Ecuador vs the States

Let’s say things were different. Let’s say I won the California lottery and could live this comfortably in the States, or inflation here reaches somewhere between Argentine and Venezuelan proportions so Ecuador becomes expensive for what you get. And let’s say, for some hypothetical reason, I had to choose between the States and Ecuador where to live. Which would I choose?

I guess it would depend on “what you get”. That, in turn, depends on what you want and how bad you want it. Do I want faster internet? Sure. The fastest connection you can buy here is 28 Mbs, shared with 8 customers, which means sometimes I can’t stream baseball games or the resolution is pathetic. Would I like the variety of restaurants you can find in a city of this size in America? Sure. Despite the cosmopolitan nature of Cuenca, it’s cosmopolitan by Ecuador standards, meaning it’s only three times as cosmo as Stockton and a third as cosmo as Oakland (much less San Francisco). Even in Stockton, the shopping is better. Do I not like the way Ecuadorans will cheat you at every turn if they can? Sure. The list goes on and on.

But all those “sures” should be qualified by “but not that much”. Slow internet? Remember, it’s not like I’ve been traveling in Europe all these years. The only place nearly as developed as the States I’ve been is Korea, unless you count the city-states of Singapore and Hong Kong. China’s the next most developed and it’s got a long way to go. Like, internet is even slower. I’m used to dealing with it and have accepted what is. Same goes for the restaurants. China is meager as far as foreign food goes, though I must say Chinese food there is much better than the Chinese food elsewhere. Duh. Cheating? Hey, this is Latin America. China, the rest of Asia and Africa are way worse, anyway. I’m used to it and fortunately, we don’t get cheated near as much as newbies.

Speaking of “Hey, this is Latin America”, security can be an issue. Some places are less secure, like most of Central America, a lot of Mexico, certainly Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil. And South Africa! OMG! Most of Ecuador is better than most of those places. Cuenca isn’t as safe as China or Korea, but it’s safer than Oakland or Stockton. So, on that matter, Cuenca is fine with me. Myung is, too. She walks anywhere she wants whenever she wants.

The real difference that makes a difference is still communication. My abilities in Spanish get better all the time, but we kind of stick to ourselves and don’t try to blend in as much as we could or would have to if we were in a more thoroughly Ecuadoran city. 2%, or about 10.000 people, in this city of half a million are gringos. Parenthetically, many long time gringos haven’t learned any Spanish, which leaves a poor impression on the locals.

Comparing the anti-immigrant/racist tendencies of the two countries is a whole other subject

You may be wondering if I will say if I would prefer the States or Ecuador. Okay, I’ll give you the verdict and explain. Ecuador. Here’s why.

After a long time doing without commonplace things in the US, I no longer need them, or even think about them most of the time. A car would be way too expensive for what I’d get out of it. In the US, I’d need to work again just to maintain a car, which is necessary with the crude public transportation system in the States. Slow internet is okay. I’ll wait till later to watch the game. Myung doesn’t like to go out to eat much, so meh, let it go. Just let it go. It’s good practice.

Myung wants to add that she always wanted to live where it’s spring all year round, like here. Others might like the seasons, but she likes spring all year. I know, though, that she’d like a lower elevation. She used to have all kinds of endurance, and now she doesn’t climb hills or long stairs well, and takes iron supplement to boost her hemoglobin and blood oxygen so she doesn’t get headaches.

Oh, and there’s zero air pollution. Clear as a bell every day.

The best thing about living here is the food we make at home. The produce here is much, much better than what is readily available in the States. And cheaper. I must say, the beef is not. Let it go. Maybe at Whole Foods or a top produce store like Monterey Market in Berkeley, the produce is half as good, but at what cost. Yum, I like how the tomatoes, avocadoes, mangoes, etc., are never Safeway rocks. Even the oranges are better. Apples and pears are better in the States. Greens are somewhat better here. I have to admit, I like genetically modified corn in the States better than the several kinds of indigenous corn here. Oh, and peas are fresh and very cheap here. Let’s see. I could go down the list, but the fresh food here is much better in general. Cooking has really become Myung’s thing, so that matters. In fact, it may be the difference maker.

Enchiladas. The tortillas are made down the street.

Enchiladas. The tortillas are made down the street.

Some things we haven’t been eating here, even though they are popular.


Guinea pig, called¬†cuy, is very popular, even more so in nearby Peru. I’m okay with them and they are inexpensive, but they are little like game hens and squab. Too labor intensive.


Cuy and chicken for sale in the market.

Cuy and chicken for sale in the market.

So ¬†there you have it. It’s easy here and the food is good. I admit it’s easy because for me it’s easy. I don’t miss a lot of the lifestyle I had as a middle class American. There’s little I personally can’t do without.

I may change my tune entirely after I have some surgery that’s coming up. You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health. I think it’s going to be fine, and everything is covered here for $85/mo for the two of us, but the care here isn’t as good as the States. If I lose my health, a thousand bucks a month for US health insurance might not look so expensive in retrospect. It’s all part of my personal risk reward calculation. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out I live fewer years. Quality vs quantity.

That reminds me, I don’t miss dealing with health insurance, Obamacare and all that. Here, you have your health care premium deducted from your account, and all you do for anything including most meds is flash your card. On the other hand, for non-emergent things, the wheels sure turn slowly.

I think I’ve gone on enough on that subject. News update? Well. things are about the same. We like to go to the almost weekly free classical music concerts by either the Cuenca Symphony or the University of Cuenca Symphony. there’s plenty of other free stuff to go to. I like going to the Jazz Society of Ecuador where the jazz is often good. I went to “Greater Tuna’ a couple of weeks ago. It was fun laughing at Americana.

Sole and Augustine are just about to launch their restaurant, La Hermita, which is attached to All Saints Church. It’s been fun for us, watching that come together. I had doubts it would fly, but they seem to be doing all the right things. They’re creating a lot of publicity and hired good staff and a renowned chef from Quito. They had an infomercial made. We’re in it, pretending to be customers. The food was made hours earlier, but we tried to look like we were about to dig in.

Sole's mom and dad during the shooting of the La Hermita commercial

Sole’s mom and dad during the shooting of the La Hermita commercial



Parts of the church and this, which is attached, are over 200 years old. The church itself is nearly new, built in 1927.


I was told this brick oven is in the same spot as one 400 years ago.


Myung and Sole

Myung and Sole

A couple of days ago, the restaurant was part of what will be a half hour program on Iglesia Todos Santos. Most of footage was under the “Broken Bridge” which you’ve seen before…


Iglesia Todos Santos

Iglesia Todos Santos

Here’s the chef and Sole all made up for the TV show.


We ate the display afterward. I kinda look like the grim reaper. That’s Augustin on the left.


Myung is preparing to make and sell bakery goods there. Probably, she’ll start making things here and in Sole’s kitchen, but she wants to familiarize herself with using the kitchen and industrial sized ovens at the restaurant. I’m not sure about the health department regulations here, but likely she will have to use the approved kitchen there. She’s totally got a bee in her bonnet. Given her life history, I suspect she’s going to do it. Upcoming posts will keep you informed.

That was a lot of pictures for that, but we don’t take many photos these days. They are what we have.

Here’s one of the flower market.


Here’s one of Luna who usurped my pillow.


Here we are watching the World Series.


That’s the news and my blathering for now. Be well, all of you.










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