Saturday, October 30, 2010

How to Fold a Shirt

July 3, 2010

The view of our beach, looking North.
Our home is about 3:00 in this picture.
As I mentioned before, Todd and I have rented our house out to vacationers for the last 3 years. It is our livelihood, and we’ve enjoyed it. It has been a challenge to run the business from 4000 miles away, and we’re glad to be here now to oversee it firsthand. The flip side being: now that we are here, we must find places to stay while our home is occupied with guests. We considered that when we decided to move here permanently, and figured we’d just make it an adventure by trying the various local hostels. Eventually, we need to find a nearby apartment, because we have a pretty full house from December until March.
We have a young honeymoon couple from the Midwest (Brian and Lara) arriving tomorrow for a couple of weeks, and today has been a flurry of last minute preparation and activity.

Facing East (ESE)
 the Olon Soccer field.
Our house is on the other side of the wall

A local friend of ours, German Mike, stopped by to deliver 3 fresh chickens (he raises them on a hillside nearby).   Which - ahem - we received newly slaughtered, plucked, and still warm. That was a little gross, but they taste great.  Grosser was the fact that apparently German Mike missed the lesson on the hazards of poultry juice, when he plopped them on my newly clean counter, and sopped up the mess with the brand new sponge provided for our arriving guests (tossed).

Then our young friend, Alex stopped by as I was finishing up some laundry.  Alex drives a local taxi, and we’ve gotten to know him well over the years. Alex’s father owns the Olon ferreteria (hardware store).  His uncle and aunt, Antonio & Patricia Zamora own the Oloncito Mercado, and those two have always been wonderfully kind to us. Patricia, especially, has been patient to help me with the language when I grocery shop.
Alex just stopped by to shoot the breeze (challenging, since his English is about as good as our Spanish), but he and I ended up spending about a half hour laughing while practicing the technique shown in the video below.
We are moving over to Hostel Isramar tomorrow, and looking forward to it.

It may not look like the video will load, but it does if you click on the start arrow:

Friday, October 29, 2010

The President Has Landed

July 2, 2010

Correa's security lands on the beach
The coolest thing happened today.
A military helicopter circled our compound early this morning. This in itself is unusual, since any aircraft flying along the coast is a rare sight.  And a Blackhawk-type whirly doing re-con over the Jardines de Olon most definitely caught our attention. Bobby's construction workers said it was President Correa's helicopter, but we thought they were pulling our leg.
Then, a few hours later, another, smaller helicopter started circling. Our friends Scott & Pat had stopped 
Scott, Larry, Todd, Kelly & Harris
by, along with another friend, Larry (who was visiting from the States, and owns property in the Ecuador highlands).  We joked that it was probably either a high ranking Ecuadorian official (many own property along this stretch of the beach), or some show-off gringo investors.
Blurry, because I was running too.
The helicopter circled a little more, and then landed on the beach by our house.  The whole town came running to see what it was about. About 4 military guys got out, and everyone crowded around the helicopter, curious to see the inside, and pose for pictures.  We asked around, and finally figured out that they were guarding President Correa, who was at the nearby church on the cliff worshiping, and he was planning to visit Olon afterwards.

Sure enough, the big army helicopter (the one we had seen earlier in the morning) landed in the soccer field about an hour later - so the whole town ran from the beach to the field.
He didn't get out of it (more army guys), but I guess he came down the hill in car, because eventually he was out by the road in a throng of people, and later we watched him get in the helicopter and take off. The locals seemed kind of nonchalant  about it (my impression:"yeah, this happens all the time")...but I thought it was thrilling.  No doubt, a political photo op - but still cool to think he would just show up here unannounced (well of course, it could have been announced beforehand on the town’s  loudspeakers - we wouldn't have known/understood if that was the case). 
Unfortunately, I did not get a good snapshot of the President, though I have a snippet of him in a video I took.
Correa's helicopter
The gal in yellow was shy about
having her pic taken,
 but giggled about it.
"Matching" is a flexible concept along the Costa.
It's one of the great things about living here....
you can throw on anything.
You should see what I'm wearing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Como Se Dice?

June 30, 2010

Artifacts dug up during a recent
construction project.

Check out the detail on the head.

