Tag Archives: Rants and Raves

Understanding Mexican women

There’s that old joke. A genie grants three wishes. The first wish is for tons of money, naturally. Genie says, “no problem”. The second wish is to build a highway from the US to Hawaii. The third wish is to understand women. The genie responds, “will that be two-lane or four-lane?”.

Most of the time it’s totally impossible to understand women, love them as I do. For me, one of the most tragic lack of understanding of women was when my fiancee suddenly dumped me by text message with no explanation. A year later I still don’t have a clue why she ended what she said was the best relationship she had ever had in her life. Go figure. 

Yesterday I had yet another most confusing situation with a woman. A few days ago when one of my drivers picked me up he introduced me to one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen here in Mexico. She took my breath away. Her English was very good and after I handed her my business card, something I do with pretty well everyone I meet, we got talking about how I am looking for someone to work with me on my websites. She sounded very interested so she was going to call me the next day to meet and discuss it further. My driver then brought her over to my place yesterday around four. Most unfortunately, my internet was out (not uncommon here) so I couldn’t show her my website, but we managed to talk about a lot of related things, such as the commission program, relationship selling and so on. After about an hour and a half of talking, during which I asked her many times if she understood me and if she was interested, she kept saying she was. Then her phone rang. 

It was her son and she said she needed to meet him on the highway for some reason but she would “be right back”, so I gave her my house keys to get back in. She said she might be ten or fifteen minutes. Still no internet but I printed out a number of things related to my websites, such as the listing form for the Business Directory, the client contract, and the employment contract to show her the specifics of working with me. Then I waited for her to come right back.

An hour went by, then two hours, then three hours. I didn’t have her number to call her until I texted my driver to ask what the hell was going on? He came over and called her. No answer. He gave me her number so I started texting her, asking her if she was okay and asking her to let me know what was going on. No response to several text messages. In one of the last texts I told her I needed my keys back. Still no response and she never did come back. Today I have texted her again, now desperate to get my keys back, but no answer. My driver has also been calling her to pick up my keys and return them to me, but he’s not getting any answer either.

Why would someone who is apparently interested in working with me and making a lot of money do this? She is divorced and has four kids to support. I learned that her only experience was working in a restaurant but I was willing to train her with my decades of experience in relationship selling. She was the right age that I was looking for, late thirties. She was attractive which would mean she is confident and make it easier for her to talk to people when she first met them. She came dressed very professionally in a pretty black dress. She spoke very good English which would make training her much easier for me, plus she would be able to deal with clients who didn’t speak Spanish that well. She was perfect for the part, that is until she pulled this fiasco last night. Regardless of what was going on why couldn’t she just give me a quick call or text to let me know what was going on, particularly when she had my house keys?

Yes. I will never understand women, I guess especially Mexican women.     

Has the business world just gone stupid?

Remember the great line from the 1976 movie Network – “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”  Over forty years ago and it’s still just as relevant today, maybe even more so. The new frustrations of dealing with various businesses seems to suggest that they are all being run by idiots now or, in fact, no one with any semblance of a brain is in charge. The days of visionary CEOs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have given way to leaders whose only concern is the almighty dollar and forget about paying any attention to their customers. Ever since the days of automated phone answering systems, which claimed to be in response to customer needs instead of just another way to lessen service, layoff thousands of workers and save a buck, like we just couldn’t wait to press one for English, business has dumb downed service.

PLEASE feel free to share your own stories. These are just a few of mine:

Banks

As evidenced by the recent inquiry into all the charges being levied by banks customers are tired of all the charges, like paying for paper statements, promoted by all the big banks as their green motive, yet they send all kinds of junk mail out which goes against the grain of any real green movement. More frustrating for me is how pathetic their online message format is. My bank allows youo to login and send them a message, but their answers if I can call them that have nothing to do with the questions you ask. My bank also has the dumbest message system where you can’t respond to the messages they send. I recently got a response that was little more than boilerplate answers that had nothing to do with my question. Instead of being able to reply the only option is to start a whole new message, repeating everything you already said. Really dumb!

Expedia

For the last few weeks I’ve been researching flights trying to get the best fare. It unleashed a torrent of alerts from various online flight companies promising me everything from two-day sales to last-minute offers. Last week I suddenly learned that all the fares had jumped almost a hundred dollars in one day so I panicked to book my flights hopefully at the lower price. Expedia was the only one still showing the lower price so I tried to book the flights I needed. When I got to payment and put in my credit card information I got a message that there was an issue with my payment. I had just received an increase to my credit limit on my credit card so I had no idea why there was an issue. That is until I checked my credit card and saw that although my credit limit was increased my available credit was zero. I didn’t want to lose my flights so I changed my credit card info to my debit card info as was shown on the Expedia payment screen. Again I got that there was an issue. No idea why so I called Expedia and was informed that despite the fact that the field on the screen clearly showed debit/credit card they don’t accept debit cards. When I asked why they did it show debit cards she had no answer. Finally, it was solved by the credit card issue shown below.

MasterCard

My card is with CTC Bank and has an interesting history. I’ve had a good record with them ever since getting my first card with a two hundred dollar limit to now having one with thousands of dollars limit, not that I will ever use it at nineteen percent interest. It’s been hacked twice needing replacement cards, but other than that I’ve had no problems. Recently I got yet another letter from them saying my credit limit had again been increased by several thousand dollars. When my payment to Expedia was apparently declined I called MasterCard to question it. A very nice lady answered me and said she would check with a supervisor. After only a couple of minutes, she came back telling me that everything was fine now. Sure enough when I went back to Expedia this time my payment was processed okay. Relieved to say the least.

