About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
We are from Connecticut originally and have most recently lived in North Carolina, USA. We are starting a new life in South America so our retirement $'s will go farther toward a new way of life and a new adventure.Prior to June of 2010 we never thought a move such as this would be possible or advantageous for us. And, that is why we call this blog "Retirement: Plan B" We intend to see and do as much as possible in our retirement. Spend quality time with family, friends and each other.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Medical realities

  For the last few weeks I have been having a little problem with breathing. I thought that I had a respiratory virus or something. I was pretty sure the altitude wasn’t the problem because I had worked through that in the very early days of living in Cuenca and it wasn’t as bothersome as this new problem was becoming.

   I went to see Dr. Ceasar Toral here in Cuenca and he prescribed some medicine and I had to see him again after a couple of weeks to check progress. Unfortunately, there was no progress and things had actually gotten worse. So it was now off to the cardiologist to have a stress test because I have a history of this sort of thing.

  Dr. Juan Pablo Molina checked me out and told me I needed to have a heart catherization done to find the exact problem. Before I could find out what my insurance would and would not cover I had great difficulty breathing and was on my way to the emergency room. In fact, it was the morning following the stress test. I had a serious problem with no opportunity to solve the financial puzzle so we went to the “free hospital”. I know that those two words aren’t normally heard that close together and when spoken are followed by the question “free hospital”  ????? 

  The hospital is in a very old building with a lot of attention needed. The beds in the emergency room were o.k. at least as far as I remember. I was a little preoccupied to really take an accurate assessment of my surroundings. But I do have to say that I was getting a lot of attention from a lot of people. More doctors were checking me out and asking questions than I have ever had the occasion to be involved with at one time in any other hospital and unfortunately I have had some experience in the past for various ailments. The problem was my Spanish is rudimentary, at best (I here people snickering who have heard me try to speak Spanish), I was fortunate there was a man in the hospital with his daughter who spoke English and was kind enough to help a total stranger. If Jesus reads this I want him to know I really appreciated everything he did and I certainly hope his daughter is now well.  For those who think they can live here and not have to learn Spanish just think how I would have felt if Jesus wasn’t there to lend a hand. It truly is a foreign country and not a suburb of the U.S.

  I was in the trauma unit for two days while I was stabilized and observed. The trauma unit people do what is necessary for the welfare of patients but there are no frills here. The bed was really, really uncomfortable and more like a mat in a gym than a real bed. Joan had to buy me bottled water and bring me a pillow and a blanket. She went to different pharmacies to get the meds that were prescribed and other things that I needed. I didn’t get to ask what would have happened if I didn’t have friends or family to do these things. I don’t think they would have let me die. But then again how far can you push this “free” thing??? I would guess if anyone wanted to make a donation to this hospital it would be accepted.

  When I was transferred to Monte Sinai Hospital (the ambulance ride was $35) I was put in the emergency room while we waited for the insurance company to work out details with the Dr. and the hospital. Sadly, this took several hours and the bed that had seemed like an improvement was just as painful to my” bottom” which was tortured for the third day in a row. The gym mats were plastic covered and the sheets were a slippery paper material that wouldn’t stay on the mat. In case anyone doesn’t know they take your clothes away and Johnny coats are open in the back. Skin against plastic for hours at a time is not a good thing.

  The procedure took place late in the afternoon and then I was transferred to a room that I at first mistook for heaven. There was a real bed with a real mattress, a pillow and sheets that were cloth not paper. The bed had a real blanket and a real bed spread. There was a television with HBO and other channels I wouldn’t expect in a hospital. On the wall was a painting. There was a futon in the room in case Joan wanted to stay the night there was a call button for the nurse and a phoned in the room, too.

The bellhop, I mean, the nurse explained I needed to dial #9 for an outside line and asked if there was anything else I needed. We had been told the hospital room was $300 a day.

  Well, I am out of there and very glad to be home. Hospital food in the states usually sucks big time but hospital food in another culture really, really, really sucks and mine was a bland diet. O.K. now I’m going for sympathy, but you do get the general idea of what the medical care is like here.

  During this whole ordeal our friends Mick and Kathy Wesson went way beyond the call of duty and stayed with Joan and drove her from place to place giving her rides to pick things up and to bring her to the hospital to be with me. We want them to know they made life a lot easier and we appreciate their friendship.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

odds and ends

This building is being built and one of the workers is taking a mid day break.

                       This picture is to give you an idea of just how comfortable he is with heights.

Some times we see things that surprise us a little. This is a truck full of eggs being delivered to one of the "tiendas" a grocery store. The eggs here are not refrigerated and are very tasty. Each egg is stamped with an expiration date. We are told if the egg isn't refrigerated to start with it doen't need to be put in the fridge at home either. So ours sit on top of the fridge out of the way until we need them.

The milk sits out on a shelf in the store as well. It is not refrigerated until it is opened. We saw this in the states with "Parmalat". The "Nutri Leche" brand is sold in both bags and cardboard boxes. The cost is $1.07 for the box and 97 cents for the bag. Each package is one litre. We don't like to pour from either so we put it in a pitcher in the fridge after opening the package.
We buy our coffee freshly ground also in a bag. The coffee beans are still warm when it is ground. It is very rich coffee and has a high oil content. It is sold by"Cafe Lojano" near the "New Cathedral" at $3 a pound.
  We have gotten word from our shipping agent that our pallet (household goods we shipped from North Carolina) is expected to arrive in Guayaquil Ec. on the 13th. and we should be able to go to Guayaquil and do the necessary paperwork on the 16th, one week from today. Mick and Kathy think that is an optomistic estimate, but we are hoping they are wrong. We want our stuff!!!!! It has taken so long it will be like Christmas morning when we finally get to open the boxes.
  A second reason for wanting to go to Guayquil is the restaurants they have that Cuenca does not have. Mickey D's is just one of them.
Hasta Pronto,
Dale and Joan

Monday, November 7, 2011

Viva Cuenca

This has been a very different week for Cuenca. The city is celebrating its independence day with a week of activities. The streets and sidewalks have been more crowded than usual. Many of the streets are blocked off to allow for festival activities such as block parties and arts and craft fairs.

  Many of the booths are overflowing with clothing, art, crafts, nick nacks and food. Some have very nice things (a lot a redundancy) and some have trinkets to appeal to people caught up in buying for the sake of buying. Some of the sellers have come some distance to sell their goods. We talked to a lady from Peru who was selling sweaters and other clothing items.

                                     This lady is waiting for the cultural parade to begin.

 We went to the cultural parade last Sunday and had a good time. It was a beautiful sunny day and I tanned some and Joan burned some. We went early and found a seat on a wall across the street from Parque Calderon. We had a good vantage point until the late comers came and stood in front of us with their umbrellas open to protect them from the sun. The parade brought out the same type of vendors that a parade in the states would have, with the exception of the umbrella sellers. We tried to go to the military parade later in the week but the pushing and shoving was more stress than the parade was worth.  We left before the parade even started. We were told that the pushing and shoving got even worse as more late comers arrived.

                                                       An umbrella vendor 

                                            Staying out of the hot sun

                               Dancers performing in the street before the parade begins.
                                       Launching "globos" as the parade passes by
                                       Beauty queens and old cars are always required
                                  The street is crowded before the military parade begins

                                         The street lined with vendors on both sides

Booths lined both sides of the blocked off street near Parque De La Madre art on the right side and cloths and other goods on the left.
Some of the art was very much like we would find at an art fair in the states but most of it  had a definite latin American style. 

Now that we have seen these things we will be happy to get back to normal.

Viva Cuenca
Dale and Joan