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Just two weeks short of the new school year the government announced a major schedule change. No Christmas or Easter Holidays, with only a fifteen day break between 5-month semesters running from September through January and mid Fedbruary through early July. All this in an effort to increase the school year to 200 days, though even the Ministry of Education admits its an “experiment,” and they don't know how it will result.

The changes only appeared in the papers the 28th of August.

Some teachers at the British School are already talking about resigning if the changes are implemented, given that under their contracts they are already entitled to a certain number of vacation days and this arbitrarily and instantaneously changes all that.

We've heard in the rumor mill that other international schools, namely Academia Cotopaxi, Ecuador's largest school for the US community, are having trouble hiring teachers. Supposedly the government has told them they don't need to hire teachers from abroad as there are plenty of qualified Ecuadorian teachers, and are making it difficult to get visas.

Just the latest and greatest example of arbitrary decisions being made that can affect you, your business and your life, a daily part of life in Ecuador.

Stay tuned.

Back in Ecuador after a month in the US. I heard a lot about droughts, food inflation worldwide, and observed the high cost of groceries. You want to know what food costs in Ecuador? Here it is…these prices are from the local Supermaxi, Ecuador's major grocery chain. There are cheaper prices out there in the local open air markets, and you won't pay the 12% VAT tax added to many items. But hygiene is not as good and storage is usually terrible. I've been sick enoug here to be convinced it's worth it to shop where at least hygiene is halfway decent. You don't want to get sick, so don't take your chances if it's not necessary.

Grapefruit $0.50 kg

Carrot Orange Juice $6.00 per 2 liters

  • Avocados $0.50 each or about $2.70 per kg
  • Potatoes 5 kg sack $2.88
  • Broccoli $0.73/kg
  • Imported Green Grapes $6.66/kg
  • Organic Head of lettuce $0.99
  • Green Cabbage $0.86/kg

Graffiti in the City of Quito, Ecuador

Graffiti in the City of Quito, Ecuadorians love color. Colorful clothing, colorful walls and houses, colorful billboards everywhere (more on that later).

The Ecuadorian countryside is filled with every hue of green, the skies are a deep blue, the clouds are pearly white and dark grey. It’s picturesque and memorably gorgeous.

Unfortunately, color can and is abused throughout Ecuador too, especially in urban areas.

Quito is a visual assault on the eyes, and not an aesthetically pleasing one from up close. Graffiti unfortunately litters the walls everywhere. You can hardly go a city block, let alone a dozen meters, without seeing some form of graffiti. It confounds me why shop owners and home owners can’t and don’t fight this plague.

Finally, I found it. I’ve been past the place dozens of times and always said “We should try that place.” REAL authentic Mexican food in Quito.

La Michoacana, Quito, Ecuador

It’s just a hole in the wall, basic, cheap place, but the food is damn good. You walk in and sit down, and it’s got a different ambience, it doesn’t feel like Ecuador. No music playing, some knickknacks on the walls and a map of Mexico. Tile from floor to ceiling, clean and spartan. It’s not anything fancy, they only have four dishes on the menu, but they’re goooooood.  Tacos, Quesadillas, Tostadas and Sopes, and Posole on the weekends. They’ve got a small steam table set up front with all the fixings, and a small griddle where they heat and saute stuff. Your basic Mexican street food done right.

Tostadas at La Michoacana

Tostadas at La Michoacana, served with Guacamole and Beans

I’ve never seen a place so busy either, not even a fancy, upscale restaurant. We arrived at about 1:15, and there were maybe 5 tables full, and another dozen empty. By 1:30, the place was packed and there were people waiting outside for a table! First time I have ever seen this in Quito anywhere, with the exception of fast food at the mall. I had the Tostadas-3 large chicken tostadas served with creamy guacamole and beans on the side, and delicious salsas on the table. Sebastian had the 3 chicken taco plate, and Maria had the Quesadillas. No dish more than $7.50, and we could barely finish.

Pico de Gallo, Chipotle Salsa, and Pickled Spicy Veggies

Pico de Gallo, Chipotle Salsa, and Pickled Spicy Veggies

 

Guac and Beans at La Michoacana, Quito, Ecuador

It’s not on TripAdvisor-it will be soon though. It’s not in any guide books, and it’s nowhere near where the tourists hang out. But it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for some cheap, tasty, and filling eats in Quito. Elia Liut and Brasil streets, on the corner.

Today just got a major slap in the face. That is, another wake up call. Called on just how many hassles you can face in Ecuador-though many are, most of the time, avoidable, they sure are ugly when they hit you in the face.

First, Banco Pichincha, one of Ecuador’s major banks, has had its online transfer service, down for  the last 4 days. The service allows you to move money from one account in one bank to another account in another bank-great for making payments. Of course, they don’t announce this to anyone-I only figured it out by using the online chat service. I’m late on my homeowner’s association fees because of this.

So I figured I’d go to a cash machine and withdraw the cash, then go to Produbanco, another major Ecuadorian bank, to pay the dues. Well, the Banco de Pichincha cash machine was down. So I go to another bank’s cash machine. But it will only let me make withdrawls in $100 amounts, at $0.50 a pop. So I make two withdrawls-I needed $300 but the daily limit is $200. So someone else is going to get paid late.

We then go to a Produbanco branch at the Supermaxi-Ecuador’s chain of supermarkets. But, that branch, I learn, only accepts deposits for personal accounts, but not for business accounts. I head out to the other branch and the line is literally over 50 people or more long, and it’s already 4 p.m. I guess that payment will just have to wait too, that’s two people paid late…like so many things in Ecuador, you need a lot of patience to live here.

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Welcome to Destination Ecuador!

Welcome to Destination Ecuador! My family and I have been living in Ecuador for the last four and a half years. We’ve dealt with the worst kinds of red-tape, searched out or ended up making hard-to-find ingredients ourselves, imported equipment for making chocolate confections, learned the import-export business...Continue >>

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