Archive | Ecuador for Investors

Real-life earthquake experiences from around Ecuador

 Most say the quake epicenter was near the Ecuador-Colombia border.

They’re wrong.

It actually was a bit further south on the coast as the greater-Esmeraldas area actually didn’t sustain much damage.

Interesting how one town on the coast was barely affected near  a town that just got pounded.

The area most effected was the north central part of the coast from Pedernales-Canoa-Bahia-PortoViejo-Manta which got slammed.

Yet interestingly Crucita, also in the area, didn’t sustain much damage.

Just south of Manta towns like Puerto Cayo and Olon shook but didn’t sustain much damage if at all.

The south coast (Salinas-Santa Elena area) escaped largely unscathed.

The highlands and Amazon regions also sustained little to no damage.

Here are actual experiences from around Ecuador:

Here in Quito, Ecuador, as I mentioned before, I felt the quake, but didn’t think much of it at the time, actually I had felt worse in this area.  The wine bottle danced on the table, but didn’t fall,the lights flickered, then everything was back to normal, no damage here.  It wasn’t until people started texting me with the news that I realized it was more serious on the coast.

A friend in Esmeraldas told me her area was fine and that actually the city of Esmeraldas made it largely unscathed.

A friend in Guayaquil said, “I was at home and it really started to shake, I could hear things falling to the floor from other houses, then the power went out for a half hour.  My neighborhood was in tact, a few blocks away one house lost a wall, that;s about it.”

A friend in Cuenca, David from Cuenca Car Share shared that he was sitting at a stop light and he thought the road was vibrating from some construction work.  No visible damage to buildings.

Lillian Asihene in Quito Centro said, “I am in Quito Centro Historico and live on a hill.  I was sitting at my computer and suddenly felt my house slightly shaking and estimated the time to be about thirty seconds.  I sat just wondering when the shaking would stop.  Since I am very familiar with earthquakes after living in Los Angeles, California, for 35 years, I knew exactly what I was experiencing and was not afraid, but did hope that the shaking would stop soon.  In the mean time, I e-mailed my family and friends in the States to let them know that an earthquake had occurred and that I was OK.  I was definitely relieved when the shaking stopped.  My area was spared the damages that occurred on the coast.”

Donald Logan in Olon on the southern coast said… “Nancy and I were in Olon, on the coast.  We were sitting for dinner at Eddies Taqueria, and Eddie had gone out to get shrimp.  When the large chandelier, chairs, and drink cooler began to move around violently, we quickly went to the doorway for an instant then bolted into the open area in front of the restaurant.  We watched the trees, power poles, and their lines swinging wildly as the quake went on.

We had alerted the rest of Eddies family at the same time, and neighbors and friends huddled in the clear for some time.  Power was out in many sectors of the town till midnight, and we watched as many of the residents pushed to higher ground anticipating the possible tsunami.”

A friend in Ayampe on southern coast said… “We were on the beach and felt the sand jump, then we all run for the hills thinking there would be a tsunami, but that was it, no visible damage in area.”

A friend in Puerto Cayo, a town 1 hour south of Manta, said, “all good here, power and internet went out but I’m not seeing any extensive visible damage to buildings.”

Russ in Manta said, “We live live in Manta on the forth floor,  the building.   It is our apartment building and now it is not livable.”

Roger Lewis in Vilcabamba said, “Had a glass or two of wine, taxi home and standing in the kitchen I thought to myself bloody hell that was damn good wine !!!”

Ed OConnor in Cuenca said, “Here in Cuenca, we are on the second floor of our apartment building. We could feel the building shake and things were vibrating. The TV was shaking and I got up to hold it to make sure it didn’t fall over. When I got up I had the sensation that I was drunk and the room was moving. ”

A friend in Cotacachi said, “I was sitting on the couch when for a moment I experienced what was like an underground train going under me and then I thought, “no, I’m in Cotacachi, not London.”  I was in an adobe one floor house and everything was just sort of moving and the ceiling lights were swinging.  We didn’t lose power here.  I realized it was an earthquake and I’d never experienced one.  I went out onto the porch and saw across the lawns other porch lights swinging and everything was just moving and seemed kind of blurry.”

Patrick Holland in Salinas said, “Minutes before, I had just taken a new medication. So, I felt dizzy. The building did sway a little. It only lasted for a minute, here in Salinas.

Then, I went to the balcony to look at pools and ocean. The pool was in “jacuzzi mode”.
I have since heard that some people have traveled Salinas from end to end, but not too many concerns here.”

Mark in Canoa said, “I’m fine Canoa is a disaster with many buildings completely destroyed.”

Scott in Galapagos at the time, ” Didn’t even feel anything.”

Ecuadorian friends in Chone said, “I was watching TV, and the wall to my room fell over, but the other way from where I was sitting, so all good, kept watching the show a few seconds more until power went out for good.  Not too bad here but roads are bad and the hospital got hit bad too, been without power, water for several days.”

The most interesting take I’ve seen online since the shake was from Court at Freedom Bike Rental who were in Canoa at the time.  Check it out here. 

Hasta pronto,

Domenick Buonamici
Quito Airport Suites– a B&B minutes from the new Quito
Guayaquil Airport Suites Mall del Sol- Luxury suites minutes from the airport in Guayaquil across the road from the Mall del Sol.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Updates on road closings, openings in Ecuador due to earthquake

“Dude, why is that wine bottle dancing on the table.” A Canadian friend said as we were hanging out in the lobby of my hotel near the Quito airport.  

The quake was just powerful enough to be felt but that’s about it in Quito.  The bottle danced but didn’t fall over.  

The lights flickered, then came back on.  

And that was it.  

