Life is becoming more routine these days; hence the lack of blog postings. We're doing fine, feeling great, and having fun. We take a daily walk to the large park and back (about 3 miles round trip). We walk every morning around 9:30a.m., except for the rainy mornings, which we haven't had lately. I plan on going to Curves here. It is a great workout program -- which I have done back in the States. My favorite workout program though is Jazzercise but there isn't one here so I'll start with Curves. There are quite a lot of dance studios here in Cuenca, which is interesting. I think that some of them have aerobic-type programs which I'll also check out. There is also a really nice gym, and also another facility that has an Olympic-sized pool which the athletes training for the Olympics use. Mike will probably use that pool.
It's good to have a lot of the necessary matters taken care of, such as:
Obtained Passport Visa Stamp
This was accomplished by sending our passports (overnight mail) to our attorney in Quito. (Yikes, this was scary to let loose of our passports, but it has worked out OK so far for everyone who has done this so we hoped and prayed that it would work out OK for us too, which it did.) Our attorney (Gabriela Espinosa) walked the passports over to the appropriate government officials, along with our original marriage license (apostilled) , Mike's social security statement (translated & apostilled), visa application, and additional passport photos. The passport visa stamp has the date of October 1st, which is my birthday, and is also the day after the quasi-coup attempt on the president here. So the government was back to work the day after all the excitement. From the date of the visa stamp, we had thirty days to get our Censo, and an additional thirty days to get our Cedula.
With the help of our good friend, Linda Gonzalez, we were able to obtain our Censo on October 12th. We were able to get our Censo here in Cuenca, but we've heard that that will change to Quito next year. The documents we needed to obtain our Censo were our passport with the visa stamp, a copy of our apartment rental contract, a copy of a utility bill, a copy of our landlord's Cedula, two 9 x 12 manila envelopes (1 each), passport-sized color photos (front and profile), letter from attorney.
We had to make a trip to Quito to apply for our Cedula, which we did on November 11th. The documents we needed were our passport with the visa stamp, original Censo, and letter from our attorney. We were interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted. Everything was accomplished in about three hours. Our Cedula was to be processed and mailed back to us in four working days, which it was. We are now legal residents of Ecuador.
Mike Entered into SRI System
Mike, being a tercera edad (senior citizen - over 65), can receive all of the IVA tax back each month up to $144. With his Cedula, he went to the SRI office and was entered into their computer. Now each month he'll submit the Fracturas (official receipts) that he receives from purchases and will receive the IVA tax back. (The IVA is a national sales tax of 12%.)
Mike Got Bus Pass
Mike, also because he is a senior citizen, gets a discount on riding the buses. The normal fare (which I pay) is 25 cents. But with the discount, Mike will pay half-fare -- or 12.5 cents! So he paid $5 today to get his bus pass.
Laminated Copies of Passport, Censo and Cedula
We have been advised not to carry the originals with us, but to get laminated copies, which we have now done. However when traveling, you must have the original documents with you.
We have been meeting more people who are either visiting Cuenca or who have recently moved here. Tonight, we went out to Gringo and Friends night at DiBacco. We had a great time and met some new folks who just moved to Cuenca. Tomorrow night we're going to the Old Cathedral to see a performance by the French Ambassador and baritone Jean-Baptiste de Boissiere in concert with Colombian pianist Jacqueline Gutierra. There are many such performances throughout each month in Cuenca, which are always free.
We will be having Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with 80 other people at the California Kitchen.
Here's wishing you and your family a safe and blessed Thanksgiving holiday.