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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