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.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Making a living in Cuenca

We have mentioned before the fascinating and complex intricacies of the Ecuadorian marketing structure. As in every country, there are the more familiar stores, markets, and a conventional infrastructure that provides access to almost anything you might wish to buy. This represents the successful and more prosperous segment of Ecuadorian society. However, there is another level of marketing, the Mom and Pop store. 

A typical Mom and Pop fruit and vegetable store

Thousands of $1.50 pirated music and movie DVD's 

Infinitely more in number than the big shops, the Mom and Pop stores line every block in the city. In these small stores, often one room with a grate in front where the article chosen is passed through to you in exchange for your money, you will find every commodity from auto parts to fruit to electronics to building supplies to cooked meals.  These stores are the real backbone of the Ecuadorian economy and provide a good living for the majority of the population in the city.

Then there are the open air markets. Some of the most famous are the flower market and the huge mercados selling food and commodities.

The famous open air flower market in the courtyard of the Santuario Mariano Church

The live animal area of the Frera Libre Mercado

With no building or store front, there are the people who seem able to make a living by selling a product or their talent almost anywhere. Here you will find the more marginal income producers yet, by being able to sell something on the street, they have found a way to make a decent daily wage.  It is a thriving economy where you will find someone selling something on almost every street corner in the city. Here are just a few of the street sales people whose ingenuity you have to admire.

Selling raw milk door to door

Alpaca rugs displayed on the street corner

Street jugglers with the baby in his carriage

Hammock seller

Selling kites in the street median

Football jerseys for sale outside the stadium

A little restaurant in the street median

Ice cream carts on almost every street 

Three soccer balls for sale

Selling sheets of lottery tickets

The sunglasses salesman

Trucks, large and small, roam the streets selling propane gas cylinders

A seller of chickens having lunch on the job

A woman with a bicycle cart selling fresh juice while carrying her baby

A friendly chat while waiting to sell fresh cut flowers 

A fruit stand at San Francisco Park

We hope this photographic essay gives you a little appreciation for the industriousness of the Ecuadorian people who are ingenious in finding ways to earn a living. 

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