Articles Related to Live and invest in ecuador conference

"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.

Climate In Croatia Versus Climate In Portugal

"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


"Right now it's fall in Nebraska. While fall is a beautiful time of year, it's also a sad time because it signifies the end of the growing season. We don't have that here. The growing season is continual. As a kid, I knew what a poinsettia was. It came in a pot, and you bought it at Christmas time. Here poinsettias are trees. Impatiens, which were annuals back in Nebraska, grow to be bushes here.

"I have a house with a yard and a gardener to take care of it, but I'm a Nebraskan. My parents taught me to mow the lawn. My neighbors all think I'm a gringita loca because I like to mow my lawn. They don't know what to make of it. The gardeners here pick something and stick it in the ground and, wow, it grows! There's joy in that.

My second F-word for Ecuador is: Fantastic.

"We tend to throw around the word 'fantastic' to the point where it ceases to have meaning. Fair enough. We should use it only when it really applies. 'Fantastic' means extraordinary.

"I travel with some frequency to Ecuador's three major cities to try to stay on top of my businesses. On any given flight you can have a fantastic experience just looking out the plane window. The Andes...the volcanoes...these are fantastic sights.

"One time in Baños, a little town with hot springs, our guide told us to go across the river and up the mountain and wait. At around 4:30 to 5 p.m., our guide told us, the clouds will part. So we went, and we waited, and, just as the guide had promised, the clouds parted...and there was the volcano. Not only that, but we could feel it rumble. I thought, 'Wow, this is definitely not Nebraska.'

My next F-word is: Frustrating.

"Now we get to the reality of living in a place that is not your home. After living here for nearly 15 years, I still have to remind myself not to become the person who thinks everything in the United States is turn-key, perfect, and efficient and then is unhappy because that's not how things are here in Ecuador.

"Banco Pichincha is one of the largest banks in this country, and nearly everyone has an account there. On the 15th and the 30th of each month, there is a line like you would find at Disney World for their most popular ride that just snakes around and around outside the door of every Banco Pichincha branch. That's because everyone just got paid and is waiting in line to cash their paychecks. For me as a business owner, this can create huge frustrations. I can have to wait in line hours to make a simple deposit. But what are you going to do? Nothing. You just have to roll with it.

"I applied for my citizenship here months ago. My lawyer and I compiled all the required paperwork and went to the immigration office. They told us, 'You're missing this paper.'

"We got that paper and went back to immigration...where they told us that 'this document that you got two weeks ago was only valid for 10 days...'

"After a few visits, even my Ecuadorian lawyer was frustrated. I finally said to him, 'I know what I have to do. Let me see what I can do on my own...'

"I finally went by myself, said a prayer outside the building, and they took my application.

"As I said, you've just gotta roll with it...all of it.

Next F-word: Flexible.

"This has to do with expectations and attitudes going into a new experience. If you expect that living in another country will be like a U.S. experience only in a different place, you'll struggle. But if you go into it with the attitude 'I'm gonna roll with whatever challenges come' and keep your mind flexible with a capital F, you'll be more likely to enjoy your experience.

My final F-word for Ecuador is: Focus.

"One thing that has really helped me make the most of my life here in Ecuador has been shifting my focus so that it's not on me and what I want but on other folks. For me this has led to becoming involved in the local community as a volunteer. Several years ago, in the English language church where I attend, they were asking for volunteers for the women's prison ministry. I raised my hand, and it's been life-changing..."

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Thank you to Conference Director Lauren Williamson and Master of Ceremonies Lee Harrison who have co-hosted this week's event in Ecuador for us...and who have provided me with from-the-scenes reports to make it possible for me to share some of the goings-on in Quito with you. More to follow next week...

Meantime, as always, we're recording every presentation of this week's event, including Theresa's introduction to the F-words of Ecuador. We'll bundle this collection of audio-recordings and other materials to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit, which will be available for fulfillment two weeks after the event has finished.

You can purchase your copy pre-release and save more than 50%. Do that here now.