Dell

My history with Dell goes back almost fifteen years to when I bought my first laptop, a Vostro 1500, which lasted me far more years than expected, all without a single issue. Eventually, it became just too slow for the work I was doing so I decided that it was time to upgrade. I went to Dell’s site and built the model I wanted, but the price was more than I could afford some fourteen hundred dollars. That was when I first came into contact with Kyle Ross, a sales guy in Toronto. He came back and asked how was eight hundred dollars instead? Needless to say, I jumped on it and placed the order. Little did I know at the time that it was going to be the start of a long and agonizing journey with Dell. From techs coming to me to replace parts to getting replacement computers, all of which meant I had to transfer all my data and reinstall all my programs every time it took three laptops to finally get one that worked.

Fast forward to this year. After a horrible experience buying a Lenovo from Costco and returning it I went back to Dell, this time ordering an Inspiron, their latest model. The very first time I booted it up I couldn’t log in. That was just the start of a host of issues with this laptop, all of which cost me hours and hours of work and lost time working on my websites. Given my previous experience, I immediately asked for a replacement but got nowhere and they insisted on fixing it, to no avail. At one point they asked me to do a complete restore which meant I lost all my programs and had to reinstall everything. Although this did solve many of the earlier issues I still had keyboard errors where I would get characters that I hadn’t typed. Again I asked for a replacement but instead they sent a tech to replace the keyboard.

It took the tech at least two hours to take the laptop all apart to replace the keyboard. No sooner had he replace it than he had no power and no battery. After conferring with Dell he said he had no choice but to put the original keyboard back in. With the original keyboard back in he now had no power and no battery again and no clue as to why. The decision was to send the laptop to the Dell service depot in Toronto. After being without my computer for two weeks I finally got it back. The minute I started it up I again had the same keyboard issues. I then learned that the service depot had not replaced the defective keyboard and had done nothing but reassemble the laptop. Nothing was fixed and they just sent it back to me.

While I was struggling without a computer in decades I wrote out a long letter to Michael Dell giving him all of my history. When I got my laptop back I typed the letter, which turned out to be nineteen pages long. I sent it off not really expecting a response. In the meantime, Dell had decided to again send the tech to replace the keyboard and had refused to send me the replacement I asked for months ago. Although I had no choice but to agree with this, I said that if he replaced the keyboard and we again had no power or battery that was it. I was done. I wanted my money back and I would buy something else. The next day, coincidentally enough, I got a call from Dell corporate thanking me for my detailed letter to Michael Dell and offering to replace the laptop as I had been asking for months. I agreed but the takeaway on all of this is why would Dell choose to spend thousands of dollars trying to repair a dud computer, not to mention the countless hours I had lost, instead of just replacing it in the first place? Makes no sense to me.

Bluehost

This is a hosting company that I had previously used for over ten years. Although their prices were not competitive with the likes of GoDaddy their technical support was unmatched. They were simply brilliant and answered you very quickly. My first issue was when they suddenly with no approval started charging me five dollars a month to backup my sites, something that had always been included in the hosting fees.  Their hosting fees were also becoming less and less competitive approaching five times as much as other companies were charging. The final straw for me was when I contacted technical support and waited forever for somebody, they couldn’t even pronounce the name of the person who came on. Then it became obvious from their lack of English to how little they knew that I was now dealing with an offshore company instead of the brilliant techs I had before. I started looking for other hosting companies for my sites.

After a less than satisfactory experience with two other hosting companies I came back to BlueHost. I did do a lot of research on the company to find out why things had changed so much with them. I learned that there had been some changes in management who had significantly destroyed their previous excellent reputation. I tried to find someone in charge of BlueHost, who was now just one of the many companies they owned but couldn’t so I just wrote a detailed email to their press address. Surprisingly I got a call from someone in only a couple of days and we had a lengthy conversation about the good old days at BlueHost. He explained that his position was to restore this previous reputation ad he said he had management approval to do whatever was required. We’ll see.

ehost.com/domain.com

These were the two hosting companies I tried to use before returning to BlueHost, but they both proved equally inept. Their technical support was again offshore and in twenty or more chats I could not recognize a single name, pronounce it or have any idea whether it was male or female. It didn’t really matter because they were all pathetic. None of them had a clue how to solve the many issues I had after transferring my sites to them and my sites were all down for weeks.

 

The DELL Experience

My story with Dell started way back around 2006 when my cheap Acer crapped out. It suddenly had a wide black stripe down the middle of the screen and I had to send it back to Toronto to get it repaired. I was without it for three weeks. It was such a piece of crap I don’t even remember what I did with it after I bought the Dell.

When I got that first Dell laptop, a Vostro 1500, my first issue was I didn’t know how to get my programs and data files from the Acer. I contacted Dell tech support, which I believe at that time was based in Nashville. Quite quickly and easily I contacted an incredibly helpful rep. He spent the next four hours helping me to setup a home network and connect both laptops. I could not have been more impressed.

That was the last time anything went well with Dell. For the first of many laptops later I found the lettering on the keys wearing off. Prior to the Acer I had rented an IBM ThinkPad that was several years old but the keys were like brand new. The reason was simple. The writing on the keys was slightly inset so you were never typing on the actual lettering. That wasn’t the case with the Dell so as I used it the writing started to wear off to the point that frequently used keys were blank, worn off so bad that the lighting below showed through if back-lighting was turned on. I contacted repair and was told the keyboard overlay was no longer available. That started many emails back and forth asking if they expected me to be able to use a computer with blank keys? I got nowhere fast until I contacted Michael Dell’s office directly. Nathalie in his office, a wonderful lady, apologized profusely and sent me a keyboard overlay the next day. I still had to pay to have it installed but at least I could work again. Of course the lettering started wearing off again.

My life went through a major change when I had to move to Panama around Christmas. I transferred my warranty to Latin America, which was a disaster in itself. Shortly after getting settled in Boquete I contacted warranty support in Panama. Of course they couldn’t find my warranty transfer until I got my sales agent back in Canada involved. I tech came all the way from Panama City, on the bus. About a seven hour drive. He was a nice guy and he ended up staying for dinner and we went out to the bar later. He had friends in Boquete so I assume he stayed over. He was shocked when he saw the condition of my fairly new keyboard. After he replaced it I asked him to make sure that the one he replaced got to production somewhere with the simple solution to change the mold to be inset. He agreed. Now, remember, this was way back in 2007.