A little tremor, I thought, and back to business as usual glad I wasn’t going to have to work without electricity (it really sucks when you have a hotel, and its so rare the power goes out here I don’t even have a generator).
I had felt earthquakes before, in southern California and other small ones since i had moved to Quito 3 years ago, but this one, while mild and no biggie so I thought, felt different.  

It lasted a little longer than normal (like 20 seconds) and felt kind of “wavy” like we were riding gentle ocean waves.  The other quakes i have felt were more 1-3 second jolts making the windows snap (but not crack).

Anyway, my area (Quito) didn’t have any visible effects, but obviously the central Ecuador coast has been hit hard as I’m sure you’ve seen in the news.  

Here’s an update on the road situation nationwide:

Over the last few days the highways connecting the highlands to the coast from Aloag-Santo Domingo and Latacunga-Mana have been closed due to landslides.  As of today, APR 19 they are both open, but before traveling them inquire to be sure.  

The road Chillanes-Bucay is still closed.  

The road connecting El Carmen – Flavio Alfaro is now partially open (one lane only).  

The outlet road connecting El Matal to Jama is closed.

Other roads closed within the past 24 hrs that now report to be at least partially open for transit:

Highways connecting San Vicente-Jama-Pedernales, Puerto Cayo-Jipijapa, PortoViejo-Crucita.

The roads connecting Guayaquil to Cuenca were unaffected, assume if not listed here the roads nationwide are in fact OPEN. 

Overall: I’d say trying to navigate the central coastal region from Pedernales-Bahia-Chone-Portoviejo for now is best avoided if possible, at best long traffic wait times are probable and at worst the roads may be re-closed deemed un-passable on a moments notice. 

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Driving In Ecuador Vs The USA: 21 Major Differences

This week I had the chance to sit down with one guy who knows the roads of Ecuador better than anyone I know, Jack Abercrombie, a guy from Atlanta who has been living in Ecuador a few years now.

He has a truck he uses to help new arrival expats in Ecuador move large loads of goods and pets within Ecuador.  You can reach him at or 770-828-7913(USA) or 098-743-3009(ECUADOR).

We started chatting about the differences between driving in the USA vs Ecuador.

1. No right on red in Ecuador.  Hard one to get used to.
1A. Lane-challenged drivers who just kind of mesh, its even worse on the coast in Guayaquil where the lanes aren’t even painted on the larger roads sometimes.

2. Pedestrian laws.  Way different in Ecuador too.  As they should be in my opinion.  Like in nature the bigger object has the right of way, hence the car over the walking person.  Pedestrians must yield to cars in Ecuador, not the other way around like in the USA where cars must stop in the middle of no where so a pedestrian can cross the road.

3. Honking.  Also, Ecuadorians use their horn and flash their headlights A LOT.  I think its because there are a lot of dumb drivers who change lanes or pull out onto highways without looking properly.  Also on curves or at stop signs in country towns.  A flash of the lights is good to let other cars know you are there as they may be planning to zoom past their stop sign.

4. The Roundabouts.  Heard they are starting to get more common in the USA but in Ecuador they are everywhere and they’re great in the countryside.  No one has to stop, its just a continual moving wheel with one simple rule, the people already in the traffic circle have the right of way.

5. Lots of one way streets.  In Ecuador there are MANY one way streets, and they are often not marked.  So you have to kind of guess like by how the cars are parked and other small factors you learn as you go.

6. Parking in VERY tight spaces.  Literally, in Quito Ive seen cars parked on the road with one inch between them and the other car on either side.  You get used to it.  Often you have to park your car in parking lots that force you to fold back your side mirrors.

7. More likely to get car stolen.  Take extra little precautions like don’t park on the street at night in Ecuador.  Trust me you’ll be glad you did.  A friend of mine in my little town showed me how he can disarm an electronically locked car and the alarm within about 3 minutes.  Its practically common knowledge in Ecuador.

8. All stick shift, no automatic cars.  I had to go back to driving class to learn the stick.  Very few automatic cars in Ecuador.  Its just a preference.

9. Traffic cops out for “lunch money”.  When pulled over in Ecuador, you’ll often see the drivers standing out of their cars pleading with the traffic cops.  Often the louder you plea the better in Ecuador.  Some cops when they see you are a foreigner will try to scare you into giving them a bribe, the best way I’ve seen to handle this is to pretend like you really dont speak one word of Spanish, even if you do, then they will often get frustrated and just let you go.

10. Different protocol with accident.  When accidents happen in Ecuador it is generally a shouting match, whoever screams louder wins I guess.  The police come, try to let you sort it out among yourselves, if you can’t, then they will impound both cars until guilt is determined.  In the cases of a death or serious injury they will arrest the parties involved until guilt is determined.

11. “The laying down Cops”.  As Ecuadorians call them “chapas acostadas” the laying down policemen or speed bumps are quite common in Ecuador especially in the small towns on the coast.  Be careful for the teeth rattling home-made ones that aren’t marked and blend in with the road at night!

12. Police stops.  The police stops where they may ask you to open your trunk, they are generally looking for drugs or weapons, not something to be worried about if you don’t dabble in that.

13. All the d@mn buses!  As the bigger object rules in nature, so do the bigger objects (the buses) rule on the roads of Ecuador.  They do pretty much anything they want often cutting you off from the far left lane as they drop off a passenger.

