Saturday, December 29, 2012

by LEE DUBS - The Ugly American revisited: arrogance plus ignorance is a recipe for trouble as more N. Americans move to Ecuador

LEE DUBS - The Ugly American revisited: arrogance plus ignorance is a recipe for trouble as more N. Americans move to Ecuador

Correa says Ecuador will maintain its 'open border' policy as opposition candidate proposes new visa requirements

ECUADOR NEWS : An Ecuadorian tradition, the New Year's Eve burnin...

ECUADOR NEWS : An Ecuadorian tradition, the New Year's Eve burnin...: Ecuador news - One of Latin America’s most colorful -- and bizarre -- traditions is the year-end burning of the dummies. When the clock tick...

ECUADOR NEWS : Navy helicopter successfully attends medical emerg...

ECUADOR NEWS : Navy helicopter successfully attends medical emerg...: Ecuador news - Quito (Pichincha). - The Ministry of National Defense reported that, in coordination with the Health portfolio, the Navy of E...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ECUADOR NEWS: Ecuador expat blog - Living It Up in Ecuador

ECUADOR NEWS: Ecuador expat blog - Living It Up in Ecuador: Ecuador news -  Sorry it has taken me so long to do a proper update.  As I mentioned in an earlier note, we have been locked into the Ecuad...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why Ecuador?: Moving On Up

Why Ecuador?: Moving On Up: When we moved to Ecuador we knew that we would need to start our own business to provide income for our family.  In April we took a leap of ...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our New Andean Life: Non-stop

Our New Andean Life: Non-stop: My family back home wonders what we do all day, and I know that it is a question that comes up with a lot of retired expats.  What do you do...

The Top 10 Ecuador list: Places to see, things to do:
By Ben Westwood
Editor's note: Ben Westwood, author of the Ecuador Moon Guide, offers a list of his favorite places and activities in Ecuador.

1. Quito:
Surrounded by Andean peaks, Quito's setting is enough to make anyone forget their troubles. The Unesco-listed historic, colonial Old Town is a maze of churches, plazas and narrow streets, perfect for getting lost in.

Friday, September 21, 2012

AHHH CUENCA!!: Here vs There

AHHH CUENCA!!: Here vs There: Quite some time ago, I was asked by a reader to describe why I moved A) away from my native country and B) why the heck Ecuador, of all plac...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Being Cautious and Aware of Your Surroundings Here (in ECUADOR)

This is a repost from Nancy's blog 06 SEP 2012- great advice!

Being Cautious and Aware of Your Surroundings Here (in ECUADOR)
by Nancy Levin

Be cautious and aware of your surroundings while traveling around Ecuador. Before you say well I have half a brain, or I'm from Chicago do you think it's safe there, or repeat the realtorspeak about how they don't feel uncomfortable day or night walking anywhere and that you just have to use common sense etc. This is a very important message and a lesson in risk/reward. This is our take!

Please do yourself a favor and leave all your good jewelry, fancy expensive clothing, watches, fancy purses, backpacks, laptops and camera equipment at home. Bring items of lesser value; a small inexpensive computer, a camera you picked up at Wal-Mart, a well-worn backpack and other items that if taken would not necessarily ruin your trip. If wearing a backpack, have it hanging across your chest or under your armpit not on your back and do not put anything under your seat or above your head while riding on a bus. Keep all your belonging in your lap so that you can control them. Make copies of your passport and other important documents and lock the originals in the hotel safe. Do not bring a wallet full of debit or credit cards, only big stores and upscale hotels accept credit cards anyway. In Panama, we remember trying to use a US Visa card at a place that said Visa accepted only to learn they meant only National cards (cards issued within the country) not international. Be sure that your bank in your home country knows that you will be traveling in Ecuador and that your ATM cards work in Ecuador. Have the list of contact numbers in a separate place for these cards so if they are taken you can cancel them immediately. Do not carry large sums of money on your person, only take what money you will be needing for the time you will be out that day. Keep money in different pockets, a few dollars here, a $10 bill there, DO NOT pull a wad of cash out in public and wave it around. You are just looking for someone to follow you and knock you over the head. If you have an old wallet put a few expired credit cards and a small amount of cash in it and use it as a throw away wallet. If confronted, throw the wallet down and run in the opposite direction.

