Category Archives: Random

Life is what happens while you are making other plans

This is an email I sent to my dear friend, Heather, today – 

Hope your surgery went well and you are on the mend. Sucks to get old, eh?

Well, life is getting even more challenging, if that is even possible. I think for the first time in my life I am totally lost as to what to do. The Canadian dollar is absolutely killing me. Yesterday I transferred my last dime and $200 cost me $300. Brutal. This money was to pay my rent on Friday and I’m left with zero to buy food for the rest of the month.

I knew it was going to be tough to survive here even with the lower cost of living, but since I started researching the move I’ve lost $150 a month because of the dollar and that has left me without enough to pay rent and buy food, with nothing else. I used to drop in to the bake shop for coffee and a brownie, more to meet people and talk up the websites, but it was a nice social thing to do. That’s gone. I had to meet Dutch yesterday, who I owe sixty dollars to and can’t pay him, and I couldn’t even have a coffee. I used to go dancing Saturday night and might have two drinks at $4 apiece, but I can’t do that now and I miss it. People are asking me where I was on a Saturday night and I don’t know what to say. I don’t even have the $2 cover charge for which you get a beer. There’s so much going on around town, tours and hikes that I should be doing for the website, but I just can’t.

Obviously, when I first planned to move I knew it would be tough to survive, not as tough as it’s been, but I also had faith that long before now I would be earning some money from my websites. Before I even left Canada I had met Anna who was going to work for me as soon as I got here. I figured I would be earning a few hundred dollars a month at least by February or so. That obviously didn’t work out and I’ve been struggling to find someone to do sales for me ever since. I was so thrilled when Phoenix was going to work for me, but that didn’t work out either. Even making a couple hundred dollars a month right now would save my ass.

It’s only the eleventh of the month, meaning twenty-one days left until I get my pathetic pensions again. I seem to be going backwards here. It’s also incredibly frustrating that that idiot back in London, who owes me at least three hundred dollars from what he’s sold, won’t answer me about anything. I don’t know what he’s sold for sure or what he has left. My friend Denise said she would go to his work and ask him what the hell he’s doing, plus she offered to take whatever he has left and sell it for me, but she’s been too busy working two jobs and hasn’t had time to get to him. My dealer friend, who Rick works for, got really angry at me asking him to find out what’s going on with Rick. I don’t know what else to do as the guy seems intent on ripping me off.

There’s also the mess with my former landlady who hasn’t paid me the two hundred dollars she owes me. She refuses to even answer my messages. I’ve had two friends that know her and I’ve asked for their help, including one of my taxi drivers, who I paid a lot of money to, whose father is a police chief, but I got nowhere. I never had a lease with her or any documentation on the rent she promised to pay me back when she asked me to move out, so I can’t go to the police to go after her. I so want to shame her on Facebook but the laws here are really tough on libel and slander, so without any documentation I would really be taking my chances. She’s very active on Facebook though and I’ve warned her that I will make it public if she doesn’t pay, but that got nowhere either.

Although I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do given my situation with my insulin, I also have the return portion of my airfare. I’ve emailed COPA to see how I get a refund, but the cost of the trip now is a lot higher then back when I came, mostly because of the falling dollar, so if I get a refund to help me survive, then have to return to Canada, it will cost me a lot more.

The situation with my insulin is really unclear right now. A guy in Hamilton volunteered to bring my insulin down, but then he checked with CATSA and they told him you can’t carry medications other than your own. I told him that when I brought my carry-on cooler bag with my six month’s supply of insulin packed in ice no one even asked me to open the bag. I had all my documentation from my doctor and the pharmacist but no one ever asked to see it. I told him Denise would unpack the vials from the boxes with my name on them and put it in a plastic container marked “insulin”. He could then pack it in his check-in luggage and if anybody asked he could say it was his and that he unpacked the boxes to save space. He wouldn’t budge, even when I said I was getting the insulin for free so even if he had to dump it I wasn’t any worse off, although, of course, I would be. Other people, mostly from the States, have offered to bring my insulin back with them, but I would have to courier the insulin to them in the States, which costs money I don’t have.

The other major issue with getting my insulin is that my pharmacist friend at Shoppers said he can’t renew my prescription because he now knows I am out of the country. I guess he must have gotten into some trouble when he supplied my dry meds because he clearly knew I was out of the country then as well. The doctor who prescribed my medications refused to renew my prescription for insulin unless she saw me, which is absurd, so I have to go back to my family doctor to see if she will do the prescription even though she has never done it before. Even if she does agree to give me the prescription it has to be given to my old pharmacy, Rexall and I have to pray that Denise can pick it up for me without any hassle. I’m going to tell her to tell them I am sick but need my insulin. It’s all so complicated and frustrating. I am this close to just giving up and going back to Canada, horrible as that will be.

I haven’t been able to get in touch with Kathy, the girl who’s been doing my residency application. I don’t know if she’s paid the $350 I gave her to pay the government fee. Immigration has my passport which means I can’t go anywhere, not even back to Canada without my passport. Two weeks ago she said she was going to pay the fee and courier my passport to me, but she picks now to not even respond to my emails. Of course, given that it’s Ecuador, I’m panicking that she’s done something with my money and not paid the government. Even if she has paid the fee that means I have to fly to Guayaquil to pick up my cedula and I don’t have a dime to do that. I need my cedula to register for the national health care plan so that I can at least get my meds in three to four months, assuming I find a way to stay alive until then.

