Plan B in effect

Okay, here’s the deal after a week of serious thought: Visiting Ecuador was like trying to fall in love with someone you like an awful lot.  You can rationalize all you want, but in the end the heart wants what it wants.

That being said, if you followed our trip and were planning one of your own, I would encourage you to follow through with it.  Ecuador is a beautiful country full of great people.  Our two biggest hangups–if you want me to drill down into the matter–are distance/travel issues and concerns over the needs of my 82-year-old dad.

The distance thing is pretty self-explanatory.  It’s in another hemisphere.  That would not be a problem all by itself if the travel weren’t quite so expensive (twice the cost of Honduras, for instance).  It also took four separate flights each way, which gave us way too many opportunities to miss connections.  We ended up missing a total of two; one on the way down, one on the way back. Then there were the extra customs and immigration hassles in places like Panama City, the final destination countries, and–for reasons I still don’t understand–even as we departed Ecuador.  In fact that last one was good for three full hours of standing in lines.  Had we arrived the standard two hours in advance, we would have been standing in Meaningless Zig-Zag Line Number Three about the time our plane was taking flight.  All totaled it was more than 30 hours each way.

Even if I wanted to do that every time I needed to come home to see family or meet face-to-face on a writing project, I can’t ask my dad to do it, even once.

Bottom line, we all agreed that in order to move that far away–at least initially–we needed to literally be in love with our destination.  Instead, we sure liked Ecuador a lot.  It had a great personality.

Chalk this up in the “due diligence” column.  Plan B details currently in the making.  For what it’s worth, the October target date has not moved.

15 thoughts on “Plan B in effect

  1. I can understand the family thing, time, and money, but i thought you would do it anyway. Cant wait to hear about plan “B”.


  2. Same here..I anticipate plan B as well. I want to go to Lima, Peru but after reading so many articles with negative or borderline “why go there” reviews, I’m having second thoughts.

    • Peru interests me also. I would definitely like to visit Machu Picchu before I die. I wish we’d heard about that $20 bus ride from Manta to Lima a few days sooner. We would have checked that out.

  3. FOUR separate flights each way?! I thought that the two connecting flights (Toronto-Miami, Miami – Quito) are not-so-great! Well, I’ll find out how this works soon enough – leaving Wednesday next week.

  4. It is great to hear the realities of life and travel to Latin America. International Living magazine seems to paint a very one-sided picture of living abroad. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. You are a great writer and I have enjoyed reading all of your posts from beginning to end.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mike. Yeah, I’m not a fan of International Living Mag either. Particularly in the age of the Internet when you’ve got so many ways to learn from real people who are really out there doing it. Consulting International living is like asking a car salesman if you should buy a car.

  5. John,
    Yea, us too. Will I invest in Ecuador? Yea, I probably think so. Live there in the near future? Nah probably not. Tina couldn’t take the altitude, and didn’t like the food. Me, I’m an accountant. That said, it’s all a Balance Sheet, and the good significantly outweighs the bad. We are planning Vina Del Mar/Valparaiso/Santiago, Chile, and Panama. Time will tell. Good luck on your adventure!

    Ed & Tina

    • We stayed the night in Panama City on the way back. Kind of seemed like the image I’ve always held of Cuba in the 1950’s. Swanky and fun. Keep us posted on your progress and enjoy the ride!

  6. Welcome Back John. Sounds like the “scouting trip” was worth it then. I think you’re taking the right approach by weighing all the options, including the family issue. Keep in mind that you won’t find the “perfect place” as every location has it’s pros and cons but it sounds like you’re using your head as much as your heart. That’s cool. October is close so you’ll need to get crackin’, man! What about your original location ideas(Guatamala, etc)?

    • I still like Central America for sure, and areas of Mexico are back on the radar as well. Regardless, I’m convinced phase one will be north of the Panama Canal. Loreto or Sayulita, Mexico. Tela or Roatan, Honduras. Livingston, Guatemala. Maybe I should put it up to a vote!

  7. John,
    So, I started my trip from Toronto to Quito yesterday. After 6 hours in the airport, a delay due to a thunderstorm, THREE aircrafts having “technical problems” (should one ever consider flying American Airlines – seems their planes are falling apart – or they are lying to the passengers), I ended up in a Miami hotel (writing form the lobby right now) with a bunch of almost-worthless food vouchers, hoping that my rebooked flight today at 8 PM will actually take off. Thanks, American Airlines!
    The Ecuadorians on the same flight proved to be extremely helpful, cheerful and patient people. They guy from the next seat took me “under his wing”, rebooked my flight, got the hotel and food vouchers in a record time, provided an interesting conversation – couldn’t wish for better company.
    By the way, I read on the internet that many Americans are concerned about “leftist leanings” of Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador. Quite a few fellow passengers said that they are “Correistas” , that the president improves the infrastructure, builds roads, gives loans and scholarships to the indigenous population, so they can develop small local businesses and get themselves out of poverty, and in general takes the country in the right direction. It was nice to hear that a government does actually something right – for a change!

    • I feel your pain. We flew United, but sadly our experience was the same. I particularly loved being given a room voucher at 1am for a hotel that had no vacancies once we got there. As you know, we never managed to get as far as Quito. Will be interested to hear if you feel it was worth the trouble of getting there and back. Hopefully you fly direct from Miami to Quito, because going through customs, immigration and security in Panama City just to get on another plane was comically insane.
      Better luck for the rest of your trip!

  8. John,
    After another delay of the rebooked flight I arrived to Quito last night, some 30 hours later than planned. Friendships were forged on board – I have phones and emails of 7 people from my original flight, all asked to let them know if I need anything and how I’m doing, and my impression is that they mean it!
    I still remember how to speak Spanish, which helps.
    First impressions from Quito: very busy, hustling and bustling city with gorgeous vistas of the mountains. Mount Cayambe covered in snow particularly pretty. What I could see so far is a mix of all architectural styles and colours stirred and shaken together, with some palms and vegetation thrown in, covered in a thin layer of pollution from fumes spewing buses.
    I went to see the old town, with narrow, up and down streets; nice Plaza Grande with the Palace Presidential, palms and old colonial buildings. Old houses looking like nothing much have surprisingly nice patios; lots of small businesses of all kinds (plumbing supplies seem to be very popular!) and little “hole in the wall” food places. The hostal where I’m staying is rather shabby by Canadian standards, but very clean, and TIENE WIFI.
    No time yet to see more – due to the elevation (and possibly diesel fumes) I’m panting like a fish out of water and have to take it easy. Will try coca tea, apparently good for many ailments…
    I’m off soon to eat something, tomorrow planning to go to Cotacachi – a destination for many expats, about 2 hours or so from Quito. No pictures for now – I forgot the little cable connecting my camera with my laptop (#@%!!&).
    …to be continued

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