ECUADOR: First Impressions

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My first impressions of Ecuador really surprised me.

We landed in Quito. Quito International Airport is a brand new and recently opened first class modern airport. It is spotlessly clean, air conditioned and has huge art on the walls which capture in photos all the beautiful places you can visit here and also welcoming you in many languages. It was a relief, after a long travel day, to discover that every single sign is also written in several languages and leads you exactly where you need to go next.

Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Quito Ecuador

Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Quito Ecuador

The Quito International Airport slogan is, “We Bring The World To Ecuador!” I saw that this was indeed true while I was waiting in the  Immigration line. I looked around in some degree of awe as I observed at all the people of many nationalities and heard their many different languages being spoken. To be completely honest, even after everything so positive that I had read online about Ecuador, I had still expected something, well, a little more run down or somehow more “Third World.” However, the Quito International Airport equalled, and in some aspects surpassed, any airport I had ever seen in any “First World” country.

Signs: Mariscal Sucre International Airport

Signs: Mariscal Sucre International Airport

The people at Ecuador Immigration are helpful and friendly. There are no bomb sniffing dogs, visible guns or bullet proof vests.  Rather, when it was our turn to have our passports stamped to enter the country, the Border Immigration guard struck up a very warm and welcoming conversation with me in Spanish. And when he saw that my husband looked a little bit lost and wasn’t joining in the conversation, he kindly and effortlessly switched to speaking in English. When he had stamped our passports, he said with a warm smile, “Welcome to my country: the beautiful and tranquil Ecuador. I hope you enjoy your time here with us. Buen Viaje! Have a good trip.” We walked through the Passport Control smiling, shaking our heads in wonder and feeling surprisingly and unexpectedly welcome.

In our first three weeks looking for a place to live in Ecuador that “Spoke” to us, we rented a car and drove over 500 miles. We explored all the way from The Sierras with it’s mountains of surrounding volcanoes, west to the Coast and then south along the Pacific Ocean. We drove as far south as the city of Salinas which looks a lot like South Beach, Miami with it’s impressive skyline of huge high rise buildings.

Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

The country of Ecuador is the size of the entire U.S. State of Colorado but it is quite surprising in it’s diversity of climate and terrain. In those 500 miles of driving, we saw everything from the beautiful modern city of Quito, which was the first World Heritage Site to deep wet jungles to volcanoes to arid deserts with cactus plants to the semi arid areas with giant Kapok trees (which I totally thought belonged in a Maurice Sendak book)  to the breathtaking undeveloped coastline. Some of our personal highlights of our drive were the amazing artisan markets of Otavalo in Cotacachi, the darling and quaint Olon, where we stayed overnight in a treehouse and both Manzanita and Canoa, two of the top 50 surfing beaches in the world.

Artisan Market: Otavalo, Ecuador

Artisan Market: Otavalo, Ecuador

Artisan Market: Otavalo, Ecuador

Artisan Market: Otavalo, Ecuador

My Room In A Treehouse, Olon, Ecuador

My Room In A Treehouse, Olon, Ecuador

Resort, Ayangue, Ecuador

Resort, Ayangue, Ecuador

Rainforest: Ecuador

Rainforest: Ecuador

2013 Surfing Championship Billboard: Montanita, Ecuador

2013 Surfing Championship Billboard: Montanita, Ecuador

Many people come here to experience only the beautiful Galapagos Islands and they might think that that’s all there is to Ecuador. But I’m here to tell you that there it much more to Ecuador than that one beautiful place and those very special animals who live there. Everywhere you go in Ecuador right now, you can feel the country bursting at it’s seams to grow and modernize for the population boom to come in the not too distant future.

Ecuador is doing quite well economically, carries no debt and has a jobless rate of 4.6%. Since his election in 2009, President Rafael Correa and his Administration have invested very impressive amounts of government money on building infrastructure within all of Ecuador. There are billboards in every city or town which announce with great fanfare and drawings about the renovations that are in process or to come and how much money will be spent on them.

