Category Archives: Personal Experience while in Ecuador

Local transportation in Ecuador is not a happy ride.

This time I will like to provide some safe knowledge on local bus transportation, specially the inter provincial bus service that will take you between cities in Ecuador.

This is not a service I will use and recommend based on my personal evaluation while living here in Ecuador. I did try the service few times between travels to Quito, Cuenca and the Coastal region, but every time I did I was very disappointed and felt pretty unsafe. I am very open and understand the local culture, but the local bus service goes beyond real dangerous situations to its users. I will say they really do not respect users’ life and safety.

You must it heard by now, that it takes some daring to drive in Ecuador; I will simply put it that there is an aggressive driving condition on any road and city in Ecuador. Must roads have physically improved over time, what you have to be aware of it’s the dogging game you must play while driving. It is not uncommon to find drivers that do not respect street lights or signals, or driving on the wrong side of the road, or taking over a car without all the proper precautions. You will also find people or animals that will be crossing or walking with even noticing cars passing by.

All this happens on city streets as in any highway of Ecuador. Why do I mention all those local road and driving situations? Well, all of that reflects specially on local bus drivers, added to all of those road’s conditions, must drivers are over worked, they are put under time pressure for each trip, some of them do not even hold a professional driver’s license, and since they are not well paid, most of them work over time without taking the proper time out need it to rest.

My hall purpose here is to make you aware of the possible risks if you decide to take  a bus to travel in Ecuador. You could always take all the proper precautions to avoid been robed or moped while on the bus, but there is no way to play safe on the driving conditions on your bus trip.

On daily basis you here of tragic accidents from buses on the highways, I often see them while traveling to the beach, if it is not the drivers fault they blame it on the bus mechanical condition, or some other vehicle cause the bus to run off the highway. Up to know law enforcement have try a lot of different tactics, but honestly I do not see any improvement or change.

Just last weekend that I was driving to Playas Villamil, Coastal Ecuador, I took my chance and started to tailgating (for research purposes) a buss driving from Guayaquil to Playas, the speed that the bus was traveling was of 130 kph, I was shocked of such a high speed for a public transportation. Just few kilometers before Playas, I was stopped by a Highway Patrol and got a speeding ticket; they had a picture of my car going at 111 kph. I would say that their radars are kind of off the track, and by the way the local maximum speed aloud is 100 kph.

I was so surprised that the bus I was tailgating was not stopped with me, so I stated my complaint to the officer, he ended up telling me that they are always getting speeding tickets. I don’t know what the logic behind that answer was.

We are not going to solve the bus driving situation in Ecuador, but we could avoid traveling on a weapon with wheels.

There are other options which I will always recommend, the best income airport is Guayaquil International Airport, it is rank as one of the best in South America, easy access and excellent services, and from there you could rent a car, hire a taxi, or even get local contacts that will be willing to provide you with safe transportation services. You will be spending some money, but your life means a lot more than few dollars.

Keep safe while retiring or traveling in Ecuador!

Great Quality of Life in Ecuador

If I will try to define Quality of Life, it will be the following: The degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his or her life.

Quality of Life emphasizes on individuals’ physical, psychological, and spiritual functioning; their connections with their environments; and opportunities for maintaining and enhancing skills.

The extent of a person’s Quality of Life in the areas of Being, Belonging, and Becoming is determined by two factors: importance and enjoyment. Thus, Quality of Life consists of the relative importance or meaning attached to each particular aspect of life and the extent of the person’s enjoyment with respect to each situation.

If you plan to improve the quality of your life in the near future you have to look into this aspects: achieving personal goals, hopes, and aspirations. By using the following check list, I was able to determined if overseas living is the right choice to the best quality of life for me, in my case, the place to evaluate was Ecuador.

Maybe this can also help you out to create the right path to a great retirement overseas or living overseas.

  • Satisfy the need of different domestic activities.
  • Options to search for a challenging new work.
  • Having to learn or volunteer in diverse cultural environment.
  • Better food options, health or social needs.
  • Free time for activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction.
  • New situations that promote the maintenance or improvement of knowledge and skills.
  • Preparing for the future by living in an on going changing society allowing me to keep adapting to constant change.

