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Lars Porsenna

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About Lars Porsenna

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  • Birthday 05/19/1977

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    Clusium, Etruria
  • Interests
    Historical Wargames, History in general, fantasy & SF RPGs and literature, space sciences, model building, and monkeying around...

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  1. One thing about emigrating is trying to decide what to keep & what to leave behind. Like a lot of people, I have built up quite the collection of things, & one of the things I sort of knew, but was still surprised about, is how much stuff we can have here in the first world, that they just don't have in a 3rd world country. First up is going through my gaming collection. Ecuador does not have a large gaming community (though it does exist). Things like RPGs are portable, & easily played on line. But what about miniature games? That is less easily played on line & sort of defeats the purpose of a miniature game. To that end, I am liquidating most of my miniature collection. I have several armies in both Warhammer 40K & Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Those are going, since the closest store that sells Warhammer in Ecuador is in Guayaquil, a 3.5hr drive. Manta has a single game store (that I know of) that sells ONLY CCGs. The crowd seems to be a much younger one too. In terms of my Reaper collection, I may gift that to my local gaming community, to be used in RPGs, & keep my favorite models (mostly dragons). The only minis games I plan to play down there (solo) are DBA/DBMM & Oathmark. Both lend themselves to solo play, & if I can find opponents (like my wife, possibly) then I can easily transition to that. There is a large expat community in Ecuador, as well as in Manta. I don't have any expectations, but the possibility is there. The only other minis game I am taking is Battletech, because I love battletech. The second issue is my model collection. For those that do not know, I am a life-long model builder, & it was through this hobby that I became interested in using minis in RPGs. But being a life long modeler also means I have a large collection to figure out what to do with. I have a large plastic bin that just so happens to fit in my suitcase, so I am starting to go through my collection to decide what to bring & what to gift to others (if some people here would be interested in completed 1/35 scale armor models, maybe I'll gift them to you all). I already have several uncompleted kits in my carry-on bag (1/72 Airfix aircraft kits, as well as a Special Hobby Mirage F.1 with decals to make an Ecuadorian machine from the Paquisha/Cenepa War eras), & will need to be ruthless in what 1/35 armor kits I bring down. Plan right now is to finish as much as I can in the next 6 months, not buy anything new, & what I have not completed, ruthlessly select 3 or 4 remaining kits to take down with me. It will be hard, but necessary... Finally, comes my book collection. As an avid SF fan, I have a LARGE library of hardbacks. Again, I'm only keeping my favorite books (like Dune & the LotR), & selling or gifting the rest. Several of my history books will probably come with me too, but I am undecided on which to bring & which to let go. By the way, I have been talking to my wife about this. She fully supports my hobbies & occasionally send photos of my models to her (which she describes as "bonito" or "muy lindo" haha). So I don't expect much arguing about this. She has even said that once we buy our house, one room will be solely for my models! Edit: I have no idea what I am going to do about my electric guitar yet. But I definitely know I want to continue to shred down there! Damon.
  2. So what, exactly is required for me to emigrate to Ecuador? I have been doing some research, & getting a little help from other gringoes living in Ecuador. A good site for North American expats with ambitions of settling in Ecuador is https://www.expat.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=519 If you have questions about living in Ecuador, this is the place to do it. I have been semi-active on it for more than a year, ever since I decided marrying an Ecuatoriana was something I wanted to do. The larger site is about foreigners living abroad in general, so if you are thinking of emigrating to some other country, there is a good possibility you can find more information from this community. As far as what is required to emigrate to Ecuador with a valid marriage license to an Ecuadorian citizen, the government of Ecuador conveniently has a page all about it, in Spanish of course... https://www.gob.ec/mremh/tramites/concesion-visa-residencia-permanente-matrimonio-union-hecho-ecuatoriano-extranjero-titular-visa-indefinida-permanente For convenience (both for this group & mine) I went ahead & translated the requirements: One convenience for me is that there is an Ecuadorian Consulate in Newark NJ, which is only a little over an hour away for me (I usually fly out of Newark International when I go down for a visit), so the travel to & from the consulate shouldn't be too much of a burden. If you compare this to US immigration, the process is similar, but cheaper. To bring my wife over requires a minimum payment of $535.00, not including (IIRC) green card fees. I'm not going to say it is easier, because from this angle it looks very daunting. And I am required to show proof of income or support. In the US all I have to do is vouch for the immigrant, & assume the support of that person. If I cannot, I can also use a sponsor that promises to help, for a minimum of 10 years time. I am not sure if Ecuador is similar. I do have an immigration lawyer on hand, that I can talk to. So I may need to run this by her. She is a dual Ecuadorian/American citizen, that specializes in immigration issues -- both to & from Ecuador. Damon.
  3. I got mine via direct deposit. I was one of those people that had their deposit messed up. I only got mine on 9 January 2021. I really, really needed the money earlier. Damon.
