Tuesday, 31 December 2013


                                                  CINDERELLA   by the Fundacion Gabriel Group

       Saturday, December 14th, 2013, there was a wonderful  presentation of the play, “Cinderella” with some added creative touches.  This delightful play was put on by the same group that did “Man of La Mancha” last year, which was outstanding.  Well, this year’s performance  may have outdone the last one.  It was put on at the Salinas Yacht Club, the same venue as in 2012.
       From the opening, you could tell that these young people really enjoyed being on stage.  They had really worked very hard to learn all their lines, which was evident in their delivery.   The costumes were absolutely stunning- so colorful and bright.
       The audience in attendance was made up of many expats as well as many Ecuadoreans, some of which were relatives of the stars of the show.   Countless cameras were used to take memorable photos of the performance, but did not detract from the enjoyment of the show.  It was definitely a family affair, as many children were also in the audience, and they seemed to like the show very much because they were so attentive.
        The temperature of the auditorium was cooler and more comfortable than last year, and so I enjoyed this performance more, and the stars of the show were also available after the show to meet their fans and have their pictures taken with them.   Having these performances a few weeks prior to Christmas helps everyone get into the joyful spirit of the holiday season.

This year leading up to Christmas has been a hard one, because Evelyn has been in New York for a month, November to the first week of December.
So Evelyn spent Thanksgiving in New York. Cleo became very sick and I had to take her to the vet, Dr. Pizmino. We went to him first, was not impressed with the treatment Cleo received there, so we then went to see Maria Paz. Her treatment and care for Cleo was on the nose (get it?).  Evelyn got back on Dec. 4th, so both of us went to see Maria Paz with Cleo.
What she told us was that Cleo had probably been poisoned.
The treatments are not for sure; this information makes sense because our guardian found sausages and chicken legs on the driveway, and we did not leave them there.
Our neighbour and guardian both told us that it could have been robbers; it could also be someone that has a grudge against us and is taking it out on our dog.
Well, we have not been robbed. The good news is that Cleo has responded to treatment, and just a week before Christmas, Cleo was about 90% back to normal.
One of the reasons that this Christmas has been more of a task for us is that we made the decision to buy a vehicle.
After living here for the last two years, we have exhausted the travel by bus and taxi, and since our other dog passed away in February, we can travel with one dog much more easily.
Due to what happened to Cleo, this also factored into our decision to buy a vehicle. We can take her with us, and not have to worry about her at home.
The challenge of buying a vehicle here is an onerous one. The used car market is a very dodgy one (there is no Kelly Blue Book here) so to find out how vehicles are priced is a maze.
We have a friend who did help, and for this he took us to Guayaquil where he knows of car sales’ outlets that he trusted.  We traveled all around, unable to find a vehicle .
So we thought of a new vehicle.  Prices are much higher, but you are dealing with a recognized market.
We were shocked at the lack of knowledge and customer service displayed by the salespeople; at this point, we were beginning to lose the need to have a vehicle.
As fate would have it, a friend of ours had a family disaster, where he needed money quickly. This friend owned a vehicle, and this vehicle we have come to know. He has it serviced when it needs it, and I thought that if he were in a mind set to sell it, we could service both our needs.
After some teeth grinding and muttering to himself, he agreed to sell the vehicle. A price was agreed on, and because he needed the cash, we made our way to the bank.
Now this is the week before Christmas, and the lines to the teller were very long.  By the time I got there, I was told that they could not let me have that much money.  I beckoned to my  friend  ( who is Ecuadorian) to come over because I wanted  him to hear this. After some very fast talking in Spanish, he turned to me and said that they would have the money in about half an hour.
So, on Christmas Eve, we were on our way to drop off some gifts (our intended destination was an open house) we got waylaid, ended  up stopping with a couple of friends for a few drinks and a good chunk of conversation .
By the time we got around to leaving, the crash of the waves, a nice breeze, good conversation and a few drinks, we both looked at each other and said that it could not get any better, so let us just go home.