Best White-Sand Beaches In Panama

"Kathleen, I'm signed up for your Nicaraguan conference. Do I need a visa to visit Nicaragua?"

--Gary M., United States

You don't need a visa to arrive in Nicaragua, but you will pay a US$10-per-person entry fee upon arrival so make sure that you have some cash on you.


"Kathleen, are there any white- or tan-sand beaches without the black sand mix on the Pacific coast of Panama? I'm looking for a beach for my two active teenage sons with all the water activities, restaurants, etc., available within a half-hour drive.

"Every beach around Coronado and Chame seems to have the black sand mix.

"Does such an area with whiter sand exist?"

--Greg C., United States

Right, most of the beaches on Panama's Pacific coast are darker brown sand with black sand mixed in. The Caribbean side of this country, though, has white-sand beaches. Best known on the Caribbean is Bocas del Toro. More accessible from Panama City are the Portobello and Isla Grande areas, which you can drive to on a nice new highway now. It's less than an hour-and-a-half trip to Portobello.

"I'm from Seattle, born and raised there. I had a 15-year career at Microsoft before I moved down here to Ecuador. In the middle of that career, in 2007, I came to Ecuador and met a lot of people who you're meeting at this conference, including attorney Grace Velastegui and Cuenca real estate expert David Morrill.

"Why did I decide to make the move from the life I had in Seattle to the one I have here now? It was almost a supernatural experience for me, not anything I could quantify.

"I love the Andes in general. That's one thing that attracted me to Ecuador originally.

"I've traveled all around the Andes, not only in Ecuador but also in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. In doing that, I discovered a problem that seemed like an opportunity. It was nearly impossible, when I first started traveling in this part of the world, to find bus or train schedules that crossed borders. So I, along with a few other bus geeks, started a company called AndesTransit. We are now the number-one South American bus and train schedule resource. Next year we'll be expanding to Argentina and Chile. The site works like Kayak and Expedia. You can even use it to find hotels in these countries.

"Bottom line, I came to Ecuador because it felt right. And I'd say that's the most important thing, to choose the place that feels right to you, depending on what you're interested in doing with your time and with your life.

"One great thing about Ecuador is that it's easy to get traction here. I think that it'd take longer in other countries to go through the getting-established process. Getting residency, for example, can be easier. Not easy. Just easier than elsewhere. I loved Colombia so much, but the process of gaining residency seemed more difficult to me.

"Am I happy now that I'm here? No question. Cities are jungles, too. You don't have to go to the jungle to have that experience in this country. Quito is a jungle, too. In a good way. After two years, I've seen only 10% of this town. It amazes me every day, the little corners that have their own traditions and their own interesting things to see. I find this exciting and invigorating.

"Of course, there are downsides living here, as anywhere. Ecuadorians don't have any tradition of personal space, for example. They cut in front of you in lines, and they can be pushy on the street. People walk arm-in-arm on the sidewalks, and you have to walk into traffic to pass them sometimes.

"The flip side of how close people can be with each other here is that there's a great sense of community. Everyone is family.

"Another downside is inefficiency. It's everywhere. The flip side of inefficiency is business opportunity. The bus situation was my opportunity that I identified out of an inefficiency.

"Another challenge is banking. There's no banking infrastructure in this country to speak of. I'm not sure what the flip side to this is. I think you just remind yourself of all the other things that Ecuador does offer!

"Language can be a challenge. Or you can see the limited English spoken as an opportunity for you to learn Spanish.

"And every inconvenience you identify is another excuse for an adventure.

"If you see it that way. That's the key—your perspective.

"Taking the bus, as I think of it, and starting your life over in a new country, Ecuador or somewhere else, isn't easy. But I've not regretted my decision one day since I made it. My life has been completely reinvented, and I know that, living here in Quito, I have so much more adventure to look forward to. I can't wait to find out where this bus takes me next."

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Alas, I was unable to be in Ecuador for this week's event. "All is going well," skyped Conference Director Lauren Williamson from the meeting room of the hotel in Quito this morning, "but you're missing out! Really, we're having a great time."

