When I jumped on a cargo ship in 2016 and sailed for 8 days to South America, I was moving to Ecuador. After having researched many countries since 2004, Ecuador seemed to make the most sense for a first move. They use the US dollar, the electrical system is the same and it was only about a 4 hour flight back to Florida should I wish for a quick return.
… It’s kind of crazy when I think about the fact that it took 8 days to get to Ecuador by ship when it takes only 4 hours and 15 minutes to fly here.
It proved to be a pretty good decision. I arrived and started a good life here fairly easily. However, like any other place on the planet, it didn't come without its share of nonsense and annoyances.
So here it is, a bunch of shit I hate about living in Ecuador…
The noise in the larger cities in Ecuador is NEXT LEVEL.
Say it with me, “… noise in the larger cities in Ecuador is NEXT LEVEL”!
When I say “next level”, I mean that the noise volume and frequency is such that it would eventually lead to premature hearing loss. It also wears on you every day and is a huge source of stress even if you are unaware of it.
I’d definitely read more than a few blurbs in blogs about some expats leaving because of the noise or just not being happy with the noise levels in general. I didn't dismiss this information, I only made a mental note of it. I also noticed that these blurbs in blogs were always expressed with negativity toward the expat(s) that did not like the noise as if they were somehow “wrong” or “inept” for not being able to put up with it (I’ll touch on this bullshittery later).
Contrary to dismissive belief, it’s not regular city noise going on in Ecuador. It’s “Frat Row”, “Rush Hour in NYC”, “Heavy Construction Site” and “A Day At The Kennel” all in one! You get to enjoy this soul-sucking noise day in and day out.
For example, the volume at which music is played here is “ear-busting”. I've heard parties that were a block or two away that were ear-busting to me in my apartment so I can’t even imagine what it was like at the actual party. A lot of these parties have DJs on microphones that you can hear clearly in your own home from blocks away. If you are unfortunate enough to have one of these parties taking place next door or on the same block, plan to be up until the break of dawn.
I had to chuckle a time or two because in the US we love to say “We’re going to party until the break of dawn!” but we don’t mean it… Ecuadorians mean that shit… Ha!
Then there are the late night serenades with giant speakers cranked to ear-busting levels or the near daily fireworks, tons of traffic, metal working and other industrial noises on residential streets and the school that blasts announcements all day at ear-busting levels. Fun.
Look, if the noise was just typical “city” noise like what you would find in large US cities like L.A. or NYC (which still sucks by the way), then I would just say “It’s loud like your typical busy US city” but it’s not. The noise here is a real threat to your hearing.
I have noticed that the expats who talk negatively about those who left Ecuador because of the noise are typically people who already suffer from some level of hearing loss themselves or belong to the segment of expats who ignore certain things in order to justify or validate their decision to move to Ecuador (which is completely unnecessary).
I love that I moved to Ecuador but I know I must cherish the wonderful times I've had here and take my leave at some point. I’m a musician and voice-over talent. My hearing was, is and always will be very important to me. If you value your hearing and plan to move to a major city in Ecuador, then take this information seriously.
Noise is also a physical stressor. Seriously people. It affects more than just your hearing. I feel it every day. It wears on me like a chisel to hard rock. Whenever I take a trip outside of the city, I feel a sense of release as soon as I’m away from the noise and I fall in love with Ecuador all over again.
There is hope for some people, however. If you don’t require a good internet connection for your daily work or living, then any smaller city or town in Ecuador would be better. I was all set to move to Cotacachi earlier last year because it was so much quieter and relaxing but the internet was too poor for me to work with.
Ecuador is certainly not without quite places where you can live, but you may have to sacrifice something else you need to live there.
It isn't enough that there is a great deal of daily noise here to wear you down, it is also the fact that you have no escape from it. In the US, we may take for granted our double-paned windows, insulation and soundproofing but in Ecuador, there is none of that. I live on the top floor of a 4-story building and I still feel like I’m literally living in a tent in the middle of the street. Which brings me to the next thing I dislike about living in Ecuador.