Christmas Day, what a fantastic day- clear blue sky, nice breeze, again we met up with friends, enjoyed good conversation and drinks. As the day melted away, we had to say goodbye and off we went to a party for a short time and met other people.  We did not stay too long, but can say that we had a very nice Christmas this year.  

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Monday, 23 December 2013




       Thursday, December 12th,2013, will remain in my memory for a very long time. This is because a group of wonderful expats and the Ecuadorean Coast Guard got together to make this Christmas unforgettable for not only themselves, but also for the children in Puente Verde. 
        Captain Bocheli, the commander of the Coast Guard, chose this school this year because of the desperate needs of the children in this local community. 
        So, at about 8:30am, expats started gathering at the Coast Guard headquarters building in Salinas,
 excitedly talking about the day ahead! One bus had the gifts, the stuffed stockings, the food and drinks for the children, expats, some Coast Guard members, and Papa Noel.  The other bus had the rest of the expats and other Coast Guard members. The bus ride took about 40 minutes, and when we arrived at the school, we came upon many Christmas decorations, a Christmas tree, and 89 children and their teachers all waving at us enthusiastically!  Yes, these people were ready for a fiesta!
          When we got off the bus, the children and teachers ran up to greet and hug us- this was so neat! Terry looked so happy having the children on her knee.  The children and their teachers were so open and friendly-wow, what a greeting! 
           After the initial getting to know one another, it was time to get ready to serve lunch to the children.  Anna, Romy, Joanne, and Randy prepared the food and set the table and served the food and drinks with the help of Denise and Evelyn.  The food looked delicious-turkey, mac and cheese, fruit salad, brownies, cookies and a choice of Coke, Sprite, or Orange drink. As we were serving the food, we also sang Christmas carols.  The children were enjoying themselves!
           The children had eaten their fill, and were now ready for the highlight of their day- the entrance of Papa Noel- their voices rose in unison- Papa Noel!  Papa Noel!  The excitement was palpable! You could see the joy on their faces when their name was called, and they each went to Papa Noel to receive their gift, then returned to their seats to open it,and their happiness in discovering a wonderful gift that they could play with. They were then sharing their gifts with their friends-this was fantastic to see!   Some of the children even came up to us to say, “muchas gracias”.   
           This turned out to be a perfect day- and we have a group of people to thank for it- Captain Bocheli and his Coast Guard crew for all the help in getting the buses and carrying all the gifts and stockings from Babs’ condo and loading them onto and off the buses, and a huge “thank you” to Babs for obtaining the stockings and with her helpers wrapping all these presents and filling these stockings and the expat who did the lovely calligraphy of each child’s name on their gifts, another huge “thank you” to Anna, Romy, Joanne, and Randy for preparing and serving the food, along with Denise and Evelyn, and a big “thank you” to John Schmidt for being Papa Noel and wearing the hot outfit for hours in the hot sun!  And thanks to all the expats who bought gifts for the children and to those who joined us to visit these children in Puente Verde on this day. I know these children will have a most memorable Christmas because of the time and donations of all these generous people! 
 Feliz Navidad, everyone!

Traditional English Roast Pork Dinner

Main Course: Roast Pork, Garlic Herb Mash Potatoes, Mixed Vegetables, & Pumpkin Puree. Dessert: Peach & Almond Tart with Custard

$25 per person (taxes included)

Tue, 31 December, 2013 3pm – 5pm

Please note:
* Bookings only
* Limit of 30 people
* We take reservations till Dec 27
* 50% deposit required

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Living the life Ecuador Coast

Big Ralph´s Restaurant
9.30 - 12.00
Sunday 15th December 2013



$ 5.25



$ 6.75



$ 9.90



$ 5.80



$ 7.70




$ 5.95



$ 4.75

$ 4.75



Well it is getting to the end of the year and I thought that this is of interest to ex-pats from the US who will be filing  their tax returns in the new year.

