Driving through mine fields in Ecuador: Photo fines

“What? I don’t have any fines or tickets.”  I replied to the guy who I sold my car to here in Ecuador this week.

“Yes, you do, you have two open photo fines.(foto multas)” He responded.

He was right, I didn’t even realize it, and usually you don’t in Ecuador until it’s time to pay your annual registration (matricula).

This past year I passed through Ambato twice, and BOTH times they nabbed me taking a picture of my plates.  Once going 52km in a 50km zone, and again going 56km in a 50km zone.

Each ticket $112.

Yet, driving all year around the coast and Quito areas I didn’t get ONE.

I’ve found the Ambato, Ibarra and Loja areas particularly bad, so be extra careful driving around there.

If renting a car usually the rental company will check to see if you got any photo tickets before returning your deposit.

If issued tickets if you were going just a bit over like in my case you can challenge the ticket with a lawyer in the municipality where you got ticketed.  I’m paying $60 per ticket to the lawyer for help, he says takes a few weeks to process.  This process is called IMPUGNAR.  It’s common to pay lawyer once job is DONE.

You can see if the plate you were driving got any tickets nationally at this link… But some municipalities don’t show up on the national system for months after ticket issued so you can also check directly on their websites (here is the Ambato one).  You can see what my tickets look like if you plug in my old plate number (placa) LBB4559.

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How to beat the big boys in Ecuador accepting barter

Like with any small business you put in Ecuador, you’re going to have competitors with DEEP multi-million dollar pockets.

In my case for my 19 room hotel near the Quito airport, I compete with the Wyndham an international chain.

So how can a little guy like me or you when against these corporate dicks.

Of course, there’s always charge less than them.

But there’s other creative ways to beat these guys too.

Like what I started to do this week: Offering alternative payment methods.

For instance a month ago on a trip to the States I noticed many younger people in the States like my brother pay for everything with Cash App, a free phone application that connects to your bank account and allows you to make payments to other users quickly and super easy.  I now accept Cash App.

You could also try accepting Bitcoin.  It’s as easy as creating a digital wallet through an app like Blockchain.  Search for it on Google Play Store.  Download and you get a digital address people can send Bitcoin too. It has a learning curve but you get the hang of it quickly.  I now accept Bitcoin.

You could also accept barter.  Why should we be forced to always accept fiat money, aka cash?  Why not except goods in exchange for a service.  For instance, I have someone coming from the States bring me something they buy (so they can verify the contents), and on arrival I reimburse what they spent as per their receipt for the item and for the act of bringing it I offer the room free. If they item can net a $100 gain here, I now sold my normally $40 room for $100.  I now accept barter, too.  Email me if you need a room.

The big guys move a lot slower and it may be years before they adopt these alternative payment options that gives you the advantage in the eyes of some customers.

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Surprise flight connection that could save you BIG getting to/from Ecuador

Recently, I helped an Ecuadorian friend buy her ticket from Ecuador to Israel.

And I learned something interesting.

To or from most places in the world, right now, it is FAR cheaper to fly there from Bogota than from anywhere in Ecuador.

Bogota is WAY more connected than Quito, and right now Quito is getting way more connected than Guayaquil.  (In the last two weeks alone two big direct routes to New York and Europe have been moved to Quito.)

And now, as I reported last month, we can get to and from Bogota cheaply from Quito with the new budget airline Wingo.  Last I checked, $150 RT Quito-Bogota.

In this particular case, prices from Quito to Tel Aviv for her was around $1600 at the cheapest. From Guayaquil even more.  But from Bogota just $1000!  And buying the Wingo ticket for $150 she ended up saving almost $500 on the round trip to Israel.

So, especially if you are coming from far away, or trying to go far, research connecting through Bogota, and buying a separate ticket with Wingo from there to Ecuador, you just may save a bunch!

For instance, from Bogota to Miami right now one way $157 with Spirit Air.  Can’t find that from Ecuador.

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