Enter Jack…

14….Toddlers playing on side of road unattended along highway in small towns.   I get it that this is a cultural difference, and have no beef w/ the children helping their families, what bothers me is I slow up when I see this off in the distance, and my fellow Ecuadorians speed up and come around and never let up on the gas as they pass by the children & cattle, as well as the school buses & myriads of children just getting off of the school buses, is what gets to me.
15… Buses with little regard for human life.  There is little to know regard for human life, city busses in town, running & gunning with elderly on board, Inter provincial busses speeding & passing / racing each other in dangerous blind curves sometimes 3 deep in a 2 lane hwy with oncoming traffic.
16…Hwy’s with mud slides, torrential Rain down pours w/ very extremely thick fog, flooding, freak hail storms up to 30″ – 36″ deep, seismic activity in dry desert mtn. areas causing land slides w/ boulders & debris, Volcanic Activity Ash fall out, incredible Commercial Truck & Bus Crashes,
17…Speed trap radar cameras spitting out tix that are applied to you license plate, months later, if you slow up or are maintaining the correct speed limit, and as you pass the camera and another driver is passing your vehicle at the same time, you get a tix also. For rental cars, these are applied to your rental car license plate and put on your debit / charge card.

18. Lax DUI / DWI Laws of 3 days in jail / $360. fine / 10 points off of your license. Many Commercial & Private drivers will have a few beers early in the day hauling heavy loads & passengers, and it does not have to be around the holidays.

19…Branches and logs placed in the road in a curve b4 an accident or broke down vehicle is the ecuadorian way of emergency flares / triangles…..

20…Precarious left turns.  Some will put on left turn signal, and pull over to the right hand side and wait until oncoming traffic clears before making the left turn.

21… Random stopping. Some stop right in the middle of the panam hwy and piss on side of rd. right at a Petro EC 500 meters ahead sign. ..or just stop for any reason at all, oblivious to who or what is behind them?
There you have it, a few of the major differences, other than that, its pretty much the same.

You can reach Jack at or 770-828-7913(USA) or 098-743-3009(ECUADOR).

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

How Much Does A Plumber Cost In Ecuador?


Thats how much I paid this week when a toilet broke in my hotel and had to call a local plumber over. And he was a new guy, so it wasn’t like I was getting special pricing or anything.

I happened to be hanging out with a business professor from Penn State University at the time.

I told him.. “I didn’t go to business school or anything, but that sounds like good business to me.”

He said, ” In the States plumbers charge $50 an hour.”

I responded, “In a 19 room hotel do you have any idea how many sinks, toilets and doors break on a daily basis?”

So for me, right now, that’s why Ecuador wins.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

Do You Qualify For The “Professional” Residency Visa In Ecuador?

Do you have a four year (Bachelors) degree from an accredited university?

Then you qualify for permanent residency in Ecuador if you want it.

Ecuador is one of the few countries in the world that gives away residency to ANYONE with a 4-yr bachelors college degree.  Any degree, any major.

This is how I got my residency.

Its BY FAR a better option than an investors visa if you have a degree, because your residency would be linked to that investment.

But there is one setback though.

You have to register your degree with the Ecuadorian Institute of Higher Learning (SENESCYT) which can take months… not good if you are here on the free 90 day tourist visa stamp you receive upon entry with just your passport.

The last thing you want is for your tourist visa to expire and become illegal.  But in order to extend the visa you are looking at $250 plus an added complication once given the residency visa of having to cancel the visa extension.

However, usually it takes 3-4 months for the Senescyt to validate and register your degree in Ecuador. But it can take longer.

Only after this validation you can start the visa process. Which can take another 2-4 weeks.

Thankfully, you can validate your degree locally in Ecuador from abroad with the help of someone already in Ecuador.

First check to see if your university is on this list.  If it is, you qualify!  You need to send to your Ecuador contact the following items… (easy!)

1. Color copy of your passport.

2.  Original color copy of your degree apostilled (if from a country that does apostles like the USA).  If you are from Canada or a country that does not do apostilles then you need to get this certified by the Ecuador consulate in your home country.  You do NOT need to translate your degree if it appears in English, French, German or Spanish.

3. A brief letter in Spanish authorizing your contact in Ecuador to help validate your degree.

4. This application form filled out and signed by applicant and snail mailed to Ecuador.

If your university is not on the list the wait time just got a month or two longer as first you have to get your school approved then your degree.  In addition to the above documents, except a different application form, you would need to send a copy of your transcripts showing your hours taken, completed, grades, etc. This needs to be apostilled in your home country AND notarized in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

3 Things NOT To Bring To Ecuador For Resale

2 checked bags (with items that wouldn’t cause problems entering Ecuador)= $1000 profit.

I’m confident you can do that, because I just did. On my first try.

At least I paid for my plane ticket.

This week I finished selling the last of the products I brought to Ecuador for resale in November.

I made money on everything, although some items fetched less than I was hoping.

And some items took A LOT longer than I expected to sell.  But within 2 months of posting I did in fact sell everything.

Of course, I learned a lot, as my clients were 100% Ecuadorians.

Here are 3 things (or groups of things) I learned the hard way to not bring back for resale on my next go:  

1. GPS equipment.  Through my online research the margins looked really good and the machines themselves were small so I thought this was a no-brainer.  I was wrong, very difficult to sell GPS stuff in Ecuador to Ecuadorians.  There just isnt much demand for it.  I did sell what I brought but in the end on a device that costed me $89 I made like only $10.  I expected much more and I had it posted at $170 for a while but it didn’t move.

2.  Small items with high margins and low dollar amounts.  For instance, I brought back a package of certain quality fake eye lashes I bought in the states for $1 and thought to sell here at the market price around $10.  The fact is, selling online, sure the margin looks good, what is that?  1000% profit.  Low investment, low volume and low weight in bag.  That’s what i thought.  Problem was when selling online everyone expects you to send it to them or meet them and do the transaction.  For a few bucks its just not worth the time, plus, I ended up selling at $4 making $3.  I would not bring these types of items again.

3.  Unknown brands in Ecuador.  Lately, I’ve been a Lenovo computer guy.  I love ’em.  Although they are quite popular in the States, I knew they weren’t well known in Ecuador.  Anyway I brought one back and it was VERY hard to sell for a profit!  i did eventually sell it but for little profit.  I would not bring back anything in the future with an unknown brand locally.  In Ecuador, in my opinion the best known brands for lap tops are Apple, HP, Toshiba and then Dell.