Correa Administration Investments: Ecuador

Correa Administration Investments: Ecuador

As a result of these Correa’s Administration investments, we drove on ultra modern highways and extremely well built roads all over the country. We crossed over very impressive 1.3 mile long bridges connecting the cities of Bahia de Caraquez to San Vincente. We saw the huge governmental investment on buildings, malecons and city renovations all over the country, in cities and towns, both large and small. This emphasis on country wide modernization, connecting by road the previously cut off areas of Ecuador, is making places such as The Coast easily accessible to visit for the people from The Sierra mountains and vice versa more than ever before in Ecuador’s history.

This also means that land and development investment opportunities on The Coast of Ecuador are ripe for the picking right now, with empty lots on beachfront land everywhere, both up and down the coast, from the smaller town of Perdenales to just above the thriving city of Salinas. It is only a matter of time before all the currently vacant land for sale will inevitably be purchased by individuals and developers alike from all over the world. Everyone I talk with here believes that the time is coming when the current coastline will resemble the beautiful expensive beachfront homes and modern developments of early Malibu in California, West Palm Beach, Florida and what is developing right now in the “Riviera Maya,” south of Tulume Mexico being touted as “The New Cancun.”

Home: Crucita, Ecuador

Home: Crucita, Ecuador

At the same time, many people all over the countryside and coastal areas still live in tiny tin roofs shacks where there is no hot or running water and all laundry is still done by hand. In some places, after it rains and the sun goes down, massive numbers of very aggressive mosquitos come out looking for fresh blood and the dirt roads everywhere become both deep and very slippery with mud. Right now, it’s also not at all surprising on The Coast to see a brand new 8 story modern condo building standing adjacent to a tin roof shack which houses a multi generational family of ten people. I’ve also been in an exquisitely beautiful Mediterranean style villa home which looms over empty lots filled with animals and garbage on both sides, around the back and across the street.

So if I were to sum up my first impressions of Ecuador after living here for two months, it is a country filled with a warm, welcoming and helpful people with quite different values and focus from where I came from in the U.S. They are a people who are not necessarily focused, day to day, year after year, on the ultimate goal of making the “Almighty Buck.” Rather, they concentrate their time, moment by moment, on working at whatever they do just hard enough so that they can have the time and enough money to create “A Tranquil Life” or “Una Vida Tranquilla.” The average person’s focus on “quality of life”  is quite high, both for themselves as individuals working toward’s having enough time to spend laying peacefully in their hammocks and also having plenty of play time to spend with their families.

Family Time: Crucita, Ecuador

Family Time: Crucita, Ecuador

At the same time, there is a constant collision between the Ecuador that has “Been” with the Ecuador that is right now in the process of “Becoming.” One thing I do know is that this  current evolution and change colliding with traditional multi generational Ecuadorian values has stuck a deep chord within me. I don’t entirely understand it all yet. I feel oddly emotionally protective of “The Old Ways” of the traditional Ecuadorian people and at the same time I completely intellectually understand the “Inevitability Of Progress.” I cannot yet tell what will ultimately be gained and what will be lost as this process of evolution in this small country of Ecuador continues to push forward into unprecedented territory.

So I will continue to keep my eyes and ears open for more clues as I observe the transformation taking place in my daily life here – both within me and around me. I am well aware that there is never any “Perfect Place” in the world to live and every place has it’s “positives” and “negatives” depending on your vantage point. And I’ll also admit that its definitely been a real challenge, both personally and professionally, to move to a completely new and very different country. But it is those very differences and the people of a country which are the very things that can, quite possibly, endear them to you forever.

Proud Fisherman and His Catch: Crucita, Ecuador

Proud Fisherman and His Catch: Crucita, Ecuador

PS: Would you like more ACCURATE, AUTHENTIC and UP TO DATE INFORMATION about ECUADOR?

WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward

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WHY MOVE TO ECUADOR? – An American Woman’s Life Changing Journey

Why would an American Woman in her mid fifties move her entire life to Ecuador? Good question.

I’ve travelled all over the world, both for work and pleasure. These trips deeply enriched my life and opened my eyes to how other people think, live and work. However, after each trip, I always came back “Home,” home to my world in the U.S. where I felt I was safe and secure, my friends and family were within easy reach, I was working hard, I believed that I was doing my very best to be “a good person,” and overall, life was good. Then I got sick and everything changed.

