You will be asked to fill in a single sided form (in Spanish) without error. This is practically impossible, but small errors will be accepted. Really really really double check everything that is entered in to the computer, if there is any error, you will have to go back to the foreigner office to get corrections, which will delay the process. (More about that in a second.)

At the oficina de extranjera you will need:
     You're original passport with residency visa
     Original birth certificate
     Colour copies of your passport photo page and residency visa
     Colour copy of your birth certificate
     (There seems to be no need for translations)

They will issue you a colour print out including the information from the aforementioned form and will ask you to verify the information on the print out. Once verified you will sign it and for the most part that will be that with the foreign office. It takes approximately 6 working days for the information to be transferred from the first office to the Oficina Civil, which actually issues the cedula. (In our case, it took longer as there was delay due to change of authority after the recent election - an extra 8 days, not including the 6 days to correct a typo.)

While waiting, you'll need to get that form you filled in notarized, which costs about $14 give or take. You will need another colour copy of your passport photo page and residency visa, plus the notarized document confirming the information on the personal information form you filled in at the oficina extranjera.

Once you arrive (after the 6 days of waiting) you go to the desk that states "verificacion de extranjera" and they will double check all of the information to make sure it matches. (This is where we got hung up as a letter was missing from a parents' middle name.) Once everything checked out we went to the cashier and paid $5 per person and were given a number. When called, we provided confirmation of the information to be entered in to the system, signature, favourite colour, whether we wanted to be organ donors or not and finally a photo and finger prints. (Tip: you have to press your fingers VERY hard on to the scanner.)

About a half hour or so later a very nice person calls your name and VOILA, you get your cedula. No problem!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ecuadorian Practicality, Some Advice and the Biennial

Ecuadorian practicality can be a truly beautiful thing. If a tree falls in one of their parks they cut it up there on the spot and make benches which allows for a lot of seating. Not necessarily comfortable, but plentiful. (Keep in mind that height is not an advantage here in Ecuador!)
Trees that snapped in a wind storm

One of the resulting benches

The shady option
Their practicality can also be a bit off putting...need to go to the bathroom? Just drop and go...between cars, by the river, on the hiking problem! This includes men and's true. I saw an indigenous woman squat down between two parked cars. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

"No hay problema!" (No eye probl-EM-a!) There's no problem! This is a very popular concept and practice here, as with the trees. We've seen this on the street as well. One way street? Only a suggestion! We actually saw a truck go the wrong way, across a one way bridge, and then turn down the street he wanted to get to. He had to cross a very busy "Y" shaped intersection to get to the bridge, against the flow of traffic as well. We were suitably impressed.
Not that great for lounging...

Okay for a quick photo pose!

The pedestrians have a similar approach. Families will walk four abroad, taking up the whole sidewalk and don't move when you're approaching. This isn't meant to insult you, it's just more practical NOT to move, especially if the approaching person is already making signs of giving way. (I have a new theory on's really self-preservation, the sidewalks are riddled with obstacles, so if you have the clear path...whatever you do, don't surrender it!)

Fortunately they are also wildly practical in their approach to food. It's almost impossible to be hungry here. Vendors line the streets with fruit, candy, ice-cream, coconut water etc. You can get home made potato chips, popcorn or choclos (a type of corn with large kernals) these are served with a range of condiments and can be quite delicious. They also have a serious passion for quail eggs (huevitos). I haven't tried them yet, but they seem to be a popular snack to get you through to your next meal. This is imminently practical if you're too busy to stop for a meal. (Fast food - Ecuadorian style!)
Couple picnicking in the background.

Now let me follow that with some practical advice. If you are fortunate enough to be wandering around one of the cities in Ecuador, adopt this practice: if you see something interesting, stop and then look at it. Don't continue to wander down the street, as you will likely either trip, fall in to a hole or slip off the curb. Ecuadorian practicality extends to sidewalk maintenance...wait until the entire sidewalk needs replacing before making repairs! (And then pave them with really nice tile that gets slippery when it rains...consider yourselves warned!)

While these little idiosyncrasies may seem interesting (for lack of a better word) or sometimes a bit dangerous, this is life in Ecuador. You must take it as it is and enjoy it! Everyday is a new adventure to be looked forward to with anticipation.
Future benches!

Perhaps for this view...
Or this!
But seriously...STOP and look at things...just do may sound ridiculous, but your ankles, toes and maybe even legs will thank you.

Happy biennial Cuenca, you're putting on a great show, which we enjoyed (after we stopped walking and took the time to look around). 
Love these trees...they're kind of Seussian.
Paddle boating on the lake

One of the Four Rivers

Band entertaining the locals for the Biennial

They had people dancing in the street.

That's the "new" cathedral behind them

Festivities in Parque Calderon (just across the street)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

20,000 Hits and Counting - This blog's for you!

Hello everyone out there in cyberspace! Just wanted to say thanks for checking out my blog, it's been an interesting stretch, with viewership increasing as we made the big trip down to Ecuador. I know we aren't playing with the big boys, but for a little family "hey-what-are-you-up-to-now" project, our readership sure has grown!

Some of you have followed us from Vancouver, to Freetown and all the way to South America, while others have joined the trip part way through. We hope that you've occasionally found something that gives you a chuckle, pause for thought or inspiration (or all three...that would be awesome!).

Just because we're here, doesn't mean we don't keep up with things back home, the highs (Olympic Gold!) and lows (Rob Ford...not that he doesn't get enough coverage already) and everything in between.

Upcoming posts will outline the next steps to residency, like getting your cedula and possibly shipping items from home via container, some observations on Ecuadorian ingenuity and other (hopefully) witty and interesting things.

However, as titled, this blog is for you...our readers. Thanks for the comments, interest and even accidental perusal!

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