Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Getting Home to Cuenca

Now that we are Stateside, we need to be mindful that we are here on a visit only.  We have a new home that we appreciate even more than our former one, and our Earthly home is there in Cuenca, Ecuador. 

Of course our Citizenship is in Heaven (according to the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:20) and we are therefore representatives of the place we are citizens of, even Ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Imagine that: we are ambassadors of Heaven visiting the United States!  How does such an ambassador act in a country not one's own, where "they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one." ( Hebrews 11:16)  Important considerations to reflect upon in the midst of changing one's temporary earthly home, indeed!

But back to practical earthly considerations.  We were able to board our flights to the USA only because we held US Passports, which we reobtained from our Visa Facilitator in Quito 24 hours before boarding our flights.  That was cutting it close to the wire so to speak, but we were able to board with Passports in hand.  Quite a relief that was!  Upon arriving in California, we immediately sent these US Passports back to our Visa Facilitator in Quito via DHL, and he received them timely and in good order.  While he works with the Ministario de Relaciones Exteriores again on finishing the processing of our Pensionado retirement Visas, we are without the ability to travel internationally until such time we receive our Passports back, which is the plan, anyways. 

The above is *NOT* the usual way one travels from Ecuador to the USA as a US expat, by the way.  The glaring omission of the finished granted Visas is what's missing here.  They will get finished, but your guess is as good as mine on when that will be. 

As a result, we have to live our life with an expectation - however slight - that Ministario will complete their work in time for us to return to Ecuador as originally planned (late September).  We have our doubts, as they were supposed to have our Visas finished in May (not true), June (not true), July (not true) and definitely August (assuredly not true).  Ministario's word and credibility is not given a lot of credence by us as a result.  But there still is that slight chance of them getting out of their "Man~ana Syndrome" and actually delivering the finished Visas to us in time for us to leave in late September.  We have to live in between the Now and the Not Yet, as Amy Grant once so famously sung.

And so we do.  A more likely scenario at least in my mind is that Ministario fails to deliver in all respects, and we return home to Cuenca with our US Passports stamped with yet another 90 day T-3 Tourist Visa at EC Customs.  Ecuadorian law currently provides for this scenario.  You are required to be outside of Ecuador for 90 consecutive days, and afterwards you are allowed reentry.  We, not having received any permanent Visa, would be eligible to return just as any garden variety tourist would. 

Yet another scenario is where Ministario finishes delivery of the completed permanent retirement Visas in the "in between" time of the two extremes above.  We've already checked with our abogados, and they confirm that we are allowed reentry with Visas and without Cedula ID cards, but that *exiting* Ecuador without a valid Cedula ID card is not allowed.  Important detail to know.  OK. 

You can only imagine the contingencies and flexibility demanded to make this particular trip.  On one hand, pack as though you will return in about a month.  On the other hand, pack as though you will return after three months.  Our approach is to travel light, buy items here Stateside we have to use and consume, and - the goal, anyways - bring back items we deem important in our suitcases for when we are ready to travel back. . . whenever *that* will end up to be. 

Some other things we did to allow for all possibilities of return dates above: paid landlady rent months in advance, as well as utilities.  Purchased prescription drugs in advance and visited our doctors for a written prescription for them (should the authorities want to know why we were traveling with so many drugs, as well as a way to verify our prescription drug current Rx list with any Stateside doctor we needed to obtain any refills for).  I did a good job of this save my Xarelto supply, which was only for a sixty day amount.  Xarelto can be expensive on a cash basis in Ecuador.  I have no idea what the cash (no Medicare Part D coverage) price for Xarelto might be Stateside, but I'd say it would be a high price.  Ouch!  One small mistake in planning. 

We also conferred with our dogsitter friend from Iglesia Verbo on the contingencies of our return dates.  She understood completely (and my Spanish is now good enough to have that kind of conversation in a confident way).  She will likewise take a vacation in October.  Should we not be home to Cuenca then, she knows that our dog goes with her dogs with her dogsitter until such time she returns.  So all the bases are covered. 

In the meantime, there's family and friends to visit, stores to (strategically) shop at, and - oh, yeah - curriculum for my future English as a Foreign Language students to locate and purchase.  Thankfully Pastor Felipe at Grace Chapel in Lancaster has good contacts on how to get the appropriate materials, according to him.  I've got a couple of other angles to pursue should it become necessary.  Neat to be complimented on my Spanish on my visit to him, as English is his Second Language.  Thankful to God that the language aspect is coming together for my wife and I so much better than it was.  This will, of course, allow for better communication and ministry opportunities down the road while in Cuenca.

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