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.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Internet and cell phones

Cell phones are expensive but absolutely necessary as everyone uses them. There are two major cell phone providers, Movistar and Porta. There are others but these are the two big ones with the best coverage. Plans are available but most people opt to purchase cards with a given amount of time on them. Unfortunately, if you have not used up your time by the first of your months anniversary, the remainder is cancelled unless you buy a new card prior to the old cards expiration. Phone cards can be purchased almost anywhere. The retailer merely calls the provider, gives them your phone number, and the provider automatically adds the time to your handset. You then pay the retailer the amount due and, within seconds, you have more time on the phone. Internet is here in a big way but, depending on who you choose as your service, it will be somewhat slower than you find in the US. We chose to use Porta who give you a small USB plug-in for your computer that allows you to connect to the internet and it runs roughly $54 a month per computer. There are other companies but it is always a tremendous effort to get authorization for the provider to bill your bank account monthly. It took eight visits to the Porta store to get approvals and get our modem working. This is not unusual as red tape and inefficiency are a way of life and must be gotten used to or your days would be miserable. Delays and slow reactions to your requests are everywhere but especially in the electronics arena where Americans are so used to instant response and a competitive market which demands efficiency. It is best to learn to relax and wait it out. Tomorrow is another day. Software bought in Ecuador is all in Spanish, so if you want a specific software item, bring it with you when you come. You can download almost all software but, due to cookies identifying the source as Ecuador, the download will almost always be in Spanish. I just had as frustrating experience. I wanted to get Windows 7 to replace my Windows Vista operating system. My local computer store assured me they could get Windows 7 in English. A month went by, and they put Windows 7 in Spanish on my computer after trying to get the English version from a half dozen suppliers. Actually, the Spanish version is not too difficult to navigate and I’ll probably keep it.

Computer keyboards purchased here are all in Spanish and have a slightly different layout. It doesn’t take long to get used to but it might again be easier to bring an English keyboard. Printers are inexpensive and you can get a small selection of Canon, HP and Lexmark products. You can only find A4 paper which is longer than the usual US inkjet paper. It works just fine in any printer but is harder to fit in a filing cabinet.

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