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sun exposure in Cuenca/Quito

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CrowMagna
10/8/2013 15:48 EST

Hello:

I haven't seen this addressed directly, so apologize for any duplication. My husband and I are very interested in making a move to Ecuador. The one item that frightens him (most) is sun exposure close to the Equator. He doesn't want to 'spend the entire day indoors' or always wear long sleeves and a big hat to protect his skin (past occurrence of lesions). Is there something I can tell him to help him relax about this? We do always wear sunscreen. And speaking of that, is it good to bring a large container of sunscreen from the US? Thanks in advance.

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casadecuenca
10/8/2013 18:19 EST

It is not so much the location relative to the equator but altitude. Cuenca and Quito are both in the Andes above 8,000 feet and UV rays are very strong. You can get a burn in 30 minutes. For just a visit bring a couple bottles of Bull Frog SPF 40 or above.

I lived on both coasts of south Florida for over 20 years and savy Floridians do not lay out in the sun. I have lived in Cuenca for almost 2 years and I never leave the house without a hat and usually long sleeves. I have never used sunscreen.

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Marinoni
10/8/2013 18:19 EST

I burned quite quickly in Cuenca, I was told it was the elevation combined with being close to the equator. We have found sunscreen to be ridiculously expensive. If you have the space, stock up on it.

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remoore2001
10/8/2013 18:21 EST

Unfortunately the only thing you can do if you've had problems is to wear long sleeves and a hat. The sun is very intense in Ecuador

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boatmax
10/8/2013 18:52 EST

The rule of thumb as told to me is that the sun is most intense between 11 AM and 3 PM, and you should limit yourself to an hour to one and a half hours during that time; and that is for those without skin problems. There are native Ecuadorians who have sun allergies, and never go out without a sun hat.

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withoutego
10/8/2013 19:31 EST

All true and good advise. The people in Cuenca carry umbrellas for the sun, not so much for rain. If they don't have an umbrella they shield their faces with a newspaper. They choose the shaded sides of the bus or street. They know about the sun.

UV eye wear for everyone! those rays are not good, they break down lots of chemistry...high energy. And they are not a bit stronger at 8500 feet, they are much stronger.

You would wear long sleeves in Cuenca anyway. Its not Florida or AZ, the air is thinner. The hat...lots of cool hats to wear. One gets used to all this.

sin ego

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satyarising
10/8/2013 20:38 EST

I have lived in Cuenca for 5 months, and lived on the coast for 8 months before that. It is cool enough in Cuenca that wearing long sleeves is not uncomfortable. I never wear a hat, and I don't use sunscreen. I can walk around town all afternoon and not get a sunburn. It is usually partly cloudy, and bright sunshine appears for a while then disappears. If you are very sun sensitive, maybe you need sunscreen and a hat, but its not hot enough in Cuenca for these things to be uncomfortable. The sun is brightest during the lunch hour when many of the shops are closed anyway, and you are likely to be indoors eating lunch yourself.

If this worry is enough to stop you from coming to Ecuador, perhaps you should consider moving to another country that is further from the equator, like Southern Chile. No place is paradise for everyone, and there are trade-offs one way or the other no matter where you choose to live. I guess its a matter of what your personal priorities are. Good luck with you decision making.

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CrowMagna
10/8/2013 22:19 EST

Thanks to all for the information! It is truly appreciated, and an indication of the great community in Ecuador. We're very excited to take this next step in our lives. Again, thanks.

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kathyjeffers
8/6/2016 13:14 EST

I just got back from Equador, and am considering moving there as well. I have problem skin, and spent the entire time covered up, wearing a hat, and with sunscreen. From the middle of my forearm to my wrist developed little red spots, even though I had sunscreen on. That was the only place that was not covered. So, I can attest to the fact that yes, the sun is VERY intense there. I was mostly in Quito, Cuenca, and Cotacachi. I read on the internet that for every 1,000 feet of elevation you have 10% more chance of burning, so Quito, at about 9,300 ft. gives you a 93% more chance of burning! This sunburn problem may be the one factor that keeps me from moving there, but I'm still considering it, as I absolutely FELL IN LOVE with the country!
Kathy

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kathyjeffers
8/6/2016 13:18 EST

I saw sunscreen with high SPF in the "pharmacia" there in Quito, Cuenca and Cotacachi, so I don't think you'd have to bring your own, and I don't think it cost anymore than in the US.