It was Lauren who shared details of Kali's presentation today. Lauren and Lee Harrison, who's acting as emcee for us, promise more from the scene tomorrow.

Meantime, as always, we're recording every presentation of this week's event to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit. This collection of audio recordings and other materials will be available for fulfillment two weeks after the event has finished.

Meantime, you can purchase your copy pre-release and save more than 50%. Do that here now.

Living, Retiring, Investing Opportunities On Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast?


"Kathleen, I have been reading your letters about Nicaragua and am curious as to why you never mention the Caribbean coast of that country. Is there a reason to stay away from it?"

--Rick W., United States

Nicaragua's Caribbean coast isn't much developed. The majority of this country's population and investment in infrastructure lie in a band between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua.


Living In Ecuador

Since 2004, the Fundacion Bolivar has been helping foreigners, both resident and visiting the country, to share their time, their talents, and their experience with people in Ecuador who can benefit. The non-profit group is active in Quito, Cuenca, the jungle, the Galapagos, and on the coast. Their efforts are focused on education and environmental conservation.

"It's important to learn at least a little Spanish before you start working in the local community where you decide to volunteer," explained Pamela Guachamín, representative for the foundation, to the group assembled in Quito last week. "That's why we start every volunteer experience with language classes."

The programs are highly customizable. You can volunteer on your own, with your family, or with a group of friends. You could organize a two-week program to include your children or grandchildren over one of their school breaks, for example.

Some programs include home stays with local families, with indigenous families in the north of the country, for example, where you could spend a couple of weeks helping them to manage their farms or other activities related to generating a livelihood. You could volunteer in a woman's shelter, maybe helping to teach the children of the women staying there while they regroup on where to go and what to do next.

You could volunteer as a teacher's aid or even a teacher in a village school. "It's not necessary that you have experience or any special qualifications," Pamela explained. "It's very difficult for these remote schools to find teachers. With your backgrounds, you would be very welcome to teach primary-age children.

"And the children will love you. To them, you'll be like a figure out of a fairy tale."

The Fundacion Bolivar offers 24/7 support for its volunteers. If you're visiting to Ecuador specifically to participate in a Fundacion Bolivar program, you'll be met at the airport and delivered to accommodation for your getting-acquainted/language-study transition period. Then you'll be transferred to wherever in the country you'll be contributing your time, either with a local host family or in volunteer housing (maybe an apartment that you share with other volunteers). All of this is included in the program fee, which depends on the location and duration of your volunteer adventure.

Remember, this is a not-for-profit operation. The fee in each case goes to cover the direct costs associated with each volunteer activity.

For more information, get in touch at

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Pamela Guachamín's presentation on her Fundacion Bolivar was one of 27 presentations featured as part of last week's Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference, all of which were recorded and are being edited now to create our all-new Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit. While the editing work continues, you can purchase this comprehensive bundle of Ecuador resources for more than 50% off the retail price.

This pre-publication discount is available until Midnight tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 19, only. Details on the Live and Invest in Ecuador Home Conference Kit are here.Continue Reading:


"Correa will win," our driver yesterday assured us. "There's no question. He's very popular. All the people love him, because he has done many good things for this country."

Rafael Correa has been president of Ecuador since January 2007. He is able to run for another term thanks to an adjustment in the country's Constitution a few years ago.

"He says, though, he won't run again after this election," continued our driver. "His wife is Belgian, and she wants to spend time in her country."

Lief, Jackson, and I took to the new-and-improved highways of Ecuador (thanks to Correa's efforts these past six years) along with the rest of the country yesterday. However, we weren't on our way home to vote, of course. We were touring around the artisan towns north of Quito, with two agendas.

First, Lief and I were interested in shopping for santos in San Antonio de Ibarra. These hand-carved wooden statues of Catholic saints are made in this part of Ecuador as they have been made for centuries. It's a craft passed down through the generations. The wood carvers take enormous pride in their work, and some supply santos for Catholic churches around the world. Dozens of shops in San Antonio offer newly carved santos for sale. However, if you're lucky, you can find old ones, sometimes 100-years-old or older. These are increasingly hard to find and increasingly valuable. Lief and I have collected antique santos for years and wanted to see if we could find one or two to add to our collection. If you are able to find one here, at the source, you can buy it for a fraction the cost you'd pay anywhere else.