All hell broke loose in Panama after the girl who worked for me ripped me off in every way she could, leaving me twenty-eight dollars in the bank. My darling cousin, Joan, back in Toronto, said to come and stay with her until I got my life sorted out. I met someone online and moved to London, Ontario.  Not long after moving they sent a tech from a company called UNISYS. Good technician except that for some unknown reason he took the laptop completely apart, replaced the keyboard overlay, but then forgot to reinstall the hard drive so he had to do it all over again. I had the same conversation with him that I had had with the tech in Panama to send the keyboard to production, wherever that was. He agreed.

Sometime later I took another stab at living somewhere that I could afford and researched Ecuador, but it proved to be even worse than Panama if that was even possible. I nearly died when I was overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning and, according to the doctor in Emergency, was minutes from kicking the bucket.

Yet another Dell disaster. This time not only was the keyboard lettering wearing off again but I got a big flashing red warning that the hard drive was about to fail. Scared the crap out of me. I contacted repair again and they sent the most lovely girl to replace the keyboard and the drive. She gave me a newer, faster, bigger drive. Not only that but she wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with installing my Windows or my programs, but she did anyway. I invited her to dinner and to stay over but she had to catch the bus back to Quito, about two hours away. I’m sure she knew what I had in mind. lol

When Ecuador failed for many reasons I returned again to Canada. This time ending up in a group home in Belleville, Ontario. When the keyboard started failing yet again another tech came to replace it. This time after he replaced the overlay and rebooted the computer the motherboard blew. He went back to the original overlay but the laptop was toast  I had to send it to Toronto where they did nothing except waste my time. They returned it to me and the tech came out again to replace the overlay. We held our hands in prayer when he rebooted it and it worked.

Yet another move, hopefully this time more successful, to Mexico. Wasn’t long before the keyboard started wearing off because despite all the expense of all the warranty repairs, Dell had done nothing to solve the problem. This time the tech traveled from Guadalajara. He replaced the overlay and, of course, the motherboard blew the minute he rebooted. Just like the other techs he had no clue why.

At this point, after more than ten years of so much trouble and particularly that replacing the keyboard had blown the motherboard twice now on this same laptop, I told Dell I had had enough. I wanted the laptop replaced with a desktop with a keyboard that would work and continue working in future. I asked if Dell had any keyboard that had the inset keys so the writing would not wear off. No answer. They finally agreed to send the desktop but sent one certainly not of equal value to what I had paid for my laptop. That was disappointing enough, but what I found just unbelievable was that they sent it with the cheapest keyboard possible. I found it on Amazon for FIVE DOLLARS! How could anyone ignore what I had been through, over and over, for years and not supply a decent keyboard? Was that too much to ask? Literally within days the lettering started to wear off. Worse, some of the keys stopped working. I would click on a letter and just get a blank space. Then after I clicked again the letter would start rapidly repeating across the screen until I hit another key to make it stop. Total garbage!

Back I went to Dell and told them I would not return the laptop until they supplied a far better keyboard. They replied with two keyboard links. I had found what looked like a better keyboard at Amazon.com.mx which could be here overnight, but they said they couldn’t supply that one from their distributor here in Mexico. Suddenly out of nowhere a keyboard showed up the next day. You guessed it. Worse than the first keyboard! Nothing has changed in the design of the lettering. It’s still on the surface and will no doubt start wearing off soon.

So, after at least ten warranty replacements, at huge cost to Dell in four different countries, plus, for me, countless hours and hours of downtime and nothing but frustration, for an issue that could have been so easily solved in the first place and at zero cost to Dell, I still don’t have a functional keyboard. Seriously? I have found a real keyboard at Logitech and I’m working with them to get it here in Mexico. Probably going to cost me a hundred dollars on top of all the time I’ve lost, but at least I will end up with a keyboard that works and lasts more than a couple of months. Puts an end to this nightmare.

Oh, and here’s my nineteen page letter to Michael Dell sent to him last year.

Michael Dell

 

My last bitchin’, whining, angry, post, but necessary

After some ten years today my long lost brother, Kevin James Jones, surfaced on Facebook Messenger under his new wife’s name, Kikiandkyle Siallagan, because he doesn’t have Facebook. They live in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. The reason for this venting post is because in his short message he had the unbelievable gall to say “I forgive you”. I saw red. For what? So this is going to be a little history on my dear brother to see if anyone agrees that I needed to be forgiven for anything. My opinion? Fat chance.

Let’s start way back years ago when he came to Ontario and was living in a room in our basement, for free. He connived me into believing that he needed a motorcycle for his new job and he couldn’t get credit so he asked me to cosign for him, which stupidly I did, much against my wife’s objections. Sure enough, he took off with the bike and left me holding the loan. We had just bought the house and still had bridge financing on our old house, so things were tough enough. Now I had to pay off his loan or my triple-A credit rating would be toast. Luckily we had a great manager at BMO at the time and he let me pay it off over time. I don’t think my wife ever forgave me for trusting him though.

Didn’t hear from him for years again, I guess because he didn’t need me for money. Then at one o’clock in the morning, we get a phone call from him telling me he’s been detained by customs at the airport in Toronto after returning from Jamaica. To be blunt and a little gross, they’re basically waiting for him to shit because they suspect he’s swallowed bags of cocaine. He had. How stupid can you get? I had to post bail for him and find him a lawyer. He was facing ten years in maximum security prison for trafficking. Luckily I had a very good lawyer who managed to get him off with an unbelievable six months in a minimum security facility in Milton, Ontario.

