Monday, September 1, 2014

Documentary about Ecuador

Here's a video about Ecuador which is a biodiverse country (multi-ethnic and multi-cultural) with honest and friendly people, where you can enjoy unique experiences, and the visitor finds a wonderful place to stay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=qx4UxR465YU#t=2

Saturday, August 2, 2014

4 Years in Ecuador

Where has the time gone?  We are now celebrating 4 years in Ecuador (Cuenca to be exact).  In those 4 years, we have:
  • Moved 4 times, and love where we are living now.  We've been in this condo for 2 years, and just renewed our lease for 2 more years.
  • Helped out with various ministries and orphanages, and even helped to start an English-speaking Christian church.
  • Traveled to the Galapagos Islands; toured the southern coast of Ecuador; visited Quito, Guayaquil, Banos de Ambato, Cotacachi; rode the Devil's Nose Train; went whale-watching and toured Isla de la Plata.
  • Bought a car and acquired driver's licenses
  • Improved our Spanish.  DuoLingo says that I am 63% fluent (and Mike is more fluent than me!)
  • Traveled to the States 4 times and enjoyed seeing friends and family in California, Arizona, and Idaho.
  • Applied for citizenship
  • Improved our health by having less stress in our life; eating healthier; exercising more; and laughing a lot. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Extended Stay Hotel in Cuenca

La Casona del Centro
The concept of extended stay hotels has come to Cuenca.  The newly-renovated La Casona del Centro (La Casona) has just opened its doors.  Extended stay hotels, designed with the guest in mind, are the perfect short-term housing solution whether you are traveling for business, looking for temporary housing during relocation, or even a weekend getaway.  Our experience in Cuenca shows that many people, after an initial "look-see" trip, have decided to come back for a longer stay for the purpose of evaluating Cuenca as a future home.

La Casona specializes in providing functional hotel suites at affordable extended stay rates.  It is specifically designed for business and leisure travelers who want more than just a hotel room.  The suites meet all of the requirements that a traveler would require.


Entrance to Hotel
La Casona understands that, for employees on an extended stay business trip, comfort is a premium.  The time spent away from home and the inability to see one's family and friends can add to what may be an already stressful business trip.  If you find yourself on the road for a long-term project, these are the accommodations you should consider.

We've just had the opportunity to tour La Casona.  It is located on Luis Cordero 10-13 y Gran Colombia, and is a beautiful hotel inside and out, with 15 luxury suites for extended stay travelers.  No pets are allowed.

Enzo at the Front Desk




Alejandro, the Manager
Each suite is completely furnished with a kitchenette, a living room with sofa-sleeper, and a master bedroom with king-size bed.  The kitchenette features a cook-top, refrigerator, and microwave oven.   Each bedroom has ample closet space and a private bathroom.  There is one suite with two bedrooms.  The hotel has a newly-installed elevator that reaches all 3 floors.  The penthouse suite can be reached by taking the elevator to the third floor and then walking up to the penthouse level.

Included in the monthly rent for each suite is:
  • Water, gas and electricity
  • Internet with WIFI
  • DIRECTV
  • Soundproof windows
  • 24-hour front desk service
  • Washer and Dryer (self-serve), or you can pay for full service
The suites range from $850 to $1,350 a month ($28 to $45 a day), based on the size of the suite.  The suites range in size from 377 to 936 square feet. The quoted rates are on a monthly basis, but shorter stays can be arranged, with the minimum stay being 15 days.

Here are pictures of the rooms:

Living Room with sofa-sleeper

































 
Bedroom (with king-size bed)
















 

Shower (with rainfall shower head)
















The hotel is perfectly situated with the traveler in mind, having a delicatessen inside which is open from 7am to 7pm every day, that provides excellent baked goods and coffee.  Also as part of the building there is a pharmacy, a travel agency, a copy/photo center, and a handcraft gallery.  Within a few blocks, there are banks, restaurants, markets, a post office, and Parque Calderon (the central park).





Views from the penthouse suite
















Here are pictures of the delicatessen:

Entrance to the Delicatessen from the hotel




















Outside entrance to the Delicatessen
Delicatessen, 2nd floor














 
  

For more information, please send an email to info@lacasonadelcentro.com.  To make reservations, please call 282-9862, or email reservas@lacasonadelcentro.com.

Friday, June 13, 2014

World Cup, 2014



Well, the World Cup is underway in Brazil.  The opening ceremonies, along with the opening game, was on Thursday, June 12th.  Brazil won 3 to 1 against Croatia.  Here is the website:  http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/index.html.

Ecuador's first game is on Sunday, June 15th (Father's Day).  They play against Switzerland.

And the USA's first game will be on Monday, June 16th against Ghana.

Soccer (or futbol as it's called here) is one of the world's most popular sports.  In case you want to read more about the World Cup, please see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup.

I'll be rooting for Ecuador and the USA.  Who will you be rooting for?