Now its your turn!

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Key To Early Retirement In Ecuador: 1st Attempt Passive Income

My mom worked for 30 years in the USA as a school teacher, and retired with a few hundred thousand in savings, 2 properties, 1 mortgage, and a $3,000/month pension.

Obviously, I’m not going that route.

But I feel the key to an early retirement is a passive income of at least $3000 a month without it depending on the highly volatile world markets (stocks, bonds, metals).

So this year I’m focused on just that, creating an income of at least $3000 a month passive income (meaning you get it and don’t have to do much of anything)… here in Ecuador.

And I’ll keep you updated on all the wins and losses.

Most entrepreneurs and independently employed lean on rental properties for that income.  I don’t think that is the way to go here in Ecuador because rents are low and tenant laws problematic.

So my focus is going to be primarily on agriculture and Ecuador web-based businesses.

This week I launched my first try at it.  A website for folks who want to rent cars in Quito, Ecuador.

The premise: Rent a cars at the airport are PRICEY, yet the little domestic rent a car places in the city are much cheaper.  So I made a deal with one in the city to deliver and retrieve their cars from the airport here in Quito and I’d make 12% commission on sales I made.  Essentially the idea is to bring the city prices here to the airport  area.  For instance, in the city, the economy cars you can get for $23 a day plus 12% tax (with 60 km).  Same car is about double that in the airport.

The costs: Domain name ($15/yr) built website myself in wordpress (free), signed up for a gmail account and a live chat account (not yet implemented in site) $15/month. That’s it.

The strategy: Once deal was made and site launched I found a bilingual Ecuadorian friend of mine who wants to make extra money who answers the emails and the calls and handles the bookings. The clients deposit to my account, then I split the commissions with him.

Our clients: Mainly Ecuadorians so we don’t have an instant book now feature, most Ecuadorians prefer to email, call, call again and then deposit in bank account to confirm booking.

The sales: In our first week we’ve sold for commissions of $3.60, $22, $20, $32.  Total $77.60.  Not bad for the first week, we’ll see from here how it goes.

One thing I’ve never seen many web gurus talk about are the incredible online opportunities there are in developing countries selling in the local language to locals.  There simply isn’t much decent competition so it is possible to make an impact quickly.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

The #1 Way Foreigners Overspend When Building A Home In Ecuador

A lot of foreigners will agree to one price per square meter on a new home build.

Start to finish. Turnkey.

And they overpay, usually in the six figures.


Hire just for the “grey job” first.

In the grey job is usually included the foundation, the columns, roof and walls. Of course all left in grey, and of course considering the walls are cement block (common in Ecuador) and the roof is the typical walk-able cement “losa”.

When finished then tell the builders “chao”. And proceed to find specialists for the other jobs regarding the house job by job.

For instance, for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house I’ve seen you can get the grey job done hiring this way for under $10k (just the labor fee, materials not included).

And be sure to pay for the job, not weekly. They will work lightning fast that way.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Expat Fire Sales: Where To Buy Your Furniture At The Lowest Prices In Ecuador

“Wow, nice refrigerator,” I told my friend while visiting him on the beach.

“And that’s a new table too.” I added.

“Yea, there was this expat couple that moved back to Alaska. Sold everything quick, got everything for less than half price, they had just furnished the place with all new things months ago.” My friend replied.

I see this a lot.

Folks move here, invest heavily in furniture and even real estate, and within weeks or a few months they’re packing up and moving out.

And selling their stuff at a deep discount.

You know, Ecuador, and Latin America in general, isn’t for everybody.

But it’s an expat fire sale, and its a great way for the rest of us to buy our furniture at often less than half of what the items cost new.

So take my advice and don’t invest too much furniture upon arrival and just wait it out and catch a fire sale or two and fill out your house gradually, you’ll be glad you did!

So how do you hear about the expat fire sales?

Just keep your ear to the ground, a wife always complaining? Maybe a husband? They could be gone soon. These are the best cause you are the first one to hear about it.

Other ways to hear about these are by signing up for the Ecuador expat nationwide newsletter and by checking your local regional paper.

For instance, in Quito check the EL COMERCIO classifieds on a Sunday in the OPORTUNIDADES (green) section for MUEBLES (furniture), LINEA BLANCA (appliances). A lot of people both Ecuadorians and expats moving abroad post that they are selling their household goods discounted here.

Must sell quick!

For kitchen equipment try the NEGOCIOS section where many a restaurant that has gone under is selling off their kitchen equipment. Need a nice industrial stove, freezer or whatever? This is the place to look. Of course this last option would require a bit of Spanish.

There you have it, now you know how to buy furniture smart in Ecuador.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How To Get Free Medical Attention Through The IESS In Ecuador

Posted on 08 February 2016 .

OK, so the medical services are not exactly free because you’re paying a monthly premium of around $70 or so.

The IESS is the government managed form of Social Security/medical care in Ecuador. All legal residents and citizens of Ecuador can sign up regardless of age. There are no deductibles you need to pay when treated. All medical services are covered (except some medications you may need to pay out of pocket).

You can also affiliate your spouse for a bit less than half the premium you’re paying.

So how do you get service?


After at least three months of being affiliated, you call a number in Ecuador 1-800-1000-000 ext 140 to ask for a “cita” appointment and they will tell you a date and medical center location for the appointment (usually within 2 weeks). Spanish only.

They will book you in with a general doctor first to help diagnose you. Then based on that appointment they will re-book you another appointment for a later date with a specialist or for further testing. This is how they work.

And for emergencies?

For emergencies NOT EVERYWHERE will accept IESS patients so you have to go to a specific IESS hospital in the big cities of Ecuador for free emergency assistance, if you go elsewhere they won’t pay it. Every medium to larger city in Ecuador has an IESS center of medical attention.