Poor Building Construction
On one hand there are specific things about the construction here that sucks and on the other hand there are a lot of things about the construction here that’s awesome. So, I can’t hate on it entirely.
The horror… It is literally like there is no glass there at all. One of the awesome things about Ecuadorian construction is the abundance of gigantic windows. If you need your sunlight every day, you will love having a home in Ecuador. However, you have to sacrifice your ears and physical comfort for that light so maybe not…
The windows are thin, single-paned and often have gaps around the edges of the frame leading straight to the outside. In my current apartment, there is a metal window frame and cut glass panels literally held on with nothing but caulk stuck to the outside of the frame. The guy who lived here before me was taking a shower one day and the glass stuck to the bathroom window in the shower fell out and he caught it just in time to keep it from crashing to the ground (and/or killing someone) from this 4th floor apartment.
Drains that reek of raw sewage are common place. It was maddening when I first moved into my new apartment in Ecuador. It was a beautiful apartment with drains that smelled horrific, thus the apartment smelled horrific. It didn't smell that way all the time but enough to make me hostile about it.
Also at that time, my sense of smell was off the charts. I’m not sure why, but I could smell everything and it was a struggle. My sense of smell returned to normal after about 6 months of living here. When it was more sensitive, the smelly drains just about did me in.
Now, I still get angry about the raw sewage smell coming from the drains. Luckily it only comes from the drains in the bathroom I don’t use and the ones outside on the terrace. Still, it sucks.
If you have ever lived in an environment where there is a lot of moisture, you will understand why this is such a huge issue (I have encountered many a human being who felt this was no big deal). I’m from Florida where water damage and the mold and mildew and illness that follows is serious business. I have had to pass up countless homes (even brand new ones) because I could see and smell mold and mildew; most of which was caused by leaks in the ceilings. The only apartment I rented that did not have a leak in the ceiling was the one that wasn't on the top floor. However, I know of some apartments not on the top floor with leaks in the ceiling because it comes down from the roof and through some crack somewhere. Oh and did I mention the ceiling is nothing but a thin layer of plaster? And that if you reached up to touch it, it would come down in big pieces? More fun.
I’m sure there are some homes in Ecuador that are built better but after having toured countless apartments and houses looking for the best one for me, I can say with confidence that a ton of them have these same issues.
Another thing I dislike about Ecuador is the daily dose of petty crime that I and other expats (and I’m sure tourists AND locals) experience while living here.
I’m sure every expat will have a different experience or take on this issue but the reality is, you have to watch your interactions all the time. For me, it’s mostly having to make sure I’m not being charged too much and that I am getting all my change back. For others I know, it is the same but they have to watch whatever valuables they have on their person.
Expats will talk about petty crime like it’s nothing but although it beats being a victim of a violent crime hands down, it becomes a daily stressor and wears on you. When you get on a bus with a cellphone and off the bus without it. Or when you go to the market with a wallet but come home without it. Or when you have two gas tanks for your home and then none overnight. When you go to the neighborhood tienda and the person you’re buying from hands you back half your change and they have the other half in their other hand hidden behind their back and they laugh and give it to you only when you ask where is the rest of your money, it gets old. Or when you get treated like everyone else because they think you are Ecuadorian and then immediately rip you off when they find out you’re not, again, it gets old. I can go on and on but you get the idea.
There is really nothing OK about having to keep from getting ripped off every single day.
The issue with crime isn't a debate about whether or not crime is better or worse somewhere else and I think that’s something expats and travelers need to get a grip on. It’s about whether or not the crime you are being exposed to is something you can LIVE WITH. I decided I can’t live with a daily dose of attempted robbery and even more so, I don’t have to. Some people don’t have a choice but I do and I appreciate it.
On a side note, it really amazes me how many expats insist on telling other expats how to live in Ecuador based on what the locals do as if the locals wouldn't want or choose better opportunities if they were available to them. Having grown up poor myself, whenever an opportunity arose for us to enjoy something nicer than we were used to, we enjoyed it.