If swallowing cocaine isn’t stupid enough he was a registered nurse at a facility in Red Deer. Of course the minute he was convicted he could no longer handle any drugs at the facility, basically ending his career. We visited him pretty well every weekend unless my son or daughter had sports. All he did was bitch about the cost of the lawyer, never once being thankful that my lawyer saved him from ten years in the slammer. I can’t remember but I think we also got stuck with the bill.

I believe it was on our first trip out west to go dirt-biking that I met his dream girl, Joanne. She was the sweetest thing I’d ever met and he was so lucky to have her. He crashed his bike and nearly killed her, leaving her disabled and barely able to walk. After about eight years together he had worked on a small mobile home park, adding some decks and fixing up the place. I still remember going up to Revelstoke to help him with the decks and him screaming at me for using two screws to fasten the deck boards. He wanted me to just put one in the middle. I warned him that the boards would warp with only one screw but he insisted. When I went up the next spring, sure enough, all the boards were warped. He’s the cheapest person I’ve ever met.

Next thing he shows up at my parent’s place while they were south for the winter. He’s crying. Joanne had given him a choice, either the drugs or her and he chose the drugs. Such a dumb move! They weren’t married so we start talking about their split and what each of them will get as far as the house and the mobile home park. This is when I learn he hasn’t got a thing in writing and he doesn’t even have a chequing account! Joanne handled all of their business, of course. Knowing her father I knew he was going to transfer ownership of the house and the park immediately so Kevin wouldn’t get a dime. I made arrangements with a good lawyer I knew and she managed to get an injunction on the park within twenty-four hours, just because she knew the judge, stopping any transfer of ownership.

My lawyer did an incredible job and managed to get him over a hundred thousand dollars, every dollar of which he would not have gotten without her. Instead of kissing the ground she walked on all he did was bitch about how much she charged. You just can’t win with him.

Now that he’s basically moved in with me, while I pay the rent, of course, he does everything possible to make my life miserable. Every night of the week he brings some floozy home with him to screw and I get to meet them in the morning. I did get some payback though because the day my parents were coming back I didn’t tell him. My Mum and Dad get home only to meet that night’s floozy. They weren’t impressed and Kevin was gone. My mother was horrified that he had left Joanne.

So now he turns to what to do with all that money. Naturally, he asks me. He had his eye on a daycare in Kelowna and wanted me to check it out with him. Of course, he didn’t have a clue how to negotiate a deal, how to get a mortgage and how to get a license to operate the daycare when he had a criminal record. I worked my butt off to get him the daycare. He had such bad credit that I had to cosign for the mortgage. Big mistake!

The daycare was in pretty rough shape, physically and financially. Most of the clients were single mothers whose fees were paid by welfare. The records were in such a mess, with many mothers months overdue in paying or months late in even applying for assistance. It took me hours to sort it all out and I had to be tough telling delinquent mothers that they had until next month or their kids were out. Every single one of them did what they needed to do long ago and we didn’t lose a single child. No thanks to Kevin. I had to fire some staff and hire new and we ended up with a good caring crew. I reorganized every procedure and got the financials sorted out. I also dealt with a new bank and got everything in place for things like payroll. It was a ton of work.

Sometimes his stupidity knows no bounds. I needed him one day and asked where he was. One of the girls said she saw him go outside and around the side of the building. I went looking for him and just before getting to the storage shed I smelled the odor I knew too well. I burst open the door and here he is toking in the storage shed! I lost it on him asking him what would happen if one parent smelled the weed? He would lose his license in a heartbeat. Stupid.

He was heading back overseas for his import business so I put together a very fair proposal for us to run the daycare together. Don’t forget I had already put in a ton of hours over six months getting the books sorted out, the payments coming in and doing renovations to the house, all without a dime. I told him we needed to discuss the deal and he had to sign before he left. Not only did he not sign the deal but he offered the same deal to my girlfriend at the time, Tracy, totally bypassing me! Around this time she had started working with me as the Manager and was doing a great job, especially with the staff and the parents, not to mention the kids who all adored her. What he did drove a wedge in our relationship and we ended up splitting up. More Kevin damage.

Financially things were always tight. Sometimes we just barely managed to pay for something critical, such as food for the kids. Payroll was always a huge concern because you have to pay your staff or they will leave. Coming up to payday I watched every penny in the bank account to make sure we had enough. The day before payday I check the bank as usual and I’m shocked to see a five thousand dollar withdrawal by Kevin in Thailand! There goes payroll. Panic phone calls to Kevin about why the hell he would do that, the result of which he just agreed we needed to shut down the daycare. Throw the staff out without their pay and leave all our clients with no daycare on Monday. And guess who got to give the staff the news and stand at the closed door Monday morning to face all these very angry women. It was not fun. The fallout was obvious. I spent the morning trying to find everyone other daycare which was tough, mostly because a lot of our clients were on welfare. It was pure hell, all of which Kevin totally avoided.

The whole time I worked so hard trying to build the daycare I faced guilt by association with everyone I dealt with because of what Kevin had done to them. He burned the bank. He burned our private mortgage holder. He burned the mortgage company. Every person I spoke with said they better not catch him walking down the street or they would kill him. It was so enjoyable trying to get them to calm down and deal with me instead. Not.

Over the years I hadn’t spent much time with his then-wife, Susan. She was very quiet but seemed sharp when it came to their import business, which Kevin always just referred to as “junk”. Then came the pièce de résistance. He had got a girl pregnant in Thailand, which was bad enough, but he expected he could bring her and the baby to Canada and Susan would look after them! How stupid can you get? Her reaction? She immediately seized all their inventory and got an injunction against him, basically kicking him out of the business. I doubt she ever spoke to him again. Don’t blame her.

