Those of you who know me well know that I am not a complainer. I long ago accepted that life is a mixed bag and whining about the things I don’t like doesn’t make them go away. So I choose to accept the bad, but focus on the good as I eagerly await the time when “it’s all good”!
However, I have endeavored to give a balanced picture of my life in Ecuador, lest you think I’m living a “permanent vacation.” So I decided it is time to let you know about some of the day-to-day “unpleasantries” of my life here.
Dirt – Despite a few big, more modern cities and (mostly thanks to the current president) many modern advances in infrastructure, Ecuador is still a third world country – and that means, in general, a lot lower sanitary standards than we are used to. Also, unfortunately the people in the particular part of the country I live in are very prone to inappropriate disposing of garbage (aka littering), which is different from other areas of Ecuador (so I am told). Add to that living on the rural coast, where most of where you walk is sand or dirt, and the summation of all of it is living a much “dirtier” life than I was once used to.
Transportation – I have mentioned this before (and it is certainly not an issue for everyone living in Ecuador), but transportation is quite a chore. For several reasons, owning a car here is not an option I would ever consider, so I have to rely on buses, taxis, motor-taxis, friends or my own two feet to get me where I need to go. Combine that with the fact that I’m 30 minutes away from the closest ATM or decent store and it certainly makes life here a bit more complicated than my previous one.
Electricity – This is honestly a more minor one, but worth mentioning – the power (and with it the internet) goes out here a lot more than one would like. Sometimes we will have a rash of regular outages, followed by periods of consistency, but on average I would say it goes out at least once or twice a week (and often for hours at a time). It is more of a nuisance compared to other things, but still not at all what our more “civilized” lives are used to.
Bugs – Ecuador has more bugs than you could ever imagine – some known and others previously unknown to me – and many are much bigger than I have ever wanted to see (including grasshoppers the size of my hand – no kidding!) