The parade is actually a collection of hundreds of smaller parades, according to José Washington Noroña, one of the event's organizers. "Every neighborhood and nearby town will have its own parade with its own entries. Each will carry its own statue of the Christ child. This is something that communities plan for the entire year. Although most entries are from Cuenca and the surrounding area, some come from as far away as Loja in the south, as well as Otavalo and Ibarra in the north," says Noroña.Although the Christmas Eve parade may be the main event, the Paseo del Niño celebration is a three-month-long activity, beginning the first Sunday after Advent and continuing until Carnaval in February. The tradition also includes Novenas, nine consecutive nights of song, food, and prayer, celebrated in homes and churches. On Christmas Eve, the Misa del Gallo, or Rooster Mass, is celebrated in the Cathedral and local churches. Besides Paseo del Niño celebrations, Christmas in Cuenca also features nightly firework shows, concerts, and craft sales.Organizers say that the parade has a strong connection to the United States. Ecuadorians who live in the United States are major financial contributors, says Noroña. "Those who have done well there send money as thanks for their safe passage and future success."The U.S. influence is evident in many of the parade entries. Children wear cowboy outfits and such personalities as Bart Simpson and Richard Nixon, dressed up as Santa Claus, have made parade appearances. No matter the origin of the characters, Noroña says that the organizers try to keep the focus religious. "We don't dictate what participants can do, but we try to keep the focus on the birth of Christ. Last year, I saw a man dressed as SpongeBob and thought he was a little out of place."The centerpiece of Cuenca's parade is an 1823 sculpture of the infant Jesus that was commissioned by Cuencano Josefa Heredia from an unknown local artist. When the sculpture came into the possession of Cuenca Monsignor Miguel Cordero Crespo more than a century later, he took it to the Holy Land and Rome in 1961, where it was blessed by Pope John XXIII. After the journey and the anointment, the statute became known as Niño Viajero, or Traveling Child, and has been the parade's main attraction ever since.The parade begins at Iglesia Corazón de Jesus on Calle Gran Colombia at about 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve and continues well into the afternoon. It winds its way down Calle Simon Bolivar, ending a few blocks east of Parque Calderon.Along the parade route and in nearby parks and plazas, hundreds of vendors sell traditional foods, cotton candy, ice cream, and candy. There are also several distribution points for chicha, a traditional holiday beverage. It's free, but beware: The alcohol content is high.Although the sidewalks and balconies around Parque Calderon are considered prime parade-viewing areas, anywhere along Simon Bolivar will provide a good vantage point. The best looks are probably from the upper-floor balconies of homes and businesses along Bolivar.David Morrill
My favorite part of Salinas is Chipipe, close to the naval base. It draws a quieter crowd and, because it's at the end of the beach areas, sees less traffic than elsewhere in Salinas. The beaches are wider and nicer than anywhere else in town, and just a couple of blocks in from the beach is a pleasant downtown area with fine old homes and lower property prices.
Salinas is famous for sport fishing and holds a number of world records for sailfish, tuna, and black marlin. The year's best weather starts in November, with sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. February through April, this weather gives way to sunny mornings with showers in the afternoons, still quite pleasant. April through November, it's often cool, dry, and overcast. If you burn easily, you might like it; if you crave sunshine, you won't.But Salinas benefits from the school schedule in Cuenca. The kids are out of school in Cuenca in June and July, and that's when a lot of families go on vacation. So there's a demand for vacation rentals during the time of year with the least-pleasant weather.This is good news for North American investors, who can escape their winter to enjoy Salinas' best weather and also enjoy local rental demand during the off season.Bottom line, what makes Salinas such an appealing property-purchase location is the low cost. Here are examples of properties currently on the market:
I recommend Salinas as your best coastal choice in Ecuador if you're interested in a place where you could live part time and rent your place out when you're not there. You'd enjoy great weather during the North American winter and rental traffic during North America's summer.
And, again, you can position yourself here right now for as little as US$40,000.Lee HarrisonEditor's Note: Lee Harrison, our Overseas Property Alert editor, will be revealing all of his current top global property investing recommendations at our 2015 Global Property Summit.Registration for this once-a-year event will open within the next 24 hours.Go here now (this is your last chance) to get your name on the pre-registration list to enjoy VIP attendee status and perks.