10 Things to Know About Capital Gains

Did you know that almost everything you own and use for personal or investment purposes is a capital asset? Capital assets include a home, household furnishings and stocks and bonds held in a personal account.
When you sell a capital asset, the difference between the amount you paid for the asset and its sales price is a capital gain or capital loss. Here are 10 facts you should know about how gains and losses can affect your federal income tax return.
1. Almost everything you own and use for personal purposes, pleasure or investment is a capital asset.
2. When you sell a capital asset, the difference between the amount you sell it for and your basis -- which is usually what you paid for it -- is a capital gain or a capital loss.
3. You must report all capital gains.
4. You may only deduct capital losses on investment property, not on personal-use property.
5. Capital gains and losses are classified as long-term or short-term. If you hold the property more than one year, your capital gain or loss is long-term. If you hold it one year or less, the gain or loss is short-term.
6. If you have long-term gains in excess of your long-term losses, the difference is normally a net capital gain. Subtract any short-term losses from the net capital gain to calculate the net capital gain you must report.
7. The tax rates that apply to net capital gain are generally lower than the tax rates that apply to other income. For 2013, the maximum capital gains rate is 20 percent; however that rate only applies to taxpayers in the highest tax bracket (39.6%) whose income exceeds $400,000 (single filers) or $450,000 (joint filers). Taxpayers in the middle tax brackets pay a maximum of 15 percent. For taxpayers in the lowest tax brackets (under 15%) the rate may be 0 percent on some or all of the net capital gain. Rates of 25 or 28 percent may apply to special types of net capital gain.
8. If your capital losses exceed your capital gains, you can deduct the excess on your tax return to reduce other income, such as wages, up to an annual limit of $3,000, or $1,500 if you are married filing separately.
9. If your total net capital loss is more than the yearly limit on capital loss deductions, you can carry over the unused part to the next year and treat it as if you incurred it in that next year.
10. A new form (Form 8949, Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets) was introduced in 2011 to calculate capital gains and losses and list all capital gain and loss transactions. Subtotals are then carried over to Schedule D (Form 1040), where gain or loss is calculated.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Born: July 18, 1918

The last great leader of the 20th century -- and an inspiration for this new millennium -- died in his country South Africa December 5th 2013.
Nelson Mandela touched all of us with his courage, his unyielding resistance, and his grace. He knew how to fight, and he knew when to make peace.

"It always seems impossible, until it is done." 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Cautionary true story

Cautionary true story
common surge protector
Used for refrigerators, etc

Just this last week, a friend of mine lost not only all of his belongings, but the house that he lived in as well.
There is a back story to this. When we moved into our house, we basically tore it down and rebuilt it.
The issue of electricity came up by accident. I have an IMAC which is covered in metal and glass. For whatever reason, I touched the casing and felt a strange sensation.
So I went and shut it down and disconnected it from the outlet. I got my test meter and found that the ground that we have taken for granted in Europe, USA, and Canada was not present.
That same day, we had a spike in the electrical supply and lost our little TV (we had been using until our container arrived); it went up in smoke.
So I went on the search for surge protectors and copper rod to ground off the neutral side on the breaker panel( this is not advised if you do not know what you are doing); with this in place it was a bit safer.
With the new construction, the whole electrical system was installed to IEE standards for single family homes, completely grounded; no more suicide showers.
This is where my friend comes in, not having this information and thinking that it would not happen to him.
He has his mother living with him. She is 85 and not in the best of health. The night before his loss, his mother took ill and was admitted to the hospital; otherwise, she would have been in the house.
The night that the fire destroyed his home, was caused by a dramatic drop in voltage being supplied by the local power company followed by a massive spike in line voltage. That caused not only his home to catch fire, but others on the same grid.
 The difference is that in my friend's home, he did not have  surge protectors, which would have saved his equipment and appliances from bursting into flames and consuming 100% of his property and all of its contents.
Other homes on the same block were limited in their loss to replacing their surge protection systems. 
This is a common cause of spikes 

So what I am saying is that for the small amount that a surge protector costs, it is quite possible that they are the cheapest insurance that you will ever buy. 