Our neighbor Bobby is building a house across the street and it’s coming along well. He’s got a very loyal crew, who show up early and always seem to be laughing as they work.  In the course of digging the hole for his foundation and cistern, a number of Indian artifacts have been uncovered.This morning he brought some of them over to show us.  
The oldest civilizations in Ecuador settled along the coast here about 4000 to 5000 years ago. The Valdivian Culture is probably the most notable, though there were a number of others. 
The Incas didn’t push north into Ecuador until about 1500-1600 A.D., and then only into the Andes. They never made it here to the coast, as far as I've read. We don’t know how to identify or date these artifacts, but all of us find them fascinating.*

Todd and I are determined to learn Spanish.  I took four years in high school, but that was a long time ago; Todd has never taken a Spanish course, but he has a natural ear for it, and frequently understands what is being spoken better than I do.  Together, we get by.
We’ve had the Rosetta Stone for awhile, but that is boooring, though I know it is effective for many.  Daily immersion is undoubtedly the best way to go, but we want to supplement it with homework and disciplined practice each day.  We have homemade index flash cards, and add at least five new words or phrases daily, with the idea that we would set aside a certain amount of time to run through them.

Thinking of you.

Best laid plans, I suppose.  Last night was our first serious night of “homework”, which blew up into a huge argument because SOMEBODY was “conjugating the words too much” and SOMEBODY ELSE couldn’t handle a few extra verbs and idioms slipped into the deck.
The other thing I’m trying to understand is what is being said over the town’s loud speakers periodically.  The speakers’ tinny sound makes comprehension even more difficult. It could be as innocuous as “there’s going to be a pot-luck at the Catholic Church on Wednesday”, or perhaps “the egg truck will be here later today.”  It is very hard to understand even a few words. 
For all we are aware, they could announce “a tsunami is coming – run for your lives” and we wouldn’t know it.

* Finders' keepers, apparently, but authentic artifacts are not allowed to leave the country legally.
Because this is much more interesting
than the one I took of the flash cards

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Twelve Off the Truck

June 29, 2010

Kelly, getting ready to give
Daisy an injection.

Wilmer (pronounced “Veel-mir”) is the town vet. He and a couple of his friends frequently play a few sets on the seen-better-days tennis court in our compound. His sister is Doris (a lovely and kind woman). Doris owns the Hostel Isramar and is married to Marcello, who runs a van shuttle service between here and Guayaquil ($100).
When Wilmer dropped Daisy off after her sterilization surgery, he handed me a vial and syringe, and carefully explained in detailed medical Spanish how to give her antibiotic injections (clear as mud).  I did glean that she was to receive a daily injection for the following four days.  Okaaay……
I’ve never given anything a shot in my life, nor has Todd, but we tried, really we did. But after we each took a turn at pinning her down and jabbing her (and Daisy giving us wide berth for several hours after), we enlisted the help of neighbor Kelly, who heroically took on that duty for the duration. I’m sure much to Daisy’s relief.

We are settling in, and starting to get into a few small routines.

Coffee at "Parajitos"
Many mornings we head to a nearby restaurant/tienda for coffee.  Nelson (“Parajito”) and his wife run it. His uncle (also nicknamed Parajito) runs a local taxi service, is a funny guy, and a friend of ours. Nicknames are very popular here.

Interestingly, though Ecuador exports some of the finest coffee in the world, it is not a popular beverage with the Ecuadorians. A cup of brewed coffee is a treat here, and invariably, instant coffee will be served when ordered, along with a cup of steamed water/milk and sugar. At Parajito’s (our "Starbucks”), a cup costs 50 cents, and sometimes we get breakfast (generous omelet and toast) for another dollar each. We’ve actually grown quite fond of morning cup of Joe there.

The beer truck comes through Olon on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

A big bottle of Pilsener costs 80 cents (a dollar if you don’t bring the empty bottle back, and they’re pretty sticky about this).

But a case of twelve off the truck only costs $7.80 (assuming a case of empties is exchanged).   Try as we might, we frequently miss the truck’s passage through town,  since it’s hard to determine exactly what time of day they’ll be around, and neighbor Dan and Todd have been on a minor mission this week to coax the beer guys to circle closer to our neighborhood so we don’t miss them.

