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 with top rated kayaks in 2018 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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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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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!

For the other 6 items in this list and a whole lot more very interesting ideas try my weekly newsletter, revealing everything you need to know BEFORE you invest in Ecuador. Unsubscribe at any time:

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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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3 Things All Ecuadorian drivers buy in Colombia

“This place is a mad house.” I said to my friend.

We were across the border from Ecuador, in Colombia, at a tire shop, and it was choke full of Ecuadorians buying tires for their cars.

I soon found out why.

A set of 4 Goodyear tires in Ecuador in the Quito area for my jeep/SUV would set me back $691 USD. I got the quote in September of 2015 a few days before I came to Colombia cause I had heard whispers.

In Colombia, after converting the Peso to the Dollar with the current favorable exchange rate, the same Goodyear tires came to about $45 each! Total $180 USD!

Wow! Big difference, hard to believe I’m only 4 hours from Quito.

So, as you can imagine, a lot of drivers will drive over the border for the day, get new tires placed on their car, throw the old ones out and drive back over.

As long as you’re not bringing new, unused tires back loose inside your car the border patrol rightly assumes the tires are for personal use and don’t try to charge the steep import duties importing tires would normally incur.

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