Ecuador in 2016

| January 19, 2016 | 45 Replies


How’s it looking for Ecuador in 2016


devils-nose-train-2-e1450804356412Have you ever been on a train before?

Ecuador in 2016 will be off to a great start if you come along on our little adventure to Ingapirca and then take a ride on the Devils Nose Train. All on the same day and the total price is only $89. Click on this link to sign up. I think there are 8 seats still available.


And if you are wondering where your favorite coffee shop moved to…. It is now on Hermano Miguel 5-62 between Juan Jaramillo and Honorato Vasquez. Cafe Nucallacta is wonderful. If you have never been, come take a look. Great carrot cake, some of the best coffee in Cuenca, and a real nice atmosphere. Free internet too. Please mention that Ecuador George sent you. It won’t get you anything, but it might get me a free cup of coffee the next time I am in there.


ecuador in 2016

Cafe Nucallacta Has Moved To Hermano Miguel


By the way, I do not advertise on this site so any referrals you see here are places or events that I really like. Hope you try them and let me know what you think.


Lets get started with a little update on how things might change a little for Ecuador in 2016.


The State of Ecuador in 2016


Ecuador in 2016 will have a few challenges.

Did you know that as of today, oil is trading for less than $30 a barrel, but it costs $40 to produce that barrel? Simple math shows the loss of $10 on each and every barrel of oil sold. This is not good.

The economy of Ecuador has historically been based on earnings from exports of oil and bananas.

So if you have been wondering why work on the Tranvia has slowed a bit, well, this could be a major reason. Oil prices have been dropping since June 2014 when it was at $115 a barrel.

imagesBut this isn’t just a problem for Ecuador, it is a problem for all oil producing countries in the world. There is too much oil being produced and not enough demand. And according to many experts, a recovery will not be happening very soon. Over the last couple of years, 250,000 workers have lost their jobs. Refineries are closing, there is less exploration, and many of the smaller oil companies are filing for bankruptcy protection.

And what other good news do I have?

How about two active volcanoes and a very strong El Niño this year. The El Niño has already done damage along the coast of Ecuador.  As for the two volcanoes, only time will tell. If one or both erupt, it will be very costly.

And lets not forget about how strong the American dollar is.

I will not give an economics lesson here, but a strong dollar combined with low oil prices is not a good combination for Ecuador. Currently, you can purchase manufactured items for almost 40% less by just crossing over the border into Colombia or Peru. And residents of Colombia and Peru can cross into Ecuador and buy subsidized gasoline for 50% less than what it is costing in their country. None of this is good for Ecuador.

Are you starting to see the challenges that are facing Ecuador in 2016?

Ask your Canadian friends who are retired here and living off a fixed income. The Canadian Dollar is currently worth 69 cents compared to the American Dollar, and some experts are saying the value of the Looney (Canadian Dollar) will continue to drop in the near future. More simply put, a dollar from Canada only has 69 cents worth of buying power here in Ecuador. This situation is making some expats very uneasy.

But am I worried? Not really. Ecuador is resilient. It will survive and be stronger for it. Hopefully everyone affected negatively by this will be able to successfully ride out the storm.

Go out and double up on your banana purchases. That might help a little.

I am still looking forward to Ecuador in 2016. It will be a very good year.



Are You Rich or Poor

The Best Buy
ecuador in 2016

Pioneer SX-650

When I was about 30 years old I was in a Best Buy looking at surround sound amplifiers for my big screen TV. A 16 year old guy was standing next to me, looking at the same stereos. He asked me which one I was going to buy. I wanted the Onkyo. It was about $400.

He pointed to the Pioneer SX-550 entry model that was on sale for $99. That was the one he had saved for. He then asked me if I had to save my money to buy my stereo, or if I had enough money to buy anything I wanted.

I looked at him, remembering when I was his age, and how I saved my money for that Zenith Transatlantic Radio, and it made me smile. And then without hesitation I answered his question. I told him that I had a pretty good job, and I always shopped around for a good value, but I didn’t really have to save anymore for purchases like this.

He looked at me and said he wanted to be able to do that someday. He wanted to be rich too.

Was I rich?

Was he poor?

We talked for a few minutes longer. At the end of our visit I pulled out a 20% off coupon I had and gave it to him. I then suggested that he get the next best model, the Pioneer SX-650. With the coupon, it wouldn’t cost him anymore than the lesser model.

I lost $80 by giving that coupon away, but on that day, I was a richer man for it. This was 30 years ago and I can still remember the smile and excitement on that young mans face.

It was so worth it.


My Phone is Better Than Your Phone

I am sitting in a meeting. I am actually a caretaker/helper at this meeting. The room is filled with people that are out of work, some homeless, and some are very troubled. The guy sitting next to me is a friend. I had asked him before the meeting to help me out. This friend has challenges too. He has not been able to maintain employment for much longer than a week or two at a time. He has recently lost his car, and will be homeless in a few days.

