Coming out next month is the book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less. In it is my story "Fire Drills" about how we whittled down thirty-five years of marriage into six suitcases. It wasn't easy and it wasn't fun. In fact, I'd rather forget about that part of the journey because it also coincided with selling our house, marrying our younger son, and doing "fire drills."
To be honest, going through photo albums was the most difficult part because I was a Creative Memories person and I recorded every moment of our boys' lives. I'm not going to share the entire story as the book comes out on April 19th , but I will say that getting rid of our stuff gave us a new lease on life and I wouldn't do it any differently.
We've made many trips back to the States to visit family, but I've resisted the urge of going down to the basement of our younger son's home and flipping through the photo albums because I know I'll be tempted to put a few in my suitcase.
Getting your stuff to Ecuador is different for everyone. We know folks who have come with a whole container of stuff and then end up selling everything once they get here because they've decided to update their apartment with a new look. Some bring a pallet with treasured possessions that they're not able to part with quite yet. Others make several trips to Ecuador through the years and each time drop off suitcases with friends until they're ready to make the big move for good. And then there's us and many others who come with suitcases in varying numbers.
Here's an excerpt out of the book Living and Retiring in Cuenca: 101 Questions Answered (Second Edition) about suitcases and the friends/neighbors way to go:
*Suitcases. This is when you swing in the direction of selling, storing, and giving away everything and arrive with your “four” suitcases (depending on the airline). We flew American Airlines, and we were allowed four suitcases, not weighing more than 50 pounds, and two carry-ons. If you fly business or first class, you will receive a larger luggage allowance. However, depending on the time of year you fly, there may be restrictions on how many carry-ons you can bring on the plane. Personally, I go on the lighter side with carry-ons in case of a full flight, as those may be relegated to the cargo hold.
If you go over the weight limit on your checked luggage, the airline will assess an additional fee. This varies by carrier. To avoid these fees, we used every usable space. You can’t believe how much stuff you can fit into a size 11 shoe (my husband’s size). Some couples even practice packing and repacking.
*Friends and neighbors. This option is becoming more and more popular. If you’re planning a visit to Cuenca before your actual move, consider dropping off a suitcase (or two) with friends to keep for you until your return. Some folks use their frequent flyer miles and invite family and friends down. In exchange, these visitors bring some of their hosts’ belongings in a spare suitcase. There is no tax or duty on luggage, so it’s probably the cheapest way to get things to Cuenca.
On a personal note, we did the container thing when we moved to Italy and vowed never to do that again because if you ever decide to return to the States you have to ship the container back. Not that it's stopped anyone because we know a lot of expats who ship a container down to Ecuador and ship it back when they leave. We had already been through that whole ordeal and decided not to repeat history.
In the end, it's a personal decision; there is no right or wrong way of getting rid of your stuff or "bringing it with you." Whatever you decide, it will always make a good story!
Until next time,
Connie and Mark