However, young Jackson had another agenda. "I'm not interested in looking at those wooden saints," Jackson told us. "I'd like to shop for inventory for my new business."

Jackson, 13, is starting an online bazaar. At his new website, (not live yet), he intends to sell products from different countries where he and we travel.

"I met someone at the conference this week," Jack explained when we told him about our plan to travel to San Antonio on Saturday, "who has a big online export business like the one I want to start. He's leading a tour to different towns in the north of Ecuador where he shops himself for things to sell on his website. He has invited me to come with him. He told me he'd help me choose products and get the best deals."

So, while the three of us toured around northern Ecuador yesterday, Lief and I traveled without Jackson, who took off separately with a small group of conference-goers from last week's event also interested in shopping for leather, textile, and other hand-crafted items in Ecuador, which has become recognized as one of the world's best places to source high-quality, low-priced inventory for export.

In San Antonio, Lief and I inquired at every shop but found only one antique santo on offer, a 100-year-old St. Francis of Assisi. The last time we shopped in Ecuador for antique santos, we paid (as we recall) US$100 to US$150, depending on the size. The relatively tall St. Francis we found yesterday was US$200. Lief bemoaned the inflation since our last santo shopping trip. I pointed out that that was more than eight years ago and that, were we to find a century-old, 18-inch-tall St. Francis carved from a single piece of wood anywhere else, it'd cost much more.

Export from Ecuador

We bought a few recently carved santos, too. These you can find for as little as US$20 (for the smallest ones). We also bought three hand-carved wooden replicas of iconic Botero sculptures, including Pedro on his horse and the fat lady dancing ballet. We're big fans of this Medellin-born artist and were excited to find that some San Antonio woodworkers have expanded their product lines to include his works.

San Antonio craftsman also make furniture. Their workshops-cum-galleries overflow with small tables and chairs. If their stock doesn't suit you, you can ask them to custom-make whatever you'd like, working from a photo. As with the santos, prices are higher than we remember from years ago but still a global bargain. I think that, when the time comes to furnish the clubhouse we're building at Los Islotes, I'll plan a buying trip to this town. I could spend a week meeting with woodworkers and cabinet-makers and have all the wooden furniture I'll need made-to-order for a fraction what I'd spend on comparable quality stuff in Panama.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Jackson's shopping spree was as successful as Lief's and mine. He returned to Quito with bags of scarves, pashminas, key chains, napkin rings, animal-hide rugs, and a leather portfolio.

"The portfolio is for me," explained the 13-year-old. "I'm going to use it to file away the business cards of the people I buy my products from."

Jack reviewed each item for us, explaining the asking price and what he'd paid (after engaging in sometimes protracted negotiations) in each case. He said he was able to use his Spanish to help others in the group negotiate for things they wanted to buy, too. This morning, in our hotel room, he is photographing each item for his website.

Jack has sourced some getting-started products, and he and his sister Kaitlin are working on building the site. What about fulfillment and customer service? That's where Dad and I come in. We're making this a family project. I'll keep you posted as we sort through the logistics and the challenges associated with setting up a small, web-based import-export enterprise.

P.S. What else this week?

  • Lief and I, in Cuenca, Ecuador, for several days before last week's Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference, wandering the streets, seeing the sights, speaking with expats, locals, and tourists, wining, dining, and shopping, have, all along the way, been drawing comparisons between this colonial city and Medellin, Colombia, another colonial city where we've lately spent a lot of time.

Which is the better "retire-overseas" choice, Cuenca or Medellin? That's a question without an answer, of course. It depends on your circumstances, your budget, and the lifestyle you're after. Here, though, are some thoughts on how these two cities are alike and how they are different, to help you decide which is the best international living choice for you...

"Quito is but one face of this country."

As friend Lee Harrison, in Quito to help host this week's event, puts it, "Ecuador is a land of mega-diversity."

