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Ecuador Welcome Forum: Airfares for retirees?:

But even that represents a substantial savings. One thing we found when investigating this phenomenon is that it is not good for the entire traveling party. It is on an individual basis. My husband is now 65, so his ticket was 50% off on the fare. I am only approaching 65, so paid the full amount. At 65, there are also discounts on certain services, like phone, water, electric. Once again, it does not apply to fees and taxes. You can also request that the IVA you paid be refunded - when you are 65. I've heard that when you leave after visiting Ecuador, IVA can be refunded by filling out the appropriate form and providing the required documents in one of the departure lounges of the international airport. CasadeCuenca - do you know how that works? Karen

Global Expat Forum: Need my help?:

Evasandra - where are you now? You say returning to Norway in 2014 - but could be located anywhere in the world. Thanks. Karen

Ecuador: Two Americans Assaulted, Robbed Cuenca:

What to do after the fact - my cell phone has been stolen. Nicholas Crowder's book is also linked here at a very reasonable Kindle price. I don't know the gentleman, but based on Oceanhideaway's previous comment, this looks like something very worthwhile. 165,000 stolen cell phones were deactivated in Ecuador according to So, just one more way to protect yourself - report the theft of your phone! Check out the information on living in Ecuador and on security and safety at and They mention things that someone who has not lived overseas may overlook and will refresh the memory of those who are experienced expats. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: When can I return:

When you entered Ecuador, you were given a 90 day visa. From your statement that you were here July and August, the 28-30 days should be left on the original visa. You will not get another 90 day visa for 365 days; however, if you have all your documents ready for your visa, you should be able to come back and submit them without problem. We can refer you to some lawyers or a facilitator. We do not do visas. Karen

Global Expat Forum: Questions about moving to Quito area:

Both Suziehammond and CasadeCuenca make good points. Don't commit to one location until you have visited. Chile is a beautiful country, so is Uruguay, parts of Argentina (personally Buenos Aires and Quito are way too big for me). Among the questions to ask yourself are: what do you plan to do besides go to the organic markets (which abound in Cuenca); what will you need to bring with you - are you a suitcase person or a home mover? Secure being by yourself and able to protect yourself if the need arose? Easily make friends or prone to homesickness? Etc. Would love to see you visit Cuenca - we are not on a direct flight, but only a couple of hours from Guayaquil by land and they do make direct flights. Speaking of that - airline accessibility issues could be another minor thing to consider. These are just a few of the many questions Suzie suggests you ask yourself with good reason. It is sad to see people move here and then leave because the reality is not the same as their expectations. There is a lady here in Cuenca who, in addition to Suzie, offers reality checks on one's capacity to survive in a foreign culture. It is not just Spanish that can be challenging - it is a whole different mindset. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Registration w/ Embassy in Quito:

Great points, Susan. Having lived in various countries, my husband and I have appreciated the efforts of the wardens and our embassies. Those of us in Cuenca are fairly far removed from the embassy functions, but it is still here to assist us. There is nothing more difficult for someone back in the states during a time of duress for their overseas family than to call the embassy, trying to locate someone and the embassy either has no record. Or is not authorized to speak to that family member who is calling. It is heartbreaking for both sides. Karen

Ecuador: TAME Carry-On Luggage Size:

Oversize, overweight, too many bags (limit 1 20 kilo checked and 1 7-8 kilo, according to the officer at their sales desk it is 8 kilos) TAME does not use international standards because they are national carriers. Another option Guayaquil to Cuenca are drivers, vans, buses. Each has restrictions of some sort. Contact for more information. Karen

Ecuador: Internet quality in various parts of EC?:

Here is a great blog - hope they will let me post it - dealing with the Internet services in Ecuador. 2013 speed update We have TVCable and went through a series of home visits when we first set it up. Finally they sent a supervisor who confirmed that there was a problem in the connection outside our house and corrected it. Our big issue was downloading our backup from Carbonite after the failure of two hard drives upon arrival. Carbonite backs up daily, so that is not a big deal. Downloading was something else, until TVCable fixed their device. Make sure you have a good surge protector, regulator connected to any computer on electric power here. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Birth certificates for residency visa application: And check the spelling of all names on the birth certificates. Sometimes they change and do not agree with the original on the birth certificate. The lawyer helped me with that one. (Andrea) Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Shipping Oddities:

If you are a returning Ecuadorian, having been out of the country for sufficient time to import a vehicle, the cost will need to be the manufacturers cost. It doesn't matter how much you massage the price, customs will look at their official documentation for the vehicle as registered by the manufacturer. They will consider your invoice, but remember that tax is also included as part of the cost the customs officer will see. Send me pm for additional information regarding the importation of vehicles. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: cell phone question:

There may be nothing wrong with your phone except an automatic setting that keeps it from pocket dialing. "Pulse * para desbloquer" Try pressing the top button on the left side of your phone and almost immediately thereafter the * key. Your keypad is locked and therefore it doesn't matter what other button you press, you have to unlock the keyboard. Once you have unlocked the keyboard, you can do anything you want with it, including turn off the phone. I hope you have a simple CLARO phone that works like mine. For language, Go to Menu. Select the open ended wrench in the pictures. (not the one with the screwdriver, just the wrench) Go down to "Configuacion de telefono" and select it. the top option should now be "IDIOMA." Select and change to "Ingles." Now your phone should talk to you in English - much easier. Karen Relocationservicesecuador

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Empanadas anyone?:

While Mr. Leven's empanadas sound wonderfully healthy - I prefer the Chilean type. They are almost as meaty as the upper Michigan pasty. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Permanent Visa:

