Two weeks in Florida with dear family and friends went quickly. Probably because every day I was shopping - checking off my list - carefully figuring out what to take and what not to take. We already had FedEx'd five suitcases from Oregon to Florida (they wouldn't fit on the bike!), and we also knew we could check in up to 10 suitcases on American Airlines if we flew Business Class back to Ecuador. We really thought this through while we were still back in Cuenca. Should we ship a pallet or two, or just do the suitcase route? We both agreed that doing a container or pallet(s) was not a wise decision financially. We did contact a couple of shippers and knew if we went the pallet route, we'd be out at least $3,500 for just one pallet. WOW! I could buy A LOT OF STUFF with $3,500 dollars. No way! We came here to simplify and have less STUFF, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was our journey in life now.
So, my shopping would be done thoughtfully, as economically as possible, and mostly focused on NEEDS not WANTS. I say "my shopping" 'cause Bo ain't a shopper. He's a buyer and a minimalist. He did tell me before we left that I could get whatever I "needed" to make me more comfortable and happy in our little Cuenca apartment, and I knew I had the option of up to 10 suitcases with AA Business Class - woohoo!! Again, my list was mostly practical, but I did have a few luxuries on there. If not for my dear friend, Patty, daily taking me all over Largo and Tampa to fulfill my shopping list (oh, how she loved helping me spend my money), I would have quit way before the list was completed. When I would get "shopping weary" she would say, "Get what you NEED and you'll be glad you did when you get back to your Cuenca HOME." She was right!
Know that American Airlines allows each "Business Class" traveler the first three check-ins up to 70 pounds FREE. The next two would have been $150 each up to only 50 pounds. That would have meant $600 for both of us if we had gone over the six suitcases for free limit. WE DIDN'T! I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping the shopping spree as simple and minimal as possible. Oh, I could have bought a lot more STUFF, but what I got was just right for us. Plus, I was being money conscious. On Monday, 9/30, we hauled those six fat bags that weighed 70 pounds each to the airport, and once again we found God's favor waiting for us. Our checker, Calvin, never weighed the bags (he probably didn't want to lift them onto the scale), and he was so cheerful, helpful and kind to us. Six bulging bags were checked all the way to Guayaquil so we never had to deal with those huge and heavy "suitcases from hell" again until we arrived in Ecuador.
Finally, we were seated in Business Class on the way to Miami, then Business Class to Guayaquil. I never want to fly economy again. What a wonderfully relaxing and comfortable flight to Guayaquil. Food and drinks, cozy blankets and pillows, wide cushy seats, plenty of leg room, and more - and all for only $150 more each above the Economy rate. So, why didn't we book our flight all the way to Cuenca? I heard that Quito would have never allowed those bags on without charges, if at all. When we got to Guayaquil that evening, all our luggage was waiting for us. We stayed at the Hotel Jeshua who had a driver waiting for us at the airport. His $20 fee was well worth it. Remember, we also had 4 carry-ons - two large back packs each, and two carry-on suitcases (and those were abundantly packed!). After a fairly restful evening, OperAzuayTur Van Service picked us up on time Tuesday morning at 9:30 AM, and by 1:00 PM we arrived outside our apartment in El Centro with ALL our STUFF. Ahhhhh, it was so good to be HOME. We paid our driver $90, and he unloaded our heavy bags into the hallway.
I know I always mention God's favor in my life - but that's because He's always taking care of us. When we were in the van, turning the corner a block from our apartment, I suddenly saw two of our dear ex-pat friends walking near the market. I yelled out their names, ".......we're back!!!" They smiled and waved and walked that block to our apartment to greet and hug us - and then to help us carry those crazy heavy bags up four flights of stairs. Now, those are true friends. Who does that? We thought we were going to have to take the rest of the afternoon pulling each bag one step at a time (Bo has a fragile back) - but our dear friends insisted (really, I'm not making this up) on helping us. Thank you, thank you! We couldn't have done this two month journey without all the help and favor we encountered along the way. Then, our flight back to Ecuador was smooth sailing and still the best was yet to come. Walking into our warm and colorful apartment!! It was definitely HOME! After living on the road for two months like gypsies out of our suitcases or bike bags, we were glad to be back in Cuenca ready to settle into our nest.
So, what did we bring back? What did I so carefully select to shove into those six huge bulging "free" bags and four solidly packed carry-ons? Why did I decide on certain things and not others?
Stay turned for a posting on "What We Brought Back to Cuenca - AND WHY!!!
|BEAUTIFUL CUENCA - We're so happy to be back and to call this home (for now!)|
|Every morning I make a different juice - sometimes it's green, sometimes it's red. This one is a carrot-beet-ginger combo. A toast to being back and to our Cuenca HEALTH! Yes, it's good to be Home!!!!|