Can you drink the water?
Yes, in Cuenca it is safe to drink the water straight from the tap. In other parts of Ecuador, bring your water filter.
Rich, my husband, bought me a Brita water bottle that has a replaceable filter in it. I drink from it all the time, not because I have to, but because it is convenient. When you come to visit, I have two spare ones in case we wander outside the city.
How do you bank?
I’ve read various forums and blogs and they mostly say you can open a checking account once you have your visa. You can open a savings account, in most banks, without a visa.
If you pay utilities to a utility company, they may require you to have a bank account to pay them…this is what I’ve heard. Utilities are included in my rent, so I do not have first hand knowledge of this. Google it or hire my terrific facilitator, Isabel Mosquera at firstname.lastname@example.org, to help you unpack the banking scene.
I have money direct deposited into my Wells Fargo account back in MN and use an ATM to withdraw cash to pay for almost everything. I believe I pay a $10 fee for withdrawing, because the ATM’s bank keeps $10 of the amount I try to withdraw. At least, that is my experience. Perhaps I need to try a new bank’s ATM….
Some ATM’s have English subtitles. I’ve discovered that “retiro” is “withdraw.”
Here’s what I found out before I left Minnesota: T-Mobile will let you travel and visit other countries and use their plan, but they don’t have permanent coverage outside of North America. So, I had to cancel my plan with them, have them unlock my phone (so I can put another carrier/SIM card in it) and bought a minutes only plan/SIM card with them to use when I’m in the States.
Once in Ecuador, my facilitator took me to the best cell coverage carrier in Cuenca, Claro, and had them set up my cell with an Ecuadorian SIM card, phone # and minutes plan. I think I paid $30 and $25 was for minutes. I will use it for Ecuador calls only. I guess I have voicemail on this phone #, but I think I need to pay extra to retrieve the mail, and then figure out how to retrieve it. Everything is in Spanish, you know. I can text on it and it does operate just like a US cell phone. Recharging minutes is easy, I guess you just go to a recharging station and put $3 on it (which will hold you quite a while). Recharging stations are all over this town.
My old 612 phone number, the one many of you have, is now linked with MagicJack, a Voice Over IP carrier. It is hooked up through my apartment’s wifi and although I can take a call on my cell with it (as long as I have a wifi connection), it works best when I use the cordless phone I brought with me. I recently discovered I can text on it via my cell phone, which is WONDERFUL!
No mosquitoes here, so no Zika.
What do you wish you would have brought with you?
Although it is WARM here compared to Minnesota, it does get chilly, especially on rainy days. I wish I would have brought at least one more warm sweater and an all-weather type of jacket. You know, the kind you wear in spring and fall, that is water resistant.
One of Grandma’s homemade afghans to curl up in when I read a book or pray.
My handheld cross. I meant to grab it, but forgot. I really miss it, especially today, Ash Wednesday.
Photos of loved ones for empty shelves, walls, and the mantle.
I can’t think of anything that you can’t get here, except posted mail.
There are shops EVERYWHERE offering EVERYTHING! I walked by a casket store recently.
What kind of wood are the doors and furniture in your apartment?
According to my rock star landlords, the doors are wood from the laurel tree and the wardrobes are wood from the eucalyptus tree. To see the wood I’m talking about, watch my apartment tour video.
Real time news
Last night was a bit of a bugger because I couldn’t watch live results of the New Hampshire primary over the internet. No news outlet gave me permission without login info for my cable carrier. I ended up listening to Fox radio over the internet, something I didn’t know existed and something I will not listen to again. It was a talk show and, well…hopefully I’ll have something better figured out for the election.
It is available here and I have Direct TV. About half of my stations are in English. Unfortunately, I do not have any US or English speaking news stations (no CNN, Fox News or BBC), hence the problem mentioned above.
Ummm….Are you making any friends?
Ok, this is to help alleviate your concern about whether I can make friends in a different country. Please meet Wayne and Michelle, new friends from British Columbia (Canada, peeps) I met at the Hostal Macondo and who I had a lovely lunch with on Monday.
I know you’re thinking, “What a cute couple!” You’re right, they’re cute and even more delightful!
Thanks, Wayne and Michelle, for extending your hearts to me and for giving my friends and family back home a sigh of relief. Safe travels! Visit often, move here soon! :)
Thanks for popping in and even reading all the way to the bottom! You, friends, always lift me and make me smile! Thanks for the love and support, I’d be lost without YOU! :) See most of you on Facebook!