The Best of Living and Retiring in Ecuador
This is the place where I get to share all the favorite things I love about Ecuador. As a writer, I gain inspiration from the people I meet, the delightful sidewalk cafes where I sip cappuccino, and the festivals where we celebrate the joy of all things Ecuadorian.
The Olympics Are Over - August 8, 2021
Ecuador can be proud of Richard Carapaz -- only the second Ecuadorian who has won gold in the Olympics. I'm sure there will be a statue built in his honor or maybe even a park named after him. What a tremendous sense of pride we felt as we saw him stand on the podium to receive the gold medal. We can only imagine what Ecuador will do in the future with a whole generation of kids looking to win gold in the Olympics.
Until next time...hasta luego,
Connie & Mark
Nueva Catedral (new Cathedral) in Cuenca - First Stop
It has and always will be my favorite place in Cuenca -- the Nueva Catedral and Tutto Freddo Heladeria (on the corner). It's where we first went for ice cream and the place I go when I'm in El Centro to meet people, to read a book, to people watch, to take pictures, and to live, breathe and enjoy Cuenca.
If you're new to Cuenca, it should be the first place you visit as well. There are some great restaurants all around the area -- north, east, south and west. But the best part is to stand back and view the three blue domes (tres cupolas) from across the street.
Enjoy exploring the best of Cuenca!
Until next time...hasta luego!
Connie and Mark
|Posted by Connie Pombo on March 18, 2017 at 4:20 PM||comments (1003)|
The Newly Released Human Mobility Act (Immigration Law 2017) is causing a bit of confusion for some folks, so I'm going to try and clarify a few things.
In the good old days, we entered Ecuador on a T3 visa, which allowed us to stay 90 days. Actually, we arrived with a 12-IX visa which allowed us six months, but we were able to get permanent residency in three weeks! Imagine that? We were either an immigrant or non-immigrant.
Under the new law, you’re either a transient (visitor) just passing through on your way somewhere else; a tourist; a temporary resident or a permanent resident. And, yes, you can become a naturalized citizen, but we’ll save that for part three in the series.
There are some key differences in the new law: First, you will need proof of medical insurance that is valid during your entire stay in Ecuador (it can be private or public); a passport valid for at least six months (that’s not new), and lastly you cannot apply directly for permanent residency (one of the principal differences in the old and new law). You have to apply for a temporary visa first. Did I mention that Ecuador loves paper work! They just added a second step to a three-step process.
Let’s talk about these “temporary” folks: Click here to read more.
|Posted by Connie Pombo on February 15, 2017 at 3:15 PM||comments (85)|
The one thing you can be sure of in Ecuador is change and now we have new changes in residency visas. To clarify the many questions that I’ve received, I’ve decided to blog about it. There are still some unknowns about the new act, but I’ll clear those up as I receive news.
Back in the day (meaning when we got our permanent residency visas in 2010), we went to the Ecuadorian Consulate in Washington DC and received our 12-IX and three weeks later upon arriving in Ecuador we had our permanent residency visas (pensioner’s visa) good for 12 years instead of 10 – don’t ask (we still don’t know why that happened).
There were some stipulations, however, and they had to do with travel. We couldn’t be out of the country more than 90 days for the first two years and then up to 18 months the third year. I call it the 90-90-18 month rule. Unless, you were going for citizenship and then it was the 30-30-30 day rule; you couldn’t be gone from Ecuador more than 90 days in a three-year period. Now we do know some folks who got their citizenship despite that rule, but it took some "lawyering" to get it done.
Our experience with the pensioner’s visa process was seamless (seven years ago) with the aid of an immigration attorney in Quito. It was textbook perfect.
Forget everything I just told you because those are the old rules and these are the new rules, which have some significant changes. To read more, click here.
|Posted by Connie Pombo on February 5, 2017 at 2:50 PM||comments (3)|
It’s hard to believe, but we’re coming up on seven years in Cuenca—almost as much time as we spent in Italy, so naturally it’s a time of reflection (the good and the bad).
The other day a newcomer asked, “What’s changed in the time that you’ve been here?”
At first, I didn’t have an immediate response (my mind went blank) and then it all came to me. Here’s a list (by no means complete), but it will give you some idea of the transformations that have taken place in this beautiful city we call home
|Posted by Connie Pombo on February 5, 2017 at 2:45 PM||comments (46)|
Right now while I'm writing this blog post, I can hear the fireworks outside in all directions and it's not even New Year's Eve yet! Tomorrow will be spectacular and I hope to capture it in pictures and on video.
Unfortunately, last year I forgot to plug in my camera battery, so you can imagine my disappointment when the red light went on while the fireworks were exploding and I got a snippet here and there.