Wait! There’s more. After my Dad had passed away and he was back in Thailand he called me to say he needed money right away or these thugs were going to kill him. I explained that my father’s estate was my Mum’s money now and, although I was the executor, there would be no inheritance until my mother also died. That wasn’t good enough for him. He had to have money NOW! Much against my better judgment, partly because my Mum was too far gone, thanks to my sister, to have a clue what he was asking, I sent him ten thousand dollars. I admit I was so tempted to refuse the money so they would kill him.

If you’ve read this far, good for you. Now that you know the history do you think I need forgiveness for anything?

There just isn’t anybody better!

I’ve been following Mara since AGT destroyed her with the dumbest production number ever. She’s incredibly gifted and has a voice that gives me goosebumps every time I hear her sing. She’s all grown up now, although only 15, but she sure has learned a lot. No longer that shy little girl. She’s blossomed now.

Beyond Frustrating!

Our trip to Canada has taught me a new lesson – some people are just too stupid to deal with!

First, my least favorite airline in the world, AeroMexico. After months of fighting with them, filing complaint after complaint, all of which were ignored, they did us in. The agent in Guadalajara took our passports, our boarding passes, which I had printed out before we left, and my tourist visa. Elba and I were talking and not paying much attention to him. He handed our passports back to us. Only when we headed for the gate did we realize he failed to give us back our boarding passes. We raced back to the luggage check-in where they searched everywhere for our boarding passes, finally finding them. Off we went to board our flight.

Our first flight was to Mexico City and then on to Toronto. When we went to board the agent would not let me on because I didn’t have my tourist visa to surrender. I had to race to Immigration to get a new visa (535 pesos); but they only accept pesos. I had changed what pesos I had to Canadian dollars for our trip. Off I raced to the exchange to get pesos again, then back to immigration and finally doing my best O.J. Simpson run back to the gate, only to watch our plane pulling away.

We went to the AeroMexico.ticket office where they informed us that we had to pay another 19,000 pesos to catch a later flight. They also had only one seat left on the flight. I blew a gasket when Elba suggested she would fly back to Guadalajara and I would go on alone. Not a chance! I finally found a wonderful supervisor, Erica, who arranged for us to fly at the same price we had paid, plus she put us on standby for the 1:00 a.m. flight. We spent the next several hours praying that we would get on the plane. After everyone else was on the plane they called us and not only got us on the plane; they got us sitting together! Relief.

We were now arriving very late for the train to Belleville, which we had paid for and tickets were non-refundable. A very nice agent arranged for us to catch a later train at no extra cost. One of the good guys and not one of the stupid people.

When we finally arrived at the hotel we ended up dealing with the most offensive, ignorant, confrontational manager. It made our stay intolerable. At one point when we desperately needed our credit card in Toronto, he had processed four hundred dollars in new charges to our credit card without notice. We kept getting declined at places like McDonald’s because I had four dollars of credit left thanks to him.

I had tried to reactivate my Canadian telephone but had lost my SIM card. Chatr Wireless told me to go to any 7-11 and buy a new SIM card for $10. We found a 7-11 in Toronto and asked for a SIM card for Chatr Wireless. No problem, well, except that the stupid person I dealt with gave me a SIM card for a 7-11 phone, not Chatr. Never did get my reserved Canadian number back.

We needed a courier envelope for my passport and visa to be returned to our hotel on Friday or I would not be able to fly back to Mexico. We went to the Purolator office on Yonge Street and asked for a next day delivery envelope. They didn’t have any, but told us to go down the street to the Shoppers Drug Mart to buy one. I clearly told the agent there that I needed a next day Purolator envelope. I paid him and left the envelope with the lady at the consulate.

Thursday she emailed me telling me that the package would be ready at 4:30; but then asked me what she was supposed to do with the Canada Post envelope I left with her! That led to an unbelievable back and forth with her and Purolator trying to get the right shipment organized. I finally got a simple email from the consulate saying that “the envelope is gone”. That led to total panic thinking I might not get my passport back in time and would not be able to fly.

Friday late morning Purolator showed up with my treasured envelope. Thank you, God!

Now we just need the taxi to show up on time. The train to run on time to Toronto. The UP shuttle to run on time to the airport. AeroMexico not to again screw up our flights back. Hopefully we’ll arrive back in Guadalajara tomorrow morning to be picked up by our good friend, Jack. No more stupid people!

 

 

Too bad Adam and Eve weren’t white

There’s been a horrendous amount of hate being spread around the world, made all the worse by the election of Trump, with his ill-conceived and ill-thought out Executive Orders. The backlash in the world makes you wonder if anyone will admit to actually voting for him. He has hit the nerve on immigration, refugees and general intolerance of those who are “different”. Oh, wouldn’t it be a much more peaceful world if we were all the same, all descended from the original all white Adam and Eve, well, if that’s in fact what they were.

Although we Canadians are smug in admitting what we love diversity and we are proud that we are the melting pot society to be admired, that’s not quite true. Things have changed a lot and not necessarily for the better. Back in the day, yes, when I was a child, decades ago, we had a fair share of immigrants, mostly people from England, Germany and Italy. There was no problem with the British because other than having an accent they looked and acted pretty much like we did. Those from Germany sometimes kept a little to themselves, probably more a little hesitancy because of the war, but they also melted into Canadian society well. Then there’s the Italians. We accepted “little Italy” in places like Toronto and they were treated much like Chinatown, readily accepted into our society as well. But then things changed rather drastically as people from other countries started arriving.

Soon we started getting people from other countries like India, Pakistan, Middle Eastern countries, Korea and more and more Chinese and Japanese. Some readily adopted our culture, learned English and got jobs and contributed to our society. I don’t think we’ve ever had anything like the States has as far a black people were concerned. Many of my friends growing up were of colour and I didn’t treat them any different than anyone else. My very best friend was, in fact, German. His parents didn’t speak a word of English but we never had any problems getting along and he was just another kid on the block. No different.