And Dog Makes Three

June 27, 2010
Our neighbors Dan and Kelly and their two sons, Thompson (13-yrs) and Harris (10-yrs) were here when we moved in (staying a month).  They’re a fun couple from Texas, and the boys are just terrific.  They bought their place a few years ago, shortly before we did. And although we have talked on the phone and emailed each other over time, our trips to Olon had never coincided, so we were meeting them for the first time.
Likewise, we had never met Bobby, our gregarious neighbor across the street, although we had spoken on the phone frequently.  Bobby is from California, and purchased his lot about a year ago. He has been in Olon since early spring, working on construction, and plans to live here full time as well.
Our South Carolina neighbors, Rocky and Elizabeth were in for a brief visit. Beth is a gracious and warm woman who is very involved in animal rescue in the States, and she was the one who convinced Todd and I to adopt one the stray beach dogs.
All of the dogs run free - some are attached to homes, many are not. They really do have the "life" here, running around town and the beach; and each seems to have their own little daytime territory, run with their "homeboy" packs, and some go to a home each night where they will sleep outside and bark at anyone coming near. It would be cute if so many weren't malnourished or clearly in need of a vet's attention.
Anyway, "Daisy" was a beach dog who has been hanging around our compound, going from occupied house to house. She's probably about 6-8 months old.  Very friendly and very smart - whole compound adopted her, but she's ours "officially", since we are here full time now.  We have the water/food bowls and she sleeps on our back porch at night (we made a bed for her). During the day, she plays with her posse on the beach (two little black dogs, one of whom looks like Toto) or her best friend “Spot”, when she’s not roaming our neighborhood looking for hand-outs and petting.  We had her fixed last week (which Beth generously offered to fund). 
Todd and I joke that we had a shot-gun marriage in light of the sudden addition of Daisy to our family.  I thought Todd might be a hard sell on this one, but he is smitten with her as well….now if I can just talk him into a couple of cats………

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Well, Sugar My Fish

June 25, 2010

We've been back in our home for about 2 weeks  now. It’s great to be back in the ‘hood. Oswaldo and Yanina (our neighbors and caretakers) have done a good job maintaining our home during our absence (along with invaluable assistance from an American friend of ours who lives in Guayaquil and visits our coastal area often).  But still, I needed to clean every sheet, every curtain, and every towel in the house before I could relax. 

Thank God we have a washer/dryer now, (one of the first improvements we made after purchasing the house) because I used to wash by hand/line dry, and that was a pain in the ass. Not to mention I was lame at it, since every garment I ever washed that way smelled like fish and could stand up on its own like a cardboard cut-out on the back yard after I got done with it.

The house needed airing out. It gets a little tricky this time of year on the coast of Ecuador. We are headed into an overcast and drizzly season, and windows can neither be left opened nor closed full time or homes tend to smell musty. Thankfully, this hasn’t been too much of an issue for us during our absence because it’s been fairly occupied in the meantime.  
Todd organized the utility room and worked with Oswaldo on repairs and the yard work.  I washed every bed pillow in the house (we have 14 – I counted them -  and it was a tedious, 3-step process involving a sink full of a lot of bleach and near electrocution from our stackable unit when I tried to load a sopping wet pillow into the washer while the dryer above was running). I think I can be forgiven for rolling my eyes and giving Todd a ration of shit when he mildly suggested that I do the seven decorative couch pillows “while you’re at it…”

We’ve also taken a firm stance against the three stubborn bats who decided to hostel in a beam above our back patio. We have learned over the years that mothballs hung in front of potential nesting sites works  as a fairly effective deterrent (though bats are good to have around, since they love eating mosquitoes), but these 3 Musketeers weren’t budging.   Todd and I had some fairly humorous moments  spending a couple of mornings blaring loud music, shining flashlights  in their eyes, and poking at them with brooms until we got rid of them.

We have a few more days in the house before we hand the keys over to a young honeymooning couple arriving early in July.
Now that we’ve finally had a chance to relax, we’ve been enjoying wandering around Olon, seeing old friends again, eating at the cabanitas along the beach (“Lolita’s” is one of our favorites – great ceviche there – and always wonderful to see Pablo and Lolita again). We have several others we like as well.
Tonight we tried “Tito & Hannah’s”, which is relatively new and always crowded with locals. We both liked what we got; Todd ordered a shrimp dish, and I ordered fried fish (if you like malt vinegar on your fried fish, like I do, bring it to EC with you.  Other vinegars are readily available nearby, but I’ve yet to find malt vinegar). It was a great fish.
Except that I made the mistake of accidently sprinkling sugar on it (instead of salt, which is generally served in a Tupperware container and will always be clumpy) that I had grabbed off a nearby table.  I did my best to eat it anyway, because it was our first time there, and I think it’s fairly safe to say that the mamacitas cooking at the cabanitas keep an eye out for their customers’ satisfaction.  I tried to scrape most of it off, and drowned it with more malt vinegar, and that helped.
Several of our part-time neighbors are here now, and we’ve enjoyed hanging with them. We have a number of interesting and fun expat neighbors, and and we're having a good time together.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Are We There Yet? - The Journey