I’m hesitant to put this here but if it were not for the particularly hateful, mean-spirited, evil nature of many of the expats I have encountered in Ecuador, I wouldn't need to point it out.
If you are in doubt about the unique hatefulness of the expats in Ecuador, you only have to visit, gringopost.com, kick back and read through the comments. And if you really want your mind blown, read through the comments of the most innocent posts you can find. And if you really want to see the madness, read through the comments of any post about immigration, crime or housing. Happy reading!
Don’t think for one second that they are only behaving that way online… Just start going to dinner at “Joe’s Secret Garden” and have fun seeing that hate “live and in Technicolor”. JSG was great for a while but eventually I had to stop going because you have no control over who you sit with and it was truly a crap shoot. I was fed up with eating with hate filled racists who are angry that they are too poor to retire in the United States (I almost made this sentence neutral but it would be dishonest to do so).
I have also met Expats who will lie about the quality of a home or building because they don’t want to be the only English speaking individuals there and ones who treat the locals like shit and love to tell others that the average Ecuadorian has a low IQ as well as ones who will downplay any type of crime to the point of endangering others because they haven’t sorted out their own emotions about their decision to move here.
For example in a Facebook group a single woman with children asked if there were any safety concerns for her to consider. The hateful Expats went in on her and as usual launched into monologues about how safe Ecuador is. While, I personally feel safe as hell here from violent crime, I am at an advantage. When responding to someone about how safe a place is, you really should consider their unique situation. There was a woman in there who’d posted about having grown men make sexual advances toward her pre-teen daughter in a market on the coast and having those men threaten her for saying something about it because she’s a woman. At one point this mother thought she was going to have to physically defend herself and her child. So how then do you tell this other woman in the same situation, she’s an idiot for asking the question?
Then there was the video of the man on the bus in broad daylight attempting to molest an 8–9 year old girl while she slept in the seat next to him. Or the video of the man grabbing a little pre-teen girl right at her front door and attempting to run with her. She went “dead weight” limp on him and he dropped her and ran. These videos were posted by the same people who attacked this woman for asking about safety issues particularly as it relates to children…
There are lots of Expat families there with children and they have no issues but people still need to be open and informed. Just because it may be worse somewhere else doesn't mean you get to ignore what you may face where you are.
Now that I’ve let that out, let’s get on to the filth… Yep. I dislike it.
It’s dirty in Ecuador. Not dirty like you see in documentaries in very poor places but dirty enough. The neighborhoods aren't bad but for me it’s the filth inside of stores and restaurants. I stopped going to restaurants because most of them are dirty. My standard of dirty. I don’t know about yours or anyone else’s. I only went to very specific stores and malls there because I found most of the others were too dirty for me.
Fiera Libre, the open market, is a wonderful place to get deals but damn it, it’s dirty as fuck! See how I had to cuss ….(like really cuss). That’s how dirty it is.
Once upon a time, I went to Fiera Libre, a large open market, to look for some good veggies I could ferment. I was probably walking around there for an hour or so when I decided to go to the section of the market designated for “organic” produce. I walked in and there was a stand that looked like it had some good cabbages and zucchinis. I headed toward it but when I got there, the indigenous woman running the stand held one side of her nose and blew a large bit of “fucked up” from the other side. Then she proceeded to ask me if there was anything I wanted from her stand…
What I said was “No, Gracias”.
What I wanted to say was “No, I sure don’t nasty lady. I sure don’t”.
Ok, let’s move on to the rest of the raggedy shit I hate about Ecuador.
Laws Geared To Support Criminals
I was thinking of moving to Cotacachi at one point which is a smaller city with less noise and more of a small town feel. Some neighbors I had in Cuenca had moved there and I made the 12 hour bus ride up there and stayed with them. While I was there, the police department was hosting an event where they were going to talk to Expats about the laws there. I decided to go with my friends and while it was great that the police department were kind enough to do that, what they were saying was a bit of a surprise in some ways.