  4. I haven't updated this thread in a while. So here's some general news... I flew down to Ecuador the day after Christmas to spend the new years with my wife. The travelling sucked, but my time there was amazing. We got a lot closer, & I think this trip was important for our marriage. In Ecuador, one new years tradition they have there is to make or buy a papier-mache mannequin. You then place a list of our hopes & aspirations for the new year inside...and set it on fire! Unfortunately due to quarantine restrictions the government has put severe restrictions on celebrations this year, so we only burned a small mannequin, made by her cousin's daughter (she is 10 years old, & refers to me as tío Damon, adorable). Usually what follows is dancing, eating & drinking in the streets until dawn. None of that this year. As far as the immigration issue is concerned, I have not filed her paperwork yet. I don't recall if I mentioned this, but I had lost my job due to the COVID pandemic. THis was both a good thing & a bad thing; it gave me the time I needed to pull off the marriage, but obviously it has caused cash flow issues. I was planning on using my stimulus check to file for her Visa, but that has not come in yet. I may have to wait until I get my tax return if I don't get the stimulus money yet... On top of that I have been fighting with unemployment, since they owe me $3000+ in back benefits I never received, that were promised to me. With that said, I am actually seriously considering emigrating to Ecuador instead, & living there permanently. I am thinking of doing this sometime after the Pandemic is resolved (so no sooner than this summer). One thing I discovered on this journey is that I am much happier down there, than I am here in Pennsylvania. I won't go into further details about things (you can PM me if you are really curious), but I feel that this is the right move for me. I am trying to convince my older daughter to come with me, & maybe ask my younger daughter at a later date to live with me in Ecuador. In Manta there is a US style English language high school, so their educational needs would be met. Plus being able to experience a different culture from their own at this age is a tremendous opportunity in my mind. I haven't decided fully, since work is going to be an issue as well. But I can definitely say deep in my heart I really want to do this... Damon.
  5. An M8 taking out a Panther was pretty unlikely, but not impossible. According to Steve Zaloga, the 37mm cannon can potentially penetrate the side armor of a Panther...at 66m! Damon.
  6. Now that I am home & have been for a month, I'd like to talk a bit about my experiences with Ecuador & the civil marriage. In Ecuador, as a foreigner, I can only get married in 3 locations: Guayaquil, Quito (national capital) & Cuenca (which has a large population of North American expats). We chose Guayaquil since it is the closest. We had to go down twice. The first time was to ensure my documents were in order to prove I was eligible to marry her. The second time was the actual marriage itself. Guayaquil is the 2nd largest city in Ecuador. We were in the downtown area, near the ocean (& the Malecon, which is sort of an entertainment/amusement area, like the Boardwalk in some US beach resort towns). Both times we had meetings in the Office of Civil Records (Registro Civil, which is right across a plaza from an old, Colonial era Catholic Church, painted blue & white (the colors of Guayaquil). Impressive, to say the least. The first meeting was relatively smooth as my documents were approved. Later on we walked around the downtown a bit. For people that have experienced it, downtown Guayaquil sort of gives me a New York City feel, with narrower streets (& traffic just as bad). It was big, crowded, & hot, considering how close we were to the equator & how close to sea level we were. One fun thing about this trip is how evident the casual economy is there. Walking around Guayaquil there was no shortage of people trying to sell me stuff, from boxes of crackers to cotton swabs, & everything in between. My wife's mother needed a pair of scissors while we were there, & came across a woman selling various things on a blanket. Money was exchanged, & she had her scissors. You wouldn't find that here in the US much. The second meeting in Guayaquil was of course for the civil marriage. In our previous visit the official said my documents were in order. In this visit the official (judge) said my documents were...incomplete. My document of Marital Status (showing I was single) did not include the names of my parents. They required it. Fortunately, it was only $10 more to get past that problem (In total I spent around $73 to marry her). With that done the ceremony was completed, & we were legally married. Ecuador is a much poorer country. One of the things that really impressed me is how much stuff we have here in the US. She has a middle class income by local standards, as do I. But it was very evident that I have just so much more stuff than she does: bigger TVs, more books, more (& newer) furniture, etc. I was talking to a Brazilian friend of mine, & she said: get used to it. That is how it is all over South America. In addition, while there were plenty of cars there, many of them were older, obviously used cars. Manta (where she lives) is a port, & you could see massive cargo ships off port unloading used cars, probably many of which are bought in the US for importation. That's not to say there aren't new cars there too, but the ownership of used vs new is much greater than here in the US. They also sell brands you would not see in the US, like Renault & some Chinese brands I can't remember the names of. Many of the busses in Ecuador are Chinese too (Hino), as well as large trucks. Also there was a higher amount of motorcyclists there too, probably because they are cheap to operate & own. Another interesting difference is the sheer number of tiny little convenience stores, markets, restaurants, & pharmacies