From California To Guayaquil—How One Family Reinvented Their Ho-Hum Lives Into A Grand Adventure
Lief and I couldn’t be in Ecuador ourselves, so we dispatched a team to represent us at last week’s Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference Leading that team were Lee Harrison (our Latin America Correspondent, who lived in Ecuador for five years) and our daughter Kaitlin.
While Lee acted as host on our behalf, MC’ing each day and answering the crowd’s eager questions about living, retiring, and investing in this beautiful country, Kaitlin did double-duty, too. She (wo-)manned the table for Trader Jack’s Bazaar, the new import-export business that she has just launched with her younger brother Jackson…and also acted as my eyes and ears on the ground, reporting back to me live each day.
Kaitlin’s real-time blow-by-blow of the presentations, conversations, and recommendations shared in Guayaquil last week made me regret even more that I wasn’t able to participate. I’ve a great deal now that I want to share with you, which I will, over the coming few days…starting, today, with the real-life story of full-time Ecuador expat Richard Evans.
Here’s how Kaitlin has relays Richard’s presentation to the crowd, the story of how and why he, his wife, and their three daughters relocated from California to Guayaquil, Ecuador…
“I was downsized, and I had a baby on the way, so I went into the army. After two years I was offered a better suit job in the army intelligence, and actually got to wear a suit. Then I was a military instructor, until a training accident. At that point, I went into marketing and business management. I did really well, made a ton of money, and hated it.
“I moved my family to California, became a hospital administrator, and got sick quick of calls about gang fights in my hospital.
“Then my wife came to me one day with an idea. ‘You haven’t been happy with your job, we haven’t been happy in California, and the girls aren’t happy in school,’ she began.
“She went on and on (as women can do…and I’m allowed to say that after two wives and three daughters), citing all the reasons, in great detail, why our life wasn’t what we wanted it to be.
“Finally, she got to the point. She wanted to sell everything and move to Ecuador.
“So we did. Within six months of my wife suggesting the idea. Crazy, right? But that’s the truth. That’s the story. We moved our entire family to a new country based on my wife’s whim. Within a year of that day when she laid out her plan, our lives had made a 180.
“And I’m here today to tell you that it was the best thing we ever could have done. We got jobs here in Ecuador within 24 hours of landing—my wife as an English teacher and me teaching English, as well, but to military personnel.
“Growing in our back yard today are coconut trees, banana trees, mango trees, and almond trees. When we want breakfast, we go forage in the yard.
“We’re renting our house in Guayaquil for US$720 a month. It’s a nice house with that great yard. When my daughters’ school wanted to throw a party for 120 people, they asked if they could use our house. That’s how big it is, for that price.
“I have no car. A bus ride is 25 cents. I wouldn’t dream of driving here. That’s most residents’ biggest complaint about the city.
“Something you should know about taking the bus, though. A bus won’t stop for a guy. If you’re a guy, you have to prove your macho-ness every time you take a bus ride. You have to kind of jump on and hang off. They do slow down…slightly. But, I’m not kidding, you have to jump and grab on as they pass.
“Don’t worry, ladies. The drivers will stop for you. They wouldn’t dream of insulting you by making you hop or run. I have to say I’m jealous of this. I wish I didn’t have to prove how much of a man I am every time I want to take the bus!
“The locals like to rent to North Americans because we pay our rent. They want you as a tenant, so they’re willing to work with you, for instance on repairs.
“What else can I tell you about living here? Ah, the Año Viejo Doll…
“On every street corner in every city, for the month or so before New Year’s Eve, you’ll see a hollow doll. You’re meant to drop a dollar or whatever into the doll every time you pass by. On Dec. 30, each city empties the dolls and uses the money collected for the local New Year’s Eve party. Then they fill the dolls with every kind of combustible they can find and, at Midnight, they blow them all up all at once. Imagine it. On every single street corner in every city, these dolls are blowing up. You can’t hear or see anything until well past 1 a.m.
“On Jan. 1st, Guayaquil airport is closed. No flights in or out, because the city looks like a battle field from the sky…”
Much, much more to come on living, retiring, and investing in Ecuador, live from the scene…