A New Kind of Blog

There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Friday, December 11, 2009


If anything is absolutely universal here, it is the Ecuadorian love of children and family. It is very common for three generations to live in the same home. There are many children as Ecuador has a young population compared to the aging population in Europe and the US. Interestingly, most childbirth is done by cesarean section which is preferred by the medical profession. Cesareans are a much larger percentage than in the US. Children are adored and, even though a poor family has little, their children will be well clothed and may even be sent to a private school.  There are private pre-schools catering to children up to four on almost every block in the city. Public schools are also everywhere but most gringos choose to send their children to private school. Public or private, each school has a distinct uniform which the children from four to eighteen wear.  Almost all schools teach English at some level. One school we know of teaches English two hours a day yet another teaches English only twice a week. We have looked carefully at three schools for our 4 year old grandson who lives with us. The German School which is very regimented who do teach English but they don’t begin until the 4th grade. The school has an excellent reputation but, unfortunately, they teach German in the Spanish language from almost the beginning which would make it doubly difficult for an English speaking child.  Another, called the American School has one or two teachers who know English and is also quite regimented.

Then there is CEDEI who has many English speaking teachers plus student teachers from the US doing their college practicum. It is where Jonny goes to school.  Choosing a school is a very personal choice and really depends, as everywhere, on the child and his learning needs. There is a continual controversy in the expatriate community over whether to send a non-Spanish speaking child to total immersion at a school where no English is spoken or to a school with English speaking teachers.  We have tried both and have found our child was happiest in the later. The private schools require the parent to supply the books. But school work books written in English are extremely expensive. For instance, a simple pre-school workbook we bought for Jonny cost $37. It is not unusual for an American parent to think their child has been assigned to a class that is too young for their child when they visit the classroom for the first time. However, the size of an Ecuadorian child is illusive. The typical Ecuadorian child is much smaller than most American children (as are most adults) so they look much younger. Ecuadorian children are also very well behaved almost to the level of seeming shy. Our exuberant child stands out with his high energy as well as his curly, red hair but he is adjusting rapidly and is very proud of his burgeoning Spanish.

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