That’s it, that’s all you really need to know.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

How to get water to your crops in Ecuador

Posted on 24 January 2016 .

Many agricultural lots in Ecuador, like mine, get their water from a "sei-key-ya" which are tiny canals that have been spliced off a nearby river.  

But to actually get the water to your lot you have to go point by point down the sei-key-ya and redirect the water so it reaches your lot.  

The annual fee to participate is minimal, like $20 a year, but you are required to participate in "mingas" which are "clean-ups" of the mini-canals.  

Most folks then have resevoirs they fill then water their crops at their leisure.  

You then have to close the "sei-key-ya" to your lot and let it flow through or you could flood your lot, like I already did once cause I forgot to close the sei-key-ya once my resevoir was full.  

Sound complicated?  It´s not.  

A pain, yes, a little bit.  Glad I just leased the lot I´m farming until I learned this, much better to have your own direct water source like an on-site river or lake.  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Ecuador Q&A

pH setback with land in Ecuador

"I've never seen a pH like this." The part-time Stevia specialist said to me looking over the results of my soil analysis.  

The pH is over 8.  That's very alkaline.  Too high for a plant like Stevia.  The plant would grow but not produce as much as it should, he continued.  

The ideal, and what most soil has in Ecuador is around 6.8-7 which is a neutral soil that plants can thrive in.  

Now, there is a way to correct the pH in the lot, by injecting about a ton of sulfur, which would cost me around $500.  But there's no guarantee that would fully correct the problem.

So for now, another option I think I'll go with is another crop that is a bit more resistant to the pH.  

But I jumped the gun, live and learn I guess, and have already put a deposit down on the Stevia plants.  

I'm still VERY interested in Stevia, but now I have a bunch of plants due out the nursery and no where t put them.  

40,000 of them to be exact, at 30 cents each.  You can fit them all comfortably on about 8,000 meters of land.

In Ecuador they grow best under 2400 meters in altitude and if there is a daily or semi-daily water source.  

And now I need to find a new home for them, aka, another lot to plant them or someone who would like to buy them?  I paid 30 cents each,  could offer a nice discount depending on how many you buy, just trying to recoup my money here.  

So, learn from my mistake, wait for the soil analysis to come back before making decisions on which land to buy (or lease) and which crops to grow!  

Any takers on the perfectly healthy, ready to produce and live 6 years Stevia plants?  

They produce every three months and I already have a buyer in Quito lined up.  Please refer to this link for the specific production expectancies,  .  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How much do farms cost in Ecuador?

Good question.  

Sometimes in Ecuador it seems like the people actually selling their farm have no idea how much to ask as prices are all across the board.  Asking prices can be particularly high once a crop is already producing.  

But you can find a lot of farms for sale for under $1000 per hectare (2.2 acres).  

But when you inquire further or actually visit the farm you realize why they are so cheap.  

No road access.

Or very poor access in that you literally have to travel for a while on rough dirt road that will often get washed out during the rainy season.  Even still, some farms will force you to park and walk because they can not be reached by car.  

On the flip side, farms near a major highway (say within 15 minutes of driving) yet down an unpaved side road reachable by car usually go around $3-6000 per hectare.  

While farms with direct highway access usually ask around $5-8000 per hectare.

Next up, water.  

Does the farm have a river or two on or bordering the premise?  If it does, it´s worth something, if not forget about it as "well water" might suffice for building a residence on a property but not for actually growing crops.

Following that, overall remoteness, electricity, cell phone coverage and more play into it…  Like, how close is the farm to the nearest town where you can actually find workers and take your crops to market?  Important, indeed.  

For instance, this week, I was in the Santo Domingo area, about half way in between Quito and the coast in the coastal plain lowland region of Ecuador, and through a friend I found one interesting buy.  

A 16 hectare farm with direct highway access and several small rivers in a green, rainy area, electricity and minutes from a large town asking $60,000.  That´s just over $3500 per hectare.  

The owners inherited the property and have no interest in it and just want to liquidate.

In my experience, this is a good deal, having direct highway access gives you a lot of options like possibly building a restaurant (paradero) or guesthouse down the line.  

The area has a sub-tropical, mild, yet humid climate due to the median altitude of 950 meters (3100 feet).  

Many both cold and warm weather crops can grow here like sugar cane, citrus fruits, Cocoa, Stevia or more local varieties with local demand like Naranjilla, Palmito and Borojo. Also, coffee is a possibility.  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

Which Ecuador residency visa option is best for you?

My brother is married to a Thai woman.  

Even still, when they go to live over there for part of the year, he still has to do "border runs" every month or so.  Even for him, residency is complicated!

Other countries, like the Philippines, or Colombia don´t force you to leave the country but every month or so you have to keep paying and paying to renew your tourist visa.  

Ecuador is not like that.  

Ecuador is one of THE EASIEST countries in the world to get residency, no doubt about it.  And after three years of legal residency you could apply and get a South American second passport which opens up the whole continent to you making it much easier for you to live in Colombia, Peru, Brazil or any of the other countries down here.  

But which visa is the LEAST hassle for you?  
Got a pension or disability income of at least $800 a month?  Or $900 if you want to bring a spouse?  Go for the 9-1 Rentista (Pensioners) visa.  This is the most hassle-free visa there is if you qualify.

Don´t have a pension or steady income for life you can prove?  

You could go for the 9-II Investors visa by investing at least $25,000 USD in a real property or a CD in a bank in Ecuador.  A mere pittance compared to the $500,000 USD the USA requires as investment to gain residency there.  Even other latin countries like Panama and Costa Rica require a much larger investment.  
But what if you don´t have or don´t want to put $25,000 down?

