Friday, December 19, 2014

29 Days and Counting!

Way past time for an update on our grand adventure by your ordinary, willing, and obedient servant(s).

We're back from a very good but all too short visit to my prima cousin in Cambria, and from the annual family reunion that happens lately sometime in December/January.  Our stored boxed belongings are now safely secreted away in isolation with my cousin - Thanks again, Pam! - and as reconstituted by her, now number 25 crates. 

That leaves us with 15 for sure suitcases of stuff to bring, under our limit of 20 for the two of us that Delta Airlines allows.  Could be a couple or so more, so we'll see.  Not sweating it anymore. . . At LAX, we know by inquiring ahead of time that our rental car company of choice, Enterprise, will take us to our terminal with dog kennel and the luggage - they've done it before, and not a problem.  One of us will need to be at the curb watching our luggage at the terminal while the other - likely me - ferries the luggage to checked baggage dropoff.  No Skycaps at Delta Terminal 5 anymore, though apparently American and United have 'em.  At Atlanta Hartsfield, there are Skycaps and taxis in van configuration to whisk us on our way to our hotel, and back again.  At Quito/UIO, we know the drill.  Once we claim our baggage and go through Customs, we will be able to be greeted by our Bed & Breakfast host and/or driver, who will supply us with helpers to get all items on board the van and if necessary, the taxicab (for overflow purposes).  Having a chofer from the taxi will be critical once we come to the B & B, as there are a number of steps to go up to on that hilly incline before we reach our floor that contains our rooms.  I could do the four pieces of luggage we had last Spring along with the help of our host, but 15 to 20 late at night would be truly tiresome.  Three of us works much better. 

Enough of baggage, then.  What's left from the once long to do list are essentially these: sell/give away cars, get the USDA APHIS papers for the dog and prep for his transport - display placards, papers, food/water, and obtain an appropriate USA based mail forwarding service before flying out.  In all cases these have to be done deals, as there will be a time soon - 29 days and counting - when it will be impossible to redo these actions. 

I'm not concerned now, but might be later at the timeline of developments if too much has to be done at the end in too little time.  We know there will be certain things that have to be done last - getting the rental van, withdrawing monies for travel, and packing/repacking so we know what we have and where while hopefully falling under the 50 pound/23kg weight limit the airlines impose.   Thinking about some stickers to our luggage and a "cheat 3 x 5 index card" in my wallet to code/decode our myriad belongings left to us.  Thank you, Lord, for neat ideas like that!  Don't want to tip off potential thieves on what to steal, but we will need to have a reasonably efficient way to know what items are where as we travel and finally get to our waiting condo in Cuenca. 

On selling the car: our Realtor has a lovely 17 year old daughter who would enjoy the car at the right price.  I've already looked up the Kelly Blue Book price for it, and hope we can hit off a deal soon.  Looking to be done with it come the start of January.  Wholesale vs. private party sale prices are ~ $1500 apart, so having this deal fairly consummated would be a financial feather in our cap, so to speak. . . God knows what we've already given away for free, so it would be nice for a fair private party sale to occur.

On the mail forwarding service: we didn't know it at the time, but the way we are doing our mail stop changes - residential USPS service --> private mail box PMB) with the UPS Store --> private mail forwarding service is exactly how one "throws off" those who are trying to send you mail.  We have been blessed by the underwhelming volume of mail since we sold the residence, but that's due to the overwhelming amount of junk mail that we had received. So the task is to stay connected and communicate.  So noted.

The reasonable cost mail forwarding services that we know of through searching the 'Net and listening to fellow US expats in Facebook groups do the following: receive your mail, discard your mail - junk mail - as you determine it, forward your mail electronically via email (where most accountholders get the bulk of their mail. . . a most welcome and timely service) or where you specify, send the (physical) piece(s) of mail to you at your specified foreign address.  Email communication is the only way to communicate your needs/desires to customer service, which is a bummer to someone with my learning difference, but of course it holds down costs to the supplier of the service.  Will check on this some more and come to a decision soon. 

In running errands around town, I am still getting compliments on my Spanish.  Easy conversations of reasonable length of up to 20 to 30 minutes, and it's reassuring I have a handle on the language since our emphasis for the most part was to get our house sold.  One of the employees at our lodging here, along with a pharmaceutical sales rep I met at my cardiologist's office - very engaging and considerate young woman, indeed - and more than one of the tellers at our Credit Union say I am going to do well in using Spanish.  One evaluation is that I am 80 per cent fluent.  I know myself better than they, and know just how much work there is to do before I am just as easily ready to strut out the ol' Espanol as I can the English. . . but it's nice to hear.  God is at work with that ability, and frankly I am enjoying our last times of being in worship, with family, and in a group setting in English before those opportunities are no more (or limited).  Cambio - change - is coming swiftly, and it waits for no man. 

90 per cent of this move looks to be done, which we are thankful to God for His wisdom, guidance, and direction through all of this.  Ten per cent still to be done.  Easy sledding, we hope!  A Christmas/farewell party with our adult Sunday school class, the Pathfinders at Grace Chapel in Lancaster, to be held at a member's home this Saturday.  It's getting to the end, and we are so anticipating that last drive - the last time I may ever drive again on a regular basis, btw - and our boarding the plane for the Big Trip.  LAX, here we come!