A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Finishing up the old year: Part 2

    As the New Year approaches,  we noticed there's still a few loose ends to tidy up as we prepare for the new one which will see us traveling to a new home in a new country.  We took a break to spend time in Florida with family celebrating the Christmas season.  What a wonderful time it was and how quickly it passed!  It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the completion of preparing our documents and getting our 12-IX visa but that was over a month ago.

    One of those loose ends is responding to the request by Mary and Steve from South Of Zero for postings about cost of living and medical/dental care for their roundup.  Sorry about our tardiness, guys, but we were really enjoying the family time, the holidays and the time off!

    We recognize the importance of  SOZ's planned roundup because cost of living and medical care probably makes almost everyone's list as reasons for considering ex-patriation to Ecuador.  Both were certainly strong factors in our decision to do so and were on our "questions to research list" as we headed to Cuenca in mid June for a two month trial run.   We rented a short term 3 bedroom condo so our rental was a little higher than that of typical residents.  Despite the fact that our intent was "trial living", we  ate out more than normal.  We also did sightseeing and shopping well above and beyond that of typical residents.  In short, our expenses for the two months probably reflected a middle ground between full time residents and giddy vacationers.  Despite being part residents/part tourists, our expenses were well less two thirds of what we would have paid just for our basic living expenses for a comparable eight week period back at our previous residence in Arizona.

   We took time to visit medical facilities during our stay (we even toured the medical museum at the University's old school of medicine..what a hoot that was!).   With escalating costs in the U.S. and with Roger being a cancer survivor,  both the quality and cost of medical care were big issues for us to address in making a decision to live in Ecuador.   An examination of medical facilities and hearing accounts of other expat experiences in the medical care system were overwhelmingly positive and highly reassuring.  We proceeded to an exploratory visit with Dr. Gabriel Tenorio Velez after hearing positive feedback on this physician from three different sources on.  Our initial visit involved getting acquainted and scheduling physical exams for both us.  During that visit, Dr. Gabe assisted in getting Roger restocked on his blood pressure medication.  We discovered that the very same medication was, indeed, available in Ecuador but under a different name.   A big surprise came when we discovered that the cost (total cost) for a thirty day supply was only $7.03! That was roughly 1/3rd of the co-pay cost alone for the same medication back home.

 (Note:  we came back with a six month supply...enough to last until we planned to return to Ecuador....Dr Gabe wrote a prescription for six months not because it was needed in Ecuador but in order to alleviate any issues in getting through customs in the U.S. upon our return. Our cost was under $47.  That's about the same as the patient copay cost for either two one-month refills or for one three-month refill when the insurance company would allow it!)

Our two physical exams lasted an hour each.  We were given a list of lab tests to have done which included all the typical blood work associated with a physical back home.  Roger also had a PSA test added.  We both had a complete urine analysis done and we added both blood and stool testing for parasites.

  We had our exams on a Wednesday, went to the appropriate laboratory for the tests on Thursday and picked up the results on Friday.  In Ecuador, lab tests are given only to the patient.  They are YOUR test results.  A doctor at the lab handled us the results in booklet format and offered to answer any questions.  The following week we returned to Dr. Gabe's office with our results.  Each of us had a forty-five minute appointment.  We reviewed test results and talked about setting up a health care plan for each of us upon our return.  We also discussed things to do upon our return to help us in dealing with the altitude change adjustment we faced on the first trip down.  By this point in time, we were both certain that this was going to our regular physician.  That was before Dr. Gabe offered us a ride home back to our building because we were his last appointments of the day!  (We expressed our gratitude but had already planned to walk a few blocks to the centro for dinner.)  The good doctor was also concerned about taking so much time for our appointments, explaining that he allocated extra time for gringos because of the language issues (Honestly, his English comprehension was never in question on our part.)  We were delighted to have a doctor that cared enough to spend the time and cover our concerns in such a thorough was our kind of medicine!

  We were thrilled with our discoveries.   Prescription drug cost was affordable, general medical care was thorough, competent and prompt (We accomplished the entire process in less than ten days from our first visit and could have completed it sooner but for schedule conflicts on our part....not the doctor's or the lab!)   The best news was yet to come.  Our expenses for the entire process I described above was less than $180.00 including our dinner out!

  Hopefully, the above story is helpful to others. We would urge each of our readers, however,  to do your own due diligence and research as each person's medical needs are different.   The extra time we spent to do our medical research was highly reassuring for us.  Affordable, decent quality medical became a fundamental part of our decision to move.   We look forward to becoming residents of Cuenca, Ecuador as we continue our journey "juntos en el camino de la vida".

Final note:

We mentioned South of Zero in our opening.  If you enjoy reading about Ecuador and aren't logging onto or subscribing to  to read their nicely done daily review of should be!  It has been a constant checkpoint throughout our exploration process and continues to be a regular part of the way we keep ourselves informed and entertained.  The bloggers listed there have provided us with valuable information as well as great insight into life in general, as well as life in Ecuador.  The ones we've been fortunate enough to meet personally in our travels have been welcoming and helpful.   Mary and Steve, your SOZ efforts are appreciated and we hope to be able to thank you in person when you get to make your transition to Ecuador!

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