Even with all these troubles I just can’t stand the thought of being forced to give up and go back to Canada. Yes, I get my meds again and the GIS pension, but where the heck do I live and how do I survive? I have nothing but a few clothes and it would be brutal to try to start over again with nothing. I don’t know how I would even afford rent anywhere, let alone anything else, plus I’ve lost my dream of living out my life here in Ecuador, which I honestly don’t know if I can handle. I’ll never be able to afford to come back. I’ll have lost the months of very long days working on my websites because there’s no way I can do it from Canada. It’s so pathetic that the latest stats on my one website show that I am getting eight thousand visits a day and that the site is valued at over five grand. Talk about timing. I’ll have nothing but regrets and nothing to live for. I’ll go crazy with nothing to do. I don’t even have all my winter coats and boots that I gave away to survive if I’m homeless.

I feel that I am in a no win situation. The thoughts of starving are pretty bad. I’m diabetic and not eating will kill me, which, right now, in my lousy mental state, maybe isn’t all that bad. I just feel so beat down by everything that’s happening. I’ve lost control over my life and I have no clue what to do to get it back. Trying to survive when I can’t afford a coffee makes my life here just terrible. The smallest things, like getting my washing done for only a few dollars every week, is out of reach. I’ve looked at the food I have and know that it will not be enough to keep me going until the end of the month. I volunteer every Friday at the soup kitchen and realize I may soon need to eat there myself, not that one meal a week will keep me alive.

I know you must be sick of hearing my troubles and I’m sorry to burden you with them. I just feel so lost with no one to talk to and more lonely than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. All my dreams and efforts to make a better life for myself seem to be getting more and more impossible to achieve. Something has to change or I’ll lose it soon. My options seem to be dwindling fast.

If you’ve read all this, thank you, my dear friend. It helps to at least be able to vent about things and not keep them all trapped inside. I hope you know that.


Taking Stock

Every once in a while I take stock of my life, partly because it’s therapeutic and to see what I was thinking at the time. One of my regrets in life is that I have not recorded either my words or in pictures many things in my life. Video is a much more prevalent part of our society these days, but it wasn’t way back when my kids were growing up. Particularly because I am now estranged from my children it would be nice to be able to watch videos of them growing up. Both my son and daughter were heavily involved in sports, yet I don’t have a single picture from all those years of hundreds of games.

Just had to post this old email from February 2009

Just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse, Boquete has been experiencing unusually high winds and driving sheets of rain, something unheard of at this time of year – normally the “dry season”. The river has again flooded and the gale-force winds have brought trees down everywhere, disrupting services like water and power.

The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

The few people who know this story have all encouraged me to write a book about it. Now that I’m off on medical leave, in part because of the stress this situation has caused me and how helpless I feel, I thought it might be time to lay it all out. Part therapy just to vent, but maybe someone, somewhere will read it and learn from it and avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

“Adventure” Boating

It could be said that all of my boating in the Okanagan should be called “adventure” boating. This was a term Wade and I started using to describe just some of our boating experiences, but it could also describe my record with boats in general.

Memories of the Kettle Valley Trail

My Dad, rest his soul, and I spent almost every weekend dirt-biking on our trusty Hondas. We saw such amazing country and had so many wonderful memories. You couldn’t beat dirt-biking for a cheap sport. I had several Hondas over the years, my favorite a 1987 Honda 185 that we bought off George who used to run the off-road adventures. Dad and I modified an old boat trailer by adding ramps using steel door frames and tie down bars.

The Ship Sailed Without Me

For most of my life I maintained a file called, simply, “Ideas”, where I put drawings and writings and anything else related to an idea I had for a business venture. Before long the file became bulky with lots of ideas over the decades. When, at the last minute, I had to pair down everything I owned to fly to Panama instead of drive as I had intended, the file had to go. Naturally today, as I struggle to survive, I think of that file and wish it were still with me. For much of my life I have been criticized for being “ahead of my time”, so many of those ideas in that file might be more workable now.

Springtime in London

The forecast said no rain and a temp in the mid teens, so I decided to finally shed my winter coat (it’s been a long, cold winter with record snowfall) and wear my vintage leather jacket for the first time. Not too bad on my way catching buses to the clinic, but when I came out just after two o’clock the wind was picking up and it sure didn’t feel like the temp had made it into the teens as forecast.

My Life

My recent health scare has got me to thinking back on my life and asking myself if I have made a difference. I’ve made my share of mistakes, no question, and I never thought I would be where I find myself today. For the first time in my life I am aware of my frailties and accept that I am not indestructible anymore. At previous times in my life I have been very active and felt fantastic and the thought of dying never crossed my mind. Not anymore. Now I am pleasantly surprised when I wake up every day. My body is a wreck, full of aches and pains I never thought I would have. I feel so very old.

The Month From Hell

After being bounced through all three shelters in London through the month I have finally landed on my feet, sort of, although only the struggles have changed. It was a challenge to find anywhere to live in this town, especially with no money for rent.

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