Recently a traveler we met had a bad experience when taking an unmarked taxi in Guayaquil and lost her luggage. In my personal opinion it was the bus services unprofessional handling of a situation that led to this women being left off the bus at the bus companies office instead of the bus terminal. The only taxis available to her were unmarked instead of the yellow licensed taxi. This kind of theft happens regularly. Never walk away from your luggage, do not use unmarked cars or taxis that do not have the drivers identification located either on the headrest or displayed on the dashboard. I have a friend who sits in the front seat and writes down the driver's name and ID number on a pad right in front of the taxi driver or pretend to use you cell phone to call and give a friend this information. Not that all theft can be avoided but you should make an attempt to show that you are a smart traveler. Some folks just don't have anything and see foreigners with things that they could sell and feed their families for weeks. Busy areas like bus stations, airports and now even shopping malls seem to be prime places for theft. One scenario that I have heard about is a fine-looking gentleman approaches and while he is distracting you his accomplice is taking your packages. This has been done with beautiful young women, old ladies asking for directions to a bank and guys dressed in suits distracting you for a split second. These folks do this for a living and are very good at it. I am not telling you to be rude to people but be extremely cautious. Do not place your handbag or packages on a separate seat or hang you purse on the back of the chair while in the food court, instead place these items on your lap or between your feet so that you are always in control of your belongings.

Keep things like laptops in a small store bag, do not carry it in its little pouch for all to see. It costs nothing to find a Super Maxi bag. Not many folks are going to try to take a shopping bag from your hand. Keep your camera in a pocket or a small handicraft bag worn across your chest DO NOT hang your bag on one shoulder or dangle your camera from your wrist. If walking with another person put your bag between the two of you not on the exposed side..

For safety reasons don't bring your fancy high heeled strappy sandals. Between the pot holes, missing chunks of sidewalk, missing water covers, uneven or non-existent sidewalks and roads a turned ankle will ruin your day. Instead bring a good pair of flat sandals with straps, a nice pair of worn sneakers or comfortable walking shoes. And don't leave your shoes, sandals or anything of value on the sand away from you because again they will be gone when you turn around to find them. We had friends in Salinas who took their footwear off and left two pair of nice sneakers on a rock in Chipipe while they took a swim in the ocean. You guessed it - they walked back to their Salinas condo barefoot. Bring a ball cap or buy a hat when you get here as the sun is harsh. Even when it is hidden behind clouds you can get a nasty burn. Wear sunblock, we wear 50 or higher block when sitting on the beach, you can burn in just a matter of minutes so be kind to your skin and maybe save a ruined vacation by using a good block.

You cannot drink the tap water on the coast but bottled water can be cheap. We get a 5 gal container of water delivered to our home for $1 and he brings it right into my kitchen. Small bottles of water are available for as little as .30 cents in most stores a bit more in restaurants and you have a choice non carbonated (sin gas) or carbonated (con gas). Place a bottle of water in your bathroom for brushing your teeth as well. Toilet paper should not be flushed anywhere in Ecuador. There will be a small trash can in each cubical for this purpose, please be respectful of the customs here and do not leave some hotel or restaurant stuck repairing a toilet issue that you caused! That awful sewage overflow you see on a nearby sidewalk may be yours! BE AWARE all places do not provide toilet paper, please carry a small flattened roll and be sure to have it with you when using a restroom. Some places like malls have one paper dispenser outside of the stalls for toilet paper.

Dogs are allowed to run free as far as I have seen on the coast, I have never been afraid or approached in a threatening manner by a dog in all these years but folks I know have had some problems so just be aware. Most are not family dogs, what I mean by that is they do not know about being petted and will only approach if you are offering food. I would not give food to them unless you want them to follow you home. These dogs may look homeless and uncared for but I assure you their owners lock them on their property at night and allow them to roam free during the day. A dog's life in South American is harsh but it is the way it is.

Jellyfish in the water can be a very painful experience. If the winds are high or it is several days after a full moon the chances are good that jellyfish will be floating around in the water. If stung do not wash with salt water, do not rub because you can be pushing the little stingers into your skin. Instead use vinegar or lemon juice to wash the area.

Fly season on the coast can be unbelievable. We found that Salinas had some issues with flies but Playas was terrible for several months with a great deal of flies all around town. We found a strange and unusual remedy of filling clear plastic bags with water and dropping a penny into each and hanging them around our porch in Playas. We even would take a bag to our favorite restaurants and put it in the middle of our table while we were eating. It was a very big problem and the thought of them landing on my food really turned me off. I'm talking 20 or 30 on your table, arms, food......We put on repellent on our arms and hats (which we leave on the tables).

Mosquitoes are another issue at certain times of the year on the coast. We have made it a habit to use Detan liquid each morning after our showers and Joe uses it again before retiring. Palo Santo is a wood that is sold for chasing away mosquitoes, along with these electrified plastic rackets and the small cones and coils that you light. Using a mosquito net to cover your bed is also practical.

