Thursday, August 23, 2012

"What's Different With the Culture?"

Since I'm not sure exactly when I'll have my new computer, this seemed like a good post to do that really doesn't require photos.  They'd be nice and I will probably add some later but for now, text is fine.

I was recently at one of the events where I tell tourists what it's like living in Cotacachi.  One thing I stress is that if you don't like the culture, don't move here.  It's critical to be able to enjoy the environment in which you live.  This is something I've really come to understand in the last month or so.  I kind of knew it was true before but it's really come alive recently--not for me--I love the culture here, even the frustration at the post office hasn't gotten me down any more than it would in the States if there was a little glitch in the system, especially since I don't speak the language hardly at all.

Back to the culture.  One of the attendees, after I told them a little about what was different here, kept asking more questions about it and I realized it was something that had just kind of gradually worked its way into my consciousness rather than being something I actively recognized anymore.  So, I thought that if he kept wanting more information, you might too.  Here's what I came up with during that chat, along with some another of our local people added to the mix.  Here's the primary list:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One More Computer Update

With luck this will be my last computer update before I actually have my new computer in my hands.

As requested, I took a color copy of my passport to the post office here in Cotacachi.  Yesterday I got a second email from a man in Quito who said they need a copy of my passport.  After many attempts at me understanding English and the lovely woman at the post office trying to say it in words I could understand, I got it that she found out I had to send a digital copy of my passport to the man in Quito.  Ah!  I can do that--I think--um, I don't have a computer with a scanner--um, I have a computer that sometimes works to send simple email on gmail but sometimes even that little bit crashes it.

There's a way, I know there must be a way.  I went to the papeleria (kind of like an office supply store with copy machine, internet cafe, and candy store).  I'm not sure if they can never do it or if there's something wrong with their computer but the basic response was, "No."

My friendly neighborhood ice cream vendor/taxi driver (also on my block) directed me to another papeleria diagonally across the park, just a tad over a block away.  There, to my great delight, they were able to make a digital copy of my passport and put it on my memory stick and I went immediately to one of their computers, pulled up my email, and off it went to Paul, complete with a message in Spanish complements of Google Translate.  I really love Google.

Now I wait.  If I need to pays a customs fee for it, I will need to go to whatever bank the post office uses, pay the fee, and take the receipt to the post office.  If not, it will be here perhaps tomorrow or Friday.  It's getting closer and you can count on hearing about it when it arrives.

Monday, August 20, 2012

And the Beat Goes On

For those of you who are old enough to remember that song, you will have guessed that I don't have my new computer yet.  You would be correct in that guess.

In my last post you heard all about needing to go back today with the copy of my passport so I could pick it up.  I called her this morning.  No, the computer is in Quito.  She needs a copy of my passport so they can send it up here.  (I offered her one on Friday but she declined.)

Today she will send the copy to Quito.  Tomorrow they will send the computer up here very late in the day. I will get it, "posible miercoles" (possibly Wednesday).

I will call her Wednesday morning to see if she has it.  I am reminding myself that I live in a developing nation (formerly "third world country") and that the postal system is much much better than it used to be.  Hurray!

"Posible" you will hear from me Wednesday and I will have my computer.  It's going to happen!  I just know it is!  I guess I'm still working on learning patience.

Friday, August 17, 2012

More Computer, a Little Quito

Here's the short story on the computer--I got a call from the post office on Wednesday telling me I needed to give them a copy of my passport.  I was impressed that I understood that much with all of it in Spanish. I was in Quito yesterday so I couldn't go to the PO here.  I went today.  Nope, it's not here.  She called Quito--it's there! (I don't know where the PO is in Quito but I might have been able to go there yesterday--who knows?)  She had me give her the tracking number and said she would have it sent up here and I would give her the copy of the passport.  It will possibly be here Monday.  I am NOT a happy camper. I am taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I'm the one who doesn't speak their language and this is Ecuador where things don't necessarily happen as we from the US expect.  I'm actually doing pretty well, all things considered.  Hopefully you will hear more Tuesday.

As for being in Quito yesterday, I can hardly wait to send you photos!  It was an amazing trip.  I didn't go on my own, it was a day tour with a woman here who is very knowledgeable about where the good stuff is down there. We went to a mercado (indoor/outdoor market) that had all kinds of fruit, vegetables, and meat we can't get here, along with other fun stuff like dried herbs, baskets, etc.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Computer!

Well, the computer saga continues.  There is, of course, a long version to this story but I'll try to give you the short one.

With the age of this computer and the impossibility of getting parts for it down here, I decided to go with something a friend of mine talked to me about approximately a week ago.  She said that Dell was having a sale on computers and did I want to get one?  Well, with the cost of new RAM for this computer and the knowledge that I'm going to need a better computer soon, I went ahead and got one.  It ended up costing more than I had anticipated but I think it's going to work out just fine.  Things always seem to for me.  I end up on my feet far more often than not.

