Co-author of Lonely Planet’s Brazil guide and coordinating author of the Brazil section of South America on a Shoestring guide, Kevin has–not surprisingly–traveled extensively across Brazil. He learned to dive in Fernando de Noronha, sought after the perfect moqueca from Espírito Santo to Bahia and swam with pink dolphins in the Amazon.
Favorite São Paulo Restaurant: Maní
Favorite Beach: Praia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha
Favorite Bar Snack: Coxinhas at Bar Veloso, São Paulo
Favorite Ecotourism Destination: Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul
This Boston-raised and Chicago-educated journalist never felt so at home as she does in Bogotá. In just over a year, Natalie swam in the jewel-blue Caribbean near Santa Marta, chowed on ceviche in Cartagena, hiked through misty wax palms in Salento, ogled dinosaur fossils in Villa de Leyva and danced salsa into the wee hours in Cali.
Favorite food: Ajíaco
Favorite coffee shop: Juan Valdez Café
Favorite hidden gem: José Celestino Mutis Jardín Botánico in Bogotá
Favorite place to spend all my money: Usaquén Sunday market
Since moving to Santiago eight years ago, Eileen has sat with huasos at a rodeo in Futaleúfu, eaten chancho en piedra near the river in Talca and bought olives in Punta de Choros. As a travel writer, she dispenses advice for a living, so feel free to ask a question!
Favorite beach town: Pichilemu
Best hiking near Santiago: Parque Mahuida, or Aguas de San Ramón
Favorite spot for lunch in the Vega Chica: Tía Ruth’s
Best place to buy souvenirs in Santiago: Pueblo Los Dominicos
A Lima native, Karina eats Peruvian adventure for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A travel guide in the Amazon and elsewhere, she loves helping people discover and appreciate what makes Peru, Peru.
Favorite Amazonian flower: lobster claw (heliconia rostrata)
Favorite type of ceviche: sea urchin
Favorite place to surf: Los Organos
Lance Andrew Brashear
Having lived in Quito since 2003, Lance knows Ecuador inside and out, from the jungle to the coast to the Galapagos. When he’s not out there exploring, he’s relishing the joy of being a husband and dad.
Favorite place to get lost: Quito historical district
Favorite museum: City Museum in old town
Favorite Galapagos animal: Blue-footed boobie
October 2012 Questions
Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar which makes for an odd and often distorted economy. Overall, Ecuador is cheaper than North America. But somethings are ridiculously expensive (electronics, clothing, liquor – essentially, anything imported can be outrageously priced when compared to North America). Other things are surprisingly inexpensive: transportation, food and accommodations (do a little homework), taxes, health costs, and many other local services are well-below North American levels.
I cannot speak directly to the ease of obtaining resident papers, but there are thousands of expats who have relocated to Ecuador in recent years who seem to have few challenges in getting residency. I would recommend going to this site: Cuenca High Life. At the sight you can sign up for the email service GringoTree which delivers all kind of information from and for the Gringo Community (the mail goes to more than 4,000 contacts). Twice a day you will receive emails with postings from fellow expats asking questions, providing information etc. Many have concerns and questions about visas and residency. You can also make your own posts and will receive responses.
If you are asking about these questions then you must know that Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, is the number one city according to International Living Magazine to retire and/or live outside the United States, taking into consideration all factors such as cost of living, security, climate, services, and general quality of life. As a result, Cuenca has seen its expat population grow ten-fold in the past three years, from about 400 to approximately 4,000 full-time and part-time residents (statistic is from the Ministry of Foreign Relations, which opened a visa processing office in Cuenca this year to address the increased need for processing applications – lawyers no longer needed. And that is generally a good thing).
When in Colombia it is best to fly between cities. Bus service is hit and miss due to variable weather and faulty infrastructure.
The packages available in the market are made only to experience one city in a week or in four days. They do not not include several city trips. However, if you ask in the major travel agencies called Aviatur, they can help provide accommodation and tours according to your needs.
I suggest you go to La Bodega Verde. It is located in the bohemian district of Barranco next to the Pacific Ocean. “La Bodega”, as locals call it, offers a huge variety of teas as well as deserts in a beautiful garden. There is wi-fi, books, and games if you want to spend a nice afternoon. You can find more details on their Facebook page.
The only thing I would recommend is that you come and see it for yourself if Ecuador is what you imagine it is or could be.
Ecuador has seen rapid growth in expats relocating to Ecuador, particularly in the city of Cuenca in Southern Ecuador. There are reasons for this, one of which is the attention given to it by International Living. Cuenca, and Ecuador in general, have attractive qualities, but it is not for everyone. I will recommend for you, what I recommend for others.
First, do as much research from your computer as you can. A lot of information is available. One thing you should do is visit Cuenca High Life and sign up for the GringoTree email service. You will get a sense of the U.S. expat community in Cuenca. Even though you wish to live on the coast, this can put you in touch with other expats, most of whom are retired, living on the ground in Ecuador. From there you can expand your circle of contacts.
Second, come visit … more than once, including a long-term visit of several months, to know if you really want the Ecuador life.
If you are determined to live on the beach, check out Salinas (peninsula on the coast), Canoa, San Clemente (near Bahia de Caraquez). I know these places have small expat communities. Canoa and San Clemente are more isolated than Salinas. Manta used to be attractive, but since the U.S. military base was closed, I don’t know if it remains attractive. Again, come and see for yourself. Reading a blog is not the same as visiting. Good luck.
Yes, English is spoken frequently within the tourism environment. On the streets it is a little more challenging, but people are often helpful even if they are not fluent. Getting around is not difficult. Public transportation in Quito is easy and abundant. The problem is the congestion. Taxis are economical and the city bus lines even more so. For leaving the city you can take a bus, but if you are nervous about that mode of transportation (not everyone is comfortable on a Latin American bus), then hire a private taxi or chauffeur. Virtually all hotels can facilitate your needs and help you arrange transportation. Don’t worry, you need only a small sense of adventure. A friendly disposition will get you a long way.
And within two hours of Quito, in any direction, are innumerable destinations for adventure, relaxation, and exploration. Some suggestions would include:
In Quito: You cannot come to Quito without visiting the central historic district, the reason the city was the first UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. It is a labyrinth of treasures, both tangible and intangible.
North: The popular excursion north of Quito is the market town of Otavalo, renowned for its artisan crafts. The region also boasts natural lakes and other attractions including centuries old haciendas.
East: Save this for the few days following your kayaking trip. A visit to Papallacta hot springs, only 1 ½ hours east is one of the best ways to get away and relax and unwind.
South: For exploration and adventure, the Avenue of the Volcanoes, particularly around the Cotopaxi region, offer breath taking views, trekking, biking, climbing, horseback riding for all levels of interest and experience. And stay in some of the greatest haciendas of the Andes.
West: Thecloud forest of Mindo offer all kind of activities. A number of hostels and resorts are found in the region. It is one of the world’s greatest destinations for bird watching but is a great all-round eco-friendly experience.