Approaching our village, Vernazza, by boat from Monterosso al Mare
As a side note:  In 2006, the final game of the World Cup was played between Italy and France in Germany.  We were on vacation in Italy in a small town called Vernazza at the Cinque Terre.  That night, we were watching the final game in our apartment and around midnight the church bells started playing as Italy scored the winning goal in a shootout.  The entire town exploded in joy as the piazza filled with  the happy celebrants.  The celebration continued on through the night and the next morning, they had their world champion Tee-shirts on sale.  What an experience!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Citizenship Process -- Part 1



Once you have been in Ecuador for three years (from the date of your Cedula), you can apply for citizenship and get an Ecuadorian passport.

We have just successfully completed our application for Ecuadorian citizenship.  And like with everything else, it wasn't easy.  Here are the steps that we took.  Please be advised that this was our experience as of May, 2014.  You will probably find a different set of rules when you decide to file your application.

All documents in English need to be translated into Spanish, and notarized.  We used the services of Joseph Guznay in Quito who was amazing. 

 Here is his contact information:  

Mike and Joseph

Joseph Guznay
Email:  josephguznay@gmail.com
Cell Phone:  098-747-3181

Documents Needed to Accompany Citizenship Application



Birth Certificate:   If you were born in the U. S., get an updated certified copy of your birth certificate from the County where you were born and take the certified copy to your Secretary of State to get it apostilled.


Passport:   Color copy of your passport front page and Visa page.


Ecuador Cedula:   Color copy of front and back of your Cedula.


Proof of Income:   Copy of your proof of income (social security, pensions, etc.), and copy of your bank statement.


Ecuador Police Report:   This is the Certificado de Antecedentes Penales which shows you have not committed any crimes while living in Ecuador.  You can print this online from their website at:  www.ministeriodelinterior.gob.ec.


Ecuador Social Security Record:   This is the Certificado de Afiliacion and shows that you don’t owe any money to the IESS (Instituto Ecuatoriano deSeguridad Social).  You can get this certificate from the IESS office in Cuenca on Gran Colombia near Hermano Miguel.


Registro Civil:   You go to the Registro Civil to get the Certificado Biometrico, which shows your Cedula record with your fingerprints.  The cost is $5.00.  We went to the office in Cuenca located at Parque Luis Cordero.


Tax Record:   You need to go to the SRI office in Cuenca to get a Certificado de No Inscripicion, which shows that you don’t owe any back taxes.  Also, you'll need to go to the Municipio to get the La Tesorera Municipal Certifica, which states that you don’t owe any property taxes (needed even if you don’t own property).  We went to the ETAPA office in Cuenca on 10 de Agosto, where there is a window for this.  Cost is $1.85.



Migratory Movement:   Go to the Policia de Migracion office in Cuenca on Eduardo Munoz, just off of Gran Colombia.  Here, you will get your Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio, which shows your international traveling to and from Ecuador.  Cost is $5.  (Note:  You must not be out of Ecuador for more than 90 days per year for the first two years.  And they do check the dates!)


Passport Photos:   We went to Fuji Film in the Millennium Mall in Cuenca for our passport photos.  You get 8 photos for $4.

******************************************************

1.  We went to the States and got a certified copy of our birth certificates, and then had them apostilled at the Secretary of State's office.  (I think that you can do it by mail also.)

2.  Our friend, Linda Gonzalez, drove us around for 2 days in Cuenca, getting all of the documents that we needed.  

3.  Then we called a courier service (that Joseph recommended) who will pick up your package and deliver it from Cuenca to Quito (door-to-door) within 24 hours for only $3!!  Their name is Expocoe, and their land line in Cuenca is 245-5337.

4.  Joseph received all of our documents and went to work translating them, and getting them notarized for us.  He also prepared our applications.

5.   We flew to Quito to submit our applications with all of the documentation.  Joseph met us at the Ministero de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio e Integraccion office at 1855 diez de Agosto in Quito (where he worked for three years so knows the ins-and-outs of the system there, which helps a lot!).



We went to the third floor and saw the a lady who checked to make sure that we had all of the required documents and that they were filled out correctly.  She speaks to you in Spanish and asks some very basic questions.  When you answer correctly, she's satisfied that you are learning Spanish.  Joseph thought that my Spanish was very good (but I don't think so yet!).  

We are then seen by a second lady who enters all of the information into the computer and takes your picture.  She then prints the form, and you are in the system.

6.  We paid the first government fee of $200 for each application.  When the process is completed, we'll pay the remaining fee of $500, making the total fee of $700 per application.  We also paid Joseph $200, which is half of his fee.  We'll pay him the remaining $200 when the process is completed.

Now we wait . . .   Joseph will take care of publishing the required legal ads in the newspapers, which is not cheap.

We'll wait until Joseph tells us to come back to Quito to pick up our passports and pay the remaining fees (probably in about 8 months or so).

Thank you for reading, and I hope this helps you in your citizenship process! 

Applications submitted!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Isla Isabela

Enjoy this video about Isla Isabela, one of the islands in the Galapagos:

http://vimeo.com/89462866