When I checked on each of those aspects of life while deciding to stay longer in Ecuador, I came to realized that they were all offered to me here. Maybe you will be able to find the right answer to each of them in a different place, just make sure that you do not compromise for anything less.

You could always try out this place, Ecuador and its people are very open and friendly, there are plenty of opportunities for new business ideas, they are just starting to discover the service industry and love new and trendy innovations. Since the local currency is the US dollar, they have acquire a stable consumer market. I could advice you that some of the regulations and policies are not friendly with local industry, in case that manufacturing is one of your interest, you should try working with the local artisans.

There is a lot more information on the web about Ecuador as a new destination, so start planning for that new adventure, we will be here to help you. As for now we are starting an Expat Meet-up group in Guayaquil, I will keep you post it on its development.

Ecuador in the global news.

WOW, already by the end of Feb. 2012, and it is the first opportunity I have to post this year….

It is incredible how life can take different turns in a very short period of time, from Dec 2011 up to now, I had changes to make and new projects to run while living in Ecuador with the aim as usual of a better future… had to move my home quarters, switched from working for a local company to work independently, and the most interesting one is that we, meaning other expats and I, are starting an expat community in Guayaquil…

I know the world is on a fast track path, especially here in Ecuador it feels that time flies. Must be the local weather which  doesn’t really change much, it goes on a constant “warm – hot – humid stage” by the coast or “cool – humid – damp feeling”  at the highland. This is a huge plus for me, no winter on site, and the great health benefits and beauty bonuses tagged alone that it makes me rejuvenate. We are right in the middle of the Ecuadorian winter season, meaning rainy season, which is all over Ecuador.

It is raining every single day, since Ecuador is an under developed country it has is hardships due to the heavy rain, but all that can be avoid and prevented if you prepare ahead of time with repellents and a flexible schedules. Locals are really laid back on time issues, for foreigners, this is something that can be really uncomfortable to deal with, but it is something to adapt to if you ever decide to live in Ecuador.

Weather, food, customs and all sorts of problems and unexpected situations will be encounter as a new comer to Ecuador, which for me it meant hall new endeavors to learn from…

Recently if you have read over the international news the Ecuadorian President had a serious conflict with a well known local newspaper and a local journalist that even reach international opinions and the involvement of some international organizations. I did follow the hall sequence of events locally and internationally, and it is really interesting to see the power of the media all over the world.

Sure a lot of opinions are made related to Mr. President Rafael Correa following Chavez foot steps, my view on this after living in Ecuador for four and a half years is that a lot of the social resentment and political advantage can be compare or relate between Venezuela, Ecuador and even included Bolivia, but I will not say that their government leaders are sole responsible of these new conflicting events in their own countries that are pulling our attention. They are the merely result of the power and economical gains of strong powerful monetary holding groups; I will say starting from groups at the international level which are reflected locally by alliances with local powerful groups.

Now this is plain reality, what you have to know ahead of time if you ever decide to live in an new emerging economy like the one in Ecuador, it is that knowledge and information is not open to everybody locally, you have to understand the local business and social culture to be ahead of the game and not to be taken advantage of. From there, your live will be full success… richer in health, understanding and wealth.

I found a great micro home business while living in Ecuador.

My entrepreneurial adventure side takes me along new interesting ideas while living in Ecuador. I could a sure you that it will be a real learning path in this society and economy.

Here in Ecuador I have found plenty of small business opportunities base on the informality in their local market trade, which it is the result of the high tag most formal businesses have on their final product. In the local Ecuadorian market there is hiked on prices due to a lot of the overhead on imports and local production, I could say that most local consumers try to find on the side options to be able to save and enlarge their expending power.

Christmas it is a great time to supply home made goods and also introduce special imported products for the season. My business creation for this Christmas season is home made spirits and distribution of a reasonable priced Scotch Whisky. Plus on demand elaboration of Corporate Christmas Baskets with home made goodies…

Let me tell you, I am not the only one doing this sort of business adventures, this seems to be the common activity between Ecuadorians at this time of the year, in November, they basically start promoting or asking around what are you making or offering for the holiday season.