This is where it all changed. A lot of those immigrants concentrated in certain neighborhoods where white people or anyone who wasn’t from their country were not welcome. Real Estate agents would tell people they didn’t want to move to that neighborhood because it was East Indian or something else with only people from a certain country, not Canada. Soon the commerce in the area started catering to the immigrant population, carrying foods traditional to their culture, which was no different than any other specialty store; but, then came the big change and one that was not welcome. The store signs that were previously in English and the foreign language were soon only in the foreign language. English was gone. I remember driving miles in area like Markham where I didn’t recognize a single sign. Wait! Isn’t this Canada? Aren’t our official languages English and French? How dare these foreigners suddenly turn our neighborhoods into something foreign to we Canadians. What happened to adopting our language and our culture? The attitude shifted from one of welcoming diversity to “if you don’t like my country then go home!”.

Before you knew it we were dealing with overt meddling with our culture and traditions. People wanted to wear turbans as RCMP officers. What? That’s not Canadian! Then we started having the gang violence in places like Toronto and Vancouver, importing the conflicts from their home country. Nothing to do with Canada. In places like Brampton, where I lived for many years, Anglo Saxon white people became the minority. Wherever I went, from shopping malls to the airport, I was clearly not the same as most of the people. I could have just as easily been in New Delhi.

As is the case with most of the problems in the world it’s all about religion or rather religious freedom. My parents were never what you would call religious fanatics, although they did take us to Sunday School and we did go once in a while to a United or Presbyterian church. We knew that there were Catholic churches around but that was mostly for Italians and those who were a lot more religious than we were. That was what we would have called “religious freedom”. Again though, it was never in anyone’s face so to speak. Observance of different religious holidays was okay, but we all celebrated Christmas, right? You never once thought anything about wishing anyone a Merry Christmas. That you might be offending anyone? Not a chance.

Back then if you had asked me what a Muslim was I wouldn’t have had a clue. The Koran? Again, never heard of it. Islam? Not likely. For me it was simple. You had people who were religious and went to church on Sunday and you had people who might have been religious in that they believed in God, but they rarely went to church. So be it.

Soon you had more mosques than churches. These were fanatically religious people who looked a lot different than me and they got down and prayed to someone called Allah five times a day! Holy cow! Were they at all like the Canadians I had grown up with? No way! They were changing Canada to be just like where they came from. That I didn’t like. It was as if everything I cherished about being Canadian wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted to force their culture on us and change everything about Canada. Soon they were running for office just to gain acceptance for the changes they wanted.

I do not consider myself racist in the meaning of the word, which, from the Urban Dictionary, is “a label given to a person, or group of people who hate/dislike those who belong to a different race. This typically applies to hatred based on skin-colour.” No, I do not have any negative impressions of people based on their race or skin colour. I treat everyone the same. What I do object to is someone, anyone of any race, creed or colour, who doesn’t like the way we do things here in Canada and wants to change it to be like the country they came from. Hey, if you find so much wrong with our country then don’t come!

 

Beware! Hospitals in Latin America can kill you!

As a Canadian I am admittedly spoiled by our health care system. Despite waiting hours in Emergency and long waits for elective surgery or things like an MRI, which normally is six months minimum, the quality of care is exceptional and, of course, it’s free. Unlike the pathetic system in the US at least Canadians don’t have to worry about being bankrupted by serious illness. As the population ages; however, there is great concern over the costs which are enormous. The costs of everything from a stay in the hospital to supplies appears to be out of control. A huge percentage of government budgets, both federal and provincial goes to health care and it’s questionable how long this can be sustained. There’s already some challenges with private care being offered, plus people who are traveling overseas to avoid the waits, only because they can afford it. The system is far from ideal.

The issue with health care is, like many things, that you don’t appreciate it until you have something to compare to our system. I did.

First, during my time in Panama I was unlucky enough to have a gall bladder attack. It nearly killed me because the people who worked with me on the renovations were finished and not coming to work anymore. The nightmare tenants in the penthouse had been given the boot so I was basically alone. Even my girlfriend, Magaly, was not happy that I was going to be forced to return to Canada so she wasn’t coming over as she had done every day for nine months. The excruciating pain hit in the middle of the night. My cell phone had died because our power had been off for days, which was not unusual in Boquete. I basically laid on the floor writhing in pain, praying for any help. I believed I wasn’t going to make it.

Thankfully my electrician, Amilkar, just happened to drop by because he hadn’t seen me in a while. Thankfully he still had the key I had given him to open the gate because he would never have heard me yelling from my ground floor apartment. Obviously he was horrified when he found me laying on the floor in great pain. He called my friend Elizabeth to come over to take me to the hospital. She knew this was something more serious than the local clinic could handle so she took me to the public hospital in David, about an hour away.

By this point I was in a haze because of the pain and I don’t remember everything, but I do know that it took hours to finally see anyone and I don’t think I was sent to surgery for about nine hours. I vaguely remember that I was wheeled into the operating room and they were banging on the lights to get them to work. Not exactly reassuring.

I woke up in an interesting bed in recovery. It was a youth bed, not big enough for yours truly and it was broken. I kept sliding down to the foot of the bed and it was extremely painful to push myself back up again. Thankfully at least I was on morphine so the pain wasn’t intolerable. I had no idea what was coming though. Some time later in the day they wheeled me into a room with three other guys. Back then my Spanish was too weak to even attempt any conversation plus I didn’t much feel like socializing anyway. I was also too busy trying to stay up in my stupid bed.

The next day brought on more pain and I asked the nurse for morphine, but she said that the hospital had run out so now I was back in post surgery pain. Again because of my limited Spanish I had no real idea what exactly they had done other than remove my gall bladder. First time I ever thought about this organ and I hoped I would survive without it.

