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
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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

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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/

Meanwhile in Minnesota, and Other News

Tomorrow, our daughter, Emily, has a tonsillectomy…in Minnesota.

I’ll be in Cuenca.

I was with her when she had surgery on her kidney as a 2-year-old, and have been with her through every other health problem.

It is torture to not be by her side for this one.

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Emily and me

 

 

Expat living has a downside, and this is a big one. Please say a prayer for her and her doctors. I know a tonsillectomy is no big deal, but it is for me…

Love YOU, Emily! I’ll be with you in spirit and praying all day! Looking forward to seeing your sweet face on video chat later tomorrow. 

It’s almost gone!

Our home in Minnesota has a purchase agreement on it, with a closing date of 5/13. My husband, Rich, is not only Emily’s nurse for the next week or so, he’s actively liquidating our “stuff” and planning storage for the rest. He’ll be joining me, for at least awhile, once the dust settles and he’s officially homeless. Looking forward to seeing you, Rich!

That one other thing that consumes me

While here, I’ve been exploring the digital nomad life (that’s a newfangled way of saying working remotely…very remotely).

My latest big project has been writing fundraising material for a campaign to feed some of the most hungry and needy children in Cuenca.

Only one piece will have my name on it.

On Monday it was posted on the organization’s Facebook page and has, so far, been shared 11 times and liked 137 times (!).  I’m stunned and yet excited, as maybe it will help these children. You’ll find it at:

Until You Raise Your Eyes, You Will Think You Are the Highest Point

or at: http://heartsofgoldfoundation.org/4609-2/

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L to R: El Arenal staff member, a graduate’s mother, Colleen, me, an El Arenal staff member.  Photo by Geoff Odell, geofotostudio.com

Oh, and the campaign, Full Bellies, Dreams of Hope & You, launched today. Please consider a gift, any gift.

Really, any gift.

Eighty-four desperate kids in Cuenca thank you for giving them a chance. So do I.

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Please? :)  https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/full-bellies-dreams-of-hope-you Thank you!

Girlfriends, are you sitting down?

And for you beautiful people who’ve made it all the way to the end…today I had one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had, along with a brow and ‘stash wax. $15 total. 

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A very long distance birthday

IMG_0646Our son, Charlie, turns 26 today. What a gift God has given us in our children and what an amazing gift Charlie is to me. He lives, and is going to grad school, at UC Berkeley, so he isn’t back ‘home’ in Minnesota. We may be on different continents, but thankfully a mother’s love bridges all distance.

Happiest of birthdays, sweet Charlie! So miss you and look forward to seeing your face and hearing your voice later today, on video chat! Love you and looking forward to your next 26 years! Love, Mom

If you cannot see the post with pics below, visit https://www.facebook.com/jodi.quinnhill/posts/10209459463588204

 

An album I created seven years ago for Charlie’s birthday is just as cute today, his 26th birthday! Happy, happy,…

Posted by Jodi Quinn Hill on Sunday, April 10, 2016

 

MJ by a DJ and…

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A DJ was in Parque Calderon last night. I stayed for an hour and no one danced but an expat hippy from the 1960’s. I almost joined him…no lie. :)

A video of MJ by the DJ is here

I am quite lonely. Work fills the time, and Will is a peach and a perfect gentleman,  and he continues to introduce me to fabulous people. Yet, I miss you all and now realize how I took you for granted. Thanks for loving me so. Your smiles and hugs linger in my heart. ❤

One Week in Paradise

Well, it’s been one week since landing in Cuenca, Ecuador, my new home.

A couple of questions you’ve asked:

  • how are you earning a living?
  • what do you miss most?

$$ in Pocket

I’m exploring the digital nomad life. Digital nomads work remotely all over the world. Certain cities are better for this than others, depending on internet connectivity. Here’s a list of the best cities for being a digital nomad (Cuenca is listed 347th).  So, I am working online and am currently contracted with my former employer, The Dwelling Place, in communications and marketing. For almost four years I’ve helped create, edit, and publish their website and e-content, as well as social media and print materials. We’re soon launching a new, updated website. So exciting!

I’ll be looking for at least one more e-job once I get settled into my new place. If you’re interested in possibly contracting with me, I’m working on updating my website, wordbywordforyou.com, and LinkedIn profile with recent material. If you want to peek at something now, here’s the latest e-letter (saved as a pdf) I created from start-to-finish for The Dwelling Place.

I’m discovering it is essential to have a tech wizard in your corner, ready to jump in and troubleshoot. JR Reineck of Reineck Enterprises, Inc. has been and remains my tech hero. He’s in the US and has not only done some troubleshooting with me here, he set me up with a global VPN located in the States which enables me to access US sites. (If you’ve traveled, you may have discovered that there are restrictions and limitations to the sites you can access outside your country.) I can still shop Amazon and have the purchase sent to a friend in the States. I can also access Pandora and a full version of Netflix. Global VPN makes things like this possible.

Also, I will be setting up a Paypal account for employers to pay me electronically. You cannot mail me a check in Ecuador. (You cannot mail me anything in Ecuador, actually. Snail mail is not reliable or advisable.)

What do I miss most?

This one is easy, the ability to communicate with the locals. I could probably carry a conversation with a toddler, but am not volunteering at a childcare facility to find out. My Spanish is coming along, immersion forces the issue.

Thankfully I have English-speaking friends like you to communicate with. Your presence with me in this matters more than you’ll ever realize. Thank you!

For those of you wondering what I’m up to.

Yesterday:

  • to access internet on one of my laptops (the hostel’s wifi won’t connect to it), I visited the Cuenca library, but couldn’t read the signs for accessing the internet and didn’t know who to ask or if they’d be able to speak English. So, I left.
  • went to a internet cafe and did some promised volunteer work for The Dwelling Place. There is no coffee or food at these places-just a row of desks with computers that access the internet. I didn’t even see a sign for bathrooms. $2 for 3-4 hours. I failed to take a pic to show you, sorry peeps.
  • ate lunch/dinner at El Cantaro Restarante, a tourist hot spot off Parque Calderon (header photo is Parque Calderon, taken from the New Cathedral’s rooftop). They piped in this song, and others like it :)
  • I ordered the trout. So far, the food I’ve eaten in Cuenca hasn’t been especially tasty. I think they like their meat well done.

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  • The restaurant’s bathroom set up was new for me: one room with one stall for women, one stall for men, and an open stall for the urinal. This is going to take some getting used to… I took a pic to show you, hope you’re able to get the idea.

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  • planning for the move on Sunday. I’ll be shopping with Isabel, my facilitator, on Friday for essentials. The landlord is graciously letting me drop off some of my items on Friday, so I don’t have to store them at the hostel and then move them on Sunday.
  • watched a Rosemary & Thyme episode on Netflix

Today

  • enjoyed breakfast at the hostel with a wonderful and interesting couple from British Columbia. They’re thinking about moving here, I gave them Isabel’s business card. (Isabel is fabulous! Isabel Mosquera: isabelmmosquera@hotmail.com)
  • more planning for the move. I have a list of items to buy.
  • listened to an audio file of my son’s Christmas concert at First Presbyterian of Berkeley, CA. He had three solos! LOVE listening to that gorgeous tenor voice! Thanks for the send, sweet Charlie!
  • blog and work
  • massage at 3pm. I’m SOOO missing Diane Pease, my massage therapist in Minnesota. I’m one walking migraine without her, Cuenca is no exception. Consider a visit with her, she’s amazing! (PS I hire her for deep massage work only)
  • meander through my new neighborhood
  • maybe catch a concert tonight at the Old Cathedral (off Parque Calderon)