Desperately Needing A Social Secretary

It is hard to believe it has been almost three months since we moved here full time. So much has happened in that time period, yet we still have things we need to take care of before we can really take a deep breath and say we are here.
The first thing we needed to address was Mike’s heart medication. As I wrote in my last post, we met with a cardiologist we really like and feel confident about who took Mike off his old medication, Tikosyn, and put him on a new medication, Berezo. So far, so good, Mike’s heart has stayed in rhythm, even through the withdrawal from Tikosyn period, and he has had no side effects! In about 2-3 weeks he will wear a Holter monitor for several days to monitor his heart 24 hours a day. When he sees the doctor and gets an EKG, that is just showing his heart is in rhythm at that point in time. The Holter monitor will allow the doctor to make sure his heart is in rhythm 24 hours a day.
Aside from the fact this medication is working, a big benefit is the cost. His Tikosyn, with insurance, is about $150 a month and without insurance is $450 a month.  The medication they are putting him on is $39.00 a month without insurance, quite the difference!
We started attending a program called Talk and Learn where they partner Spanish speaking people whose English is at the same level as English speaking people’s Spanish. I’m in the basic group and Mike is in the intermediate group. We go through various exercises and help each other with words and pronunciation. The first week we went they were filming for a short segment on TV. Mike and another lady from the intermediate group, along with our group facilitator, were asked to meet at Parque Calderon to film some more. I, of course, went along. Although I didn’t plan on it, they included me in the filming. Then the next night we went to the producer’s home to do some more filming. It was so much fun.
Our social calendar fills up almost every week. To give you an example, this was our last week. Monday we had lunch with a new friend. Roxi is a native of Cuenca and epitomizes what the youth of today should be. She graduated 4 days before the birth of her daughter and has ambitions of obtaining her Masters in International Relations one day.
Tuesday we went to our landlords for coffee and snacks.  Maria and Braulio are wonderful people and we are helping each other with language.  When they come to pick up the rent we try to speak in Spanish and they in English.
Cuenca6-2-15MikeSusanMariaBraulio*Mike, Susan, Maria and Braulio
Wednesday Mike has his writer’s meeting, and that evening we went to our Spanish class. Thursday we went to a store to order placemats and napkins. Friday we went to Artesa to purchase dishes. Saturday we had our attorney and her husband over for dinner, and Sunday we went to our neighbor’s to see the program we were in (mentioned above) which aired on TV and then later to a friend’s for a taco dinner.
On Friday mornings the Artesa store where the famous ceramic artist, Eduardo Vega, sells his ceramics, opens the seconds store at 8:00a.
Painting ceramics
We are collecting dishes for our good dishes as well as our everyday dishes.  Friday morning we found dishes we want to use for everyday so we picked some up to start the set. We got 4 dishes, 4 bowls & 4 cups and saucers.  We also picked up 4 of the Galapagos mugs and 3 pots in different sizes with the saucers to go with them.  I have a plant that is in water in one of the pots and utensils in another, the pot in the picture is the largest and we don’t have anything for it yet; maybe some basil!!
Cuenca6-5-15DishesMugsPot*Our everyday set of dishes
On this trip we were able to pick up a platter and a 4th teacup for our good set.  We still need bowls and salad/dessert plates plus coffee mugs but we will pick those up on our various Friday outings. We never know what we will find and even if we find nothing, it is still fun to look and see what they have.
7Cuenca4-24-15ArtesaStoreOurPurchases*Our good dishesCuenca6-5-15Dishes*Good dishes we picked up this trip
Cuenca is a very “walk friendly” city and we find ourselves walking almost everywhere. Mike’s heart doctor is only about 1.5 miles from our apartment; a pleasant stroll along the Tomebamba. It is only about 1.2 miles to walk to the center of El Centro. On Thursdays my girlfriend and I spend the day wandering El Centro, having our nails or hair done, stopping for lunch and wander some more.
5Cuenca5-24-15Path&Tomebamba*The path along the Tomebamba is beautiful
9Cuenca5-24-15TomebambaTowardsCajas*View of Tomebamba with city and Cajas Mountains in background
15Cuenca5-24-15Along3DeNoviembreRiver*There are benches along the river to just sit and enjoy

50Cuenca5-24-15MariscalSucreFlowerMkt*The flower market in El Centro

28Cuenca5-24-15AlongHermanoMiguelFlowersBalcony*Flowers on balcony in El Centro
There are two things we still need to do:
  • Hopefully this next week we will be able to set up our account with SRI, the Ecuadorian equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service. Ecuador charges a 12% tax on many things, and as a senior we can file for a refund of up to $197 per month each on taxes we paid, but we must have an account with SRI in order to do so.
  • Enroll in health insurance. Although it is inexpensive enough to see a doctor or purchase most of your medication without insurance, it is really wise to have insurance for those catastrophic times when you may need to be hospitalized. There is a program through IESS that costs about $70 for the first person and about $12 for the second. The gringos we have talked with have been very happy with this program.
Until next time we will keep on exploring our wonderful new home, Cuenca, Ecuador!

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