About half way through the meeting he looked over at my cell phone. He asked me what model it was. I told him it was 3 or 4 years old, and that I didn’t know what it was.

He then pulled out the newest model of the iPhone and waved it in my face. At the time, I couldn’t put my head around this. No job, no car, and almost homeless. But here was this new, shiny, and very expensive cell phone.

He had this, I’m better than you, look on his face.

At the time I was a little put off. I just didn’t understand.

Was he rich?

Was I poor?

Although it wasn’t clear to me then, I was poor on that day. I should have been more understanding, maybe a little more grateful and a little less defensive. It’s not like I hadn’t been close to losing everything more than once or twice in my life. It’s not like I hadn’t been irrational or a little crazy before. But now, 20 years later, I can look at this and be richer for it. I understand certain things a little better. I would know how to react now.

Funny how that works.


My Friend is Richer Than He Knows

A couple of weeks ago I was walking and talking with a friend who, compared to most people I know, is very rich, not only with money, but with family and friends and love. He said to me he feels like something is missing. He feels antsy, uncomfortable, like he is standing still, like he is not accomplishing enough.

We sat and I asked him to look around at everyone that was passing by, in a hurry to get somewhere, to do something that was required of them…

I reminded him of the freedom he has in his life. The luxury to do whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases.

I think my friend just needed to slow it down a bit, and to be reminded how fortunate he really is. And maybe to be grateful instead of uneasy. I think it’s that bad “go go go” programing that many of us have. Always wanting more, not being satisfied with where we are in life, or with what we have. And always upping the ante once we hit those goals we previously set for ourselves.

I have that same voice in my head more often than I would like to admit. I am working hard at taking my own advice. It is a most difficult task.

My friend thanked me before we parted. I think we were both a little richer on that day.



I am asked for advice all the time. Mostly from good people that are wondering what they should do next. And they mostly like my advice, my so called wisdom. I like that. Being able to give advice that is welcomed is actually one of my favorite things about getting older.

But knowledge and wisdom come from many places, and not always from the old and experienced. Sometimes they come from unexpected places.


The Invitation

It was just before Christmas last month and I had been invited to the home of my good friends grandparents. They live in Guayaquil near the airport.

I was excited to go, my friend is Ecuadorian and I wanted to meet the family, see how they live, maybe try out my limited Spanish.

Of course, I wanted to bring something to the event. But I was told to bring nothing. My friend said that his family would welcome me into their home, and cook for me, and then everyone would sing and play games after dinner.

And then I asked if his grandparents were poor. Because if they were, I just had to bring something special to the party.

And just as I was asking the question, the cab we were in came to a stop at a red light.

My young friend looked at me and then pointed at a middle aged man that was standing on the corner selling something out of a box. He looked at me and said, “that man right there, do you see how dirty his hair is? Do you see how dirty his clothes are? He lives on the street. He is on this corner all the time. He is poor.”

“My grandparents have a place to live and they have enough money for food, and they are surrounded by their family.”

“They are not poor.”

I stayed quiet for the rest of the cab ride.




Best Blog

imagesIt is that time of the year again and I am not too shy to ask for your vote.

As you can see from my award sticker, there were enough of you that voted last year that I won this coveted award from GringoPost. I would love to win again if you think I am worthy….

“I am not worthy.”

So, click on this link and vote. I would really appreciate it. Find the category “Best Blog or Blogger” and write in Ecuador George.

Thanks to everyone for your support.


Ecuador in 2016

“Please Vote For George”              “I Love Him”


Next time you can expect more stories and I will introduce you to my poker buddies and their businesses. Almost all of them have full time jobs here in Cuenca and have successful local businesses that you will certainly recognize.


Have a great week and I will see some of you on that Devil’s Nose train ride in February.


Tags: , , ,

Category: Living in Ecuador, Moving to Ecuador, Retiring in Ecuador, Visiting Ecuador

Comments (45)

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  1. Tina Isenburg says:

    Great article.

    • Thank you Tina,
      Writing is becoming more fun for me. It pokes at my past, makes me remember some good and sometimes not so good experiences. I like it. I am glad that you are one of my readers. Thanks for your support.


    • Joy Brandt says:

      I love reading your blog because it is like reading fairy tales, with “morals” and a positive attitude. Yep, there’s always someone richer than you or poorer than you.
      I wanted to vote for your blog but I couldn’t find “best blog” on Gringo Post. Can you send the exact link to the page where we can vote for “Best Blog”?

  2. Dena Jo Kanner says:

    I loved the Best Buy story!

    • Dena Jo Kanner…. That really happened and it was a painful experience for me. It would have been smarter for me to just give the young man $25 in cash and then use the coupon for my purchase.

      But I knew better. A grown man giving a teenage boy cash, well, that might be frowned upon.

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Pierre says:

    Thank you for the stories George.
    Do you still have that Pioneer amplifier ?
    I have the same model, given to me by my brother inlaw years ago.
    I’ve repaired it again recently, and it’s still going strong !

    Thank you again; thinking of joining you, one day, in Ecuador.
    I’m a Franco Ontarian living in Wakefield Quebec, Canada (that’s near Ottawa, our Capital.



    • George says:

      I wish I still had my SX-950. I think that was the model I had. I loved Pioneer products, but then at some point in the 1980’s they stopped producing quality products. Today everything is wireless and made by many companies I have never heard of. Oh well, we all get to miss the good old days.

      Sorry about the exchange rate in Canada. Should be back to normal as soon as oil recovers. Hope to see you in Ecuador.


  4. Bonnie MacPherson says:

    hey george, looong time coming! i always enjoy your blog! plus, it’s very helpful to pam and i concerning all things ecuador, since we are about to move there to the beach come june 1. when we were there in october, this is one thing these two stuck up americans noticed… the people of ecuador are NOT poor. in our travels, we saw some of the poorest (looking) bamboo shacks. no matter how much attention the exterior of those shacks may have needed, (and we could even see daylight thru them as we drove by), they all had a satellite dish on the corner of them. we saw entire families laying out on their raised bamboo decks in front of their raised homes, all of the laughing, giggling, and each sharing their smart phones with each other, i presume they may all have been facebooking! altho their clothes are washed by hand (tirelessly i might add), and hanging out on the line, we noticed it’s very important to them their children look impeccable for school, or whatever function they had on their plate at the time. no, our PRECEPTION of them is POOR as in north america, these kinds of quality time with our families has gone to the wayside while we’re trying to keep up with the all important ‘joneses’ sad to say, altho our dollar is strong, our very core is weak. we can all learn a valuable lesson from our gracious (and most tolerant) hosts! thanks again for your blog, voting now! xo

    • George says:

      Wow Bonnie,
      You understood my stories. Many of us have forgotten what being rich really means. The more I travel and meet new people from all over the world, the more I understand what being rich really is.

      Safe travel in June.

      Hope to meet you both in person someday.


  5. Jack Lovett says:

    Another great George!

  6. Tom Galagher says:

    Great job George. BTW we are seeing more bananas from Ecuador and the ones from Guatemala and Honduras have disappeared. The reason: Panama Disease. Looks like the Cavendish variety of bananas may go extinct. Sad days a head for planters in many places. Here’s hoping that Ecuador dodges that bullet. Off to vote for you.

    • George says:

      When I am back home in California I always look for Ecuador bananas. I am loyal that way.

      Thanks for voting Tom. I appreciate it.


  7. Fiona says:

    I voted!

  8. Jane Miner says:

    Always enjoyable, George. Sharing your humanity allows us all to experience our own, too 🙂

    • Jane,
      Love your comment. I had a friend when I was in my late twenties that used to always say, in a whimsical way, “sharing is caring”. It made me want to slap her silly. At 60 years old it is finally making sense to me.

      Thanks for the comment.


  9. sandy b says:

    i love your posts! and the insight, and the kindness. it shows respect.

    i voted!

  10. Helen (Cold Canuck) says:

    I so love reading your blog. You are an absolute terrific writer. Wishing you an incredibly Healthy 2016, filled with much Laughter and Joy!

    I was hoping to become a snowbird in Ecuador within 5 years, hope our loonie improves.

    Cheers and again thanks

    PS. Voted

    • Wow, thank you for that very cool compliment. I am hoping the Loonie recovers soon. I have a lot of Canadian friends who are feeling the hurt. Hang in there Helen.

      Stay warm,

  11. Jillian says:

    Loved reading your blog. Made me reflect on my own life and current living situation here in Ecuador. Wonderful stories! Take care.

  12. Eden Cross says:

    Brilliant article George, thanks once more!! We had an Onkyo and it was wonderful. We had a Pioneer, too… A friend of ours had said he wouldn’t feel “rich” until he had $10 million dollars to his name. Later, he said that when he reached the $10 million mark, he realized that he needed more…that it just wasn’t “enough”. I realized then, that for him, there would never been “enough”…as long as he continued to believe “that money was what made him rich”. To me, he is pitiful.

    • George says:

      I used to identify myself mostly by what I did for a living and how much money I made. It took me five years to get out of that way of thinking. I have some of my happiest moments in life when I was close to broke and some my worse times when I had no mo eye worries. More money is not the answer.


  13. David Cruz says:

    I love love love your Blog.. I find myself reading the whole thing at once and waiting for the next one right away! I want o be just like you when I grow up !

    Thanks for sharing !


    • George says:

      Did you mean that? What a nice thing to say. I am sitting down this weekend to start writing my next post. Had some computer issues but I think they are all fixed now. I am now your number one fan. Thanks for the comment.


  14. George,
    This was an excellent article. I hope you are healthy and happy these days. I voted for you amigo. Thank you kindly young man for reminding us what the difference between rich and poor is. Very humbling my friend! #safetravels.

    • George says:

      Hey Mike,
      The ballots have been counted and we won. It is kind of exciting. Please look me up if you are ever in Cuenca. I will be starting to travel all over the world next year so maybe we can get together somewhere in this crazy world. Stay well my friend.


  15. Annette Brennan says:

    Hey George
    You are so right in in many instances….re the happiness of the Ecuadorian people…Mark and I are in San Clemente..after a rather arduous trip down from Vancouver Canada…we are all pretty much worried at home about our Alberta oil and our declining dollar…my son is one of the casualties as a laid off iron worker and we can only hope and pray things improve…the other day though as we laid in our hammock watching the ocean..a family of parents kids and grandparents came and ask if they could set up shop on the beach near to us…because we use the ocean front of Palmazul hotel I guess they thought they had to ask….we were the only ones there as usual….so I told them in my not too bad Spanish que LA playa est libre…solamente el Dios LA tiene or some such thing…then they laid out the picnic and all the males started kicking the soccer ball about…they all had a ball laughing and chatting…when did we in our world loose these simplest of pleasures? I think we all have to try to get back to the joys of family in our own lives. I see it so much down here…the shacks they live in yet they are perfectly clean…I haven’t seen a dirty person in four years of coming here…their children are spotless wearing the brightest of whites…how do the get their whites so white? I know.. hard work scrubbing by hand.. no do they manage that? And as we walk the dirt road that runs through San Clemente, despite some affronts to our North American sensibilities, everyone u meet greets you with an hola! Do they do this in Cuenca? It is such an endearing place……climate change…I see it right here…two years ago we were here and Mark and I walked the beach every morning from 8 onwards…that was our ritual..talking and taking pics of the one week the tide has been up to covering most of the beach till way in the afternoon….we haven’t walked the beach for any distance yet…This has shocked me….never expected to see such a change up close…otherwise things are the same…except couple giant hotels going up on the beach…just a matter of time before you have trouble with your ocean views! Glad to be here George-getting in touch with what matters…going to vote now

    • George says:

      Thanks for voting and thanks for a great comment. Many of us have forgotten the simple things that made us happy. Let hope we can get back there someday.


  16. Vicki Kielas says:

    Hello George,

    Love your insights and humility. Always look forward to reading them and devouring them whole! are you considering writing a book..because you really should!

    you’ve got my vote!
    Buena suerte!

    • George says:

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the nice words.

      I am thinking about writing a book. But it has to be just right and then I have to do it. Trying to get my mind around that process. But thanks for the vote of confidence.

      Be well my friend.


  17. Anwei says:

    Hi uncle George. Love you

    • George says:

      Hola Anwie,
      Thank you for writing your Uncle George. I miss you and your sister and your mom and dad so much. We should visit next time I fly to California. I would like to see you and your house. We could do that in March.

      Love you so much,

      Uncle George

  18. Barbara Morton says:

    I love your blog, George, and I voted!

  19. Chip Lawson says:

    Thanks George. Always great stories told in the most fun way.
    I need to head to the grocery store and pick up a few extra bananas.

  20. Kelly says:

    CONGRATULATIONS George, A most deserved Best Blog, it is your unique candor, humour and helpful information that make you so appealing!
    BTW, could not get the contact me link to work, do you have an email we could use? or shoot us a link. Want to catch up…..

  21. Colette says:

    Howdy George,
    I couldn’t figure out how to vote. Just the poster announcing your award popped up. Did you already win? If so, Good on You!
    If not, please advise.
    Cheers, Colette

  22. Rocco Cappeto says:

    We have been wavering as to whether to travel to our favorite places or to somewhere new. It’s the classic traveler’s dilemma but for us eventually curiosity wins out. We had decided on Colombia this year but once I had spent several hours online reading and looking at photos, it fell off our top ten list. Next choice was either Peru or Ecuador (we’ve already been to Argentina and would go again except…see above). I think it’s pretty much a flip of the coin now but Ecuador’s beaches have tipped the scale a bit in its favor.

    Your blog is especially helpful as you talk about exactly the sorts of things we’re interested in. We’ll stay tuned for more of the same.

    Thanks and my best to you,


    PS Somebody famous said the worst part about getting old is that you still feel young.

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