Ecuadorians are big spenders when it comes to family, festivities, presents and food.. They do not miss out anybody on their list, they make wonderful Christmas cakes and a delicious home made eggnog, which is the standard to be offered when you visit friends and relatives. They love hot chocolate and “Pan de Pascua” which is a traditional Christmas Round Bread usually in the morning as breakfast.

They are very Catholic oriented and follow a lot of the traditions set by the church. They do the “Novena del niño” , Prayers Novena to the Infant Jesus, gathering friends and family for 9 days before Christmas eve to pray in the name of the Infant to be born, later on they will sing and chant some of the most common Christmas Spanish songs, what a lovely fulfilling way to celebrate the season.

All of this traditions and social behavior provides a great opening for any expat or foreigner to explore the local business opportunities and introduce themselves with new innovations and flavor in life… There is a chance for catering services, events organizer and planners, and even clothing design it is well appreciated, Ecuadorian ladies are very much into fashion and beauty. They love spas and beauty centers, sports and health instructors are very much in fashion. They seem to like top notch quality professionals here, and overseas trainers and instructors are very well paid. Beside all this you have the traditional English teacher jobs, but I would say that unless you are referred by a well know international institute, it will be difficult to get hired, lately, they are enforcing regulations in their education system, and unless you have a teaching degree you could not work as an English teacher.

Today you got a small introduction from this land of opportunities, if your choice in life it is to retire overseas and still make an extra income or keep busy while living abroad, I will say Ecuador is the place to be.

Now, this will be possible around the city suburbs which must of the higher income families live. You can always live by the ocean front or on the hills and travel to your city activities while driving from one place to the other in a very short period of time, most places and cities are not far from each other, distances in this country are fairly close.

The important decision to make ahead of time is the region you will like to live at, if you love the warm weather and the ocean view you have to choose the Coastal Region, you can find wonderful spots no far from the main cities for your on going activities. The same will apply for the Highland Region. Always ask and get informed about your options and don´t forget to be creative, there is plenty of interest from locals about foreigner´s knowledge and experience.

Until next post… here I leave you with my business add

Your best option in Guayaquil for your festivities

Planning to retire or live in Ecuador, there is one more location to look into…

I am back after a long holiday week in Ecuador, the local government basically took last week as a “puente” meaning extending the holiday over the weekend. It was a great opportunity for me to take a long driving trip to the north coastal site of Ecuador, the coast along the province of Manabi. It was all new to me, from delicious food like VICHE to really natural site seeing, nice sunny weather and really nice and warm local people. They are waiting to open their welcoming arms and hoping you have a nice time while in their province.

It is a place that they never mentioned on those international retirement conventions world wide. You have of course the trendy kind of to lay back for me places like Canoa, more of a surfer town. For my personal taste plus adding the great benefits of living close to a city, I believe that Montecristi is a top ten overseas retiree’s heaven to check here in Ecuador.

Do you remember the famous Panama´s Hat? Well figure it out where they come from, right here, in this little quaint town, Panama hat it is all made here along with some other wonderful handmade items. It happens that this amazing hat of toquilla was trade through the Panama Canal, and that is why they took after Panama the name, but they are made in Ecuador, in Montecristi.

I will try to show you today as much as possible from this place, my promise will be to keep digging and finding the best opportunities on the location.

The small town of Montecristi has historic value to Ecuador, one of their great man in history came from here, and also locally is known that ladies from Manabi are gorgeous. Plus it has great weather, cool spring summer if you find a property right on the hill skirt, and you can be by the ocean, enjoying the beach and sun bathing in just 15 min. It is right next, but not to close to loose its identity to the port city of Manta. I could not say that it is big, in Ecuador, Manta it is consider the 4th largest city. For sure you have access to good infrastructure and basic services, added to good medical care and plenty of natural resources like fresh seafood with your own cultivated garden product.

One of the properties I had a chance to stay belong to a family that race their seven children and move to a bigger city, a real interesting property with a huge potential to turn it in a wonderful hospitality investment or maybe a retirement home. You can see the ocean right from the house and the yard.

If there is anybody that has a good project let me know, I can put you in contact with the owners. I will keep on writing about this place since there is a lot to be discovered.

Also I believe the next weeks will be the Ecuador convention of International Living in Quito. Just in case anybody will need any information do not hesitated on writing it here or even better to my mail info@alvazir.com to get a fast reply.

