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

Shipping into and out of Ecuador

If you plan to ship furniture or other items to Ecuador, there is a very involved process with rules that change frequently. We chose Mayflower in the US to make a door to door shipment of a 40’ container from North Carolina to our new home in Cuenca. All I can advise is that you check with a reputable shipper in the US to find the latest information. The cost, based on weight for 15,000#, was approximately $12,000 which included insurance, packing in the US and unpacking in Cuenca, land transportation to Charleston, sea transport to Guayaquil, customs charges and land transportation to Cuenca. Guayaquil used to be famous for stealing from containers but with the new government this has lessened considerably. We had nothing stolen and nothing broken. We have heard that it is far less complicated to clear customs in Cuenca than it is in Guayaquil. Choosing what to bring and what not to bring is such an individual question that it will be up to you to decide. We wish that we had brought more and sold less in the US but there are others who arrived here with a dozen suitcases (paying the overweight air charges) and buying what they needed in Ecuador. It may be a tossup in cost but, in our case, we have the things we love. If you have individual packages shipped to Ecuador from the US, they will be either opened or valued according to the customs declaration and import duties will be added. This makes shipping from the US quite expensive unless it is something you need desperately. In the city there are street addresses but in the country there are no street names or house numbers. Some people take out post office boxes for $25 a year that are located around town like in the photo but this has not worked well for us.

 We do get mail at our apartment but it is, once again, not like in the US. Getting mail is not common. Letters are delivered by a man on a bicycle to our apartment but if we get a package, we receive a phone call from the post office telling us to come in to pay whatever import duty is due. To get a package at the post office, we have to go downtown between 8:00 and 12:30 on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday and stand on line while a national policeman opens the package, inspects it and announces its value which must be paid on the spot. There are no zip codes in Ecuador. To send a letter to the US, you go to the post office where the letter is weighed and postage of $1.00 – $4.00 is levied. It takes from 7 to 10 days for delivery in the US, depending on where it is going.

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