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Nortes and Europeans have destroyed the inexpensive lifestyles of Costa Rica and Panama. They are now working on doing the same thing to Ecuador and it causes resentment among the native population because we run the prices up to the point that the native people can’t afford the real estate in their own countries. And…we do it from greed and stupidity. Anytime Nortes find an inexpensive and beautiful place to live they immediately set out to destroy it by selling it to other Nortes at prices which they themselves inflate through greed. The local landlords see the Gringos overpaying and so raise the usual rates to take part in the feeding frenzy and before you know it the market has left the indigenous population unable to participate. I had a lovely, yet simple little one bedroom furnished apartment in Bahia de Caraquez on the coast in Manabi. I paid $150 per month plus $9 electricity and $20 for internet. My buddy had a 3 bedroom, 3 bath ocean view furnished condo for $450 a month. New construction ocean front condos are roughly $100 per sq.ft.. Some of the other condos (ocean front) were renting for $650 per month. The problem is that supply and demand factors are changing as Americans and Canadians flee the high cost of living at home in search of cheaper upscale lifestyles elsewhere. This, coupled with the normal greed of the Nortes who see the opportunity for personal gain, changes the economy of specific areas which in turn impact the country as a whole and then you wind up with situations like Costa Rica which went from wonderfully affordable to ridiculously expensive in about a fifteen year period. Now, it’s hugely inflated market is crumbling due to the compression of global economic trends. Yet, the populace stubbornly believes that the gringos will return to throw their money around as before. I’m already seeing the prices climbing in Ecuador and it’s the fault of the influx of foreigners who don’t try to hold the prices down and the early birds who see this last slice of affordability as a new trough to gorge themselves at. Sad but so definitely true. Makes us very unpopular with the locals which transmits into unstable factors for living. I wish we could find a way to enjoy the pleasures of life in exotic climes without running the price up to the point we ruin it not only for the native population but for our folks who are trying to find an affordable haven. The pigs don’t care who they fatten off of or who goes down in the process.That’s why they are pigs and they have no problem with trampling others into the mud.

Ecuador ranks high on my list of favorites. Having lived there twice and roamed quite a bit, I think that I have an educated feel for the country. The coast has many offerings, for the surfer crowd especially, but somehow the Pacific from Manta north almost to Esmeraldas didn’t excite me as it should have. I met some nice people but, as a rule, found the coastal inhabitants to be less honest, open, and welcoming than those of the Andes or Amazon. I lived in Bahia de Caraquez for three months and although I made some great friends and had a good time, found it to be noisy, inhospitable, and dirty. Banos, in the Andes, on the other hand, was as welcoming, tidy, and receptive as one could wish for in Latin America. Also it was SAFE, which should be a major concern to travelers. The prices in Banos were reasonable and the quality of life was outstanding, plenty to see and do and lots of tourists coming and going. Tena, in the Oriente (Amazon), was also a pleasure for me and also welcoming and fairly safe. The difference in altitudes was dramatic as was the difference in micro climates. I found much to be admired in Ecuador and my complaints were specifically centered on cultural differences and the constant ills of trying to transact business type chores in a country which is Latin in thought and approach. Travel from country to country in Latin America will show the similarities in Spanish influence as well as the differences, which are often significant and, for Northern European based cultures, a hurdle to be overcome. The U.S. dollar is standard currency and there are many U.S. expats. I love Ecuador and the standard of living for dollars required is nicely tuned for retirement. Try it! You may be pleasantly surprised!

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