Continue reading: Funding Your Retirement With Cash Flow From Rental Property Investments Overseas
This is where you might expect a hard-luck story, but we don't have one. We walked away from Dubai willingly. Purposefully. The bank didn't foreclose on our home. We weren't downsized. We didn't lose our retirement nest egg to nefarious Wall Street bankers or bad investment decisions. We moved because we wanted more out of life than Starbucks-filled shopping malls.Some told us we were crazy to "retire" to Ecuador at the age of 44, and, looking solely at the numbers, they had a point. They didn't get it and probably never will because our departure from Dubai was not about money. If money were our priority, we'd still be living in Dubai. In Dubai, everything looked great on paper, but, in reality, we were experiencing a steady decline in the quality of our lives with no end in sight.During a trip to Ecuador, we saw an opportunity to reverse that trend. And reverse it we did, agreeing to buy our current home five minutes after seeing it on our first day ever in South America. Carpe diem! We hadn't even seen the nearby town of Vilcabamba yet. FYI, it's not a strategy I recommend for everyone.With the deed to our nearly 2 acres of "dream come true" property firmly in hand, the decision to walk away from Dubai was easier to make. So, one year later, we put aside a life of much in Dubai for a life of so much more here near Vilcabamba, and we have never looked back.While you may be considering Ecuador for its lower cost of living, we saw a chance to live in a place that is remarkably beautiful and where the weather is just the best. So are the locals. Even though the health care is not, it's more than adequate and affordable enough that pay-as-you-go really is a viable option. While Ecuador is not as safe as Dubai (few places are), with more than seven years of experience living in this country, we feel as secure as we would in most rural areas of the United States or Canada.Some say there's nothing to do in Vilcabamba, but I'm busier now than when I was working. Since moving here, I've been designing houses, working on graphic designs, building furniture, doing some public speaking, traveling a bit, writing, and taking lots of photographs. Sue's been busy helping me as she continues to hone her baking skills while dabbling in things like welding and cement crafts.And we both tend to our property. That alone can be a full-time job the way anything green grows here in Ecuador. It's a rewarding experience eating homegrown bananas. And using them to make banana bread. And banana muffins. And banana cream pie. And banana jam. And banana pancakes. And...well, you get the idea.We used to "look forward" to getting up at 5 a.m. to beat Dubai's rush-hour traffic. Now we look forward to just getting up each day. Our rooster can't wait either. In theory, we traded more for less moving from Dubai to Vilcabamba in 2007, but we'd say today, seven years later, that we definitely came out ahead. We made a change in our life because we wanted a better life, the kind that is measured not by cost but quality.Of course, we've enjoyed the budget benefits of being in Ecuador, too. The low cost of living is a great perk for a country that already has so much to offer.So while economics may be a driving force in your considering a move to another country—for example, Ecuador—I urge you to explore other motivations too. You'll be glad you did. By doing so, you'll increase the chances of being happy in your new home. The low-cost-of-living benefit can be there, but move to a new country solely for that reason and you're limiting your upside.John Curran
Continue Reading: Part-Time Retirement In Cuenca, Ecuador, And Medellin, Colombia
"Ecuador law requires a two-year minimum for rentals," Graciela pointed out. "You don't want to deal with that until you're certain of your plans." Again, the best news about the rental market in Cuenca is that rental rates remain very low on a global scale. A typical monthly rent for a standard, unfurnished, one- to two-year rental is US$300. "When trying to find a rental, don't believe everything you read on the Internet," counseled our man in Cuenca, Ecuador Correspondent David Morrill. "You can find a lot of information about apartment rentals on blogs and social media, but you really need to get in the market and see for yourself. "Tell an expat in Cuenca that you're considering renting an apartment for US$500 a month, and he's likely to say something like: 'What?! Why would you pay that much? I'm renting for just US$300 a month!' "Maybe he is, but those kinds of conversations usually don't consider differences in neighborhoods and building amenities, for example. If you were renting an apartment in New York, you'd understand that you'd pay more in downtown Manhattan than you would in Queens. The same is true everywhere in the world, including in Cuenca. Neighborhoods can be very different when it comes to rentals, both in terms of what's available and also in terms of cost." Expats in Cuenca typically prefer to be near the historical district, not in it. More than 70% of Graciela's rentals are in this area, within walking distance of the city's historical center. How do you launch a search for a rental in Cuenca? As most anywhere in the world these days, the typical place to start is the Internet. When you go online, search in Spanish. Look for arriendas or se renta. Local newspaper classifieds can also be a good place to start, especially if you are looking for something long-term. Otherwise, you can walk the streets looking for rental signs and asking around. The best deals are found through word-of-mouth. "It's important, when renting a place to live in Ecuador," Graciela explained, "to try to understand the culture. Many of my clients will say, 'In the United States, we do it this way...' "You need to remember that we are not in the United States. In Ecuador everything is different—the culture, the workers, how we work, the legal system, the bureaucracy... "'Unfurnished,' for example," Graciela continued, "may mean no appliances, no curtains, no lighting fixtures...very basic." To state the obvious, rental agreements are going to be in Spanish, so you'll want someone who speaks Spanish and English and who you trust to review your agreement before you sign. Confirm how to get your deposit back, for example, and, very important, who is responsible for what. "It is common for the tenant to be responsible for small repairs like a leaky faucet," Graciela said, "but we've had cases where the landlord has said, 'I'm not responsible for replacing the roof.' "Or there could be an old microwave that's not working," she continued, "and I mention it during the inspection. The owner might say, 'Well, the tenant needs to pay for it, because it's in their hands.'" "None of this should frighten you off the idea of renting in Cuenca," David added. "We're just trying to help you understand so you can be prepared. You want to do more due diligence here than you would back home, not less." Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Graciela and David's detailed and tell-all discussion of how to be a renter in Cuenca during last week's Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference was recorded, along with every other presentation over the two-and-a-half days of this event. These audio recordings are being edited now to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit. You can purchase your copy of this everything-you-need-to-know-about-Ecuador resource pre-release and save more than 50%. Do that here now.
