Ecuador… the Bad and the Ugly
It was about six months ago when I wrote an article about Ecuador, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
I spent a lot of time on the good things about Ecuador, but today we will talk about Ecuador… the Bad and the Ugly.
Dreams to retire early, move to a foreign country, spend my days walking in the park, sipping coffee in a local cafe, reading and writing, are only about nine months away. Living a very simple, relaxing, stress free and affordable life is now within my reach…
At least it looks that way.
What could possibly go wrong?
Did I miss something? Did those International retirement magazines leave something out?
Here is the other side of that golden coin. The not so pretty side of the dream… these items are in no particular order.
- First of all, we are the minority now. That is the way it works when you choose to live in a foreign country located in South America. All those nasty things you heard or maybe even said about minorities that live in your birth country… well, you might run into people who think that way about you now. Learning the language will certainly lessen this, but it will happen. Get used to it. It will make you a better person.
- One of the biggest and ugliest things you might run into are other gringos. Do you know any selfish, self centered, obnoxious people? Well, do you think they magically change when they move to Ecuador. In fact, in all probability these type of people will get worse in a foreign country… When a “know it all” type is placed into a foreign environment, their lack of coping skills outshine every thing else. It can be embarrassing and very uncomfortable to be around these types… but certainly a reality and very familiar to anyone who travels.
- And if you have a dog that likes to bark and disturb the neighbors… well, keep that little yapper inside or it may not last the first week. Dogs are consider more of a work animal in Ecuador… It’s a cultural thing. They are not revered here like they are in the states or other countries. Poison goes on meat, meat goes over fence, dog eats meat, dead dog. This is just the way it is in some places.
- And the public peeing and the drunks on the sidewalk can be a put off to some. And the loud music on the buses and even the public nose picking. Again, learn to enjoy your new home and its culture. Nothing you can do to change it. Get used to it. And remember, finger to inside nose is ok… finger from nose to mouth… never ok.
- If you are living in the mountains (Cuenca and Quito) and you like to garden… you will find small and medium sized rocks everywhere. Half soil, half rocks, boulders, stones, rubble, pebbles, and slag. The soil is absolutely full of rocks. Mountains are made of rocks…. and you now live in the mountains. I live in the mountains now and gardening is one big pain in the butt.
- A lot of us, although we probably will never admit it, have an inner sense of entitlement. If you have been raised in a developed country it is programed into you. You really can’t help yourself. Well, you are not in Kansas anymore. Lose the attitude and remember you are a guest in someone else’s country and you are also a minority… I just love saying that. Did I mention already that you should learn the language.
- If you suffer from chronic fear of almost everything… then find a group of people you like and stay in groups. Single women and men are easy targets for crime. Pickpockets, muggings, and robberies are on the rise. They happen in Ecuador just like they happen anywhere else. If you are white, then you are probably better off than a lot of the locals. They know it and some of the unscrupulous ones want what you have. So, you guessed it, get used to it. Be smart and watch out for yourself and each other.
- Want to buy a nice beach house so you can while away the time with your feet in the sand and the sound of the waves in the background? I can assure you that a nice water view or beach front condo can be had for less, sometimes much less, than $200,000. But before you let go of even one dollar, take a drive along the coast of Ecuador. In many areas you will see what I call a large amount of “Dreamers Graveyards”. These graveyards usually consists of a couple of block columns with a nice decorative entry gate, a few graded roads, and a small building that used to be the sales office. The subdivision developer had a dream to sell beautiful beach front lots, the customers had dreams of a new beach front home, but something went terribly wrong along the way. A lot of peoples dreams are buried right there in all that undeveloped beach front land. Those poor unfortunates will have to live with their bad decisions and may never get used to losing all that money. Do not pay any more than a 10 percent deposit on anything like this. Never pay for something in full unless it is complete. Do not let a developer use your life savings to fund his project. It never works out. Hence, the untold number of “Dreamers Graveyards”. Rent, rent, rent, for at least the first year. Did I mention that you should rent the first year? That dream of yours will still be there in a year from now, and you will be so much smarter for it.
- Ecuador is a developing country. What you take for granted and have had all your life is a luxury to a lot of people in a developing country. Protect yourself and your things. And don’t go out with all that jewelry on, and flashing money and talking all loud and obnoxious like… drawing attention to yourself is the last thing you want to do….
- And all that money you saved for your retirement. Well, there are people that want that too. Bad people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. So be careful. Do not give your money away. Do not play the game.
- Survival seems to beat out integrity and honor these days. So learn to survive. This is the time in your life that you need to be extra careful. There are a few people out there that will take your money, smile, kiss your baby, tell you whatever you want to hear, then leave you holding the proverbial bag. The unlicensed and licensed real estate person, the local landlord that sneaks a 10 percent annual rent increase into your lease, the local shop owner, the property owner who wants to sell you his condo but never gives you the deed, the land developer who has good intentions but can not deliver electric, roads, or even water to the lot you bought from him. This is the reality of Ecuador and many other places in the world. For survivals sake, be smart and stay sharp.
Well, are you still up to the challenge of retiring and living in a beautiful South American country?
Then come on over. The local people are nice, the gringos are nice, the food is wonderful and healthy, the air is clean for the most part, and with just a few adjustments on your part, you will certainly fit right in, and be a happier person for it.
Oh, I forgot a few things….
- Prices are going up in part because of the expat influx.
- Cost of electronics, furniture, appliances, and automobiles are outrageous.
- Large size clothing is hard to find.
- Car alarms and barking dogs…..
- Quality shoes are also hard to find.
- If you make money in Ecuador, you have to pay taxes to the United States if you are still a citizen…
- Many consumer and food items are scarce, expensive, or not available at all.
- Sometimes the water goes out for days, the electric grid is not much better in certain areas.
- Be careful walking… sidewalks are full of obstacles.
- And of course there is no such thing as right of way. The roads belong to the cars.
- Ask whether you can flush toilet paper. Some areas you can’t. That means poop in the trash can…
- If you want to live anywhere other than Cuenca or Vilcabamba, you should drink bottled water.
- Live on the coast and the bugs, flies, fleas, and mosquitos can be a challenge. Can you say Malaria?
That line from the movie Long Kiss Goodnight is bouncing around in my head right now. “Life is pain, get used to it”. I prefer the line, “Life is a challenge, stay up for it”!
Please leave your experiences in the comment section. Lets make that journey a little nicer for those that are coming after us. Let it all out. Please don’t be to specific with your stories. Liable and slander are such nasty words…
Favorite and share with your friends on Facebook.
Mandy Patinkin has been to Ecuador…. Turn it up and enjoy his masterful performance. (Yes, he is the guy from ‘Criminal Minds’)
Have a perfect weekend everyone….
Sites That Link to this Post
- Morning Update – Friday, October 12, 2012 « South of Zero | October 12, 2012
- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Living in Ecuador | January 30, 2013