there are. These places are often very tiny, but populous, easy to walk to. Also in our drives to & back from Guayaquil the roadsides are littered with tiny restaurants & convenience stores, often literally huts made out of thatch or local bamboo, or simple lean-tos, selling ceviches, empanadas, sodas, water, these sorts of things. You would never find this sort of thing in the US. As another example of the casual economy, her aunt teaches pre-school, but is shut down due to the Pandemic. So now she sells ceviches, corviches, & other food out of her garage. Her daughter has a tiny convenience store that sells cosmetics, paper plates, cups, & other basics, out of a tiny 10ft square room. She also sells through a locked gate, since crime is a greater concern there. Many houses there are built to a similar standard or using a similar method. Masonry construction is much, much more common there than here in the US. My house, for example, is wood framed, with a stone façade in the front lower level. There, when they build a house, they raise 4 or more pillars of steel-bar reinforced concrete, & fill with these large red bricks, maybe twice the size of bricks here & similar to cinder blocks in dimensions. These bricks are near ubiquitous. When finishing off, they do not often cut the rebar sticking out of the top of the pillars, but just let it be. Sometimes the houses are plastered with cement to create a pleasant façade, sometimes additionally painted (her house was painted a turquoise color). There are more modern & finished buildings too, especially in the commercial districts, but for an average house, this is how it is most often. Some of the construction standards they use there would never fly in the US. Furthermore, it is very, very common for the houses to be surrounded by a wall, with a locked gate for entrance into the courtyard. Many houses have bars on the lower windows as well, to protect against break ins. That being said, I did not see any evidence of crime while I was in Manta, & did not fear much walking around on the streets or in the city. Things in the countryside are more impoverished. I saw many more huts in the countryside than I did in the city (though there were few). Subsistence farming seems to still be a thing there, as well. Outside of the big cities, Ecuador seems to be very rural, with a lot of small villages or towns, rather than bigger cities. One fun thing about the culture there, is that outside many of the cities or cantons will be a statue representing what is notable about that location. For example, Manta is close to Monticristi. This town is known for hand-making Panama Hats (which are from Ecuador, no Panama, ironically). THey have a large statue of a woman making one of these hats. Outside of Jipijapa (pronounced "Hipihapa") is a giant ear of corn, since they are an agricultural town. Outside of Guayaquil is a giant statue of a monkey. WHy will require a little explaining of the local culture. In Ecuador there is a rivalry between the Costas (people living in the coastal areas) & the Serranos (people living in the Andes). The divide is sort of like in the US between Northeasterners & the Deep South, with Guayaquil taking the place of NYC in this example. The Serranos derisively call the Guayaquileños monos or monkeys. Rather than allow this insult, they take it with pride, & thus use the label to self-identify. Thus the giant statue of a monkey when you enter the city. As far as the people, the entirety of her family accepted me with open arms, & are very friendly or open. This is, admittedly, very refreshing, since I feel like people in North America & especially Pennsylvania, are a lot less warm, friendly, or outgoing. It seems like the people there are happier.
  7. It has been a while since I posted here, but I have dropped from around 207 to 193, so around 14lbs. I wanted to try to get to 190 by the end of this month, but I don't think that will happen unless I stop eating completely (& I like eating!). Tentatively still have my church wedding for February, so Hopefully I can drop another 10lbs before that. If the date slips because of the Pandemic, our next choice is middle of April, so hoping I can hit 175 by then... Damon.
  8. As an aside, those types of tracks are easy to do with a little practice & proper technique. My primary hobby is armor modeling. I am working on workable (i.e. articulating) plastic Panzer III tracks, with each track consisting of 2 pins & a separate guide horn. Damon.
  9. You all can have a bachelors party in my honor. She did have a bachelorette party a few days before (called a solteria). When I showed up for cake after I saw some...questionable things. Keep it clean guys... Damon.
  10. Another quick update: as of yesterday we are now married! Damon.
  11. A picture for why I am doing this. Ysabel & I on the beach in Manta, Ecuador.
  12. Update: we did the entrevista today & my documents were accepted & valid. Date of matrimony is 21 October. This was in Guayaquil, which definitely has a NYC feel with a lot of "casual" economy. Its a big city & has that feel. Damon.
  13. A quick update. Currently in Ecuador with my fiancee. The only time I have spoken English is when her sister from the US called me: everything else has been in Español en todo. But everything is going great so far, & I look forward to more great things with her.
  14. I am currently sitting near the gate for my flight. In an hour I will be on the plane & on my way. My adventure is about to begin. One thing I should note is that I have never travelled internationally before, & this will be my second trip in an airline in my life. I'm not scared, but definitely excited. I should be in Ecuador by 10:45 in the morning. Damon.
  15. Today I received my COVID test results. As expected, they came back as negative. The next step is to now get the lab results translated into Spanish for the authorities in Ecuador. I will take care of that tomorrow morning. Damon.
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