Let me start by saying that on this trip I’d looked at a cute little house in a gated community (with gigantic “no-way-in-hell-you’re-getting-over-me” walls) and was told by the Realtor that the house had been broken into twice in less than 6 months. It was quite clear that it was from someone living inside the community. The Realtor said she told the police the same thing.
Fast forward to this police event. They have a slide up on the screen telling us what kinds of crimes have happened so far that year and how many of each. For home burglaries it said “1”. I had to laugh. I already knew of a few Expats who had their homes burglarized that year and reported it to the police. The house I’d seen was broken into twice that year and both times it was reported to the police. So exactly what criteria are they using to decide if breaking in and stealing stuff is considered burglary or not?
The most shocking thing they told us was that if someone broke into our home we were not legally allowed to defend ourself in a way that would result in the death of the invader EVEN IF they were trying to murder us. Let that sink in.
Let me just say that when it comes to accepting what someone does on their own home turf is their business, I get it. I really do. But there are some things that transcend culture. And I don’t give a damn where you are, no one should tell you that you risk imprisonment for defending your own life or the lives of your loved ones in or or outside your home.
Another thing is that when a crime is committed against you, often times you have to pay for the investigation. This keeps citizens from reporting crimes. Other laws that support criminality include not being able to really report the theft of items with a total value that is less than $300. The home of one of my neighbors was robbed and the thieves took a lot of their belongings but it was determined that it wasn't worth more than $300 so no police report was able to be filed. But think about that… the crime isn't just that stuff was taken. Someone broke in (crime 1) then they took something (crime 2). Well, it just doesn't work that way here and that’s the way it is.
I really could go on and on with more examples but it is what it is.
The Status And Treatment Of Women
Ecuador like El Salvador has a real problem with the way women are treated. The murder rate for women is very high with little or no punishment for the men who kill them. The rate of rape of women and girls is high as well among family members and strangers. It seems they are very much aware of it and are trying to do something about it. However, it’s something to consider when living there. One thing to understand is that these crimes against women definitely happen more to locals but you shouldn't think you couldn't be a victim as well just like you would anywhere else.
For the return trip back from one of my visits to Cotacachi, I’d gone in the day before to buy my ticket because I needed to be able to pick a seat close to the bathroom (the bathroom situation at high altitude is REAL, son!). So I got a seat in the very first row near the isle on the top floor of the double decker bus. This row was the only row in front of the stairs to the bathroom. When I got on the bus there was someone in my seat; a man. There was another guy next to him and on the other side were two women.
I let the guy loading passengers know someone was in my seat (they are very strict about sitting in the seat on your ticket). He was annoyed and waved me off. I went inside to the woman who sold me the ticket and told her. She went out there with me and complained to the guy who seemed even more annoyed. I’m glad that the indigenous women in Cotacachi can express themselves (this is not the case all over). If it had not been for her, I might have had to get ugly about the situation. Normally I wouldn't have but I’ll be damned when it comes to the difference between being able to get to the bathroom and peeing on myself on a 12 hour bus ride.
The first thing the guy did was make the two women get up and move. I don’t know if they actually had a ticket to one or more of those seats or not but they had to move. Then I was told to sit in the seat on the isle. I sat there with no complaints because as long as I was on the end in that row I didn't care BUT I knew that it wasn't the seat printed on my ticket. The guy across from me was in my assigned seat. The attendant NEVER asked either of those guys to show him their ticket and he also didn't ask those women either; he just kicked them to the back.
I also have to acknowledge that I don’t think anything would have been done in that situation if it weren't for the fact that I was a foreigner either.
That wasn't a big deal so don’t think I’m trying to make it a huge thing only that you have to be aware of your surroundings and if folks can’t act right for something simple, folks aren't going to act right for something big. It’s something to keep in mind.
This is really about it. It’s all well and good to go places with an open heart and realize it’s another place on earth with it’s own set of rules and customs, however, you still have eyes, ears and a brain. To expect nothing to bother you in your new home is childish. Even more so to think you have no right to say anything about it.
What you do with your observations is up to you. Me, I've just made some mental notes and I’m looking not for a greener pasture but for a pasture I can live with.