Next I live you with some on line information about this great place, I would say a hidden gem not told to the overseas living and retiring searchers.

Montecristi is a canton with history and a lot of traditions. Its biggest historical figure is General Eloy Alfaro Delgado, one of the biggest revolutionaries in the country. A side from his remains in the Museum of Alfaro City, located on the Montecristi Hill, people that like risk and adventure come here to climb this natural eco friendly hill. It has marvelous beaches, the most visited one is San Jose.

The most important part of the town it is the crafts elaborated with “paja toquilla”, wicker, piquigua and wood.  All this hand crafts have a great recognition around the world. Its biggest identity is in the fine hats of paja toquilla, known to the world as “Panama Hat.”

Posted online by the Municipality of Montecristi

Watch these videos, I am sure that you will make this place one of your destinions…

Ecuador´s diversity, retire and live overseas while respecting local nature and a multicultural ethnics.

Ecuador is a multiethnic nation-state, my purpose today is to provide you with a close up of the rich multicultural side in this latitude. I will also try to show you different views about ethnics in this small country and the Hispanic culture, the good and the not so good issues their culture have.

Hopefully, I will provide you with proper information needed when you start making your selection: Is Ecuador an option for you to live or retire? or maybe check other options of where to retire or live overseas.

Lately Ecuador has become one of the best options for people that want a cheap and affordable place to retire or move overseas for a new life. It is a wonderful small country, it takes a bit of going with the flow and opening up our senses to be able to adapt and learn Ecuadorian´s cultural traditions.

A bit of Hispanic history.-

The past 12 of October (or the nearest Monday to it) is traditionally celebrated throughout the Americas as the day Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

In English speaking countries, the day is celebrated as Columbus Day or Native American Day.

In Spanish speaking countries and communities, it is known as Día de la Raza, the Day of the Race.

Día de la Raza is the celebration of the Hispanic heritage of Latin America and brings into it all the ethnic and cultural influences making it distinctive.

Controversies have developed around this holiday in recent years. Some people oppose Columbus Day, claiming his achievements are not worthy of a holiday. He did not, in fact “discover” America, since the land was already inhabited, and the Vikings had explored the North American coast 500 years earlier.

There is also controversy surrounding the treatment of the native people of the Americas by Columbus and by Spanish conquistadors, and some people view the holiday as a celebration of conquest and genocide by the Spaniards. In its place, some people celebrate “Indigenous Peoples Day.”

Now, 500 plus years later, we recall his deeds and celebrate not Columbus the man, but the actions and influences of all the people who came after him, who melded their European culture with the indigenous cultures and, with difficulty, blood and years of battle, misunderstandings and treachery, have created the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society we now celebrate with the Día de la Raza.

Is ECUADOR multicultural tolerant today?

After Canada had nurtured my identity in a warm society where humans are acknowledged and accepted no matter how they look like, my embracing for so many years of this “social consciousness” came to a halt. The real Latin Culture immersion showed me the social unconformities they live by. This sprang in me a unique desire to finds ways that will contribute towards a more equal society in this morally base Latin World.

Every day that goes by in Ecuador is a reminder for me to celebrate and embrace the Latino culture and the trailblazers who have paved the way for respect and inclusion. Ecuador possesses great ethnic, racial and linguistic diversity.  It is populated by more than twelve indigenous peoples, each with their own language, and Afro-Ecuadorian and mestizo populations. All these diverse ethnics have added great moral and family values to society in Ecuador today.

I also have to say that there is a lot of room for improvement. Remember, this is an emerging economy which also means that their society has to go through changes. They do have an advantage over developed nations, if they decide to learn from previous social mistakes and experiences. Here is where international travelers, overseas retirees or foreigners living in Ecuador could contribute with knowledge and expertise to local communities.

Ecuadorian society is in large magnitude fragmented. The separation in distinct social classes runs mostly along racial lines.

The dominant populace is descended primarily from Spanish colonists and settlers and to a lesser extent from German, Italian, and Lebanese. This is around 10% of the population mostly white upper class. They live very well in the upper echelons of the society and identify themselves more with a foreigner than with his own countrymen.

