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.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Revival of the Automobile Horn

We think we have uncovered a major technological achievement for Ecuador. Dating back to the early 1900’s, when the automobile was in its infancy, the auto horn was an indispensible part of the driving experience. The “Ayooga” sound was critical to chasing cattle off the dirt roads. It was essential for the youth of the day to frighten horses or to announce their existence on the planet.  The horn became a basic and necessary part of the automobile. But, as the car invaded the cities, the horn soon became a nuisance and was discriminated against by one regulation after another to the point where, late in the 20th century, the use the horn, except in an emergency, brought a violation of city ordinances. The horn quickly fell into oblivion as car manufacturers, especially those in Japan, reduced the horn’s decibel level to a tinny sound that could barely be heard even within the car itself. But, no matter how hard the car manufacturer’s tried to eliminate the horn’s usefulness, it hung on. Enter Ecuador’s discovery of the auto horn. Ecuadorian drivers came to the rescue and, once more, the horn found a place where it was esteemed. It was felt by Ecuadorian drivers that traffic would become permanently grid-locked, if not for their ingenious use of the horn. It was soon codified as follows. One beep is a warning meaning “You’d better stop because I’m going too fast to give way.” Two beeps loosely translated means, “I’m coming” or more definitively, “Move it!”  In those seconds before a traffic light turns green, at least one and sometimes two cars behind you will give two blasts on their horns possibly thinking you are asleep or conceivably blind to not have started moving forward before the light changed. Three beeps take too much effort and too much trouble so they are almost never used. Our understanding of the code is not good enough to interpret what a long, persistent blast means but we suspect it has the same message as anywhere else in the world. Taxi drivers augment their mastery of the horn with flashing headlights. Two flashes of the headlights mean, “I’m for hire.” Frantic continuous flashes and horn blowing mean “Get out of my way.”  Personally, we would prefer pulling our car off the road if we saw a car approaching from behind with flashing lights and pounding on the horn but it doesn’t seem to bother other Ecuadorian drivers who continue on their way as if deaf. This obstinacy covers ambulances, police cars, and other vehicles with flashing lights on their roof top. We would not be surprised to find auto manufacturers throughout the world noticing this revival of the horn in Ecuador and beefing up their horns even with the possible return of the “Ayooga” Claxon. Having a claxon on our car would help at the next red light we encounter and might even the odds a little. 

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