No problem, go for the visa I´m on, and the one that opens Ecuador wide open to young people with no pensions… the 9-V Profesional visa.  All you need is a four year degree from a university on their long list of accredited universities.  Then you need to get that degree vaidated by the Ecuadoran Institute of Higher Education, the SENESCYT, and apply, that´s it, you´re in!  And if your university is not on the list, no problem, you can still apply, but you just have to do an extra step to get your university put on the list.  No other country I know of has this visa option for literally ANY career type!  

What if you have no degree?  
I didn´t know this until I talked to an expert on the subject while preparing my Guide to Ecuador Residency due to be released in about a week, but you could also apply for the 9-III Investor in a personal business visa.  For this visa, you have to show investment in a business located in Ecuador in the "exporting, or industry or agriculture fields".  

​You place a value on all the inventory in the business equalling at least $30,000 USD.  Like my "$3000" lap top I´m writing on now.  Oh yea, and my "$20,000" car. This could include your home office.  A bit more complicated, sure, but it´s covered in my guide and the experts recommended therein could help you see it through.  Tough to do this one on your own but It´s an option if you don´t qualify for any of the other above visas.

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

How 1 Expat Got Nailed For $1800 Bringing Their Pet To Ecuador


"$1800?" I gasped.  

"Yea, $1800," the guest at my hotel in Quito near the airport continued a few days ago in October of 2015, explaining how he just spent $1800 just in taxes and fees paid to the government to bring his dog to Ecuador.  

This is excluding what he paid to ship the dog here.  

And excluding what he paid a translator/facilitator to help him with the process.  

So, actually, he spent a lot more.  

What was the problem and more specifically, how can you avoid spending this kind of money?

He wrongly brought the dog down over 20 days after he had arrived to Ecuador.  

Big mistake!  

In Ecuador, they consider that an import, with steep taxes incurred to boot.  

While if you bring the pet down with you it's considered a personal item of the traveler.  And if its small enough to carry on, it walks right out with you, no extra fees or taxes, provided you have all the necessary paperwork from the vet and Ecuador consulate.  

Or you could send it as BAGGAGE which drops it right out on the carosel.  Or if its too big you can send it as cargo meaning you'd have to pick it up the next day paying a few nominal fees and showing your boarding pass in a few different offices all near the airport.  

What happened to this guy is United didn't let his dog board the plane when he went to fly, if this happens to you, simply don't come until you can travel with your pet to avoid these elevated taxes.  
I've found United to be VERY picky about letting pets board whereas American and Delta and other carriers are not so problematic.  

He didn't know.  

Now you do!

And to avoid overspending on a resident visa in Ecuador, it's actually a surprising easy and cheap process if done right…

Try my pre-release of the long-awaited updated for 2015 DIY Insiders Guide to Ecuador Resident Visas.  
Ideal for anyone considering Ecuador as a living destination.  Simplify an otherwise complicated process and learn how you, a foreigner to Ecuador, can become a permanent legal resident within just a few short weeks saving thousands on legal fees and the headaches along the way. 
With this info no costly lawyer is necessary!  You can do it yourself or with a friend that speaks Spanish.
Now, until midnight, OCT 31order the guide for half-price, now just $24.95, after released, it will be $49.95!  
Hasta pronto, and thanks to everyone who bought my 2015 Insiders Guide to Random Importing to Ecuador, it has now been taken offline completely so those that bought can take full advantage of the info.  

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Posted in Ecuador for Investors, Investor News/Analysis

3 exotic Ecuador fruits with big-time export potential

“Damn, that’s good.” I remember thinking when I first tried it upon arriving to Ecuador.

“Really good.”

It was sweet and sour at the same time and really refreshing.  And not like any other fruit flavor I had ever tried in North America, Asia or Europe.

1. The “Naranjilla”.  Or “Lulo” as they say in nearby Colombia.  I don’t think there is even an English word for this fruit like most of these things in Ecuador that don’t exist in North America or Europe.

It grows in the rainy foothills of the Andes and along the edges of the Amazon and are not eaten raw but made into juice by the locals.

It has HUGE local demand, but I think could also be exported.

It’s true, like a lot of fruits, they might not make it to their destination without spoiling or getting bruised up.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t export it!

What about as a canned jam, or as a frozen pulp for juice mixes, or even dried fruit?

The possibilities are endless.

Here are two other fruits I think could have a BIG impact abroad if exported widely.   See pics at the bottom of this email of all three.

2. “Tomate de arbol” or Tree tomato, this fruit doesn’t actually taste like tomatos at all and looks like a mini-nerf American football.  They are not eaten raw but made into juice here by Ecuadorians.  The taste is unique, truly indescribable.  This fruit is grown in the highlands near the big cities like Quito and Cuenca.

3. The “Ovo”.  Many ecuadorians don’t even know about this one.  There is only ONE PLACE in all of Ecuadorwhere this fruit is grown, in the dry Chota Valley north of Ibarra.  They are sold usually along the highway that passes through the valley on the way to Colombia and every time I pass I get some.  They look similar to the coastal variety called “Ciruelas” but the taste is completely different.  The Ovo when ripe is bright orange and sweet with a seed inside like a grape.  The taste is unique and delicious.  On the other hand, the Ciruela on the coast is sold green or red and is bitter and often eaten by locals with salt.  The Ovo is the one I think has BIGexport potential.

Of course, Ecuador has MANY more fruits with big export potential but these were the first three that came to mind.

At the very least on your next trip to Ecuador be SURE you try these three fruits as juice or in their native form.

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ovos in ecuador


naranjilla in ecuador


tomate-de-arbol in ecuador

Posted in Ecuador Q&A

My 2016 Ecuador bucket list: Must dos no one else knows about

You know what they say, by putting it out there you help attract it to you.

Throughout the year I’ll let you know as I do these things and if interested in joining just hit reply and let me know.

