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.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Careful – the sun is strong

It is too easy to forget that Cuenca is nearly on the Equator and at approximately 8500 feet in elevation nestled in the Andes Mountains. Those of you who have skied at high altitudes in America’s west or the European Alps already know how strong the sun can be. Though the temperatures in the mountains of the US and Europe can often be freezing, skiers will have their nose and cheeks covered with a protective zinc oxide cream to stave off the sun.  Add to that, the fact that the sun in Cuenca is directly overhead because we are almost directly on the Equator and you have come up with a powerful combination of UV rays raining down on you year round. On a day like in the photo, the sun can be deceptive. 
Our dermatologist at Monte Sinai Hospital has warned us to take precautions as Cuenca has the highest level of skin cancer incidences in all of Ecuador. While we are never as diligent as we could be, we wear sunscreen cream on our uncovered faces and arms. Loretta and Jonny being redheads often wear hats. An excellent choice of sunscreen in both gel and cream form is a local product appropriately named Umbrella. It can be purchased without prescription at any pharmacy.  On a bright, sunny day, it is quite common to see people walking with an open umbrella or holding a magazine or newspaper over their heads to keep out of the sun. Many people also wear wrap-around sunglasses, as the sun not only bears down with harmful UV rays, but it is also extremely bright to the point where it can actually hurt your eyes. Fortunately, you will find street salesmen almost everywhere loaded down with sunglasses for sale at around $12 and up. So, covering your arms, applying sun lotion to your face and exposed arms, wearing hats and sunglasses are all good protective precautions. We have seen too many visitors with bright red faces from painful sunburns who walked through town on a sunny day or even on a cloudy day not realizing how quickly they can be hurt by the sun. It takes only one experience like this to make a believer. 

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