Hello expats.. planning on visiting Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Salidas in September to explore whether I would like to move to Ecuador and where. I am looking to connect with some friendly people who do not mind sharing their experiences of the pros and cons of Ecuadorian life.
A very big step for me but I have heard so many good things about Ecuador (not to say that there aren't bad things too) but I am willing to explore the possibilities.
Any friends out there in the places I plan on visiting who are willing to connect and share information? Thank you and God bless.
In the post immediately below this one (at least at the moment!) about "Meeting Expats in Cuenca," someone mentioned dropping by Cuenca's Inca Bar in the late afternoon.
I don't know of a consistently reliable watering hole like the Inca in those other places, but that'd be a good idea.
Reading the various posts here will help a lot to get oriented to the issues. But when it comes to judging what's up for you, you need to meet people whose experiences you can judge in person. Everything you hear will be that persons perspective.
As I think I've said before here previously, you're not the first person who'd like to get a handle on all things Ecuador from afar, but it 'aint going to happen.
The details of life here are a moving target. If there's any lesson you need to learn, its that while you can/should meet people to get oriented, nobody has all the answers, because they're always changing.
If, at the end of the day, you're not comfortable figuring things out and acting on your own, you need to re-think relocating.
Kmarch's observations are correct to a point, as it is possible to come to Cuenca and just melt into the local expat community. Especially if you have a modest amount of $ and like to drink.
I occasionally drop into the Sunrise Cafe (another expat hangout) to meet people, and Orlando and the staff always want to give me one of their customary hugs. They've learned this is what their clientele wants and needs, and if that's you, self-knowledge is a wonderful thing.
Especially in Cuenca a little broken Spanish will get you through most encounters, and for the others you'll be hanging around with know-it-alls with more blustery confidence than real cultural competence or you can hire a (slightly) more capable facilitator. That's often all it takes.
In real life, KNOWLEDGE is the booby price. EXPERIENCE is what you will need and it is something you must accumulate, especially if you seek to flourish outside the community of expat poseurs and miscellaneous wash-outs who have washed-up here. There are all sorts who find themselves in Cuenca, but a number of them are at the end of their particular roads, and are not necessarily here out of choice. If this is you, you'll have found yourself; if not those you meet by random in local expat community will represent a starting point. Nothing more.
Your opportunities and challenges will be unique. So, you need critically to listen to those you meet....Not dismissively, just recognizing they are giving some combination of opinion and information, reflected their own pride and biases. What they provide should be considered a starting point.
For those who show you up lost and lonely, looking for someone to take you under their wing, someone is indeed likely to take them.
The bottom line is that you will either be responsible for yourself and do well, or you will struggle.
To anyone moving to a foreign country for the first time, the process can be a little daunting and therefore it is understandable that some folks seek the comfort and security of being around fellow expats to ease the transition to their new home. Many seek "jumping off" points - cities like Cuenca or towns like Vilcabamba where's there's a large concentration of expats. There is certainly nothing wrong with this and for a some, a lot to recommend this course of action BUT there are also pitfalls.
I spent a large portion of my life working and/or living or traveling in countries all over the globe,so when I decided to reside in Ecuador full time back in early 2013, I was somewhat an exception to the norm. I was perhaps better prepared for the social and cultural adjustments and knew the country - having been here several times over the years, prior to my final move. But my motivations were not dissimilar to many others.
I am somewhat of a loner when traveling and do not seek out socializing with fellow "countrymen" - preferring to assimilate, as much as possible, into the local cultures. As a general rule, I have always eschewed expat hangouts as being, by nature, inbred and often populated by the disaffected and disgruntled. Likewise, it tends to contain individuals who prey on the gullible newbies and tourists. It was also one of the reasons I avoided the "destination" cities and opted to make Machala my home.
"Individual Results May Vary" - but for me, it has worked out fine. I met a wonderful lady during my first year in Machala and married her a year later. Her family is now my family and we are both very happy.
While I don't know of many gringos in Machala, - except the pastors of my wife's church - I am always happy to help any expats or people interested in moving to Ecuador. In the past 6 years, my wife and I have spent a lot of time traveling and exploring this beautiful country and we are more than happy to share our experiences and observations with anyone who is interested in a slightly different point of view.
To me, there are no dumb questions, (only people dumb enough NOT to ask them), and I will answer the same question a thousand times because I realize that, for the person asking, it is the FIRST time. If someone has a question they can always post on this Forum and if I can, I will try to answer it, or they can PM ( Personal Message) me and I will answer as quickly, concisely, and honestly as I can.
"Expat hangouts as being, by nature, inbred and often populated by the disaffected and disgruntled." . . . Is a bit harsh. But we all appreciate your willingness to help the newcomers . . . Especially with info about Machala.
Thanks for responding. I am sure we all ask ourselves the same questions when thinking about relocating to a new place and I know it takes time and it's not the same for everyone. But it's good to learn from others who have gone before us so we can avoid some of the typical mistakes.
I am a member of International Living so information is not lacking and I have been doing a lot of reading too. I am pretty friendly and don't think I'll have any problems getting around as I hear the people there are friendly and willing to help. Just nice to know there are expats out there willing to share the pros and cons. Thanks for your feedback and all the best to you.
Thanks again for your comments. I have been responsible for myself for the past 50 years and welcome opportunities and challenges.
I am sure I will go through my own struggles being in a new place and all but that's how one grows and becomes even stronger as long as you do not let these things affect you too much, knowing that's "just life". We all go through our own trials but it's how you come out of those trials that will affect our lives.
I hope and pray that things are becoming better for you in Cuenca.
I didn't detect a note of condescension there did I?
Actually, I live and much prefer Quito for life and work, but that's just me. I did live in Cuenca when I first came to Ecuador, and end-up returning several times a year, but it is too early for me to retire.
Matter of fact, at the moment I'm in Cuenca, but am leaving tomorrow. I do like the place to visit, as I just did with a couple friends from the US on tour. It has been fun hitting places like the Inca and San Sebas Cafe, and particularly to see it all through my friends eyes.
There are a lot of ways to live a life, even in a small town like Cuenca, and I suspect you'll find your spot here or somewhere else in the country.
Spencer, Kim is simply the best person to meet in Salinas - or most anywhere else for that matter. She is a great person and has lots of insider information on the town and the entire region. We fell in love with Salinas and hope to get there sooner rather than later -- and Kim was the main reason we felt so comfortable there immediately. We have lived overseas before, and it is always an adjustment, but it's also an adventure, and you sound like you're ready for that. Keep plugging away, and maybe we'll meet you there some day!
P.S. Yes, knowing other ex-pats will make your transition easier. But learning Spanish and assimilating into the culture will make your life immeasurably richer.
An American expat and his Ecuadorian wife, who initially lived with family in Quito, moved to Cuenca and enjoy life there. The expat husband advises anyone considering a move to Ecuador to learn Spanish, realize that you'll have to travel home see your family (most won't visit you) and know that homesickness happens in random moments that sneak up on you.
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