So here it goes… my 2016 (primarily Ecuador) bucket list…

1. Go black panther tracking in the Amazon, and in the meantime visit a local indigenous community in Ecuador and meet with a shaman witch-doctor.

2. Hike, and summit Chimborazo, Cotopaxi and/or Cayambe, 19,000+ ft volcanos near Quito.

3. Spearfish or pearl-dive off the coast from Ayampe.

4. Create passive income (s) of at least $3000 a month online or locally here in Ecuador (and write about how I do it on this newsletter!).

5. If the dollar stays high buy a property on coast of Spain (or in Colombia).

6. Open my first large-scale agricultural-operation in Ecuador.

7. Sell out my ocean-view subdivide in Puerto Cayo.

8. Expand my new Guayaquil business to at least 6 suites, Guayaquil Airport Suites Mall del Sol. luxury suites near the airport in Guayaquil at a budget hotel prices.

9. Visit Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and surf El Salvador. With the new cheap flights of JetBlue from Quito to Fort Lauderdale traveling from Ecuador to the Caribbean and the rest of Central America just got a whole lot cheaper. Plus, applying what I now know and show in my Insiders Guide to Random Importing I’m confident I can at least cover the cost of my plane tickets.

10. Begin importing and/or exporting something with continuity.

11. Visit the petrified forest of Puyango along the Ecuador-Peru border.

12. Have a drink, dance and hang out for a night with the artists/hippies and see if they will show me how to make some of their jewelry along the infamous cocktail alley of Montanita.

13. Hitch-hike on the coast of Ecuador. I’ve heard its easy.

14. See an Anaconda in the most remote area of Ecuador, the Yasuni, in the Amazon region before they start their planned drilling.

15. Take the newly-re-opened train through the high Andes from Ibarra to Salinas (a different Salinas than the one on the coast).

16. Hike arguably the most beautiful area of Ecuador from the Lagunas de Atillo to the largest waterfall in Ecuador, the San Rafael Falls and the Volcano Reventador area.

17. Visit the Saquisili (near Latacunga) thursday market for an interesting more authentic (less touristy) look into indigeous highland life.

18. Go silver bargaining along the main plaza in Chordeleg (near Cuenca) where silversmiths flex their creative muscles.

19. Try hand-gliding for the first time off the cliffs of Crucita or Canoa on the coast.

20. Bike down the entire Ecuador coast from Esmeraldas to Salinas. Hope I get to do this one.

21. Watch the Tungurahua Volcano erupt at night from the look out over Banos. Tours can be arranged in one of the many agencies in Baños. Cost $20 per person.

22. Observe the amazing Pink river dolphins as they frollic in the unique flooded rainforest of Cuyabeño in northern Ecuador. Tours can be arranged once on the ground out of Quito or Lago Agrio. Anacondas, monkeys and sloths are also possible to be seen. Canoe Tours start from $40 per person.

23. Scuba dive in the crystalline waters of Galapagos off Wolfe Island where its common to see schools of hundreds of Hammerheads and dozens of whale sharks. 2 Dives start from around $130. Best arranged once on the ground in Santa Cruz Island near the port in Puerto Ayora with local dive shops.

24. Snorkel with the worlds smallest penguin, gigantic manta rays, big marine iguanas and (friendly) reef sharks off las Tintoreras on the picturesque snow-white sands and turqoise waters off Floreana Island in the Galapagos. Day tours to Isabela arranged in Santa Cruz start around $65/person.

25. Eat two buckets of the locally-famous garlic crab at one of the best crabhouses (Manny’s Crangrejal) in Guayaquil, a city known for its numerous crabhouses. Near San Marino Mall any taxi will know where it is. $12.

26. Hunt for fossils along the banks of the Nangaritza River, the only river that connects the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean, high in the Condor Mountain Ridge (Cordillera del Condor). For more try $25-50 /person.

27. Deep-sea fish for Marlin and Whale-watch in August off the calm shores of Salinas. Trips can be arranged in one of the several agencies along the boardwalk. Cost: Whalewatching from $20 per person, deep sea fishing price varies depending on amount of people.

28. Visit a coffee farm in the Intag near Ibarra and learn the whole process from harvest to belly.

29. Hummingbird watch and observe thousands of butterflies at a butterfly farm in the cloud rainforests of Mindo. Tours can be arranged once in Mindo. Start from $20/person.

30. Trout fish in one of the surreal apline lakes in the barren Cajas National Park near Cuenca. Tours can be arranged with Terra Diversa in Cuenca.

31. Go way off the beaten path and hike to the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) of Ecuador’s Southern Amazon. Extreme adventure available through local guides only out of Nangaritza. Cost: Highly negotiable.

32. Pamper myself with a the natural mud bath in the mud pools in the dry rainforest of Machalilla National Park and spend the night playing volleyball with the local indigenous and later sleeping in one of their tiki huts. From Puerto Lopez hire a motorcycle taxi and pay a few bucks from them to take you to the indigenous community of Aguas Blancas in the park. Cost: $10 for the day tour to the mud baths and $10/person for the night.

33. View thousands of Orchid species and hummingbirds along the well-kept trails of the Podocarpus National Park easily reached in a $4 taxi ride from the town of Zamora. Free entrance to park.

34. Get a taste of ancient Incan life by hiking the 10km trek from El Tambo to Ingapirca, ancient Incan ruins and effectively Ecuador’s own “Machu Picchu”. You can also take a train, taxi or bus which can be arranged out of Canar. Ruins Entrance fee $6.

35. Get certified as a glider plane pilot in Santo Domingo through a one month course with a local flight instructor. They say if you can fly a plane without an engine you can fly a plane with one. Course starts around $1300. 2015 prices yet to be released.

36.Learn to kite surf with an instructor against the strangly barren cliff landscapes of Santa Marianita near Manta. Classes can be arranged on site. Prices vary.