Mosquitoes here or anywhere in South America are not playing around. If you are bit by one you may well get dengue. The locals call it Breakbone Fever, it is extremely painful and there is nothing that you can take to ease the pain only for fever. DO NOT take ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory as it can cause an escalation to hemorrhagic fever (now called severe dengue). Also, if you have gotten dengue the chances on getting Hemorrhagic Fever with the next infected mosquito bite are greatly increased. And hemorrhagic fever can be fatal. Buy repellent and use it often. This is one of those risk/reward things you don't have to think about.

Weather related issues. Rough weather happens on the coast, with unusual high tides and rip tides you need to be aware of the warnings that are posted in the newspapers. The Portoviejo paper is , the Guayaquil paper is these are the two main papers for coast news. Each coastal area has its own ocean idiosyncracies ask the locals about the swimming conditions and if you don't see anyone in the water there is probably a good reason.

When traveling around Ecuador you can find yourself at elevations over 9,000 feet. If you have health issues that can be exasperated by high elevations you should be cautious and consult your doctor before traveling to these high elevation cities. Here are a few articles that my help before you decide on your itinerary: as well as

Malaria, yellow fever and the like. If you are going into very rural areas or the jungle you should read the precautions that the CDC has listed on their website and this other article We have not heard of any issues related to these illnesses in the cities on the coast. If you are not going into rural or jungle areas we feel that the use of these medication could be more harmful that beneficial. We know folks who suffered for months taking unneeded precautions. The only caveat would be Esmeraldas has had some reports of malaria.

Please do your research before making a trip to Ecuador. It is so much better to be prepared. There will be enough surprises and hopefully many of them will be good ones. And, as they say, this ain't Kansas.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ecuador Experiment: The people of Cuenca.

Ecuador Experiment: The people of Cuenca.: Where does the inspiration for this story on the people of Cuenca reside?   It lives in the Cuencanos !   The people I meet and see. The haw...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

AAA LIVING IN CUENCA: Cuenca Hotel and services I recommend!

AAA LIVING IN CUENCA: Cuenca Hotel and services I recommend!: Cuenca services I have used and recommend! I am always looking for the best deal when I need something - plus I always want to make sure I...


QUITO - ECUADOR: QUITO: Quito’s Centro Histórico  is a well-preserved colonial city built upon the ruins of an ancient Incan settlement and was named the first UNES...

AHHH CUENCA!!: Rentals in Cuenca

AHHH CUENCA!!: Rentals in Cuenca: Before I begin, I want to answer many of you who wrote in after my last column.  The garlic chicken was juicy and AWESOME!!!   It's another ...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our New Andean Life: See You Later

Our New Andean Life: See You Later: That is what I am saying.  NOT goodbye.  Because it is not goodbye.  We will be back and we will keep in contact with all of our loved ones....

Pachamama Spectrum of Treasures: Higher Education in Ecuador

Pachamama Spectrum of Treasures: Higher Education in Ecuador: Having spent the last several months working with a project in higher education with tourism students from Canada we have learned a ...

Kimbler's Exit to Ecuador: BACK TO THE PAST... USA

Kimbler's Exit to Ecuador: BACK TO THE PAST... USA: We have been enjoying our two house guests from Alabama. Sisters,Janice and Marilyn. They arrived last week, and unfortunately Janice has ha...

Friday, May 18, 2012

AHHH CUENCA!!: Trip - Playas (General Villamil)

AHHH CUENCA!!: Trip - Playas (General Villamil): After getting my car out of the repair shop (for the umpteenth time) I was itching to go for a long drive.  When my friends and I (me and my...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 9 & 10 Glenn Miller Concert by: Marvin "Doc" Holladay,

May 9 & 10 2012 Glenn Miller Concert performed by: Marvin "Doc" Holladay,
Maria Tejada, Carlos Grijalva, Walt Szymanski, Juan Carlos Velasco, Cathy
We really want you to have this opportunity to hear the Glenn
Miller music played the way it was done with the Original Miller band
complete with the vocalists and the "Modernaires" vocal group. That is the
ingredient that is most often left out of Glenn Miller concerts these days
and it just isn't the same,  We have a stellar group of singers both as
soloists and as a part of the vocal group. Casa de la Cultura Sala Prometo
Quito - ECUADOR 20:00, the box Office at the Prometeo of Casa de la Cultura
will be selling tickets tomorrow from 10:00am on until the concert at
8:00pm.  If that is not possible for you, then please call Christina Morena
at 097 063 429 / 087 273 247  They tell me that she can take Credit Cards. I hope that is true but she can direct you anyhow.  It has been brought to my attention that the expectation is that the Thursday concert will probably be sold out on

