Ecuador Visa Types & Process 2019 – Interview w/ Maité Durán at Gringo Visas (Episode 93)

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We get a lot of questions about the types of Ecuador visas and the process for getting a visa in Ecuador so we arranged an interview with Maité Durán at Gringo Visas. She and her team helped Amelia and me get our temporary resident visas when we decided to move to Ecuador.

Maité founded Gringo Visas over 9 years ago after she moved back to Ecuador from Connecticut. She thought the process was very confusing and difficult to navigate as an Ecuadorian native trying to get visas for her US born children, so she thought it must REALLY be difficult for non-native Spanish speakers moving from another country. That’s when the idea for Gringo Visas was born.

Now she has an office in Cuenca and one in Danbury, Connecticut with 4 employees who help people get visas, cedulas, drivers licenses, marriage licenses, health insurance and bank accounts on a daily basis. The laws and regulations are constantly changing here in Ecuador, so having an expert on the ground who stays up-to-date on the changes will make your life much easier.

There are other companies that offer visa services in Ecuador, but we only worked with Gringo Visas so we can’t attest to any of the others. If you would like to contact Gringo Visas, visit the Gringo Visas Contact Us page and be sure to tell Maité that Amelia And JP sent you.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Bringing Pets to Ecuador: Daisy and Alicia’s Excellent Adventure (Episode 85)

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We’ve had LOTS of questions about how to bring pets to Ecuador and about how pet-friendly Cuenca is, so we thought we’d record a quick video talking about our experience bring Daisy and Alicia here. It was quite the adventure!

For our fellow vegans, we’re using the term “pets” in this post and in the video for SEO value. More people search for pet travel and pet services than they search for companion animals or fur babies so we don’t want to miss out on that search traffic.

USDA APHIS – Pet Travel from the US to Ecuador

If you’re bringing your pet to Ecuador, the first thing you need to do is read through all the guidelines and certificate paperwork on the USDA APHIS website: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/. APHIS stands for “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.”

Here’s the page with the Health Certificates for Dogs and Cats, specifically for Ecuador. You need to have this paperwork with you at all times while travelling internationally with your pets.

The very next step is to find a USDA Accredited Veterinarian. They will help you fill out all the paperwork and plan your vaccine schedule. They’ll also work with the USDA to make sure everything on the paperwork and the vaccine schedule is correct. We used Town & Country Veterinary Clinic in Marietta, GA. They were very helpful and we highly recommend them if you live in the Atlanta area.

You’ll also need to find the nearest USDA APHIS office to get all the certificates endorsed. You need to make an appointment with them, and it could take a couple weeks to get on their calendar so plan accordingly.

The vaccine schedule is complicated, especially if you have multiple dogs at varying stages of their vaccine schedule. Daisy and Alicia both had some vaccines that had not expired yet. That meant we had to get boosters for some vaccines while making sure others were given during a specific window of time.

Even working with an accredited vet, we still messed up on one of the vaccines, which caused us to delay our trip by two weeks. Thankfully for us, but not for millions of other people, Hurricane Irma passed through Atlanta on the day we were supposed to leave and closed the airport so we were able to change our flights without paying any fees.

Pet Friendly Air Suites Hotel in Guayaquil Ecuador

The hotel we mentioned in the video is the Air Suites Hotel in Guayaquil. It’s only a few blocks from the airport, it’s very affordable and they accept pets. We’ve stayed their several times and it typically costs about $35/night. The rooms are small, but they’re very clean.

They don’t have much for vegan breakfast; mainly coffee, toast and fruit. We usually bring a PB&J with us when we stay there. You can walk to Mall del Sol, which is about 10 blocks away. That mall has a delicious sushi restaurant with several vegan options.

Air Suites Hotel Guayaquil

Renting a Home that Accepts Pets in Cuenca Ecuador

We talked about finding a rental house in Cuenca that would accept pets in our Cost of Living in Cuenca Ecuador + Rental House Tour. Not all landlords will accept pets, and some will only accept small dogs like Alicia. Daisy is considered a large dog here, and she’s only 30 pounds.

Pet Services in Cuenca

We’re going to record a full video on pet services in Cuenca, but for now, here’s who we use:

If you have any other questions, please let us know in the comments and we’ll try to answer them in our next Pet Care video.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Flashback Day In Our Life + Apartamentos Otorongo Tour (Episode 81)

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This is a flashback day in our life. When we first moved here and stayed at Apartamentos Otorongo, we had a daily routine that included fresh fruits & veggies, and fresh baked bread.

Apartamentos Otorongo

When we came to Cuenca on our exploratory trip in 2017, we stayed at Apartamentos Otorongo for a week, and when we moved to Cuenca later that year, we stayed at Otorongo for almost 2 months while we looked for a rental house.

Apartamentos Otorongo Sign

The location is perfect for getting settled here in Cuenca, and we loved Xavier, Samara and Samantha. They’re wonderful hosts and made us feel right at home from the first day. We also got to know Sara and Angelita, two of the staff members who helped teach us Cuencano Spanish, and kept our rooms spotless.

We made several gringo friends during both our stays at Otorongo, and we still hang out with most of them. Some have moved away, either back to the states, to another country or to somewhere else in Ecuador, but we stay in touch with them, too. Otorongo is a great place to start building your Cuenca community.

If you want the best deal on your stay, especially extended stays, book through their website at HotelOtorongo.com. That’ll save you money while making Xavier and his family more money by cutting out the middle booking site.

Mercado 10 de Agosto

Mercado 10 de Agosto

Nearly every morning during our stay at Otorongo, we walked along the Tomebamba river and up the stairs to Mercado 10 de Agosto for fresh fruits and veggies. It’s best to go in the morning while everything is still very fresh. Since they don’t refrigerate their meat in the mercados, it can get quite smelly by the afternoon.

Amelia Mercado

After we loaded up on produce, we walked across the street to one of the panaderías for fresh baked bread. If you’re vegan, some of the bread has cheese (queso) inside it and some is brushed with butter (mantequilla). We usually bought the whole wheat buns and some water bread, which is a popular type of bread here made only with flour, yeast and water. Each bun/roll costs 13 cents.

Panadería

Lavandería Tomebamba

Otorongo has an onsite washer and dryer available to guests, but we preferred supporting the local economy by letting someone else wash, dry and fold our laundry. Lavandería Tomebamba is a convenient location and just a few blocks from Otorongo.

Lavandería Tomebamba

When we stayed there, the cost for a load of laundry including detergent was $3.50. Now they have a pricing structure that starts at $2.90 and goes up to $6, depending on the size of the load.

Amelia Lavandería

If you’re contemplating a move here, Otorongo is a great place to start your new adventure. It’s the perfect location with convenient access to all the things you need to begin a new life in a foreign city.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Gentle Minimalism: Why We Sold ALL Our Stuff (Episode 74)

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This is the story of why we sold all of our stuff, downsized into a tiny apartment, and moved to Ecuador with four suitcases. Going gentle minimalist has liberated us from the weight of our possessions while drastically reducing our footprint on this tiny blue planet.

Going Minimalist

After two surgeries to fix my spine, we had a tough decision to make. We either had to refinance our house to get a smaller payment we could afford, or we needed to sell it and do something completely different. After several months of discussion, analysis and convincing (I had to convince Amelia it was the right thing to do), we decided to sell the house and everything in it.

JP's Herniated Disc & Artificial Disk

Shattered Disc & Replacement

JPs Fusion

5-Level Lumbar Fusion

Our initial plan was to move to Mexico after selling the house, but my back was still in bad shape and we were afraid to venture too far from my neurosurgeon. So we opted to delay our expat adventure for a year to give my spine more time to recover. That’s when we rented a tiny one bedroom, one bathroom apartment in Uptown Denver.

Denver Night View

View from Our Uptown Denver Apartment

We stayed there for a year and found out that we loved living in the city and didn’t mind the small quarters. We were able to walk everywhere and we didn’t use our cars nearly as much, so we sold my Audi. I bought this car following the sale of my business, so it had a lot of sentimental value. However, even though it was paid in full, the taxes, insurance and parking still cost us several hundred dollars per month that we could no longer afford.

JP’s Audi

Amelia’s Audi

When our lease was up after a year in our postage stamp apartment, we sold our last remaining possessions (except for our clothes and laptops) and drove Amelia’s car across the country to Kansas City to spend a couple weeks with my family before heading to Atlanta to make our final preparations for our move to Ecuador. That included selling Amelia’s car to the Audi dealership and getting all the paperwork in order to take our dogs with us.

