Last Friday was my last day of teaching as the semester and my current career have come to a close. It was a good week. I appreciated the cake, cards, and congratulations from both students and colleagues. It was nice to end my career with a fine group of students. I wish my seniors well in their future endeavors. The fact that I taught many of them as freshman made the goodbyes more poignant. A number of them have matured over the four years, and its not often a teacher has the chance to witness his students' social and academic growth so directly. I hope in the process of my interaction with them, I instilled within my students a sense of curiosity beyond their own experiences, and a desire to travel and see the world. One thing is for sure, they all know where Ecuador and Cuenca is on a map. In fact, my retirement to Ecuador became quite a topic of conversation among staff and students, a number of teachers told me they had their students look up Ecuador and Cuenca in their map atlases. Not bad, considering I don't recall myself ever hearing of Cuenca until a year ago last Christmas season.
Meanwhile, I am now focused on the future. I have taken action to get all my paper work in order for my legal residency in Ecuador. I am working with Gabriela Espinosa, the attorney in Quito, who has come highly recommended by many expats. Although personnel in the Ecuadorian consulate in Washington tell me that visas are not yet being processed, I am told that the delay should not affect my time-table for returning to Ecuador. I tentatively intend to arrive in Quito on Monday, March 14th. I will spend a few days in Quito to finalize my residency requirements, and then arrive in Cuenca later in the week.
Well, on one hand, I am overwhelmingly excited about returning to Cuenca; on the other hand, I hope I have sufficient time to get everything accomplished. I am finding that the little things which don't show up in concrete form, like unloading my personal belongings, are very time consuming. Seeking out health insurance, dealing with the governmental offices, determining what will and will not be downloaded from my P.C. to my laptop, how to handle my finances and investments, notifying all the proper sources of address changes and cancellation of services, or scanning thousands of slides; these are only scratching the surface of things that need to be done, but don't process like an accomplishment the way an eventual empty apartment does.
For those of you who comment on problems and delays with Ecuadorian government and business bureaucracy, the Ecuadorians may have learned it from the United States. I was delayed for two weeks getting my social security information to the Ecuadorian Consulate, because of misinformation that was given to me twice from social security representatives, as I needed to procure my monthly income statement for authorization by the Ecuadorian consulate personnel. I have a friend who is 65, but is still working and has never applied for Medicare. Yet Medicare has been trying to collect hundreds of dollars in back payments for insurance for which my friend has never applied or used. It has been months of back and forth phone calls and letters between my friend and Medicare. The problem still has not been fully resolved. Medicare personnel tell him one thing and then do another. One would think with our government's advanced computer operations that such delays would be less likely than in a country like Ecuador where the computer operations are less sophisticated. At any rate, bureaucratic snafus and delays just seem to be a part of everyday modern life no matter where one lives.
I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances, and making new friends and acquaintances as well. I read that you are having beautiful weather in Cuenca, I hope it will still be as nice in March. If anybody has any advice for me in my move, I am open to any suggestions.