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icemeister
8/6/2016 14:16 EST

Hawaiian Tropic SPF30 at Fybeca is about $18 for 30 ml or $14 with their Vital card. The same thing at Wal-Mart in the States is around $7-8.

Also, the max protection level generally available here is SPF 30, which is like using next to nothing.

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3travelingbears
8/6/2016 19:06 EST

For those who are affected by the sun, and more so at high altitudes, maybe the coast is the place for you. We are currently in San Vicente, near Bahia and Canoa. Yes, the area was affected greatly by the earthquake, but plans and rebuilding is going on, and there are plans for injection of large sums to rebuild this whole area with a specific view to tourists and retirees who are coming down. This area gets warm and humid during the wet season. Right now it is actually cool. The ocean breezes are great year round. My husband and teen son, and both very blond, and use sunscreen only when we are out at the beach, but for the most part are not burned. We love this area, and hope that others can enjoy it like we do. Hope this helps. Come on down and try it here.

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OceanHideaway
8/6/2016 21:22 EST

Great thread...

I am very fair, with blue eyes, freckle, burn, blister and any scratch is quickly an infection... so I am very sun concious...

On the other hand, vitamin D is really important...

And I too love Ecuador...

Happily, I am in a twon that works well for me, with shops and restaurants and markets open at night. I have always been a night owl...and with 12 hours of night and the hours of 6 to 10am and 3 to 6 pm available to me, I get to enjoy a good 7 hours of non burning sunlight and still have a reasobanle quality of life...since most places shut down also for Lunch (almuerzo...late morning to mid afternoon.

Saturdays are a party day and night but here in Montañita there is a definite rhthym to the days and nights... and I have more hours to my days here than I did back in the USA. Of course that´s me, and has to do with the type of business I do...

Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)

Susan

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cristos7
8/7/2016 16:12 EST

Since half Irish/half Greek, I burn then tan, and am generally skeptical about claims that the sun is our enemy...

That said, skin cancer (along with most other types of cancer) is serious stuff.and becoming epidemic. From a common sense POV I'd have to agree with your husband about tempting fate... But hey, what's the point of living if you're gonna be paranoid about dying? Give it a try-out and see what you think. Buenas Suerte!

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Sojourner44
8/7/2016 16:19 EST

I'm lucky. I was a beach rat with a deep tan most of my life and never used any protection other than Coppertone. Most of the time we slathered on baby oil to intensify the effects of the sun. Burned and peeled many times. Last month a skin doctor told me I had excellent skin in great condition...go figure! I'm 72 this month.

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windshadow
8/8/2016 08:10 EST

Don't let anyone fool you, the sun is intense here. Some people don't have a problem with it and others just rot from the inside out.

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dumluk
8/8/2016 14:46 EST

@W.S........jajaja......rot from the inside out, heh? If thats the case, then it can most likely be attributed to another cause.......maybe stewing negativity? I know the sun is intense in Ecuador and especially at high elevations......but not that much different than Panama at 7-8degrees N. latitude.......considering how much time I spend or have spent under tropical sun, if anybody should have skin cancer its me..........but nada..........never........and I hardly ever use sunscreen, maybe a tad on my nose........I do splash aloe vera/sabila all over exposed parts after sun session and maybe that helps.........and that 11am to 3pm is a good rule to follow..........

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windshadow
8/8/2016 19:31 EST

Dumluk,
Lot's of stewing here too! I am happy for you, not getting skin cancer.
I worry more about the uv effect on my eyes. Doctor advises to wear eye protection even on cloudy days due to the intense radiation.

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