I don’t recall if I ever got any food or anything to drink because I’m quite sure it would have been terrible enough to remember. Somewhere around the third day the nurse insisted it was time for a shower and the toilet. It was a very painful walk all the way down the halls to the bathroom, carrying my IV, because they had no wheelchairs. When we got to the bathroom she turned on the water and threw me into a freezing cold shower. Took my breath away. No surprise that they had no hot water because most people in Panama don’t enjoy hot water either. I got out of the shower as quickly as I could and went to go to the toilet, but I sort of understood that the nurse was asking me where my toilet paper was. I didn’t know that you are supposed to bring your own.

Around the fifth day, I think, Amilkar and Elizabeth came to visit me. That morning I had been given a bill for six hundred and fifty dollars, which worried me because I didn’t have the money. Once Elizabeth heard about the horrible conditions in the hospital she and Amilkar came up with a scheme for me to escape and it worked. I figured that the hospital would track me down and press me to pay but I was leaving the country anyway and at least I was free of the hospital.

Now back at home when they heard the story my friends were horrified at what I had been through. I guess it gave them cause to wonder what would happen if they needed the hospital. When my Panamanian friends heard what hospital I had been in they were amazed that they didn’t kill me. Apparently there were numerous wrongful death lawsuits against the hospital, many from women who had not made it through childbirth. I soon learned, the hard way, that you better have the money if you want to go to a private American style hospital.

Only when I returned to Canada and found a doctor did I learn that the technique they had used in Panama was at least twenty years old. Today it’s basically day surgery where they make a tiny incision and you’re done. I was left with about a five inch scar and a huge bump from the archaic surgery technique. I guess I was happy that I had at least managed to survive this death hospital and they didn’t leave any instruments in me.

So I’m back to Canada, staying at my cousin’s in Toronto. After a few months I met Denise online and ended up moving to London for several years. Loathing life in London and approaching retirement age I started researching other warmer countries to go to to live out my life. My pensions would not be enough to be able to live in Canada so I had to find somewhere cheap. After extensive research for several months I decided on Ecuador for many reasons, not the least of which was their national health care plan. I left for Ecuador in December of 2014, heading for Cotacachi in the Andes.

My first experience with hospitals in Ecuador was when I became very ill as in sort of “out of it”. She called my driver who drove a truck barely functional with no springs. For some unknown reason they drove right by the public, read free, hospital in Otavalo and took me to a hospital in Ibarra, quite a distance away. Just like in Panama many things were broken and my doctor babbled away in Spanish which I barely understood. I only got that I was severely dehydrated, something that happens because of the high altitude. Only after four days and when I’m checking out do I learn that this is a private hospital. They present me with a bill for twelve hundred dollars US and ask for my credit card! That put a huge dent in my planned budget. I never got an explanation on why they took me to a private, very expensive hospital, but I suspected there was some sort of commission involved.

Next my landlady came down to my cabin and found me totally unresponsive. My cabin had a fireplace, the only source of heat, and I didn’t realize when I laid down for a brief nap that I had actually been poisoned by carbon monoxide. She called the ambulance and, thankfully, this time they took me to the public hospital in Otavalo, although I was not conscious. I only remember waking up in Emergency and understanding that the doctor told them I was twenty minutes from death! Boy, there’s an eye opener.

Although it’s a long story and one I’ve told elsewhere, I ended up moving to Cotacachi. The day I arrived to stay at the hostel I knew something was wrong. I had already been at altitude for a couple of months so I didn’t think that was the issue, but I sure knew I wasn’t right. They called for an ambulance which arrived in no more than five minutes and I was rushed to the public hospital in town. Again I was dehydrated so they gave me an IV for a few hours and then I was fine. A few months later I came down actually sick this time and was again taken to the same hospital. Although it was very noisy and hard to get any sleep they did take good care of me and I was home the same day.

Live and learn!

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.

Cheers!

Are We Having Fun Yet?

This is yours truly’s personal experience as a Canadian coming to Ecuador to live out what’s left of my life. This post is more of a journal covering my preparations for filing for residency as a pensionado and my journey to avoid being forced to return to Canada.

Your own experience will be determined by where you live, which will then determine if you deal with an Ecuadorian consulate or the Embassy in Ottawa. The general advice if you are looking at moving to Ecuador is first to visit the country for an extended period, at least a month and more if you can. Your tourist Visa gives you ninety days to explore the various regions and determine what area you might want to move to. There are vast differences in areas of the country, from climate to culture. Coming from Canada you will certainly experience culture shock with Ecuador. For some people it’s simply too much. Others consider it an adventure. The number one issue you will face everywhere in the country is language. The more proficient you are in Spanish the better off you will be. Bring a good translation book or a smart phone with Spanish downloaded. The Ecuadorian people in general are very warm, friendly and more than willing to help you, but you must make an effort to speak to them in Spanish.

Ecuador has more diverse regions than just about any county in the world. The difference between living in a large city like Guayaquil, which is very hot and humid all day, every day, and anywhere in the mountains, such as Cotacachi, at very high altitude, with more spring-like weather all year, are vast. Many places, such as Cuenca, which has a very large Expat population, have many of the things that Canadians are familiar with, such as malls and theatres. More remote areas don’t have many of these common North American type venues.

In my case I made the decision to up and move to Ecuador, for many reasons I won’t go into here. I had spent sixteen months living in Boquete, Panama, so I had some experience with the culture shock and knew that it wouldn’t be a problem for me. After months of research I made the decision to move to Cotacachi in the mountains, mostly because I had spent fourteen wonderful years in BC and saw many similarities in Cotacachi. I am no fan of extreme hot or cold weather, so Cotacachi’s climate seemed ideal.