As many people know, Cancer can really knock you on your ass. Several cancers right in a row, radiation treatments and two bad accidents have the potential to obliterate a person. In severe pain and suffering, I had to make my mind go some place else: on a fantasy journey to my “happy place,” where my I played games with myself and went places in my mind to take my mind off the reality of the pain and suffering I was actually in.

My “mind travels” sometimes didn’t work. It was then that I had to face square on that I might die, leaving two grown children to fend for themselves and ponder the grandchildren as yet unborn, who I would never meet.

When my “mind travels” worked, I imagined the books of my life experiences that I would write someday, the people I would meet as I signed my books and all the places I would travel to. I often wondered, “If I live through all this crap, what would it really be like to actually move to and live in another country?”

But those thoughts of actual travel were fleeting as the responsibilities of cancer recovery and physical rehabilitation, keeping my business running without anyone knowing how truly sick and incapacitated I actually was, trying to remain a good mother to my two kids when I felt like crap, writing a book  with whatever energy was left and just plain staying alive kept me so busy, I barely had time to breathe, let alone truly dream of living anywhere else.

So why move to Ecuador? Well, I did survive cancer. I did get back to work coaching people in their public speaking at my business, My Real Voice. I did write and publish my book, “Words to Thrive By: Powerful Stories of Courage and Hope.” I finally accepted the fact that my children were really doing just fine in their own lives and could survive without me as thriving successful adults. And after some more deep Soul Searching, I finally got my courage up, took a leap of Faith, sold most all of my stuff and in October 2013, I moved to Ecuador.

Initially, a change of hemisphere, a year round pleasant warm climate, friendly people, low cost of living, abundance of healthy, fresh, non GMO food were all very appealing to me. Geographically, Ecuador is also in a very good location to explore other emerging foreign countries such as Chile, Uruguay and Peru, places where I’ve never been and always wanted to visit. But more than anything, I wanted to see and understand the wisdom of how others, in a completely different culture to my own, figured out how to create a high quality and happy life with really very little in terms of money or modern conveniences.

What I did not realize it at the time I moved here, was that living in Ecuador would ultimately not only change my entire perspective about myself and my purpose in life, my belief’s about myself as a mother, friend, wife and coach, help me understand my own cultural blind spots about my life as An American Woman From The United States, but also give me time to reflect upon my life – not only where I’ve been but also where I’m going.

“Footprints in Ecuador: An American Woman’s Life Changing Journey”  is my daily experiences and thoughts, leaving gentle footprints wherever I travel. I hope you enjoy it.

Additional Links:

  • For More on the Life and Work of Mary Anne Dorward, please go to: www.maryannedorward.com
  • For Professional Speaking Coaching and Speech Writing, please go to: www.myrealvoice.com or for video http://bit.ly/1fmLjuL
  • To Learn more about my book, “Words To Thrive By: Powerful Stories of Courage and Hope,” please go to: www.wordstothriveby.com or  for video http://bit.ly/1hlyGoc
  • To Buy The Book, go to Amazon: http://amzn.to/L9NYkl
  • Note: All photos in “Footprints in Ecuador: An American Woman’s Life Changing Journey” have been taken by Mary Anne Dorward. All photos and writing on this blog are protected under the U.S. Trademark: Words To Thrive By.  For more information, to schedule an inspirational speech or interview, please contact Mary Anne at ma@maryannedorward.com.

Día del Escudo Nacional del Ecuador

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Today is Halloween. But it’s also Día del Escudo Nacional del Ecuador.

The escudo is the coat of arms on Ecuador’s flag. Ecuador’s congress officially adopted the current version on October 31, 1900. It shows Chimborazo Volcano, the Guayas River and a steamboat also named Guayas.

But what about all the other symbols?

Andean condor = Bravery and power

Sun = Productivity and progress

Laurel = Glory

Palm = Peace

Fasces consulares (ax with wood wrapped around it) = Authority and dignity. The fasces is an ancient Roman symbol of power.

Astrological signs next to the sun = Aries, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer. They symbolize the months of the 1845 Revolution that forced Juan José Flores from power.