Flying into Guayaquil

Todd and I generally take the red-eye Copa Flight from LAX to GYE (Guayaquil) when traveling to Ecuador.  It leaves around 1AM-2AM in the morning and arrives in Guayaquil in the mid-afternoon, via an hour and a half layover in Panama. Ecuador is on Eastern Standard Time. For those who can sleep easily on a plane (like me) it’s a pleasant flight, and we are on the Olon beach by sunset, after customs, luggage retrieval, and shuttle to the coast. We used to hire a private service ($60-100) to  transport us to the beach, but have since discovered that the CLP  buses from the Guayaquil (GYE) bus terminal are every bit as comfortable, modern, and convenient (3-4 buses to Montanita/Olon a day) for around $6 a ticket.  The seats are comfortable and a movie is generally shown (fans of Jackie Chan in Spanish should be especially cheered).  Just be sure and bring a jacket or sweater, because the air conditioning is perpetually set on frigid.

One of Todd's favorite L.A. spots.
Because of the late departure, we had plenty of time on our last day in the States to  hit a couple of our favorite places to eat before  turning in the rental car, and arrived at the airline check-in desk with plenty of time to spare.
We were loaded to the gills, but our four checked-in suitcases passed the weight muster. Unlike past trips when our luggage was filled with DVD’s, books, decorative items and other frivolity, this time we were hauling our favorite (and heavy) pots and pans, tools, lamps, and other indispensible household items that are either expensive or non-existent in Ecuador.  Our carry-on luggage was another matter.
We each were pulling a 2-wheeler; Todd had the laptop, and I was lugging a “purse” (which was really a huge L.L. Bean tote stuffed with games/books/small appliances, and my filled-to-the-brim purse stashed inside).  I was quite obviously tilting towards the side that was shouldering the bag, and would have gone down like a bowling pin had someone nudged me from the opposite direction.
Copa was enforcing the carry-on weight limit of 20lbs for our roll-on suitcases; we were pushing the maximum and had to do a little wheeling and dealing (okay, we bribed the guy) to proceed. I felt smug because they clearly overlooked the 50-pound elephant hanging off my left shoulder.

Scott & Todd

The flight was uneventful, and we were met at the Guayaquil airport by our friends Scott and Pat, who live in Las Tunas (near Puerto Lopez, about 45 minutes north of our house).  We planned on spending our first two days there because we had vacationing guests in our house. We had never actually met Scott and his mom, Pat before, but we had all become great friends via internet Expat sites and email, and we were looking forward to knowing them better, as well as Scott’s son, Jeremy.
They were gracious and fun hosts and we had a wonderful time at their ocean front place. We spent most of our time on their upper level deck enjoying the beach view, chatting, eating, and relaxing, and it was a great way to begin acclimating to our new life in the Southern Hemisphere.

I have kept a journal since then, and what follows are excerpts from it, as I have a chance to edit and post. For those still reading:  
I hope you will be entertained, enlightened, and enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed this journey.
….. And maybe, just maybe, you will fall a little bit in love with Ecuador too…..