First you should come to Ecuador and look around. Coast, mountains, valleys, jungle - where will you be happiest. You get a free 90 day tourist visa when you step off the plane and come through immigration. You may go in and out of Ecuador multiple times on this visa - up to the 90 day limit. After 365 days, that 90 day visa will regenerate. Beyond that, check out the types of visas available at the government website We can recommend lawyers if you want to investigate visas more specifically. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: TAXI THEFT SALINAS:

Sad story, hard to decide what to do when you become not only the victim but are also given the option of deciding his immediate fate. Difficult, but sounds like mercy won over vengance in this case. Good for you. Hopefully, many of those taxi drivers learned from this and will think twice. Can you find one or two taxi driver there that you can trust and use almost exclusively? That would seemingly reduce your exposure to those who were watching all this go down. Ask for recommendations from friends there in Salinas. Be careful! Did you get the kitten back? Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Seeking Relocation Advice:

Quito is large, compared to Cuenca. Yet Cuenca is rich in art and cultural activities. Not nearly as big as Prague nor as hot as Texas. We came out of Georgetown after a scorching summer. We also do not get as cold as Texas can. A good jacket is helpful, also an umbrella/sunbrella or hat with a brim as the higher altitude means one can burn more quickly. Best advice, if you can, come down and visit. Then move here. It is only about 450,000 people with less than 1% of the population being expats. Just being immersed in it will improve your Spanish immensely. Cuenca is not a little America nor is it a cold Texas - quite different, indeed. Karen

Ecuador: The Anxiety behind moving overseas:

You can almost feel the anxiety in the visa office as people struggle with things they may not fully understand - Ecuadorian visa laws. Yet the young ladies and gentlemen who work there are thoroughly trained and competent in English and Spanish. It is difficult for them to face anxious customers all day, every day, yet they smile and do their best to explain to those who repeatedly ask "WHY?" or similar questions. I'm not sure about going into a trance, but surely calming yourself and trying to overcome your anxiety will help you as you deal with the well-educated personnel with good intentions of helping you in the visa office. Karen

Global Expat Forum: Jobs in Poznan for English people:

Look around and see what is lacking; then start your own business to fill that need. Try internet teaching. Sites like, and others. Karen

Ecuador: protecting yourself:

Sorry about the lady whose purse got grabbed. It could be helpful to carry a "dud" purse - with nothing really essential in it - maybe some old credit cards and a couple of bucks as a decoy, and then giving it up would not be a problem. Have your more valuable items in an inside pocket or passport wallet. Don't carry your passport - make a copy of the first pages only. I've heard the same about cedula - make a copy of it. Copy your driver's license (if you are not driving). Leave the originals in a safe place - only carry them when needed while you are getting your documents. Many suggest that men have a "dud" wallet for the same purpose. Karen

Ecuador: New to Forum, First Time visitor to Ecuador:

We hope you enjoy your stay. In Cuenca (and Quito) you might want a medium to light-weight jacket. The days have been warmer now, but the evenings are still chilly. Probably won't need it on the coast. There are several nice hotels and also hostals in Cuenca. Check TripAdvisor - visitors freely give you hints and suggestions about places to stay all over Ecuador. They are actual people who have stayed in those hotels. There are a couple of hotels near the Quito airport, which according to people who arrived this weekend, can save you a $30-45 cab ride to and from the Quito airport. That said, I enjoyed Hotel Eugenia on various stays in Quito. For Cuenca, be aware that Nov 3 is Independence Day and hotels fill up quickly the last week in October. You might want to visit here earlier in the month to get lower rates and a confirmed room. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Chocolate, invented in Ecuador: also has an article about chocolate this week. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Getting back the $$$ from visa CD:

Enjoy your visit. Don't stop with just the coast - the mountains and valleys can be enchanting, too. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Cuenca vs Quito:

Recently, someone posted that they could not find a good Spanish school here in Cuenca - everybody was teaching English. Not sure if that is completely true. I know of one school in Cuenca that teaches 2 hours of English per class, but the rest of the classes are in Spanish. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: Okay, what don't I understand?:

One responder suggested asking all the gringos you meet. Another option is to ask all the cab drivers you meet. They may have local insight and have the advantage of having "boots on the ground." If they know of something, get details before visiting - it is not necessarily a rip off, but you want to know what kind of place it is - quiet, busy street, house or apartment, near buses (can be loud and dirty to live on the main thorough-fare where all the buses run), does it have utilities included - what utilities?. If you expect an Ecuadorian dwelling to have TV and internet connected, you may be looking at higher prices. When we searched sites for possible condos we found lots of them. When we contacted the real estate company, many of them were left on the site to show the types of places that were available at one time - not necessarily at this moment. Since the real estate people are not realtors in the U.S. sense of the word, there are no mls available and they often go by leads from friends and relatives. If you are planning to stay 6 months - consider the possible need for medical attention and whether or not an out-of-the-way location would be the best option for you. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: first visit/looking for land/planning vacation:

Well said, sinego! One of the things to consider when thinking about farming here is that it is not all modern. Much of the work may be done by hand - especially in the mountains, and there are many traditions that one might wish to learn and honor regarding life in a rural setting (or city, for that matter). There is a big push for organic farming here and education and farming methods are progressing. You should not overlook spending some time in the cities finding out about the available healthcare facilities and culture as well as researching the visa requirements and options. Enjoy your visit. Karen

Ecuador Welcome Forum: What would you bring....?:

I was in Phamacy just last week and found 5 different colors of earplugs - in multiple sets. What I didn't see were "ear-planes" - which are earplugs with a ceramic plug in them to adjust to pressure of takeoff and landing - great for people who suffer a lot of pain. Those come in two sizes - adult and infant. The cheapest I found were in Walmart - their own brand - but many U.S. pharmacies also have the real and generic version. They are a great pain reliever for me. Karen


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