"Rule #4: Acknowledge your bad Spanish. "I've found that this gets you a lot of points. Unless your Spanish is legitimately fluent, begin any conversation with, 'Excuse me, my Spanish is not very good, but...' First, this makes the Spanish-speaker more attentive to what you're saying, but it does something else, too. It lets the person on the other end of the conversation know that you're not a cocky American who's going to barge in and belligerently demand what he wants. It signals instead that you're asking for help. That really puts someone in a different state of mind. "Rule #5: Pedestrians do not have the right of way, ever. "Lots of people get run over. One trick when crossing a street with a stop sign is to cross behind the lead car. Locals don't ever cross in front because that car is watching the traffic. When there is an opening to go, they will go whether there is someone in front of the car or not. The pedestrians are just expected to scatter. It takes some getting used to, but you can't expect crosswalks to be honored or for pedestrians ever to have the right of way. "Rule #6: You've got to drive aggressively. "If you're a yield-to-the-right-of-way person, you're going to be sitting at the first intersection you come up to until doomsday. Ecuadoreans are very aggressive behind the wheel. They don't let people in and they don't show courtesy, neither to pedestrians nor to other drivers. If you can't drive like them, you're better off not driving. I found it fun, so much more fun than driving in the States, when I got used to it. "Rule #7: Forget your ideas about personal space. "We tend to treasure a little space around us and don't touch or rub up against each other in public. Once in this country I was taking the bus and sitting next to a 12-year-old girl on her way home from school. As we were riding along, she fell asleep on my shoulder. When we got to her stop, she woke up and got off. That's a kind of closeness we're not prepared for. "Rule #8: Don't get in a taxi without agreeing the fare in advance. "I just read that Cuenca now has metered taxi. Guess what? Cuenca had metered taxis in 2002 when I was living in that city. They became law, but the taxistas refused to use them. They still do. They get away with it because customers don't complain. The taxista just puts a rag over the meter so you can't see it. So you want to get an idea of what the fare should be before getting in. "About a year ago, I arrived at the Cuenca airport and asked a driver, 'How much to downtown?' He said, 'Six dollars.' I said, 'I don't think so. I live here!' He said, 'Two dollars.' "Rule #9: Don't wait to be seated and other restaurant etiquette. "In the United States we wait to be seated, but here you seat yourself. Also, in our culture, a waiter is designated to certain tables, and you only ask your waiter for more water, etc. That doesn't happen here. All the waiters are happy to help. If you need something, don't worry about who took your order, just grab the next guy you see. "Also, you need to ask for the check. I can't tell you how many times I've seen folks angrily waiting for their checks while the restaurant has wanted to close 20 minutes ago. All the waiters stand shoulder-to-shoulder by the kitchen wishing the people would just ask for the check so they can go home. It's a standoff that happens all the time. It would be rude for a waiter to bring the check before you ask for it. By asking for it, they know you're done. You can say, 'La cuenta, por favor.' "Restaurant bills here include a 10% tip. If you want to leave something extra, that is fine but not expected. If I know the restaurant owner doesn't distribute tips to the wait staff, I leave cash on the table. "Rule #10: Bring patience with you. "Know that nothing will be as efficient as where you're from. Be patient. You're gonna' love it here if you learn to appreciate the differences." Kathleen Peddicord P.S. Lee Harrison was master of ceremonies for last week's event in Ecuador. His presentation on Ecuador etiquette was recorded, along with every other presentation. These audio recordings are being edited now to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit, which will be available for fulfillment two weeks from today. Meantime, you can purchase your copy pre-release and save more than 50%. Do that here now.
"Dear Team Live and Invest Overseas, I thought this might interest you... "According to my Weather Pro App (widely used by Irish farmers) we can see that our trip to Dubrovnik next week will be somewhat of a disappointment weather-wise compared with Portugal. I never expected that. Just goes to show your weather reports in your recent Retire Overseas Index report were spot on." --Bea D., Ireland
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Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.
Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.
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