Anyway, that should be here in a week or so.

One of the things I found out (I knew about it at one point but I stored the info in a very distant filing cabinet in my brain and ended up misplacing it) is that only electronics that cost less than $400 and weigh less than 4 kilos (8.8 pounds) aren't subject to duty. Mine is over that limitation so I get to pay a 12% duty on it before I can get it, too.  Fortunately it costs less than the amount that requires one to get an import something-or-other to handle the transaction.  I'm not quite sure how it works but I'm fairly certain they just take the money out of my bank account the same way they do with the shipping charges.

When I find out for sure I'll definitely let you know so you will know how to anticipate these things if you should decide to move down here.

Oh, the other thought I had is checking to see if there are people who might be interested in buying an elderly computer or two.  I have another laptop in the States in need of a mother board that may will be a good thing to have here if the sale price is right.  Then it would make sense to have the RAM shipped here.  It's all just things I'm thinking about right now but I'll be checking into them in the days and weeks to come.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Blatant Promotion for VPN

Hello, one and all.  I just discovered VPN.  For those of you who already know all about this, you can probably just skip the rest or feel free to add your own information as a comment.

I found out VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and basically it hides your identity on the internet.  It's a great privacy tool but it has an additional benefit, especially for those of us now live in another country than where we are used to getting media.  I can live in Ecuador and the website I'm looking at in the US will think I'm in the US and will let me access media it won't let me access without it.

I wish I knew more about the technical parts but there's a ton of information about it on the web if you want more geek speak stuff.  I just ordered a year's worth of it for under $60 and felt that was a good price for what I want.  It's around $5 a month and that's certainly less than a lot of things I can do very nicely without. It's on sale for the next day or two so I jumped on it before the price went up. Oh, the name of the company I went through is  Descriptive, eh?

I also signed up as an affiliate.  Should you decide you'd like to take a look at it and think it might be nice if I earned a wee bit of money from it, take a look at it here.  I love affiliate programs.  I love it that companies are willing to pay me to do their advertising for them!

Once I get it all up and running I'll write another little post to let you know how it's working and what I think of it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Art of Recycling"

I received an email today that included a translated article from our regional newspaper and it seemed to me it would be something you might be interested in.  I know it struck a chord with me.  If you go to the link at the bottom, it has a photo and the article in Spanish (just in case you want to practice).  Here you go:

New Residents Involved in Ecological Project

Cotacachi. Foreign nationals residing in Cotacachi are working on a new project to help with environmental protection. These new volunteers are collecting waste material to be converted into artistic creations.

Works of art from discarded waste that is made by the Grupo Ingniart in the parish of Quiroga caught the attention of some people living in the residential complex called Primavera  in Cotacachi.
Now, in fact, this  project is being promoted among more of the foreigners living in the canton. "The tourism aspect is highly influential in how much people care about environmental protection, therefore foreign-born volunteers play a strong part in helping increase citizen awareness, because their recommendation helps our area stand out as a leader in environmental projects," said Bowman Hern├índez, director of the Grupo Ingniart in Ecuador. "The work of these people means a lot to us, because they will help our work among their own people and also this will help us to expand our project to more communities in Cotacachi".

The volunteers are recovering reusable material to make recycling collection receptacles for strategic placement in areas frequented by new residents. Their plastic receptacles will be for the collection of materials that can be used for building more things. Collection points are strategically chosen for efficiency and there will be a publicity campaign. The project hopes to build tables and benches from recycled material for a park behind the bus terminal.
"What we hope to accomplish with these creations is for people to see that a lot of things are wasted that could be reused artistically to create things that benefit society", explains

-link to article -------

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Computer Update and Electronics in General

Ah, my dear faithful readers--the computer saga continues. This might be a good time to tell you about general electronic issues in Ecuador.

Starting with my laptop, a Dell Latitude D820, approximately five years old, is considered ancient when in need of spare parts. This isn't unusual. I read somewhere about someone who forgot their power cord in the States when they came here and ended up sending off for a new one back where they came here from. It was a costly enterprise when you consider the cost of shipping and, more importantly, it was a lengthy process. Their advice, which I heartily second, is to start with equipment that is on the new side, be sure you have everything you need for it, then get spares of things that fail with more regularity than others. I would add that it would be a good idea to have a genuinely excellent electronics technician go over all your electronics and advise on which might be best either replaced or at least have a backup on hand if it is needed.

Also, think about what kinds of electronics you might want to purchase after you arrive and think about whether or not it might be to your advantage to purchase them in advance. This applies to more