37. Zip-line through a Banana plantation in Machala and learn all the ins and outs of the interesting business with CristyViajes. Tours start around $20 per person.

38. Fish for Pirana in Laguna Pañacocha, a beautiful black wáter lake backed by cloud forests. To get there, hire a local canoe where the Rio Panacayu meets the Rio Napo, to get there you’ll need to take a Nuevo Rocafuerte Canoe hired in the town of Coca. Price varies depending on season.

39. Visit a Chocolate factory in Mindo.

40. Hike the Quillotoa Volcano and witness the majestic, stunning turquoise-colored lake in the volcano’s crater. Can be done solo by taking a bus from Latacunga and getting off near the base. Cost: $4 bus fare from Latacunga.

41. Mingle with sexy locals dressed to the tilt during the 2 hour river-boat cruise on the all-you-can-drink boat ‘Morgans’ which leaves every night from the boardwalk (Malecon) of Guayaquil. $15 per person includes all you can drink.

42. White-water raft and try kayaking for the first time in the lazy to fierce rivers around the city of Tena where the activities have made the town famous.

43. Explore the rarely-visited beaches north of Esmeraldas while at night dancing salsa to afro-latino beats after eating the local delicacy of Shrimp cooked in spiced coconut milk (encocado de camaron). I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m in the Caribbean. Cost: $5-6.

44. Just for fun one day try panning for gold in Yantzaza with the locals in the southern Ecuador Amazon.

45. Volunteer in one of the animal shelters in the Ecuadorian Amazon (or start my own here in the highlands.)

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

What Russians do in Ecuador

“Hey Dom, so what do Russians do in Ecuador?” My friend asked, astonished by three sets of Russian guests in a row checking into my hotel near the Quito airport.

“Of the ones living here I know, Russians are in the flower exporting business, usually exporting them back to Russia.” Irked by the thought that even with a dozen roses Russian guys are still more masculine than me, I responded.

I continued…”After three-plus years here working with new arrivals, I could break it all down for you if you want?”

Americans sell Ecuadorian real estate to other Americans.

Canadians get into mining, usually in the Amazon region.

The Japanese minimize each minute they have to be in Ecuador, tourists in transit on a visit to the Galapagos.

The Chinese own shrimp farms in the Machala area, or dollar stores with cheap imported goods previously from China, now from Vietnam.

Europeans start an Eco-lodge, or Bed-and-breakfast-type guesthouse deep in a mountain somewhere in Ecuador.

Colombians usually get into the loan-shark business and drive around on intimidating motorcycles.

Cubans walk around wearing funny-looking bleached-out jeans and work at barber shops, or start a sandwich shop.

Indians (from India) start a slightly-above-average shawarma or Indian food restaurant.

Israelis film reality TV shows in the Amazon, really, they do!

Australians are usually 20-something backpackers who could quickly list you all the best pubs in Ecuador, but probably won’t recollect anything about their time here if you ask in a year.

Argentineans are usually hippies juggling under traffic-lights for coins.

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

8 items you can “carry on” for profit in Ecuador

We all know, or at least you should if you follow this letter, that Ecuador has many high import restrictions and duties causing many items to be more expensive here than in the US, which also creates a lot of business opprtunities for the casual traveler.

As we’ve already covered, TVs, especially big screen ones, can fetch a nice profit in Ecuador. Even after paying the import duty upon arrival.

But I get it, for most, bringing down a TV is too much of a hassle.

Too big, too bulky, too heavy, maybe too expensive.

Also, upon arrival to Ecuador by land or air, you are guaranteed to have to pay an extra tax (in cash) for the TV, even if you are bringing just one unit. AND there are restrictions, the same person can only bring one TV down per year.

What about some items you could easily fit in a carry-on that would be nice re-sell opportunities? Here we go…

8. Name brand make up. For instance, Loreal Cream Visible Lift is available online in the States for $3.99 per unit… in Ecuador, the same cream goes for $18.60 online! In the stores it often goes for even more. Obviously, you can’t bring down too many units or your intent will look commercial, and taxable, but each one you pack is like packing a $20 bill.

7. Pack of 10 pairs of fake eyelashes. How much could a bit of hair weigh? I mean, really? Like almost nothing. Yet in the US, nice sets like this one can be found for $1.67, while in Ecuador the same or similar as seen here goes for $7 or more!

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

Crossing the border into Ecuador

“If they try to stop you, just punch the accelator.” My friend said as we inched closer in our car to the border, about to enter Ecuador from Colombia.

I have never crossed a border by car so I really didn’t know what to expect.

Even my adventures down to TJ (Tijuana) for the day from San Diego were by foot, never by car.

There was a lot of traffic, and my nerves were staring to flare, I had an item I knew would incur a tax if they saw it.

As we inched closer to the border guards I saw them wave some cars through, others had to stop while they checked their trunk.

I was next.

I got the hault sign from the guards.

I started to press the pedal.

The brake pedal. Looking over to my friend, “come on man, you didn’t think I was going to do it, did you?”

They saw the item. And then waved me over to the window where I had to pay the corresponding tariff. $108 USD, ouch.

Got the receipt, and that was it.

The guards didn’t even want to look at it. No one checked that I had paid. But I kind of wanted them to cause I actually did pay.

When you come in by land they don’t seem to care about the small things, but the big things like TVs and refrigerators they are sure to catch and insist you pay the tax.

When coming in by air its different.

You might get chosen for a deep cavity search, but chances are you’ll just walk right through, even if you have some larger items. But TV’s they’ll always catch.

Either way you don’t have to pay the taxes ahead of time, just wait and see if they catch it, because you actually CAN’T pay ahead of time, I tried. They need to see the item and weigh it to charge you.

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Posted in Ecuador Q&A

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