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, July 22, 2010

Newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, and the internet

Before we came to Cuenca, we searched everywhere to find out more about Ecuador. One of the things we wondered was if there were any online newspapers in English where we could take the pulse of the city on an almost daily basis. We found none. We have since discovered that there appear to be no newspapers written in English. There are a number of Spanish papers but our understanding of Spanish at that time meant that the newspapers online were of little use. You might like to check them out however. El Mercurio is a fairly conservative paper and probably has the largest circulation. You can find the paper at www.elmercurio.com.ec.
 El Tiempo is another paper and has a somewhat more liberal presentation at www.eltiempo.com.ec.  Recently there has been some government interference in the concept of a free press which, though subtle, has put something of a crimp on open journalism. Magazines are available at the Supermaxi’s and the random sidewalk stores though we have seen few that are sold. They are all shrink wrapped in plastic which prevents browsing and may discourage sales. Women’s fashion magazines appear to be the most prevalent just as they are in the United States.  There are a few US magazines like Esquire, Cosmopolitan, and National Geographic but all are translated into Spanish. Radio is a way of life in Ecuador and there are dozens of AM and FM stations broadcasting talk, news, Latin music, and a lot of American rock music. Probably thirty percent of the rock music sent out over the airwaves here will be immediately familiar to someone used to US radio. TV is very prevalent with even the most humble home often having a set. There is cable but it does not appear to be as expansive or reliable as the satellite programming from Direct TV, the preferred provider.  After contracting them they attach small satellite discs to your home or apartment. There is a good amount of English news through CNN and BBC along with a half dozen Spanish news programs from Ecuador and other South American countries. If you subscribe, as we do, to HBO and other pay movie channels, you will have a dozen channels of movies in English plus a dozen more in Spanish. At least another dozen sports channels are available many concentrating on Futbol, an Ecuadorian mania. Then, of course, there is the internet which we have commented on in past postings. It is quite reliable and not that much slower than in the US. There are lots of choices for a connection like the cell phone companies, the water company and the electric company. It does appear, however, that signing up with a newcomer in the internet connection business is smart because often a provider, who becomes successful and signs up a huge amount of people, find that their system is quickly overwhelmed and the connection bandwidth gets overloaded. The new kid on the block usually costs less as well. Seems the electric company, Empresa, is the hot new one to try. So, when you add it all up, communications with the rest of the world is quite accessible and much of it is in English, a real plus until your Spanish is up to par. 

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