We stand out like a sore thumb. Ecuadorians are very adept at quickly judging who you are and responding in kind. Prices go up immediately. All Americans and Europeans are rich in their eyes, no matter how you are dressed. You will be stared at especially if you have other than the ubiquitous coal black hair or if you have fair features. There is a rather disquieting habit Ecuadorians have of looking you directly in the eye for a long time. Total strangers will stare long and hard at you until you wonder what they want and why. But, I think it is just what they are used to doing and, after all, you do look unusual to them. Women look men right in the eye and don’t divert their gaze as they do in the US. But almost universally, there is an inbred attitude of class distinction and separation that finds our North American openness very strange. Nevertheless, almost all of the Ecuadorians we have met have been extremely generous and friendly which is contrary to what you read about how North Americans can never become close with the locals. Possibly because of our openness and friendliness, we have been welcomed into their homes and, though we struggle with language, we spend long hours talking. However, as much as we like to mix with the Ecuadorians, it is a great feeling when a group of Americans, Canadians, British, and other Europeans sit around and compare notes. To this end was formed the 5:30 Friday evening expatriate meetings at either the Eucalyptus Café or Zoe’s Café in Cuenca. Venues for the meetings change but either café will know where the English speaking community is meeting when you are visiting here. There will always be about 30 to 40 expatriates attending who make a real effort to welcome visitors and newcomers. Some 300 people here and abroad subscribe to a website called the Gringo Tree which gives the expatriate community shared sources of information about local events and pertinent news relating to residency and other important subjects.
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.