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cost of Living: Supermarkets in ECUADOR

I find there are a lot of questions on many Ecuador Expat forums & blogs about cost of living. In this posting I would like to address food costs at a local Supermarket chain called "TIA", Tia is an acronym for Tiendas Industriales Asociadas ,
 ..and Tia of course also happens to be the Spanish noun for: "Aunt", average size Tia is about the square footage of a Walgreens pharmacy back home, they are found throughout Ecuador and in some towns and communities they do have Super Tias about the size of an Ingle's grocery store. to put the TIA store and it's merchandise into perspective for you, Tia puts me in mind of a chain back home in the S.E. / US called Piggly Wiggly. Not a big selection, no frills, TIA has a few US brands but not many, but has the basic necessities at a fair price. A working class man's grocery store. The Tia I normally go to nearest my home (under 2 miles) is in San Antonio de Pichincha in the NW suburb of Quito, right at the bottom of the hill from the Middle of the World Monument & Park; Lat. 000.000.000

We try to go to TIA about once a month for our monthly bulk shopping for a family of 2, my girlfriend and I.

..grass fed beef, chicken, trout, tuna, all fresh and from right here in Ecuador, not shipped across the planet. shortage of cake, bread, sandwich meat, Ruffles chips, cheese, flour, canned goods. toothpaste (w/ fluoride unfortuneately),, ketchup, mushrooms, vegetable oil, cereal, sweets, eggs, mashed potato mix,

..more coffee, oregano, snack cakes similar to pound cake, (did I say more sweets?) milk, butter, clothes washing powder, clothes hangers, dish washing detergent,

...various household cleansers, clorox, soap, fabric softener, the bill last month March 23, 2012 at Tia came to $152.33

..a lot of these items such as cleansers and such we may only purchase every 3-6 months, could have trimmed another $20. -$30. off of the bill,

..the buggy was quite full 11-12 plastic bags, an 18" long receipt. I could have got a taxi back to the house with this load for $2.50 but was in my truck.

...after we came out of the TIA we stepped next door and nearly filled a 50# feed bag (pictured above in #1 photo on floor) from a street vendor / Farmer with the bulk of our fruits and vegetables for $11.50

..I guess to be fair and accurate the bag may have weighed in at about 35#'s

..onions, tomatoes, parsley,

..16 oranges, pack of butter beans, lemons, pineapples for .50 cents a piece!

..a papaya, green- yellow- orange & red hot peppers, bananas, plantain, corn.
As we run low on certain items through the month like bread, milk, meat, fruit and perishables we will shop at our local (3 blocks down the road) Mom & Pop neighborhood grocers & fruit stand for the remainder of the month...roughly about another $20. per week for 2-3 weeks out of the month.

Bringing my monthly grocery bill (& household items) to just under $250. per month for 2 adults. So there you have it, at this time in early 2012.

 There is another economical grocery chain in metro Quito called Santa Maria:

Santa Maria is cleaner and well managed but about the same price range & a little better selection of a Super Tia, and still in my humble opinion / ranking of the Piggly Wiggly or an Ingles US equivalent & square footage.

If I really wanted to beat the bush and cut down on the food bill a little bit more, There are numerous / myriads of Indigenous Farmer's Markets but I find it somewhat time consuming and not necessary at this time. I do try my hand at gardening and am getting better at it.

 Now, when I go to missing many of the products & staples I am accustomed to from back in the US, I have to go to Supermaxi or a Megamaxi at least ever 3 months in place of my normal TIA routine:

 To me Supermaxi is like a Super Walmart, and Megamaxi puts me in mind of a Sam's Club, and If I am not very careful I will get extremely close to a $200. bill with a near full buggy really fast!

 When I arrived in Ecuador Sept. 2008 I weighed in at 235#'s. Within my first 6 months I lost down to 195#'s, and can't seem to lose any more or gain anymore? As you can see from my grocery bill list I do have a sweet tooth and don't exactly eat right. My exercise consists of taking people on Day Tours around metro Quito and most any over the road adventure tourism they may want in Ecuador.

 I have heard recent horror stories from Family and Friends back in GA & FL. on soaring grocery store prices. So I hope this was some help, I will try to do some posting on other areas of  "Cost of Living in Ecuador" soon. If any questions or suggestions I can be reached at, or call me on my toll free ATL. GA. US telephone # 770-872-4104, skype username: "jack.abercrombie"
See more Photos here: 
and here: