Wednesday, August 31, 2011

and now to learn Chinese....

Hen Hao - Amanda and Damaris started chinese lessons in our house last night and there was a good turnout. I'll let you know how my 4th language goes - that is English, Spanish,Spanglish and now Chinese.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Explication of the Visa Issue

To explain the Visa Issue we have. The Governing Body has asked all Branches to stop providing the paper work for people wanting a Religious/Volunteer Worker Visa.They no doubt have a very good reason for this and we accept their decision. It does not mean serving where the need is great is no longer an option - it just means you have to sort the Visa thing out yourself. Here in Ecuador there are various options.
First you need to determine the visa that fits your situation best. Do you have a pension? Are you going to buy a house in Ecuador?  There's a separate visa for each circumstance. So here is some of our options-

Non-immigrant visas come with an expiration date. A year or two usually. They can be renewed in Ecuador prior to expiring with proper documents and fees. You will not be able to work in most instances.
Non-immigrant options include:
  • 12-V: Student - (You have to enrolled in a accredited school- oh and attend the classes)
  • 12-VI: Work - (Pretty much have to find a job that an Ecuadorian can't do)
  • 12-V11: Volunteer or Missionary (not an option for us now)
  • 12-VIII: Cultural Exchange (Teaching English or similar- have to have a qualification)
  • 12-IX and 12-X: Tourism, Sports (Maybe playing basketball for the Ecuadorian team would work - after all we are all taller than them)
Immigrant visas are issued for an indefinite amount of time. They would only be revoked if you no longer met the visa requirements. If you can find work, you can work on these visas.
Options for the immigrant visa include:
  • 10-I: Pensioner (NZ Government won't pay us anything yet - I may have grey hair but still not old enough - this visa is great for North Americans though)
  • 10-II: Investment (real estate) (Need to find cheap enough land and then have it revalued (legal here apparently - we're looking)
  • 10-III: Investment (industry) (or $25K in the bank for first person and $500 extra for each dependant - we need $26,500 -by far the easiest but at this stage our money is tied up in NZ - however anything could happen so we are hoping!)
  • 10-V: Professional (for college graduates) (That's sadly not us)
  • 10-VI: Economic Dependence (for family members of applicants of the above visas or for those married to an Ecuadorian citizen or whose child is an Ecuadorian citizen) - (I've asked Amanda and Aaron to take one for the team, but they don't seem so keen- what do you have kids for, I ask you?)
So anyone thinking of "Needgreating" here in Ecuador - hope this helps. It may be a little harder now but the benefits are soooooooo worth it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Today Mark and I realized we must have been here too long - we were in town and decided to get a bite to eat. Came across a resturant that was offering a 3 course meal (Almuerzo) with the customary glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice for $5.00 - which to us was way to expensive! (We walked a little further and enjoyed something very similar for $2.25 each - and it was delicious!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Visa Smeezer!

We are among hundreds of other "Needgreaters" in a bit of a spot. Sadly we cannot renew our Volunteer/Religious Worker Visas and so are looking desparately now for alternatives. So far the best bet for us to go for Residency but we need a chunk of change for that and we are not sure if we can scrape it together as yet. Also we need Police Reports, Birth and Marriage Certificates - apostilled and translated - which is something I finally got around to organizing today.  Surprisingly, arranging for Birth Certs is not a big deal and you can order them over the phone. While I appreciated it being that easy - makes me wonder how easy it is for identity theft - a bit of a worry!
If we do get Residency - we can work - which will be better on our finances - but then again - the jobs we could get here will pay only a very little bit (i.e I saw a Fulltime Receptionist job today - $350 per month!) - working fulltime is not really what we came here for of course, so we will see....
One thing I have been doing lately (other than worrying) is indulging a desire I have had for some time. Making Cheese! It's so much fun and so far I have made some quite delictable offerings including cheddar, mozarella and haloumi. The milk here is so much cheaper than at home so there is not really any fear of wasting too much money if it doesn't work out. The fruit and vegetables here are so great - I have been able to expand my cooking skills. It will be hard to go back to NZ and not be able to afford the goodies we get here. Let's hope we can sort ourselves out. We will keep you posted on our progress.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gotta Love The Haircuts!

Sometimes its the little things you enjoy.....

I had another one of my enjoyable haircuts yesterday.... They do such a great job - much better than any I have had in New Zealand - and perhaps the most enjoyable part of all - Only $2.00

Some other cheap things I enjoy here:
1/4 roast chicken with chips and rice - $3.00
Pilsiner Beer tall neck - $0.75
Bus rides - $.025 anywhere around town, or, $1.00 per hour anywhere around the country.

and of course, the fiestas with our brothers and sisters - Priceless

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Peru 2 - The Friends, Food and Fiestas

One of the highlights of the trip for me was the beach. I've only been to the beach once in Ecuador and it was almost a year ago so when I finally got a chance to touch the water I went NUTS! For some reason it made me feel a little bit closer to home.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's coming

Sorry about the delay, it's been a busy weekend and I've had the flu. I'm just waiting to get a few more photos before I put a video up of Peru. I promise it is coming though.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm thinking that this blog is about to become The Peru Experience - at least for the next post anyway. Aaron and Amanda have been with the Chinese Group, preaching there for the last week. Just got a phone call from Aaron to say they are at the border so will be home in about 4 hours or so. Can't wait to hear all their experiences and see their photos. Don't worry - I will stand over them with a whip tomorrow to make them post something for you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

English Convention Part 2 -Kiwi Shot

Tradional Kiwi Photo - Not many of us this year

Yeah now that is more like us kiwis- Craz-zee!