Moving to Ecuador

While we were living in the apartment in Denver, Trump got elected, which caused a serious decline in the Mexico/US relations. Plus, the drug wars in Mexico were heating up and several Americans had been kidnapped and held for ransom near the areas where we were thinking about moving.

This turn of events made us reevaluate our final destination. I had already looked at Ecuador before we sold our house because they’re on the dollar, which was very appealing to us. However, we initially thought it was too far from the US. But after visiting on our exploratory trip in March of 2017, we decided it wasn’t that far after all.

After we sold Amelia’s car, we packed everything we could fit into four suitcases and boarded a plane to Ecuador with Alicia in a small pet carrier. Daisy had to stay at grandma’s house until the weather cooled down. It was too hot to fly her so we came back for her 3 months later when it was cooler.

We had intended to rent a small apartment, but after looking at lots of them, we couldn’t find one that we liked AND that would allow Daisy. In Ecuador, a 30 pound dog like Daisy is considered a big dog, which limits the rental options. You can learn more about that in our Cost of Living in Cuenca Ecuador + Rental House Tour video.

While the house is much larger than we need or wanted, we love the location and it has really nice furniture, which wasn’t common in all the places we saw. We also really liked the landlord, which is very important here.

Our Rental House in Cuenca Ecuador

Some minimalists can fit everything they own in a backpack, but that’s a little too extreme for us. We don’t want to drive ourselves insane trying to be perfect, but we also don’t buy anything we don’t need and we’re very happy living that way. If we had to leave in a hurry, everything that matters to us can fit in two suitcases and two backpacks. If things got really bad, we would be fine with just the two backpacks.

Going Vegan

Veganism is also a form of minimalism. The most environmentally destructive thing on this planet is the animal ag industry. It is the leading cause of deforestation, species extinction, ocean dead zones, pollution of the air, land and water, and human generated greenhouse gases.

Even if you continue being a consumer of “stuff” like society expects of you, going vegan would still drastically reduce your environmental footprint. It’s the absolute bare minimum to be able to call yourself an environmentalist with a clear conscious. Plus, it’s a far more compassionate way to live your life with numerous health benefits.

Here are links to the documentaries I watched and the books I’ve read that led to our decision to go minimalist and vegan:

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cost of Living in Cuenca Ecuador + Rental House Tour (Episode 63)

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This is a LOOONG video! But we had a lot to cover. Several of our viewers requested a cost of living video and a tour of our rental house. Some of the other cost of living videos we’ve watched only touched on some expenses and few give home tours, so we thought a more comprehensive video would be helpful to people thinking about moving here.

Our rental house tour is only for the inside. If you’d like to see our courtyard, we covered that in detail in our Cuenca Rental House Courtyard Tour.

You may also enjoy our Cuenca Pharmacy Tour + Paying Bills video, or our tour of Supermaxi El Vergel.

Cuenca Cost of Living – Monthly Living Expenses

Here are our Cuenca Ecuador living expenses. This does not include medical expenses, travel costs or recreational activities. Those vary a lot so we opted to leave them out. We’ll do a video about our medical/dental experiences and costs in the future.

Non-Discretionary

Rent

$          800

Utilities

$            80

Propane

$            10

Mercado

$          120

Supermaxi

$          200

Health Insurance

$          156

Internet

$            56

Claro

$            17

Transportation

$            20

Total

$       1,459

Discretionary

Restaurants

$          150

Netflix

$            11

Massage ($30/massage)

$          150

Physical Therapy

$            80

Amelia’s Hair (Cut – $5; Cut & Color – $40)

$            50

Yoga

$            40

Belly Dancing

$            40

Baños

$            90

Housekeeper

$            40

Total

$          651

Grand Total

$       2,110

In addition to these monthly expenses, we spent about $700 on startup costs for the house. That included things like sheets, blankets, a set of pots, a pressure cooker, coat rack, knives, heaters, etc.

We live a very comfortable middle class, low-stress life here in Cuenca. As you can see, it’s very easy for a couple to live on less than $2,000 per month. A single person could easily live here on less than $1,200 per month. It really depends on the type of home you want and the discretionary expenses that are important to you.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video