Even the best surge suppressor can't do its job if the house wiring isn't properly grounded; there has to be a single way for the diverted electricity to go. "Without a good ground, the current may follow another wire and end up inside your modem or fax machine," says Tom Plesich, director of business development at Innovative Technology, a maker of surge-suppression equipment. Also, avoid plugging surge-sensitive electronic devices into the same power strip with laser printers, air conditioners, or other appliances with large motor loads. These produce their own low-level power surges that will affect all the devices sharing the strip.
Before buying a plug-in unit, check that it does the following:

•Meets UL Standard 1449 (second edition)
•Has a clamping voltage — the amount that triggers the diversion of electricity to the ground — of 400 volts or less. The lower the number, the better the protection
•Absorbs at least 600 joules of energy
•Protects all three incoming lines: hot, neutral, and ground. Look for "L-N, L-G, N-G" (line to neutral, line to ground, neutral to ground) on the product's spec sheet
•Stops functioning when its circuits are damaged by a surge

Both whole-house and plug-in types can get zapped without your knowing it; look for indicator lights that signal when a unit no longer works. 

Traditional English Roast Turkey Lunch

Main Course: Roast Turkey, Baby New Potatoes, Mixed Vegetables, Pork & Onion Stuffing, Thyme Sauce. Dessert: Chocolate Torte with Ice Cream & Bailey´s Sauce $25 per person (taxes included)
WhenWed, 25 December, 12:30 – 14:30 
WhereBig Ralph´s Restaurant
Please note:
* Bookings only
* Limit of 30 people
* We take reservations 'til Dec 20
* 50% deposit required

Cinderella on at the Yacht Club

If you were here last year, the play "The Man of La Mancha" was on at the same venue, and the turnout by the number of expats living here was amazing. I wrote a blog on it then and made a video of the highlights.
That same group will be here again with yet another classic, "Cinderella".
One showing only, December 14th, @ 11am; ticket price $5.00.
Get there early, as the seating last year got a bit thin.
Tickets, Edith is not selling the tickets any more.  You can get them from Mary Freeman Cell # 0983364633.  She is in town for a couple of weeks.

This month 

December 1, 1640 - A nationalist revolution in Portugal led to independence from Spain as the Spanish garrisons were driven out of Portugal.
December 1, 1822 - Dom Pedro, founder of the Brazilian Empire, was crowned as the first emperor of Brazil.
December 1, 1918 - Iceland was granted independence by the Danish parliament.
December 1, 1919 - Lady Nancy Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons.
December 1, 1925 - The Locarno Treaties were signed by France, Belgium and Germany, as a preventitive measure to avoid another war, in the aftermath of World War I. Terms of the Locarno Pact were guaranteed by Britain and Italy.
December 1, 1941 - The American Civil Air Patrol (CAP), a U.S. Air Force auxiliary, was founded as Director of Civilian Defense, former New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, signed the formal order. The CAP currently provides aerospace education, a CAP cadet program, and emergency services such as locating missing aircraft.
December 1, 1942 - The Beveridge Report was published in Britain envisioning the welfare state including insurance for the entire population.
December 1, 1955 - The birth of the modern American civil rights movement occurred as Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back section of a municipal bus. Her arrest resulted in a year-long boycott of the city bus system by African Americans and led to legal actions ending racial segregation on municipal buses throughout the South.
December 1, 1988 - Benazir Bhutto was nominated to become prime minister of Pakistan, the first woman to govern a Muslim nation.
December 1, 1989 - Mikhail Gorbachev became the first Soviet Russian leader to visit the Vatican and meet the Pope, thus ending 72 years of strict atheist policy in Communist Russia.
December 1, 1990 - England was connected to mainland Europe for the first time since the Ice Age as engineers digging a railway tunnel under the English Channel broke through the last rock layer.
December 1, 1994 - The head of the U.N. Commission on Rwanda estimated 500,000 deaths had resulted from genocide.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Living the Life Ecuador Coast

New Terminal, New Airport

It has been on the books to open for some time but when it did there was much surprise
The Salinas bus terminal is now closed and the thriving business area around the old bus terminal is just a corner three blocks from the beach, the vendors that hawked there wares there have had to move on to other areas.