Part of the history of this country reflects the white or Spanish ruling and the Indians and Mestizos serving them. They consider them generally lazy and uneducated and the main obstacle why the country is not advancing. Ecuadorians point to a country like Argentina and believe that the reason they are better off is because of their low level of indigenous people.

This upper class lives very well and sends their children to the best private schools and later on often to foreign universities. This group later then takes over the power from their parents and makes up the majority of the political and economic leadership of the country, thinking mostly in their own well being and not the country as a whole.

Ecuador has a smaller middle class, around 25%, also partly white and partly of mixed blood Mestizo, who are the link between the two extremes. They tend, of course, to associate themselves much more with the white upper class as they strive of being part of it. Some of them to the extreme of denying their Indian heritage completely. They may even get insulted if you ever suggest that they have Indian blood in them.

Remember this is no the standard middle class known to North America. Their needs are more in the line of basic services; they do not have the advance education and knowledge which inhibits the people to fight against their desired ideal.  Actual Politicians manipulate this middle class to their advantage, they will misuse their wish to be considered part of the white upper class. This group constitutes the majority of people who leave the country to look for job opportunities overseas. More than half a million Ecuadorians work now legally or illegally in foreign countries.

The poor Indian class certainly does not deny their heritage anymore and seem to get prouder of it every day.  The largest part of the population, mostly mixed, indigenous and black people, who live around the poverty line.

After a long slumber, they start to become a political and social force in the country, fighting the historical injustices done to them. The last events, e.g. the expulsion of the last president in 1999, where they played an important part, indicate their newfound confidence and right to fight for their well being. But of course, it has also the effect of alienating against other segments of the society, who consider their actions counterproductive and so widening the gap between them even further.

Ecuadorians are slowly realizing they have to brake away from the vicious cycle of mistrust between the various groups with each of them having their own way of thinking and doing things. They will have to educate themselves to feel as part of a bigger good and striving for the same ideals.

The actual president, to my humble opinion, it is a reflection of those approaching changes. I am not an expertise in Political Science, but base on my experiences Mr. President Rafael Correa is the result of the pressure that the middle and poor class have had so far. If he is the correct choice or not, I am not the one to clarify it, my conclusion would be that it is a good starting point. They still have a long way to evolve through their policies in the years to come.

One thing is for sure the upper class has to come with the acceptance of the new trend of social involvement, which is also evident in other South American countries, they will continue with more and more indigenous leaders entering the political arena, and activists starting grassroots movements and organizing their people, they will constitute a considerable percentage of the population (in some opinions up to 40%) and therefore hold important electoral power.

 

Diversity of race on the children of Ecuador

 

 Sources:

www.nclr.org (National Council La Raza)

www.mit.edu (MIT)

www.everyculture.com

www.americanthinker.com

www.en.wikipedia.org

 

Sports and entertainment in Ecuador

I will share with you today part of the activities that we had last holiday weekend in Guayaquil, Ecuador; I believe images will express it a lo more than words.

World Cup 2014 Qualifiers Ecuador vs Venezuela 07-10-2011

Note:  It hasn´t been difficult to addapt, I love hockey and here in tropical land, I learned to love soccer.

And for those who might like to join me on this past time, some friends are planning on going to Brazil for the world cup 2014.. check this out..

 

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Business opportunities and potential in Ecuador, UK is targeting the city of Guayaquil.

There are a lot of things going on in Guayaquil these days. Lately, I have been trying to catch up with all the business and social meetings all at the same time. My challenge is to keep up with the local paste to provide you with accurate information.

One good side of this “on the go” is learning the art of mixing business with pleasure. The smart and fun part of living and working in this small part of the world is realizing that Ecuadorians, especially people from Guayaquil love to entertain and socialize while doing great business deals.

After this cultural introduction let me tell you the latest news in this place…

UK sees the city of Guayaquil as a market potential for investment and trade.
Mr. Tony Lamb, Head of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) for Latin America, was in Ecuador 12 – 14 September to define UKTI’s operation in Ecuador and assess the market’s potential.

Guayaquil as part of his itinerary, and he meet with British business representatives settled in this city. Through the meeting, he found out that they are expanding and doing well in their business. Examples of some of those are Unilever and SAB Miller.

