I’m legit, and other true stories

It is official. Last week, I received my residency visa, and today I obtained my cedula (ID card. See sample below). I may not look and sound Ecuadorian, but I am one of them.

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No, I haven’t had a face transplant, this is a sample cedula (ID card)

Now I can leave the country without having to start the visa process over, and I can get store discounts and open a bank account.

I’m legit, and it feels soooo sweet!

To address what you all keep asking…

“But what are you doing?”

Well…last week I went on a four day expat tour that went into the jungle, about a five hour bus trip from Cuenca.

Day one, we arrived at Hosteria LuzCelinda, a beautiful hotel with a pool (welcome relief from the heat) that had internet (essential for me to be able to work remotely). Photos: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/posts/10209607956940445
Video of rain in the jungle (at the hotel) https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/videos/10209586773330868/?permPage=1

Hosteria LuzCelinda
Hosteria LuzCelinda

Day one’s evening: went to an open air dining area where they served us dinner, and members of the Shuar tribe presented us some traditions of their people, including a ceremonial dance that two of our group participated in. Ceremonial dance video: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/videos/10209587306704202/?permPage=1

The Shuar tribe is known as a head-hunting warrior tribe that shrinks the heads of its victims. A Cuenca museum highlights this tribe and has shrunken heads on display. The prevailing message is that the tribe no longer hunts and shrinks heads… Photos: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/posts/10209586991016310

Shuar tribe dance
Shuar tribal dance

Day two, we hiked arduous and often dangerous trails (no guard rails here), in sweltering heat and humidity  through the Labyrinths of Chiguaza, where we encountered lush vegetation, towering trees, caves, bats, and spiders the size of your face.

And, in keeping with the name, natural formations of rocks covered in moss, that wend and weave through the jungle. It was spectacular! Photos: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/posts/10209587185181164

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Rock formations covered in moss, in the Labyrinths of Chiguaza
Brian with spider
Our fearless leader, Brian Gary, with a spider plucked from a web in the jungle.

Day three, we visited a cacao and coffee farm, where we picked our own cacao and where our hosts took the cacao and coffee from the plant, processed it before our eyes, and then served it up as hot chocolate and coffee. It was a wonderful education and the end result was well worth the wait. Photos: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/posts/10209606804951646?pnref=story

Group at farm
Our tour group at the Cacao and Coffee farm, learning about a coffee plant.

Day four, we visited a botanical garden in Sucua, that had enormous tree trunk formations straight from a fantasy flick. Photos: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/posts/10209607978820992

Botanical garden tree
Trees in Sucua’s Botanical Garden

The group was fun and easy, and, after surviving the labyrinth, we bonded too. I’m making new friends (anything can happen!). Photos of group: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/posts/10209607934939895

tour group in the jungle
Tour group in the middle of our jungle trek. I’m way in the back, popping my head over the top of the lady in sunglasses (left middle)

Our hosts, Brian Gary and Jimmy Haro, did a sensational job of keeping us moving in one direction, with smiles on our faces. When you want to go, GringoNetwork is the way to go.

PS this trip was a test to see if I can work during extended tours/travel away from my apartment.  Internet at the hotel was iffy at times…too often, actually, but I did manage to get work done.

“Other things too?”

Yes, I’m doing other things too….

This week, I interviewed the executive director of the best women’s shelter in Ecuador, Casa Maria Amor, and learned about their programming and the women and children they serve. I don’t have permission to share what was said, and they don’t have a website, but believe me, they’re knocking it out of the park. Ecuador, and the dedicated staff of Casa Maria Amor, please take a bow.

I’m giving a new friend computer/email/internet lessons. Older expats aren’t always computer savvy…

I’ve gone to a few concerts, including an ambitious two-hour expat choir concert, that started with Opera and ended with Broadway. Many, many retired musicians come to Cuenca, where they can afford to live on their paltry pensions, and can stay active in their craft. They are some of the most joyous and vibrant expats I’ve seen.
Videos from the expat choir concert: https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/videos/10209646013531836/?permPage=1
https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/videos/10209644961585538/?permPage=1

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Expat choir, ‘orchestra,’ and soloist, Soprano Sandra Echeverri

“What about the house?”

We have a purchase agreement on it, and, no joke, it is slated to close Friday, the 13th.

Will see how that pans out…

Rich, my husband, is actively liquidating, stuffing boxes and hauling them to storage, and tying up several other loose ends. Thanks Rich! Once the house is sold, he will book a flight to Cuenca. Once here, he will see if Cuenca living is for him too…

Ok, there’s much more, and if you’re on Facebook, friend me for more photos, videos, and updates. https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill.

PS the earthquake relief effort here is ongoing. It may not be in your news feed, but it reverberates through the lives of each one of us here and many, many are still in desperate need. If you haven’t given anything, now’s the time. Even a small donation goes along way here. For the sake of some of the most gentle, generous, and industrious people on the planet, please do something. 
Credit card:
http://heartsofgoldfoundation.org/earthquake-relief-fund/
http://www.ecuadorcares.com/
Tax-deductible donation in the States: send a check with Earthquake Relief Fund in the memo to
Ecuadorian Volunteers Association
P.O. Box 437
Naperville, IL 60566-0437

More info on Ecuadorian Volunteers Association: https://ecuadorianvolunteers.wordpress.com/earthquake-relief-fund/

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And, for you beautiful souls who’ve made it to the end: the sweet faces of Ecuadorian children singing, even though…

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Cuenca Stands

Yesterday I came across a scene I’ll never forget.

At an ad hoc disaster relief donation site, people were loading trucks with donations, for areas hit by Saturday’s devastating 7.8 earthquake.

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What I failed to take a photo of, and was most moving and memorable, were the crowds of onlookers lining the sidewalks and filling the park.

Cuencanos often pause to watch what is going on, but this time it was different.

They weren’t chatty and half interested, like spectators.

They were attentive, quiet, somber.

They were standing in solidarity with the workers and the victims.

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Stand in solidarity with the Ecuadorian people through your prayers, and/or through a donation to your favorite relief charity, or give here:
http://heartsofgoldfoundation.org/earthquake-relief-fund/

I’m safe

As you’ve heard by now, a devastating 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador last night. The death toll keeps rising and thousands are injured. Many are trapped alive. It is horrible.

Earthquake map
Epicenter is the star. Cuenca is in red.

375 miles from the epicenter, I didn’t feel the tremors, although some Cuencanos did. I didn’t realize anything had happened until Facebook pinged me to share whether I was safe from the Ecuador earthquake.

Ecuadorians have been laboring tirelessly to build up their country. They’ve got wifi in many places, have built new roads and airports, and are even building a tram through Cuenca.

As they build, bullies knock it down: El Nino has brought widespread flooding and landslides, low oil prices are hurting the economy, volcanoes threaten to erupt, and now this. And this is huge.

Bricks and mortar can be rebuilt. The dead can be buried. But trauma and grief can steal hope…

If you want to do something, please pray. If you want to do something else, make a donation. 

Either to your favorite relief fund or to one that is here, in Ecuador: http://heartsofgoldfoundation.org/earthquake-relief-fund/

If you want to invest in those who’ll soon be this country’s engineers, architects, doctors, and decision makers, make a donation here: https://www.generosity.com/fundraisers/full-bellies-dreams-of-hope-you

A moment for another makes a difference. The people of Ecuador thank you.

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For you beautiful people who made it to the end. I know you’re wondering: Kyle is safe. :)