The old bus station above and the new bus station below.

Clean new concourse 

Entrance to the where you board the buses 

Buses waiting to fill a bay

Buses in the bays dropping off and pickling up passengers 

Local transport can take you from the Bus terminal to Salinas by taxi or bus.
The number 13 bus will take you to and from  Salinas to the terminal.
A taxi from the terminal to Salinas will cost you $5.00

First adds for the now open Salinas Airport

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The tower San Lorenzo

The tower San Lorenzo

There could be one coming your way

The tower San Lorenzo

Spring tides San Lorenzo

Spring tides San Lorenzo

Here are some questions and answers that my be of help to you if 

you are thinking of living in Ecuador

Answers provided by the Cuenca immigration office

Q. Police report requirements - If a US state has a state police entity, will a report issued by that entity for the past 5 years duly executed, notarized and apostilled be acceptable, or is the requirement now a standard FBI Criminal background check?
A: If you have a state criminal background check, apostilled, it's completely acceptable.
Q. Applying for visa and residency - I am considering applying for a visa and residency in Ecuador. However, my wife, whom I'm separated from, has no interest in moving with me. I have not started any divorce proceedings and don't plan to in the short term. My question is: are there any problems with applying and receiving a visa and residency without any involvement with my estranged wife?
A: There is not a problem to apply for a residency if you are separated from your wife, but you have to still bring your marriage certificate for the cedula:
Q. Proof of income - My husband is deceased and my 15 year old son and I are now in Ecuador. We receive survivor social security benefits and I, being the legal guardian of my son, am responsible for overseeing the benefits he receives. The total of the benefits we both receive is more than the required amount for a pensioner's visa and we have the legalized document from the Ecuadorian Consulate in the US that verifies our combined income. Will this be accepted by the Ministry here in Cuenca?
A: The pension has to be for a lifetime, so when your son will be 18 years old, unless he will receive his own minimum required pension and you will still receive the minimum required income (presently $800 per month), it won't be acceptable. Please be aware that if your personal lifetime income presently exceeds $900 per month ($800 for yourself and $100 for your son) you may qualify for a pensioner's visa and your son may qualify as your dependent.
Q. I understand that during the first two years of a residency visa we can leave Ecuador for 90 days each year. I want to confirm that the time starts the day we get our cedula. Or, does the time start the day we receive our residency visa? Also, if we use 60 days the first year, does the extra 30 days roll over into the second year?
A: The time starts once you get the visa, not the cedula, and the remaining days don't roll over for the second year.
Q. I would like clarification regarding how long a resident visa holder may be gone from Ecuador in the third and subsequent years; 18 months, but over what time period? Can I travel for 18 months, return for a month and leave again? Or is there a limit on the 18 months?
A: Beginning the third year you can leave the country for 18 months, you may travel for 18 months, return for a month and leave again without a problem.
Q. I heard that the CD that is used to obtain a residency visa is no longer needed to remain on deposit after 2 years. I heard that after 2 years we could cash in the CD. Is this true, or must the CD remain for the entire time we have the visa?
A: The CD always has to be in the custody of Banco Central for the entire time that you have the visa: It's not true what you heard.
Q: If I have a CD based visa and change banks. Is there a simple procedure to use the new CD in place of the original one, or do I have to start the entire visa process over again with new, apostilled paperwork?
A: If you have an investor's visa based on a CD, and you decide to change the bank, you have to start again, the whole process, for getting a visa, and bring all apostilled papers from the US again.
Q: Criminal background check: How long is it good for and does the time run from the date of the report or the date of the apostille?
A: The criminal background check is valid for a period of 180 days and starts to count from the date of the report, not the apostle.


