Archive for the ‘Getting THERE’ Category

Cuenca, 6 a.m. Oct. 5, 2012

October 5, 2012 3 comments


A new venture will be a success

Last weekend, I decided to be touristic and visited Pumapungo an ancient archeological ruin/park in the historic district of Cuenca. If you want to know the details of the place, go HERE. Otherwise, here are some photos:

The gardens of Pumapungo from above

A friendly critter

Andean lawnmowers

Cheers to all!


Categories: Getting THERE

Itchy Parts, Part II

July 19, 2012 2 comments

And some got scratched!

I returned to Flagstaff last evening, after a two-day stay and a six-week process. All of this involved getting a visa for Ecuador longer than the 90-day tourist type.

The process involved:

  1. Getting a letter from the Flagstaff Police Department concerning my blank police record. It needed to be notarized. This is where I started, visiting the office next to the Coconino County Jail. I showed them my drivers license, filled out a form, handed over $8 and was told I’d be called when it was ready.  Two days later, I got the call, went back to the station and received the notarized letter. Fortunately, I sat in the cop shop lobby to look it over. My police record remained blank, but my birth date was wrong. I pointed this out to the lady behind the glass window, was told to return the next morning. I did, receiving the corrected form.
  2. Getting a letter from the Social Security Administration showing that I received, monthly, a payment of $800 or more. Off I went to the Social Security Office. A guard at the door asked me if I was carrying any guns or knives. Responding in the negative, I was directed to a computer screen, where I typed in my SSA number, a numbered piece of paper spewed out and I planted my self in the waiting room for 45 minutes. I did have a nice chat with a woman from Jalisco, in Spanish, before my number was finally flashed up on a screen.  Getting this letter took about five minutes. No notarization available.
  3. Next was a trip to the Arizona State Credit Union, where I need to get a letter showing that I had at least $1,000 in my account. This was accomplished quickly by my personal banker (a former US ARMY RANGER, a personable fellow with a serious bald look).  It was also notarized, I thought.
  4. Finally, I needed two passport-style photographs, which I got at the Fedex office. They’re worse than the pics on my drivers license.

Meanwhile, I maintained my routine in Flagstaff. Almost every morning starts, at 7, with a two-block walk down San Francisco Street to Late for the Train, a coffee shop with a fresh, tasty product.

Early morning on San Francisco Street in Flagstaff, AZ, USA

Later in the day, I often go to the bar at Monsoon (which I call “The Office”) for a whiskey and soda.

Me at “The Office” at my favorite time of day. It’s like having a private club.



Living in Flagstaff makes this easy to do with out guilt — even with apparent government approval. See the photo below.

The clocks on all four faces of the Coconino County Courthouse are frozen at 5 o’clock. I’ve always assumed that it’s perpetual cocktail hour!

This past Tuesday, my sister, a family friend and I traveled to Phoenix. I needed to visit the offices of Arizona’s Secretary of State and the Consulate of Ecuador, in that order.

At the Secretary of State’s office, I needed to have the aforementioned documents apostilled. I explained this in a previous post. If you REALLY want the details, go HERE. I strolled into the State Executive Building, through a metal detector, went to the office and presented the documents. The woman behind the desk looked them over, hmmmmed, and pointed out that the notarization on the letter from the credit union wasn’t correct. It was in the wrong form and had to be redone. Off we went to the credit union, which, luckily had an office three blocks away. The letter was redone, correctly notarized and we returned to the Secretary of State. Throughout all of this, by the way, the temperature in Phoenix was about 110F.

The apostillization process started with the Social Security letter getting notarized, over my signature. Next, a form was attached to each aforementioned document, complete with a big golden round seal. I felt like I was back in kindergarten. After paying $3 for each special paper, I was off to the Consulate of Ecuador.

The next bureaucratic hoop!

At the consulate, where we arrived five minutes before closing,  I turned in the documents to a nice lady named Gaby Castillo, who asked that I should return the next morning with a $240 money order.

Wednesday morning, we were back at the consulate. I signed a couple of papers and turned over the bucks. Ms. Castillo presented me with Spanish translations and approvals of the aforementioned documents and put a big stamp, denoting a 180-day visa in my passport. All of these carry a holographic little stamp, making me feel as if I’ve made it to high-tech high school.

Ms. Castillo said I could take all of these stickered documents to the Department of Migration in Ecuador and apply for a long-term retiree visa — for a further fee of $200.

I’ve already got my airline ticket, including a stop in South Carolina to visit family over Labor Day. I’ll fly to South America on Sept. 5. Por fin!

To celebrate, we went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Tempe. I joyously stuffed myself.

Yes, one eats with the fingers. Delicious.

Categories: Getting THERE