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The International Writers Magazine:South America

Ecuador - a guide
• Fred C. Wilson III
Ecuador is located on the equator on the northwestern side of South America. It borders the Pacific Ocean on the west, Colombia on the north and Peru on to the south. It was part of the northern Inca Empire until those bad boys from Spain seized control in 1533.


Spain snatched up Latin America and the Philippines using the tried and trusted method of the ancient Romans; divide and conquer pitting one tribe or people against the other then knocking off the winner. Not one to let go, the Spanish held on for hundreds of years though the neo-colonialist mindset still dominates these once proud but conquered peoples. It took liberator Simon Bolivar to lead anti-colonialist forces that gave the Iberians the boot. Bolivar’s goal of a one country continent failed due to political infighting among liberation factions. After decades of corruption in high places Ecuador finally has some semblance of peace though there are serious signs to the contrary. If you want a more of this fascinating country go on line to: ‘Ecuador History ’

The Galapagos Islands are a group of 18 volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean that belong to Ecuador. They’re the country's first national park. Because of the abundance and variety of wildlife, Charles Darwin chose one of these islands to field test his theory of evolution. That island is named after him. A popular tourist attraction is the outdoor Otavalo Craft Market located 66 miles north of Quito. Merchants begin setting up their stands at 5 a.m. and by 9 a.m. the market is in full swing. Shoppers may select from a large variety of animals, produce and craft items. You may never want to return to your country of origin once you visit Ecuador.

Ecuador was the first South American country to have a woman president Rosalia Arteaga; she was president for a day. Now the continent has two female presidents; one in Argentina the other in Brazil with a sister president in Central American Costa Rica. Since 2001 the national currency has been the USD. Considering that country’s long history of political and economic turmoil switching from the long standing Sucre (1884-2001) the monitory move may have been a smart one.

The capitol city is Quito. It’s a pretty country. The locals like most people are okay though a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish would be nice. English is spoken in places. There are many indigenous languages spoken by the large Amerindian population.

I’m 68. I surfed the Net in search of the best places for seniors to retire. Ecuador came in 1st place. That’s saying a lot for the stability of the place. Don’t take my word for it, go on line to one of the many retire/investment sites offered. Before investing your valuable time and resources check with the BBB in your area regarding potential pitfalls. There are many on-line scams. Don’t type yourself into a situation you may regret; be smart! Ecuadorian climate differs regionally due to differences in altitude, proximity to the equator, the Pacific Ocean, etc. The higher the altitude the colder the climate; the inverse is true.

From Domenick Buonamici on buying in Ecuador

After purchase, how do I get a resident visa?

The process is very simple. Upon purchasing a home or land worth at least $25,000, you will be considered an investor in the country and after completing the necessary paperwork with a local attorney, you will be granted a “resident visa.”

The exact requirements for a resident visa constantly vary, but not much more is needed than your passport, a medical exam and proof of purchase. Of course this process should be completed with a local attorney. In addition to your resident visa, other visas are available to you. A work visa can be had easily for around $150 and a local sponsor.

beach hut

The late President Gabriel Garcia Moreno in my opinion soars above the rest of Ecuadorians. From 1845 to 1860 his country was in a state of near anarchy. During their time of troubles a series of weak regimes misruled Ecuador. The nation’s treasury was empty. Ecuador had a colossal foreign debt, no economy worth mentioning, political crooks siphoned off tax money for personal uses, and the Ecuadorian people were on the brink of starvation. In time Moreno changed that. Within his two terms the man fired the crooks then replaced them with honest civil servants. Moreno built a national railroad, had the army retrained by East Prussia’s best, freed the slaves, but paid former slavers insuring that neither party would loose out economically hence no hard feeling from former masters. He instituted a national public school system, helped the Amerindians, created a world class university structure, instituted universal suffrage and instituted national reforms that seized the world’s attention and admiration. Despite his enormous contributions to Ecuadoran society his devoutly Catholic mindset pissed off the wrong people at the wrong time (International Masonry and the U.S. government). Moreno was put on their hit list. He was brutally assassinated on Quito’s cathedral steps in 1875 days into his third presidential term. His was the classic case of ‘no good deed goes unpunished.’ Moreno is now considered a national hero and up for canonization.

Art is a window through which society gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the ethos of a people’s pleasures, pains and their daily struggle for survival. When you tour Ecuador visit the art galleries and museums. The Colonial Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Gallery of Antiques Josue, Pacific Bank Museum and the Las Conceptas Museum are all great treasures that combine art with history. For an alternative view of Ecuadorian religion the Nuestra Señora del Cisne Religious Art Museum is a must. When in Ecuador visit as many museums and art galleries as you can; you’ll get what you paid for and more. (

Ecuador is known for its varieties of potatoes and exotic fruits. Barbequed guinea pig is considered a delicacy.

Layla Pujol and her family live in Washington State. Both she and her husband are chefs specializing in Ecuadorian cuisine. Here’s two simple meals that don’t require a degree in culinary science and a mess of hard to find ingredients to cook. ‘Arroz con Menestra’ or Lentil Stew with Rice. 3 tbs. of canola oil
1 red onion (diced)
1 bell pepper (diced)
3 tomatoes (diced)
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. achiote
4 tbs. chopped cilantro
7 cups of water
1 lb. lentils