The lifestyles on offer are many and dramatically varied. Quito is a big city. Cuenca is a smaller city, more manageable, more welcoming. Otavalo is a small mountain town. Salinas is a beach town. All are interesting and appealing in different ways, for different people. When it comes to deciding where to live in Ecuador, it depends on what kind of lifestyle you're looking for and, also, important, on your budget. Otavalo is more affordable than Cuenca, which is more affordable than Quito, for example.

"Where's that US$6.50 steak you wrote about the other day, Kathleen?" one attendee here asked me last night. "The steak listed on the hotel's room service menu is US$20!"...

  • "I'm wearing too many clothes," American expat Mike Sager said as he took the stage in Quito Wednesday morning.

"I'm here to take you on a tour of Ecuador's best beaches. I'm wearing way too many clothes for that."

Mike proceeded to take off his button-down shirt. Then he started to unzip his trousers.

"Don't worry. I'm not wearing a Speedo," he assured us.

Mike took off his pants and stood before the crowd in his sleeveless T-shirt and shorts.

"Now I'm ready to go to the beach," he said as everyone in the room laughed. He had our attention.

"I've been living in Ecuador for more than eight years," Mike continued, "and I've hosted a lot of other American expats and retirees shopping for a place to live in this country. What I've found is that, for many of them, Ecuador's coast is more rugged and more rustic than they're prepared for...

  • "I've had many careers in my life," explained American expat Mike Sager to the crowd here in Quito Thursday morning.

"At one point, I was a mail carrier. I was maybe 35-years-old at the time, but I had a lot of mail carrier friends who were older, near retirement age. One day, one of those guys, just a few months away from retiring, told me that he had gotten a part-time job. He was going to start working as a clerk in a local shop.

"'Why did you do that?' I asked him. I couldn't understand why he'd take on a new job. He had been so looking forward to his retirement.

"The guy explained that his pension from the U.S. Postal Service wasn't enough for him to live on. He needed to supplement it.

"That was a turning point for me," Mike continued. "I realized at that moment that I needed to make a big change in my life. Bottom line, I needed to take control of my life. I had no interest in going to work at Wal-Mart during my 'retirement.' This realization launched my long search for what to do instead...for a Plan B. Eventually that search led me here to Ecuador.

"Back in the States, I might be retired. I've reached that age. But now, after more than eight years living in Ecuador, I can't imagine that...

PLUS--From resident global real estate investing expert Lief Simon:

I traveled to Ecuador for the first time in 1999. This was before the country dollarized; the sucre fell from about 7,000 to the U.S. dollar to 24,000 to the U.S. dollar that year. Meantime, El Niño had devastated Ecuador's coastal regions, contributing to the economic chaos of the time.

Chaos breeds opportunity. Thus my visit.

I landed in Guayaquil late at night and went straight to the hotel and to bed. The next morning, stepping into the hotel elevator for the ride down to the restaurant for breakfast, I found myself surrounded by five or six extremely tall and extremely beautiful women. I had to wonder if I was in the right country. Aren't Ecuadoreans descendants of the Incans, I wondered to myself? That is, aren't they all short? Who were these six-foot beauties?

The elevator doors opened into the lobby, and I was greeted by dozens more tall, beautiful women. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I wasn't complaining either.

It turned out that some Miss Latin America pageant was being held in the hotel. Unfortunately, I was leaving after breakfast with my guide and driver to see what the southern coast of Ecuador had to offer. Still, the country had managed to make a nice first impression.

While waiting for my guide, I dragged myself from the lobby and the beauty pageant girls to take a look around Guayaquil. Stepping out onto the sidewalk in front of the hotel, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up...


Kathleen Peddicord's New Book "How To Buy Real Estate Overseas" Available Now Pre-Release!

Kathleen Peddicord's latest book, published by Wiley & Sons, hits bookstores April 8. Starting now, though, you can buy a copy pre-release and save 36% off the release price!

Go here now to place your order for Kathleen Peddicord's New Book "How To Buy Real Estate Overseas"!


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Kathleen Peddicord

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.

Read more here.


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