January 29, 2016

Living in the Countryside of Ecuador: Is It Safe for North American Expats?

A Reader Asks: Frank and Angie, I have been following your blogs and videos this past year. Thank you for sharing your honest opinions and information. I am interested in finding a safe place for myself and two daughters. Ideally out of town, garden, chickens and enough room for my daughter’s horse. I realize we may have to change our dream to reality. Safety first. Any information or ideas is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.
 Frank and Angie’s Response: Once upon a time, there was an older expat couple who bought a house and lived in a developing foreign countryside.  They were not isolated as there were other small farmhouses in the area, about a block apart from each other.
 

They had chickens, horses, and a couple of goats.  When they first moved into their modest country home, they found themselves needing the help of the local people often. The only problem with that was, neither he nor his wife spoke the foreign language…but they mostly got by.
 

…until…
 

…the Internet quit working and they didn’t know how to call a repair tech to service the connection; but that was the least of their worries. The old man didn’t know how to fix the weird looking hot water heater hanging on the wall, and so they were taking semi-cold showers; they got the local neighbors down the road to call a plumber. The only problem with that was the plumber was all booked up in the city and wouldn’t make it out to the countryside for another week.
 

One day the older couple realized their 2 gas tanks were completely empty. They went outside and waited around all day for the gas guys to come driving by, honking their horn so they could get their gas tanks swapped out for full ones so they could cook, shower and do dishes.  After the tanks got swapped out for full ones they were too heavy for them to carry on their own into the home and so they had to have the guys bring them into the home for them. 
 

Finally the Internet guys came out (it was three of them) and they came into the home to check the cable, router, and anything else that could be causing the Internet issue; the three guys were inside the home for over an hour.  Before they left the techs told the couple, “because you live 30 minutes outside the city you will have connectivity issues more often, but it will work, just a slow connection”.
 

The old couple did notice a slow connection; they could not stream videos and the Internet would pop in and out often. But they lived with it.
 

A week went by and they were still taking cold showers. One day, a couple of weeks later the plumber finally comes out to the house to fix the hot water heater; it was a simple problem that took five minutes to fix.
 

The old man asked him why it took him so long to come out and fix the heater and he replied, “You live 30 minutes from the city and I didn’t want to spend the time driving that far for one order. I’m a busy man in the city and I have lots of work there, but out here where you live, I don’t have any business.” 
 

“Oh…I see” said the old man. 

The plumber charged the couple $40 for a simple switch that took five minutes to replace.
 

“Why so much?” asked the old man.
 

 “Because I had to spend an hour driving out here and back into the city again, and I could have serviced four heaters in that time if I had stayed in the city”. 
 

“Oh…I see” said the old man.
 

In the course of just a few months, lots of different people were in and out of their modest country home and it was soon learned in the village they lived alone, besides all the people from the city that had been in the home, who also knew this man and woman lived alone.
 

They were vulnerable because they couldn’t speak the language, didn’t know who they could trust, and they didn’t have a lot of neighbors that lived close by.
 

One night while they were sleeping they were robbed. The thieves stole their 2 computers, cell phone, and about $32 cash they were using to make small food purchases and buy vegetables from a roadside vendor down the road.
 

The next day they had to go into the city and stock up on food items and get some cash out of the ATM. They walked the 3 blocks to the bus stop. The bus ride took over an hour to get into the city because of all the stops and turns it had to make. The couple got dizzy from the bus ride into the city and they told each other they weren't going to be doing that very often.
 

They were only gone three hours and in that time they got robbed again. This time the thieves took the television, antique china set, the wife’s gold jewelry and both horses. 
 

The old man asked the farmer next door, “Could I own a gun to scare off the thieves at night, I wouldn’t shoot them; I just want to be able to protect me and my wife”. 
 

“Oh no”, cried the farmer. “In this foreign land you do not have the right to defend your property or self with a gun, and most of the time the thieves never get caught and prosecuted. It’s very different in this foreign land. In this foreign land you have to just bear with the punches”, said the farmer.
 

The farmer continued and said, “If a foreign person accidentally shoots a robber, even if he has a gun too, the foreign person will go to prison for a long, long time. It’s best to have a guard dog, erect tall cement walls around your home with electric fencing and have a whole house alarm for at night when you are sleeping and for when you leave and go into the city”
 

The old man gasped, “But I just bought this country house and no one told me that! The real estate person told me it was safe to live out in the country. Anyway,  I have a bad knee and can’t do too much work; I can get a dog but I can’t afford to do all of those things to my house at this time”!
 

The farmer shook his head with a look of pity, shrugged his shoulders and walked off.
 

As a last resort, the old man and woman had to put their house up for sale and move into the city where it would be safer for them, something they dreaded.  Neither one of them were city people, always liked big green spaces and roaming around on their own property, having a garden...

Ten years has gone by and no one has offered to buy their house in the country, so the old man and woman had to put a lower price than what they paid for the farmhouse just to be able to sell it to one of the local people. 
 

BTW, they only got robbed in the city one time, the first week they moved in, when the old man opened the gate to strangers. The robbers ran in (they had knives) and took all the electronics and what cash they had lying around.
 

The old man learned his lessons the hard way but he did learn. And because they had each other, they lived happily ever after in the foreign big city, never to be robbed again!   The end.
 

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

1 comment:

  1. Very informative article on a most important topic; how to stay safe living in Ecuador. Mil gracias!

    ReplyDelete

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