Monthly Archives: July 2016

If I had a million dollars…

Remember the song by the Barenaked Ladies? I wasn’t sure about writing this post, only because it will either jinx me or make for a most interesting story. I hope the latter.

We all question our dreams and those somewhat scary deja vu experiences. When we sense that we have done this before is it a parallel universe or we’ve been here before? Who knows? I think we all try to connect with movies we’ve watched or people we’ve met, anything to make sense of the experience. A few weeks ago I woke up with the most detailed, vivid memories of a dream in which I won the sixty million Lotto Max lottery. Not only did I win it but I was the only winner. I remember people saying over and over, “I can’t believe you won sixty million dollars!” I do have a memory gap on how I actually got the money, but not on what I did with it.

The first thing I did was put twenty million away in a certificate that I couldn’t touch, just so I wouldn’t blow the whole thing. Next I chartered a private jet to get me back to Kelowna where I stayed in the most expensive suite at the Delta Grand Hotel. My first call was to Leanna Morgan who I had met on Facebook. We had talked for several hours about her divorce and her kids and I had told her that if I won a lottery I would hire her as a personal assistant. We met in my suite and I laid out the plan for what she had to do first.

She was to book the hotel’s ballroom for the first available Saturday night. She was to try to get either the Foster Martin Band or the Mavericks to play for us if only by offering them an obscene amount of money. Next she was to arrange with the bank to put forty envelopes together, each with ten thousand dollars in cash in them. She was to contact everyone I knew and invite them to the party, telling them only that it was an event for me and nothing else. I figured that those who were good friends would show and those who were pretend friends wouldn’t so the money would go to those who deserved it.

The night of the event quite a few people showed up, no doubt just curious as to what this was about. They were all busy munching on the free food and drink and dancing to the band. When the band took their first break I took the mic and thanked everyone for coming. I told them I wanted to talk to each of them, but before that I wanted to give them a little gift from the night. Leanna had recorded their names as they came in, then she wrote their names on the envelopes that contained the ten grand. I told them that I would call out their names to come up to the stage but that the only rule was that they were not allowed to open the envelope until they left that night. I didn’t want to spoil the surprises nor did I want to put anyone in danger of being robbed with all that cash around. The first name I called was Cheryl Blum, someone I had actually never met personally but we were friends on Facebook. Again, memory is not clear but I think I gave out all the envelopes.

Other than that event I don’t have a clear memory of what else I did. I do vaguely remember giving fifty thousand dollars to the churches in London who fed me back when I was living in my car. A hundred thousand to the Unity Project in London who gave me shelter. I wanted to do something for the older folks who came to the soup kitchen for breakfast in Cotacachi, Ecuador when I volunteered on Fridays. I understood that many of them were homeless, abandoned by their families. I wanted to provide housing and meals.

Although not part of my dream, I do know that I have always planned to give away most of whatever I won. I do struggle with what I would do for family, mostly my kids. They have abandoned me for twenty years and denied me access to my five grandkids, through no fault of theirs, but do they suddenly connect with me just because of the money? My parents are gone, of course, but do I give anything to my sister and brother, neither of whom deserve a dime? I really don’t know. I guess I’ll figure it out if I actually do win anything.

I’m not a deeply religious person, although I do muse on the mysteries of the universe. I do believe that there is a higher power but I don’t like the fact that most of the wars in the world are based on religion, or people’s interpretation of religion. Doesn’t make sense that a God would allow these terrible things to happen or not punish the people who perpetrate them, like ISIS. I do hope that if someone or something is deciding things for us that they will shine their light on me this Friday and allow me to win if only because I plan to do a lot of good with the money. Here’s hoping.

UPDATE – well, so much for deja vu or dreams. Obviously I didn’t win the sixty million. I did win two free plays but they didn’t amount to anything either. Now I just need to wait for the prize to be sixty million again, I guess and hope the dream comes true a little later. It’s amazing to think about how many more things I would do if I won. Mostly more people and more worthy organizations I would give to so maybe sixty million isn’t enough? lol

UPDATE – when you are hoping for something like this you look for a sign, right? I went out to our patio for a smoke Friday morning and turned on the radio, just in time to hear an interview with a lady at the lottery corporation talking about the big sixty million dollar jackpot that night. Well, I took that as a sign. I emailed one of the announcers and told him the story and promised them the lifetime membership at Tim Horton’s he mentioned if I won. He replied with a request to buy him a nice lunch. For the first time in the twenty-seven years I’ve been playing the lottery I figured I had to go for it and increase the odds of winning, so I bought ten tickets plus I almost forgot to play the same numbers as I’ve been playing for all those years. Very princely and unaffordable fifty-five bucks, but what the hell.

Wrong! Not only did I not win but in all those tickets I only had one number at best. I also got a first look at my Quick Pick numbers and they were just horrible! Three numbers in a row. Duh! Last time I do that. As I said earlier though my dream was clearly that I won sixty million. Nothing less so the fact that there were two winners last night at thirty million each doesn’t fit the dream. Oh, well. Maybe next time, right?

 

Women or culture in Ecuador or maybe me?

Anyone who has been following me knows that I intended to move to Ecuador back in December of 2014. I had done months of research on where to go to live out my life. I knew that I could not survive in Canada on my limited pensions so I had to find a country with a lower cost of living. I was also a little sick of winter so I was looking for a good climate, not too cold or not too hot. Ecuador appeared to fit the bill on just about everything. I knew that there would be culture shock, but I felt that I was prepared from my time in Panama.