First heat your oil at medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add the onion, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, cumin, salt, achiote and 2 tablespoons of cilantro to make a refrito for your stew. Next cook and stir occasionally until all your ingredients are soft for about 5 minutes. Add water, increase heat and bring to a boil. Add the lentils, reduce the heat to medium, cover partially and cook until the lentils are tender before stirring in the remaining 2 tablespoons of cilantro. Remove from heat. Serve with Ecuadorian style rice, carne asada o carne frita, that’s fried sliced beef steaks, fried ripe plantains or green plantains, a small salad or avocado slices and yummy! Dinner is served.
Another one of Lavlita’s delicious recipes
‘Menestra de Porotos’ or ‘Bean Stew.’
1 lbs. dry beans soaked overnight
2-3 tbs. canola oil
1 red onion (diced)
6 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 cup of peeled tomatoes (diced) and fresh/canned tomatoes (peeled)
½ tsp. achiote power
1 tsp. cumin seeds (whole)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbs. chili power
2-3 tbs. finely chopped cilantro or parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Here’s how you make it; heat the oil over medium heat in a saucepan/pot. Add the onions and crushed garlic, cook for about 2-3 minutes, add diced tomatoes, achiote powder, cumin seeds, ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add 8 cups of water and bring to boil. Add the soaked beans and simmer about 2 hours. Mix in your chopped cilantro or parsley.
Serve with Ecuadorian style cooked rice, fried plantains, salad with tomato and onion curtido, fried or grilled meat or fish/poultry/egg, avocado slices and some good aji (Peruvian sauce) or hot sauce on the side. For all you ever wanted to know/learn about Ecuadorian cooking/recipes log in to and subscribe. I did! Layla will supply you FREE Ecuadorian meal ideas.

For a listing of some of Ecuador’s finest restaurants go to:

Ecuador is a Christian country, Roman Catholicism the dominant denomination. Christian and indigenous beliefs have merged. Ecuadorians of all denominations put much faith in local healers or shamans. Ancient remedies are passed down through families generationally. Ecuadorian religion has a strong hold on the people. They’re Bible Christians; people can be seen discussing their beliefs in public, Bibles in hand. Many Africans arrived in Ecuador as slaves in the 17th century. They brought with them a variety of folk religions. Remnants of these religions can be seen on the Ecuadorian coast where ancestor worship and voodoo is de rigueur. Fiestas with a mix of Christian and indigenous beliefs can be seen in the many festivals celebrated throughout the year. The Day of the Dead or Día de Difuntos is celebrated on November 2nd. Long before the Spanish conquest the people would leave food and drink at gravesites for dead relatives. This custom continues on All Saints and All Souls Days; go to

When in Ecuador keep a copy of your identification with proof of citizenship with you at all times. Lock up your passport and valuables in the hotel safe. Do not wear expensive jewelry, clothing or dangle cameras around your neck like a stereotypical tourist; dress down! Watch where you walk and guard your stuff! Use ATMs only inside protected locations. Political demonstrations are frequent in Ecuador. Stay alert in large crowds, and avoid demonstrations in progress as well as suspicious looking packages. Do not attempt to pass a blockade set up by protesters unless you want a trip to the hospital or the morgue.

Consult your doctor before traveling to Quito regarding possible altitude sickness. U.S. Embassy employees have a nighttime curfew for the Mariscal Sucre District because of the high crime rate; imitate them. Do not accept gifts or packages from strangers or leave your bags unsecured. Drug traffickers target unsuspecting tourists. Taxi robberies are common in Guayaquil and Manta. Use only radio-dispatched taxis instead of hailing them on the street. A safe cab list is available on the U.S. Consulate General's website. Avoid public buses. I found out the hard way in Rome.

Ecuador Coast If you’re the scientific type and plan to explore the Galapagos Islands register your trip with the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil and leave an emergency contact with your hotel just in case. Buy travelers insurance. Medical facilities are limited. Air medical evacuations from the islands are expensive and time consuming. Roads in Ecuador are often unmarked, lacking in safety barriers, guardrails, and are used for both vehicles and animals. The U.S. Embassy advises driving only on well traveled highways. Avoid hiking trails and deserted beaches unless you want to get robbed, raped, beaten or murdered.

Tourists groups have been held up and assaulted at gunpoint. Poverty is high in Ecuador; desperate people do desperate things; just so youse know.

Ecuador has 19 active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. In the case of eruption check local news or the Ecuadorian Geophysical Institute online for more information. Yellow Fever occurs in the Amazon Basin. Certification of Yellow Fever vaccination is required to enter or leave the Amazon basin. Watch out for malaria, dengue fever, leishmaniasis an ugly leprosy like skin lesions that kills and other nasty diseases. Taking an anti-malarial drug and protecting yourself from mosquitoes can help lower your risk of contracting these diseases.

According a U.S. State Department Advisory, violent crime in Ecuador is commonplace and getting worse. The national press is proscribed. People engaging in public protests against controversial issues are jailed for ‘terrorism and sabotage’ which nets an 8 year jail sentence. If you’ve seen the Ecuadorian episode on the hit TV hit show ‘Jailed Abroad’ you know what to expect if ever incarcerated in this country; watch your ass! In 2009 an American citizen was kidnapped and held for ransom. Eleven other tourists were snatched during the previous 10 years. Aforementioned tourists are frequently targeted for an array of crimes including rape, robbery, kidnapping and assault. Taking precautions when planning a trip to Ecuador is highly recommended and can help make your trip a safer more enjoyable one. If you become a crime victim in Ecuador, contact the local police as well as the U.S. Embassy in Quito, or the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil. ‘911’ works the same way in Ecuador as it does in the U.S., but operators only speak Spanish. U.S. Embassy Ave. Avigiras E12-170 y Ave. Eloy Alfaro Quito, Ecuador 594-2-398-5000 U.S.

Consulate General 9 de Octubre y Garcia Moreno Guayaquil, Ecuador 593-4-232-3570 For flights to Ecuador I recommend,,, for reasons of affordability. Hotel packages are listed on these sites. See you there!

Last Hurrah in Quito

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