Thursday, October 23, 2014

Not so Fast!

We are now out of our residence. . . all moved out.  It sure was a different feeling to Pilgrim's Rest at the end. . . all the furniture and appliances taken out by the able crew at Grace Thrift Store in Lancaster, bare walls. . . and echoes to your voice when speaking. 

Thanks be to God for giving us the ability and wisdom for how to effectually get each item out of the house to get to this point. . . close of escrow, recording of deed, and sale proceeds wired to our account.  We rented a Penske moving truck just once during these last four months to move the vintage furniture items to a vintage furniture store or two in Highland Park/LA and Pasadena. . . where the reception given our furniture was chillier than we expected.  No one really cares about your "stuff," and so to Grace Thrift it went.   Dying to self. . . Living for God.  From an Eternal perspective, not a bad tradeoff.  We can't take it with us to Ecuador anyway, and certainly not Heaven!

It's the Motel life for now. . . Motel 6 that is.  In Mojave, where the rates are lower than the south end of the Antelope Valley - and weekly rates are offered.  What a deal!  Fridge, microwave, king size bed, dresser, desk and juice and coffee each morning from the motel's office.  Wifi too, of course.  Can't leave our dog alone in the room per motel policy, so we have been doing pet sitting while on errands.  Thankfully we're in Fall season so the temps are conducive for this kind of arrangement for the time being.

Now that we're out of the house after the sale closing, we are about the checklist I have created that delineates each task/step we need to accomplish before we board that airplane.  I counted up the time expected for each task, and came up with 23 and a half day's worth of tasks.  With Sundays off for worship, rest, and reflection on God's Word, that amounts to ~27 days.  A full month almost of activities to wind our life down Stateside!  Who knew leaving the US to immigrate to Ecuador would be so time consuming. . . not like being a tourist, where you are traveling temporarily.  This is for keeps!

One of the tasks - and an important one at that - is booking an airline and getting tickets to fly.  Looking to fly in November, I began the process of contacting airlines and checking on the 'Net to see who offered the best overall package for our needs.  I added a week of "wiggle room" for unexpected time needed to accomplish checklist tasks and the final saying of goodbyes, coming up with an expected date of leaving on November 24th.  

I - with Carolyn Anne's knowledge, of course - began the search for an airline that would meet our criteria: fly to Quito, allow our dog to fly in checked baggage, and take all of our luggage in checked baggage that we choose to bring.  Delta especially was helpful on the baggage aspect, stating on its website it allowed up to 10 pieces of baggage per passenger.  Though we are not anticipating taking that many pieces of luggage - the logistics of moving that many pieces on the ground on carts at the airport as well as via taxis I think is problematic for just the two of us alone - we think it's best to have that kind of flexibility should we need it.  $200 per bag charge over the first two pieces per passenger, of course.  This is serious bucks we're spending to move. . . and still less expensive than a shipping container ($7000  to $12000 is typical from what I've read elsewhere on the 'Net going from the USA to Ecuador).  By the way, I also looked into air freighting our belongings in. . . not allowed if you are an individual moving your belongings in this post September 11, 2001 world. 

One caveat with flying with Delta concerning pet travel:  you can't take a standard Boeing 767 from LAX to Atlanta because they don't take pets in checked baggage in it for some reason.  !!!   However, speaking to a Delta representative, I learned that a 737-900 would allow a pet aboard as checked baggage.  Problem solved. 

So it looked like we had done our homework.  I purchased tickets for LAX to ATL to UIO for the two of us for Monday, November 24th, which I calculated would be an achievable date for us to have everything wrapped up and ready for us to fly.  24 hour "cool off" period per Delta on refunding the tix, too.  

Good thing that. . . because I wisely checked back with another Delta ticket agent to see if there were any baggage restrictions/embargoes going into Quito during our dates of travel.  Sure enough, there was an embargo in place for the November 16, 2014 -  January 16, 2015 time period.  The embargo, btw restricts the number of checked bags per passenger to a maximum of six.  This is due to Delta managing its passengers and checked baggage capabilities during the busy Winter season of North American passengers heading to Ecuador, and not instigated by the Ecuadorian government, according to a Delta ticket agent I spoke with today.    Not so fast!  Yikes!

How I knew there were such things as airline baggage embargoes is due to time spent this last week at our church's Men's Retreat, which is blogworthy in and of itself.  Credit to our always Wise God and his able servant Howard Scholl, of our church and currently on staff as Activities Director at Hume Lake in Sequoia National Park, California.  I asked Howard while I was at Hume Lake if there was anything I should know about before traveling to Ecuador.  The baggage restrictions/embargoes that happen periodically during tourist "high travel season" was the biggest takeaway from Howard.  Major Kudos to him. . . how incredibly prescient a comment!  Howard, btw, along with his wife Mary served as missionaries in Ecuador for several years, ending this year.  I've learned much from him, and have a great respect due to Howard regarding the need to know and speak Spanish while in Ecuador. . . a Spanish speaking country.  !Gracias muy mucho en El Senor para sus palabras antes de el avion, mi amigo!      

So. . . with that said, I called up and cancelled our flight with Delta.  Carolyn Anne was beside herself when she first heard about the baggage embargo, already making firm plans to be there in Cuenca this November.  She is better about it now.   The lesson here is to be flexible and see things through to the end. . . . Never, never ever give up!  Be patient, tenacious. . . and let God see you through to the end.  It's for Him that we go, anyway.  So let Him fight those battles, those adversities, those setbacks for us.

Not without hope, we continue to expectantly wait for the day when we leave for Ecuador.  Look at where we are now. . . house sold, possessions mostly given away, and just a small amount of tasks to do before we leave.  We have a roof over our heads (Tom Bodett's, be it ever so humble), food to eat, and clothes to wear.  In time, the baggage/dog/time of departure issue will resolve itself. . . with God's gentle guiding shepherding hand, if we allow Him to lead us!  (wink)


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