The New Year's Eve fireworks are the best I've ever witnessed and they start at the stroke of midnight and continue until 2:00 a.m. Last year our house was filled with smoke -- just from leaving the windows open. And I might add, that we can actually see out our windows this year as the condo association gave us an early Christmas gift and cleaned the outside windows free of charge. I have to admit it was a little unnerving to walk into the kitchen and see someone in our window -- three stories up! He was roped in and harnessed in with huge magnets, but I sure wouldn't want his job! Thankfully, we can see clearly now.
|Posted by Connie Pombo on October 13, 2016 at 6:15 PM||comments (21)|
It’s been six years since we made the journey to Cuenca and we’re beginning to see the end in sight. No, we’re not leaving Cuenca, but in May of 2017 we’ll be receiving our Social Security and we’re going to be traveling more (lots more!). We have three trips planned and one of them is going to be Italy, where we lived for six years and where we started our family... (Click here to read more).
|Posted by Connie Pombo on April 22, 2016 at 10:30 PM||comments (76)|
Last Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 6:58 PM, Mark and I were sitting in our living room when we felt a "trembler"; we get them occasionally and never think twice about them. As California natives, we don't consider them noteworthy. But this one was different -- a lot different! The trembler got more intense and then shook hard as we watched the pictures fall from the shelves and the lamps swing back and forth. The shaking continued for a good minute. We heard children crying in our building and watched as neighbors ran out of their condo complex. The swaying of our building was a "little" unnerving as we watched other buildings do the same thing with windows bulging.
For quite some time afterward, I still felt like I was on a roller coaster and then I turned to Mark and said, "Wherever the epicenter is; it's going to be horrific." The "trember" turned out to be a 7.8 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter in Pedernales.
Mark and I have always lived in earthquake-prone areas (California, Italy and now Ecuador). We knew about Ecuador's history of earthquakes, but we figured it came with the territory. We've actually been in two big earthquakes since we've been here (2010 and 2016).
Ecuador is in the "Ring of Fire" which is a horseshoe-shaped ring stretching from Japan and moving around to Alaska, down the coast of Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Central American, and South America.
The April 16th earthquake was the strongest to hit Ecuador since 1979. For the complete list of the earthquakes in Ecuador, click here.
There was only minor damage experienced in Cuenca from Saturday's earthquake, but on the coast it was a different story and we're only beginning to understand the true devastation as many of the roads along the coast have been damaged, making access to some areas further inland more difficult.
To date there are 577 dead with the most casualties felt in Manta and Pedernales; 5,733 injured and 163 missing. We have friends who have been to the hardest hit areas and they can only describe it as utter devastation. Pedernales doesn't even exist any longer.
There are three zones in Ecuador:"The coast is Zone I for earthquakes; Zone II is the Quito area in the northern Andes, which has many semi-active volcanoes; Cuenca, in the southern Andes, is in Zone III, and has not had a major earthquake in 500 years; and the Amazonias (Oriente), in eastern Ecuador is the least susceptible area to earthquakes." No one can predict natural disasters, but if you live in Zone I and II, then you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. You have to decide if the view of the Pacific Ocean every day is going to make your life more stressful or more enjoyable.
We love the Ecuadorian Coast and vacation there every chance we get and we've often talked about buying a place on the coast -- like Salinas, but Saturday's earthquake pretty much sealed the deal for us. We're staying in Cuenca until God calls us home.
After Saturday's earthquake many have asked us if we're moving back to the States and I understand their concern, but we don't scare that easily and most of our lives have been spent in earthquake-prone areas. Ecuador's earthquake has destroyed the coast and it will be years before it will be rebuilt, but the Ecuadorian people are resourceful and resilient and I know that with proper planning the new coastline will be safer and stronger. Even as recovery efforts are still ongoing, engineers are planning the next phase. We know that the structures that withstood the earthquake were made from bamboo and wood--not stone or cement. We've seen some of the plans suggested and it makes perfect sense that in the future the structures should be flexible--not rigid.
The outpouring of support for Ecuador has been so heartwarming and the relief efforts have been nothing short of miraculous. It hasn't even been a week since the quake hit and the outpouring of support from around the world has been so encouraging. There are donation drop-off stations all over town and caravans of trucks and airplanes bring in supplies daily to the hardest hit areas, but so much more needs to be done as we're only beginning to understand the long road ahead of us.
The poorest of the poor are giving what they have to help their neighbors on the coast and this earthquake has already stretched this country that has already been knocked down by the lowering of oil prices -- Ecuador's major export. But we're like a reed bending to the force of the wind and soon we will stand tall and stronger than before.
If you would like to help with the relief efforts, there are so many organizations that are available -- from the Samaritan's Purse Ministry by Franklin Graham to Cruz Roja (Red Cross) of Ecuador --where you can make a donation. No gift is too small.
In the meantime, if you're planning a trip to Ecuador, don't cancel it. The coast was ravaged by this earthquake, but there are still the southern beach towns like Salinas (the little Miami of Ecuador) that was kept out of harm's way; Quito is open and ready for business; Cuenca was spared any damage; and, of course, the Galapagos Islands were completely spared. One of Ecuador's greatest sources of income is the tourism industry and want you to experience this beautiful country and its warmhearted people they way we have.
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love, care and concern for Ecuador and for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.
Until next time...hasta luego,
Connie and Mark
|Posted by Connie Pombo on March 7, 2016 at 11:35 AM||comments (2)|
Question: What is the best time to book tickets to Ecuador?
Answer: According to recent studies, the best time to book a flight is 50 to 100 days before your scheduled flight. The best day to purchase tickets is on a Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. EST. If you can book your flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday, returning the following Tuesday or Wednesday, you also can save some money. If you use all three methods, you can save hundreds of dollars.
To read more, click here.
|Posted by Connie Pombo on October 26, 2014 at 10:45 AM||comments (4)|
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|Posted by Connie Pombo on October 8, 2014 at 9:55 PM||comments (3)|
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|Posted by Connie Pombo on August 20, 2014 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
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