For those of you who are thinking of "Living and Working in Ecuador," you might be interested in the process. Since paying bills is pretty boring stuff, I thought you might enjoy some of the flowers in the courtyard of the school where we teach.
Here's what we did between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (all in a day's work!):
1. Withdrew money from Banco del Pacifico (they're one of the few banks that allow you to withdraw larger sums of money than most banks).
2. Paid our alíquota (security guard fees and water) at Hotel Oro Verde.
3. Picked up our paychecks for teaching. Not so simple. I get paid at CEDEI (El Centro) and Mark has to pick up his check at the administration building (around the corner) because he's on a different system than I am.
4. Trotted off to Banco Pichincha to cash our checks. Make sure to take off your sunglasses, don't wear a hat, carry firearms or keep your cell phone on! The guard always checks our backpack before we enter the bank and again when we leave. Try to avoid banks around 12:30 p.m. (or during the two-hour lunch "hour"). If you're cashing a check you will need your original cedula. We never carry our originals, so a copy of your cedula will suffice.
5. Took a "little" walk to Banco Bolivariano because that's where we have our checking account and where our medical insurance is withdrawn. You can also pay your electric, telephone and water bill there, but we forgot to do it this time!
6. Next stop: Centro Pago where we paid our electric and telephone bill. Electric was $27 and our telephone bill was $4.00 (we used our land line a lot more last month).
7. Then off to pay our rent at Motricentro where our landlord has his business.
8. I forgot to pick up a new phone book (available at ETAPA on the corner of Gran Colombia and Tarqui), so we caught the #7 bus back into town. When we arrived at ETAPA the receptionist told us they would be getting a new shipment in next week (hmm...that's what they told us the week before!).
9. While we were back in town, we had a snack at Coffee Tree and discussed our shopping list for Supermaxi.
10. Final stop: Supermaxi to do our once-a-month shopping for things we can't get at Coopera or the open market.
We arrived back home around 4:30 p.m., just in time to take Mocha for his afternoon walk and pick up some whole wheat bread at our local bakery. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy paying bills! It's not as easy as in the States where you can pay everything online in about 15 minutes, but the trade-off is we don't have to spend half our income at the gas pumps. I always go through sticker shock when we go back to the States. How do folks manage to keep their tanks full at $4.30 a gallon?
Payday and paying bills in Cuenca is a lot more rewarding than in the States: money goes further, the bills are smaller, and the pay isn't bad either!
Until next time...hasta luego!
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