Mr. Lamb came to the conclusion of needing a greater presence in this part of the country. UK aims to increase its investments in Ecuador and will make more inroads in the market for Guayaquil.   Once in London, he will communicate to my authorities on the need to shift our resources from Quito to this city. Mr. Lamb also mentioned that UK Embassy colleagues agree that there are several business opportunities to explore here, at this new branch, they want to open new market opportunities for bilateral trade.

Such a great news for all of us that are investing in Ecuador, perfect timing and another good reason to add to the “Fiestas Octubrinas”. The city of Guayaquil – “La perla del Pacifico” is celebrating its independence day next Sunday the 9th.

There are a lot of cultural and social events this weekend. In my plans, I am starting the afternoon watching the soccer game as part of the selecting period for the “2014 World Cup in Brazil”, we will meet with friends for ceviche and beer. Later in the evening we all are going for some Salsa to the Duran Fair. Tomorrow I will visit the out door plazas with local painters exhibitions and shows, and Sunday on my way to Playas: biking, eating fresh seafood, and I must include a bit of work by visiting one of our on going projects to gather pictures for my clients overseas.

If you will like to know more about the local activities please watch the video and follow their link.

Showing a bit more of Ecuador…

First working day of the month of October and by reading most of my friends and colleagues e-mails, I am realizing that weather change is approaching. It is getting cooler up north, and we are getting warmer here in our tropical Coastal Ecuador.

I use to enjoy and welcome fall and winter, it meant slowing down, looking intro perspective, and start building and planning my next steps in life. But also, this reminds me one of the main reasons to be living in Ecuador with this nice hot warm weather.

Around the year 2000, when I was developing my professional path in USA and Latin America, some health issues interrupted all my wonderful working and travelling plans.

Within all the travelling options, one was to visit family in Ecuador. Once on my trip, I ended up checking the local health and medical resources because of a severe pain crisis (spinal discs problems). I was basically pain managing for a couple of years but came to that point that I needed surgery.

Let´s make this story short, it was my second back surgery, I had already one done in Canada with success. So without even thinking or making my health a priority in my future plans, I review all the options and opted for the best ones at that specific moment:

1.- My medical expenses were covered here in Ecuador by my insurance policy

2.- I could opt for top level doctors and hospital beds, since the rates were lower here in Ecuador.

3.- All international insurance companies have local referrals that are practitioners who have done their studies in USA or Europe, even award winners professionals.

4.- Since I was covering expenses directly, I did not have to wait on line for tests or MRIs.

5.- I could set up myself in a nice upper scale condo with house help for less than 1.000 US. (I need 3 months at least to be able to drive again)

I had the surgery by a recognized worldwide surgeon, a nice recovering period, fresh home made food and care, and I was keeping up with my pending working projects and connected to the world by the internet.

Maybe this is not an option for everybody, still you could always research medical options overseas. There are online medical referrals to consult your options even here in Ecuador.

I will leave you with some nice pictures of some of my personal adventures here in Ecuador. I was asked by one of my readers if the posted pictures are original, I would say mostly they are. At times, some pictures are from other sources which may narrow the certainty of their originality.

P.S. Due to my health issues cold weather doesn´t agree with me,  and in Ecuador, I am able to afford on going therapy and massages plus attend exercise classes like yoga and Pilates to manage my health as I am aging.

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Sports in Ecuador – Paragliding on a Tandem Flight by the ocean

Ecuador’s varied landscapes, biodiversity, culture, and natural beauty combine to make it a world-class destination for everything from bird-watching to sport fishing, from scuba diving to white-water rafting.
Here I will present a great sport adventure that we must all try, Tandem Paragliding by the Pacific Ocean, right on the Ruta del Sol ( Route of the Sun, along the coast).

  • San Pedro, Libertador Bolivar (Santa Elena)
  • Guayaquil an area near Puerto Azul
  • La Troncal, Cañar

Experience an adrenaline driven sport, anybody that wants a complete new travel experience do not miss on this… I have done sports activities in previous occasions with one of them with full satisfaction; you could count on their expertise and professionalism….

Feel free to contact them directly, here is their website, I am sure they will be able to communicate in English.

http://www.avolarecuador.com/

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