Thank you David Sasaki for this valuable perspective.

Bonzai Hospitals? In Ecuador?

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A number of Ecuadorians grow bonsai trees as a hobby, or a passion in some cases. There are even bonsai clubs.

But what happens when your bonsai is not doing too well?

In the Quito area, there are clinics that can diagnose the ailment.

If the problem is minor, the tree can be discharged immediately.

But if the tree is in danger, it will have to remain “hospitalized.”

Okimono-Bonsái is one of the places where this service is provided.

Favio Delgado, the designer of the bonsai area at Quito’s Botanical Garden, runs the service. He has more than 40 years experience with these miniature trees. Some people leave their bonsai trees with him when they go on vacation, knowing they will receive the proper care.

There are other clinics including Taller Bonsái Ecuador and Clínica Bonsái Quito.

All of these places also offer advice for those who want to start with this ancient practice.

http://lahora.com.ec/inde…/noticias/fotoReportaje/1101985196

In  my  book, Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. I talk more specifically about many other fascinating aspects of living in Ecuador.

Feel free to purchase my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuadoravailable both on Kindle and Paperback formats. 

Personally, I prefer the kindle version as all my photos are in color in that version. However if you like a traditional paperback in your hands where you can make your own notes, feel free to purchase that version where the photos are in black and white.

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Reviving Andean Purple Corn

 

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-6-10-31-pmAndean purple corn has a sweet taste and a large amount of antioxidants. It also has a high amount of anthocyanins especially in the husk. Several studies say consumption of anthocyanin-rich foods could be beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease.

But this variety of corn was close to disappearing in places like Chimborazo Province. It was not very popular and often sold in low quantities. So farmers stopped growing it.

Instead they planted the commercially popular white maíz which is used for mote. The purple corn is used to make the traditional Ecuadorian drink colada morada. But supermarkets began offering pre-cooked coladas or flour dyes.

Now there are efforts to revive production. The purple corn is said to be ideal for making chicha.

A community association produces two types of chicha without chemical additives, preservatives or coloring. They are sold at crafts markets in Riobamba and Quito.

Supporters are hoping farmers will revalue their native crops. They were alarmed to see the traditional chicha replaced by soda and other sugary drinks.

The association believes its most important achievement will be the recovery of the native culture.

To read the full article, please go here: http://www.elcomercio.com/tendencias/agricultores-chimborazo-maizmorado-alimentos-siembra.html

In  my  book, Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. I talk more specifically about All. Things. Ecuador. 

Feel free to purchase my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuadoravailable both on Kindle and Paperback formats. 

Personally, I prefer the kindle version as all my photos are in color in that version. However if you like a traditional paperback in your hands where you can make your own notes, feel free to purchase that version where the photos are in black and white.

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Graffiti In Ecuador

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This is a work in Otavalo, Ecuador by the street artist Álvaro Córdova who goes by the name Tenaz or T-naz.

His street art is amazing.

He has no formal art training, just a special gift.

All of this is done with spray paints.

In  my  book, Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. I talk more specifically about All. Things. Ecuador. 

Feel free to purchase my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuadoravailable both on Kindle and Paperback formats. 

Personally, I prefer the kindle version as all my photos are in color in that version. However if you like a traditional paperback in your hands where you can make your own notes, feel free to purchase that version where the photos are in black and white.

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Tigua Art: El Cóndor Enamorado

 

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In Tigua art (Cotopaxi Province), you will often see a woman riding on a condor. This is based on the legend “El cóndor enamorado.”

On the moorlands of Cotopaxi, there lived a girl who tended sheep. She was treated badly by her family, so she preferred to be in the field with the herd.

The god Pachacamac saw the suffering of the girl and decided to send his son, a condor, down to the moorlands.

The condor had the power to turn into a young man and he soon won the girl’s heart.

The condor took the girl to his nest on the rocks. The family, noticing the girl was missing, went looking for her. They rescued her and locked her in the house.

The girl, already in love, made an opening in the thatched roof. She held a splinter of smoking wood to signal her lover.

The condor immediately swooped down and grabbed her.