After considerable research on the immigration requirements of Ecuador I traveled to the consulate in Toronto to start on preparing my documents. Unfortunately, before my four hour trip from London, I was given totally inaccurate information on what to bring. For example, I had brought colour copies of my various identification. What I didn’t know was that any documents had to be notarized and then submitted to the official government documents office, a government agency I didn’t even know existed. Off I went to the closest notary and then to the government office then back to the consulate, only to be told that they were closing at 1:00 in the afternoon. They told me I needed a bank statement showing I had sufficient funds, something they didn’t qualify, so off I rushed to my closest bank branch and came back minutes before the consulate was closing. They told me they couldn’t deal with me and that I would need to come back. No concern was shown for my four hour trip.

Given the frustration of dealing with the consulate I contacted the Embassy in Ottawa and I met Rolando, who turned out to be an incredibly helpful person. After I explained my disappointing experience with the consulate he informed me that he would, in fact, be moving to the consulate in the new year. He then asked me to send him my passport and the documents I had prepared and he said he would get me a six month Visa, which he did. He was most helpful in getting my Service Canada pension letters translated and many other things. When I left Canada I felt that I had everything I needed to apply for my Visa when I arrived in Ecuador.

Here’s the first of many mistakes I made. With a six month Visa I was in no hurry to apply for residency, plus I had to wait to receive my GIS pension to pay to file. Second, I didn’t know that you had to register your Visa right away. No one told me that nor was there a word on the government website about it. Lessons learned.

Although I did have the funds to apply for residency originally, I ended up in a private hospital for four days, which cost me an outrageous $1,200 so there went my residency fund. What happened with my GIS pension would fill a book. Save to say that the amount I was promised to receive by the end of Janaury didn’t happen. After three months of calling Service Canada, getting nowhere, I contacted my MP in London, who then started going through what I had experienced, also getting nowhere. In total desperation I then emailed the Minister, somewhat dramatically saying that there would be a letter on my cold dead body blaming my government for my demise. To my considerable surprise I received a call from a supervisor at Service Canada two days later advising me that everything had been sorted out and I should receive the money in a couple of days.

Another important factor that I learned only after I arrived here was that there was a three month waitig period before you could apply for the national health care plan, and that was only after you received your cedula, a process which also takes about a month after you apply. Thanks to my pharmacist and OHIP I had managed to bring a six month supply of my very important diabetic medications with me, but with the delays in applying for my cedula I would run out long before I was in the plan. Given that my Visa was about to expire on May 29th I had contacted a facilitator in Quito to start the process when I hopefully got my GIS, but time was running out on me. He had registered my Visa, but was waiting for the $850 to start my application.

Prior to finally getting my GIS I had posted a desperate plea on Facebook for help. A person had advised me to contact an organization called VisaAngels in Cuenca. I could write yet another book on how wonderful they were in helping me, although what I had to go through was difficult, to say the least. Kathy, one of the angels, told me that recent change to immigration laws for Canadians would make it very difficult to file in Quito. Her experience was that it was much easier in Guayaquil. She wanted me to come to Cuenca where she was based and we would travel the three hours to Guayaquil to file my application there. Despite the fact that I thought my documents were perfect with the help of the Embassy, they weren’t, so she had to arrange to do a number of additional translations.

I left Cotacachi on an early morning bus and I asked the driver if I would then catch a bus in Otavalo for Quito and then Cuenca and he said that was correct. When I arrived in Quito I asked where the bus was for Cuenca and was told several different places, all of which proved wrong and then finally I got the right booth. She informed me that the only bus to Cuenca left at 10:00 o’clock that night, twelve hours from now. Obviously panicked now I started wandering around looking for help. A man told me that I was at the wrong bus terminal for a bus to Cuenca and then found me a taxi to take me to the right terminal. I should have asked, but the next thing is that I have a thirty dollar taxi fare to the new terminal. I did find the right bus which was leaving in a hour, but it didn’t get into Cuenca until 10:00 o’clock that night. Nine hours in that bus was no fun.

The next morning Kathy picked me up at the ungodly hour of five o’clock from my hostel and we headed off to Guayaquil, three hours away. Once the sun came up we realized what amazing country we were traveling through, high up in the mountains. Another couple, Richard and Carolyn from Winnipeg, were also with us to file for their residency. Other than the crazy traffic, the only comment I can make about Guayaquil is how unbelievably hot and humid it was. I can’t believe that 2.6 million people make it their home.

We had some running around to do after we arrived, things I had no clue why we were doing, but we were in Kathy’s capable hands so we didn’t question anything. When we finally arrived at immigration I couldn’t believe how huge the office was and how many people were waiting to be dealt with. When our number finally came up Richard and Carolyn went first. A few minutes later Richard comes back, hands me my file and photos and tells me that Kathy said that my Spanish was good enough to go it alone, so watch for my number to come up. Given how all this had gone so badly from the start I was trying not to shake. When my number was called I was met by a most grim looking man who I thought just wanted to deny me acceptance. I did notice that he was the only one of the clerks who was wearing a suit and tie so I told him he looked very professional. He seemed to warm a little, although he must have gone through my documents five times, reading every single word. My only goal was to not shake. Finally he sent me off to pay my thirty dollars and things appeared to be fine, which Kathy confirmed later, they were and I could stay in Ecuador. I still won’t feel totally relaxed until I actually get my cedula, which I also just learned I need to go to Guayaquil again to get my photo taken and receive my cedula.

Only fitting that after Giovanny at my hostel made numerous phone calls about getting a more direct bus back and his mother had actually gone out to the bus terminal to buy my ticket, after I had confirmed that I had to switch buses in Otavalo to get the one for Cotacachi, I peered out the window and realized that we had not stopped in Otavalo. I asked a fellow passenger where we were going and he told me to Ibarra, so after all those hours on the bus I manage to find a way to spend even more hours getting back to Cotacachi. I was never more happy to finally be home and now I have thoughts that hopefully this will now be my home forever. Hopefully I will soon receive the email telling me I have been approved and then off I go again to Guayaquil. My cedula entitles me to a fifty percent discount on in country flights, so maybe I can fly back and avoid that long bus ride.

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