Friday, October 15, 2010

Indio to Idyllwild - The Execution

I mentioned our “we’re outta here” checklist.  It was very thorough and very detailed, and critically hinged on executing tasks in a timely, daily manner.  For instance, before we could go to the Los Angeles Ecuadorian Consulate for our 180-day extended visas (12-IX) we first had to get police reports and blood tests done.  Before we could sell the car, we needed it to accompany the U-Haul for the 2 hour drive to Orange County storage (nearer my brother and out of the desert heat). On-line banking had to be established, but first we had to create new email accounts in a virtual world that did not include our home’s cable account. Utility companies had to be contacted.  All needed to be accomplished in a precise, timely order.
 One of those checklist items was “get married”.  Sorta like, if it’s Tuesday, June 1, we’re getting married.  We timed it to coincide with our last day in our Palm Springs home, and planned on heading directly to the mountains of Idyllwild (on the way west, towards LAX) for a short honeymoon on our way out of the country.
It’s not like we rushed into marriage; neither of us had been in a hurry.  We’ve been together for almost seven years, and discussed it from time to time.  I mean at our age, it’s not like we’re anxious to have kids (I am divorced with 3 grown daughters and one granddaughter and this would be Todd’s first marriage). We get along great and had a “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” attitude. We were both skittish, and as I explained to Todd, it was a hell of a lot easier to get into a marriage than get out of one.
My other hesitation was our last names.
 You see, I like my “Frost” name; I’m proud of my “Frost” maiden name, and it was a huge hassle to restore it after my divorce. No way was I giving that up.  Maybe a hyphenated last name, but “Frost” was staying.  Todd’s last name, "Hebert", is Cajun and is pronounced either “ay-bear” or “ee-bear”.  If we got married, I could potentially be Leigh Frost-Hebert  I know, I know…. It looks dignified on paper, but say it out loud.  That’s Leigh Frostybear.
We decided to keep our wedding simple. We wanted to get married in Palm Springs or Idyllwild, just the two of us. Get the license; go to city hall, git ‘er done.  Nope. Palm Springs City Hall was our venue of choice, but, despite a flurry of activity during a legal interim of the Proposition 8 debacle, marriages were no longer being performed there.  We ended up going to the Indio Courthouse the last morning we were in the desert and had a civil ceremony.
It was actually much more romantic than it sounds, and a young 29 Palms military couple stood up for us, as we did for them. We finished up some last minute house business in Palm Springs before throwing our suitcases and final storage boxes in our rental car.  We got to Idyllwild late in the afternoon.
Bliss.  We stayed at our favorite rustic mountain cabin hideaway location. We celebrated with a dinner at one of the town’s nicer restaurants, and essentially took a few days breather from the previous months’ stress.  We told very few (sort of our special secret for awhile) and we still giggle at calling ourselves “husband”/“wife”, since we’ve been saying it for years in both personal and business relationships. In all seriousness, though, we do feel a sense of wonderment and awe about our new status. Now we are official……We are the Frost-Heberts. We haven’t changed that on our passports yet.
We unpacked and re-packed in Idyllwild to get our 4 suitcases and carry-on’s within weight limits.  Also we made a lot of love, ate well, hiked, made-out, unpacked/re-packed, ate well, played cards, made a lot of love, unpacked/re-packed again before our final pass through Orange County to our storage bin and a long weekend with my brother Jack in Laguna Beach, including a day trip up to LA to finalize our final 180-day (12-IX) Visa paperwork.  Anyone with a valid passport may enter Ecuador for a maximum of 90 days, but for longer stays the extended Visa is needed, and is a necessary requirement towards establishing residency status once in country.*

*EC regulations/procedures change faster than a speeding chicken bus on this issue, so those considering the move should do their research well, and often.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cribbage in the Wind - The Preparation

For 30 years, I have gathered, collected, bought or inherited stuff.  I’ve loved my stuff. I’ve treasured, photographed, and counted my stuff. I’ve saved my stuff for my children, but ultimately decided I was done packing it around. 
We gave stuff to the kids (primarily my eldest, who lived nearby), we gave stuff away, we had weekend after weekend of garage sales in the scalding Palm Springs summer heat. The inventory for the first few garage sales was easy (junk stuff).  After that came the dawning realization that we still had way too much special stuff to fit in a small storage area, and I begrudgingly agreed to sacrifice those to the garage over time (well mostly me – though Todd did have his cling-on moments too).
We weren’t taking any big furniture, so that stuff was sooner or later destined for the chopping block. …And really, did I need 3 sets of china? In all the years of doing the family Thanksgiving meals, I had used these maybe four times, and my kids didn’t want them either….And all those designer work clothes? Gone.  It’s not like we need much more than flip-flops and a cover-up, where we’re going.
 But  it also meant saying goodbye to so many items that each carried with them a treasured memory of a Baja trip, a thrift store excursion, a funny day, a family reunion….It was hard letting those things go (sigh)……..It got easier over time, but as God is my witness, I will never be a “collector” of stuff again. The memories live on – with or without the stuff. 
We scoured/depersonalized the house in preparation of putting it on the market. We repaired things. We painted, planted, planned, prayed. We interviewed numerous listing agents. We went to open houses and researched the real estate competition. We scrubbed, fixed, and sold more.
 The weather was glorious! The house dazzled!  We were ready.
We listed our Palm Springs house in mid-September. We toasted to the sale of our house within a few months (AT THE MOST) while gazing at the moon-lit San Jacinto Mountain, reflected in our quintessential, night- lit Palm Springs pool. 