Q: Can the financial institution for the $25K CD in Guayaquil now be changed? They wouldn't let me change it last time, unlike in Cuenca:
A: You can change for another financial institution. If you decide to change, you have to start the whole process again.
Q: Can visa based on a CD and obtained in Guayaquil and all the administration involved upon renewal, be transferred to Cuenca? I'd prefer not to make repeated trips to Guayaquil to renew the CD.
A: You cannot transfer your visa to Cuenca: You must go to Guayaquil to renew your CD. Unfortunately you must remain with the office where you started your visa process. However, if the applicant does move the CD to another bank, and therefore starts the process over, he may then start the new process in Cuenca. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Manos a La Obra

Manos a La Obra

Above are images of William and his family, this young man had a grasp on life that most of us would find uncanny, this young man new his life was to be short, but the time he had was spent loved by his family and the community that supported  them through this hard time.
Today I had mixed feelings when I received the phone call to tell me that William had passed away.
The mixed feelings were that I knew that he was in pain and in our small way we tried to ease the pain by providing a better home for him and his family to live in.
 His pain is no more but the pain will live on through what remains of his family, the comfort is that he believed that the place he is to go to is better than the one he was in.
William, a young life that has moved on.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Living the Life Ecuador Coast

Foods of Ecuador
In Galapagos

On my recent travels, I was asked to take part in a young chef's competition that had chefs from all of the cantons of Ecuador.
The top four chefs from Ecuador were there to judge the presentation, quality, taste, and the origin of the food from that area.
The young chefs are in school and not only
 are they representing their school but their home district as well.
Unbeknown to me, when I arrived, I had been volunteered to help with the judging of the food. This was a task that I was unprepared for, but I rose to the challenge.
The challenge was not the tasting of the food, but indeed the knowledge of the food for a particular area; for this, I had to wing it.
Armed with a pencil and a list of areas that were to be scored on, I went on with the four judges and looked at the food, asked questions about the food and tasted the food. After 19 tables of food, I was glad that they offered bread and water to clear the pallet. We all retired to a table and added up the scores, then we each came up with a winner. By some strange quirk, we all agreed on the same winner, Canton of Guayas. This is where it was to end, but I was so impressed with another entry, that I asked if we could make an honorable mention for the canton of Pichincha. The judges got up and went over to their table and came back and agreed that they could do that, so we had two winners that  night.

Did you know this 

Hedy Lamarr

Invention of Spread Spectrum Technology

Hedy Lamarr
Although better known for her Silver Screen exploits, Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) also became a pioneer in the field of wireless communications following her emigration to the United States. The international beauty icon, along with co-inventor George Anthiel, developed a "Secret Communications System" to help combat the Nazis in World War II. By manipulating radio frequencies at irregular intervals between transmission and reception, the invention formed an unbreakable code to prevent classified messages from being intercepted by enemy personnel.
Lamarr and Anthiel received a patent in 1941, but the enormous significance of their invention was not realized until decades later. It was first implemented on naval ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis and subsequently emerged in numerous military applications. But most importantly, the "spread spectrum" technology that Lamarr helped to invent would galvanize the digital communications boom, forming the technical backbone that makes cellular phones, fax machines and other wireless operations possible.
As is the case with many of the famous women inventors, Lamarr received very little recognition of her innovative talent at the time, but recently she has been showered with praise for her groundbreaking invention. In 1997, she and George Anthiel were honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award. And later in the same year, Lamarr became the first female recipient of the BULBIE™ Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, a prestigious lifetime accomplishment prize for inventors that is dubbed "The Oscar™ of Inventing."
Proving she was much more than just another pretty face, Lamarr shattered stereotypes and earned a place among the 20th century's most important women inventors. She truly was a visionary whose technological acumen was far ahead of its time.