With the girl on his back, the two flew over the Quilotoa lake and to the top of the moor. The girl changed into a female condor.

In the moorlands, the couple consummated their union and gave birth to new generations of condors that populate the Andean region.

*Thanks to David Sasaki for telling this story on Ecuador Expats

 

In  my  book, Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. I talk more specifically about All. Things. Ecuador. Feel free to purchase my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuadoravailable both on Kindle and Paperback formats.

Personally, I prefer the kindle version as all my photos are in color in that version. However if you like a traditional paperback in your hands where you can make your own notes, feel free to purchase that version where the photos are in black and white.

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

Saying “I DO!” In Ecuador

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Of the 107 couples who took part in a mass wedding at the Cathedral of Quito yesterday, 77-year-old José Muquinche and 86-year-old María Sánchez were the most photographed.

They were accompanied by two daughters who could not contain their tears when they saw their parents say “I do” after being together for 52 years.

The groom spent much of his life as a bricklayer. He says their civil marriage was registered in 1977. But they finally decided to take the step they felt they lacked: the church ceremony.

During the exchanging of vows, María said “I give myself to you, as a wife, and receive you as my husband, and I promise to love you in joy and in sorrow, in poverty and in prosperity, health and disease, and be faithful all the days of my life.”

After rings were placed on each other’s fingers, they sealed their marriage with a kiss.

Above Photo courtesy: La Hora

Photo below courtesy of El Comercio

Marriage Sealed With A Kiss....After 52 Years

Marriage Sealed With A Kiss….After 52 Years

In  my  book, Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. I talk more specifically about All. Things. Ecuador. Feel free to purchase my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuadoravailable both on Kindle and Paperback formats. 

Personally, I prefer the kindle version as all my photos are in color in that version. However if you like a traditional paperback in your hands where you can make your own notes, feel free to purchase that version where the photos are in black and white.

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador

The Rebirth Of The Sun

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This is a legend from the Tsáchila people in the Santo Domingo area about the rebirth of the sun.

Many years ago in the heavens, there was huge jaguar that lived in the dark. It had enormous jaws, eyes like lightning, extremely powerful claws and a gleaming coat.

One day, the animal walked angry and hungry and ate the sun in one bite.

Darkness fell on Earth.

The Tsáchilas lived in an endless night.

They constantly bumped into each other, so they preferred to shut themselves in their homes and not leave.

There was no way to plant or hunt and food was scarce.

More than once the desperate cries could be heard of those who were attacked by jungle beasts that hid in the shadows.

Confused by the absence of the sun, the moon did not come out.

The birds died and the rivers began to dry up because the rain stopped, having no guidance from celestial stars.

The Tsáchilas tried to make their own light by setting branches on fire, but to no avail. The sticks would only light in the hands of the elders. But they, the weakest, soon died.

Meanwhile, the jaguar of darkness with its jaws wide open, moved ever closer to homes, frightening the Tsáchilas.

The shamans suggested they could make their own light by turning a young man into the sun.

The son of a single mother was chosen for this important mission. He was dressed in beautiful garments and wore a golden crown. The young man was invited to partake of the ceremonial chicha. Bright tears came from his eyes.

Through their spells and magic, the shamans were able to elevate him into the sky, until people lost sight of him.

The next day, everyone expected to see the long-awaited light. But it was cloudy and stayed like that for three gloomy days.

On the fourth day, there was an incandescent light so bright that people could barely open their eyes.

The light was coming from the two eyes of young man who became the sun.

The people threw a stone skyward, hitting its target.

The sun now shone with just one eye, enough for everyone to enjoy the benefits of the light once again.

Source: Libro El recuerdo de los abuelos: literatura oral aborige
Illustrations by Octavio Córdova

 

In  my  book, Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador. I talk more specifically about All. Things. Ecuador. Feel free to purchase my new bookWords To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuadoravailable both on Kindle and Paperback formats. 

Personally, I prefer the kindle version as all my photos are in color in that version. However if you like a traditional paperback in your hands where you can make your own notes, feel free to purchase that version where the photos are in black and white.

Words To Thrive By for World Travelers: Footprints in Ecuador