 We cheerfully helped the listing agent with needed pictures, set out Open House signs, made ourselves scarce during those (visiting other open houses, playing cards in the park or—feeling flush – lunched at the old Las Consuelas). We bit the bullet, and depersonalized and sold/gave away more stuff (though it seemed that fewer folks had cash, so more and more was donated to make room in the garage).  We tip-toed around the house so it wouldn’t get dirty, and curtailed most all entertaining (which we had done regularly before) to be ready to show at moment’s notice. We gladly sold more big furniture, because after all, we weren’t going to need it much longer, and no reason to wait until the last minute, right?  One of our grimmer days was the rainy, gloomy Thanksgiving weekend when we sold our last bedroom set (master bedroom) to a couple of gals – but hey!- we’re going to sell this house soon, so what’s a few weeks sleeping on the floor…at our age?……And then….
No showings after numerous Open Houses. Lousy time to try and sell a home anywhere, but in particular, Southern California; we were competing with short sales and foreclosures. No one had any money or credit. We were in Riverside County (second only behind Detroit for ‘lagging economic recovery”) and the employable are car mechanics, nurses, hair stylists or exotic dancers. Take your pick.
The weather turned cold, dreary, and windy, and stayed that way all through the spring. Mostly it was WINDY.
Our furniture had been reduced to a kitchen table and a fabulous mid-century modern cocktail bar.  We banged around an empty house.  We slept on the floor and a borrowed sleeper couch for months. Every day turned into one predictable day after another (too many Open House days spent at the park, playing cribbage in the wind; too many days watching any and all TV episodes with “Housewives” in the title; too many days staring at computer screens).  Ground Hog Day after Ground Hog day.  We reduced the price of the house 4 times. We had at least abridged all of our other possessions (3 bedroom/3bath house) to a 9x10 storage area.
By May we decided to lease it, so we could move on. It is still listed.
 In mid-May, once we decided to rent, our focus went from Palm Springs to Ecuador, and we got very busy, very quickly working on our Ecuador visas (90 days on a passport/180 days with an extended visa), moving our meager remaining stuff to storage, and our last minute purge and clean (read here – our car was last on the list to sell).
Toward the end of our Palm Springs sojourn, we had a daily checklist that we adhered to religiously before our flight to a new life in Ecuador.


View from our balcony.
I bought a beach home (and the lot next to it) in Ecuador in the fall of 2007. More on this later, but for now, let’s just call it a wild hair.  My then boyfriend (Todd) and I were able to spend a few months a year there, and fell in love with the country. We’re not quite ready or old enough to retire yet, but we ARE headed well into the territory of getting senior discounts without getting carded. After our first few visits to our new South American property, we thought it might be interesting to rent it out to vacationers during our absences.  Much to our surprise and delight, this somewhat impulsive venture has led us to a number of interesting people, challenged our characters, honed our life skills, and proved to be moderately successful.
After spending three months in Olón (pronounced like the English word "alone", but with an "O")  in the spring of 2009, we decided – perhaps rather rashly and prematurely – to move there permanently. Though there have been some rugged (and a few grim) moments between that June 2009 resolution and the day we arrived here in June 2010, we would do it all again, even knowing what we know now.
In addition to our Olon, EC beach home, I owned a great 3 bed/3 bath home in a Historic Palm Springs neighborhood that we loved, but we also were starting to recognize it as an anchor.  We were prepared to sell virtually everything we owned, including the Palm Springs house to live “la vida tranquilla” in Ecuador, and take our chances from there. After all, we had a beach home (and a lot) on the coast, many local friends, and a reasonably successful vacation rental business. It was time to take that life by the horns, and live a grand adventure!
Let me tell you something about that “selling everything you’ve owned part”: it is not easy.
At least not at first.