Even with the much lower cost of living in Ecuador I still needed to find a way to earn some money, partly because I would lose one of my pensions, the GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) after six months out of the country. I knew that Ecuador was becoming a retirement destination for Canadians and there wasn’t a lot of good websites with factual information about Ecuador so I created a website, WelcomeToEcuador.ca. I intended to sell advertising on the site to make a little extra money, plus I hoped to travel the country taking photos and writing a blog. That was the plan.

Prior to actually leaving I met a women on Facebook, Anna, who initially offered to help me find a place to live. Over the course of several messages she eventually expressed an interest in working for me on the website. I knew that I needed someone who spoke Spanish to deal with clients so it was a good fit for us to work together. She arranged for a driver to pick me up in Quito and because her English was very good we kind of hit it off. She was also very attractive which was a bonus. She ended up helping me with things like going shopping for food and dealing with the person who turned out to be my landlady, Jessica. I had only booked a week at Balcon de Lago but ended up making a longer term deal when I could not find an apartment in Otavalo. More on this later.

Since the first day we met I had been asking Anna to come over so we could discuss the business, but she kept delaying it saying she was busy. Finally we set a date and time for her to come over in the morning, but she never showed and never called which I wasn’t impressed with. Then we set another day for her to meet with my landlords to discuss the longer term arrangement. She said eight o’clock in the morning and I reminded her that she wasn’t all that reliable that early in the day, but she insisted. Eight o’clock came and went with me sitting at the table with a bunch of people who spoke no English, awkward to say the least. Then Anna shows up an hour late. She comes in like a queen with no apologies for keeping everyone waiting an hour. All I could think about was if she would pull this with clients. I questioned if this was actually going to work out.

The meeting with my landlords involved me telling Anna something in English and then she would translate. I had to trust that she was saying the right thing to them and that they understood what I wanted. After I thought we were all in agreement apparently we weren’t. My landlady came down to my cabin in tears because she and Anna had quite the argument on the phone. Somehow she understood that Anna was just trying to find me another place to live which really upset Jessica. I knew that this was the end for Anna and I. I emailed her my concerns and that ended us.

Fast forward a couple of months of things not going very well with my landlords. Among the many issues was the situation with the fire. My place was freezing and I could not work without having a fire going constantly. I had expressed concern about the lack of ventilation and they were going to install a fan but nothing was ever done. One fateful night I felt tired and thought I would just lie down for a bit. Big mistake! Jessica came down, which she had never done before, and tried to wake me, which she had also never done before. When she could not wake me they called an ambulance and rushed me to the local hospital in Otavalo. I woke up some three hours later and remember the doctor saying that I would have been dead in twenty minutes from carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s a close to death as I had ever come and certainly freaked me out. Apparently it also freaked Jessica out because she asked me to move out, and in only a couple of days.

At one point she had come to me and asked me to prepay two months rent because they “needed the money”. I wasn’t crazy about that because things were not going well so I agreed to pay her one month in advance. When she asked me to move out we had a discussion about the rent she owed me, the firewood I had paid for, the two bottles of rum they had drank on me, the DirecTV I had paid for that I never got and we agreed on her giving me two hundred dollars. When my taxi was loaded ready to go I asked her for the money but she said she had not been to the bank. I offered to take her to the bank but now she was apparently waiting for a check from someone. She said that she would come to Cotacachi and pay me the money. She never came and that was in February 2015. She just ripped me off.

When I planned to move to Ecuador I had gotten a six month Visa in Canada, planning to file for my residency when I got to Ecuador. I was going to pay for my residency with the money from my GIS pension, which I had been told I would receive by the end of January. That did not happen. It took me months to finally receive the GIS, which caused me a lot of grief. I had to go to Guayaquil at the other end of the country to apply for my residency. It was around this time that I realized the issues I was going to have getting my meds, most importantly my insulin. Obviously I could not survive without my insulin so it looked like I had no choice but to return to Canada. The Canadian dollar had also crashed and I was already struggling to live so paying for my insulin was out of the question. I had sent my facilitator, Katty Fajardo, three hundred and fifty dollars, the government fee to get my cedula but had told her to hold off until I knew if I was going to be able to get my insulin. I emailed her that I could not and would need to return to Canada so I could not file for residency. I asked her to return my three hundred and fifty dollars along with my passport so that I could fly back to Canada. She refused to return the money or my passport. I had to jump through all kinds of hoops and get a temporary passport so I fly. Although she did return my passport it had been cancelled. So she ripped me off for my three hundred and fifty dollars and cost me a lot of money to get another passport.

Shortly before all this happened I met a woman who I admittedly fell in love with at first sight, Patricia. Our short but passionate romance was amazing and we planned to marry as soon as I could return to Ecuador. I was going to be back in Canada for what looked like six months and we knew it would be hard to keep our relationship strong but we were sure that we could. We talked just about every single day on Facebook and things were going well between us. She was struggling financially and of course I was living on only my pensions so it was very difficult for me to help her, but I did. I had sent her my bank card and every month I sent her money that I really could not afford. Before I knew it I had sent her five hundred dollars US, money that she agreed to repay me when she got her twenty thousand dollar settlement from her ex. I also sent her a hundred dollars to give to my friend, Dutch, but she used the money saying she would pay him back. Then she took the fifty dollars from the fundraising campaign account, saying she would return it. Then she moved to Quito out of the blue, blocked me on Facebook and will not respond to my emails. Total ripoff six hundred and fifty dollars American.

So my question is if all this was just the different culture of Ecuador, the wrong women or was I responsible? If it’s my fault what exactly did I do wrong?

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