One of the best things about the convention is meeting up with old friends - well people that go back to our first English Convention - 3 years ago! My how time flies! We are almost becoming part of the furniture here. Long may that continue!

Some of you may recognise Brendon who serves in the Spanish Group back in Auckland. He is here for a few months and we hope to see more of him before he goes home.

Just have to tell you of my lovely experience this morning. I was having the 3rd study with this lady and she asked me if I could come back more that once a week - that has never happened to me before! I am also excited she wants to come to the convention with me this week (spanish language one) so we have arrangements to go together Friday. Last week when we had the study - her daughter joined us (she would be about 16) and she had some really good questions - i.e what is the difference between the Lake of Fire and Hell! How many 16 year olds think of that back home? Sadly she was sick this week and couldn't come down so maybe next week she will be there. Also Mark and I went together to have a study with one of the kids in the congo but her cousins were there too which meant we had to study with all 5 of them. Decided to fall back on getting them to act out a bible story and they loved it. So next week they have plans to put on another for us -  too cute! Oh how I love this place!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

English Convention Part One - Getting there

The Highlight of our year is over - it was so very good and we had a very refreshing 3 days. Guayaquil put on some lovely weather. It was a little sticky in some moments but on the whole very pleasant!

Didn't think we would get there to start off with. We planned to meet all everyone at 8.45a.m at the Bus Terminal but when we got there something looked very wrong. All the Buses were lined up on the outside of the Terminal and when we got out of the Taxi - no one accosted us as they usually do yelling "Where are you going" (The Bus lines must pay guys to get people onto their buses).

The reason soon became clear - there was a strike! Someone had been murdered at the Terminal and they were protesting for more security - Also apparently they were still looking for the murderer. After deliberating a bit, we managed to track down a private bus service and all 13 of us (we had managed to pick up 4 stranded tourists that wanted out of Cuenca too) taxied over to the joint, paid our money and then hopped on board 2 busettas (7 seater vans). Yay we're off, we thought and only and hour and half past our orignal time. Hah! no such joy - as we neared the outskirts of Cuenca, heading into the Caja's (National Park) the driver stopped and for a frustrating half hour we waited while he phoned this one and that one. He was very vague with us so we were unsure of the hold up until finally he admitted to not having his legal papers and we wouldn't get past a police check point and the police were being very vigilant due to the search for the murderer! So BACK TO CUENCA we went!

We eventually were taken to a company that had their legal papers and dropped off. Seemed like all of Cuenca wanted to get out by this stage and we were very fortuanate to be in the gates of this place before they locked them. After much confusion (and about an hour of waiting) we were loaded into busettas again - about 7 were leaving at the same time so there were people and bags everywhere. All of  a sudden the police arrived and the exit blocked. I presume they were making sure they had the papers etc but it was a little concerning as to what was going on. We thought at one stage there was going to be a riot (out on the street - we were safely stored in the busettas). Anyway all of a sudden things were sorted and our driver jumped in the car and we were off! (the time by now was 12.45pm).

Waiting Waiting (some of us are still smiling at this stage)
Just as a side note there are upsides and downsides to travelling with pretty girls (ie Amanda, Megan and Britany and 2 adorable Ecuadorian Chicas) - one of the downsides was that poor  Britany had taken a travel sickness pill on our first exit from Cuenca so was pretty out of it by the time we started going again. We had put her in the front seat and she drifted happily off the sleep. She kind of slipped down in her seat at one stage and the driver stopped to put her seat back. Thing is I was sitting directly behind her - that didn't concern the driver at all as he laid the seat right back onto me, I had to sit twisted so that my legs weren't squashed! It was hilarous that the old lady didn't get any consideration at all, just as long as the pretty redhead was comfortable!(Britany - if you are reading this I am not trying to make you feel bad, just want to paint a picture for everyone).

We had a deadline, unfortunately, to get to Guayaquil - Mark and Aaron had a drama practice scheduled for 5.30 at the assembly hall which is about 45 minutes away from Guayaquil. It meant that we rolled into our hotel (after paying the driver extra to find our hotel) at 4.10 - had to quickly change our clothes and make our way to the rendevouz point at 4.30. Well we did make it to the drama practice but we were all staving so the makeup didn't really get applied as it should have. Britney and Megan and Amanda were my team and I am so thankful they were willing to help.We finally got some food at around 8pm and we all flopped into bed thankful that we were in Guayaquil and not stuck on the road somewhere. Anyway - more on the assembly to come, stay tuned.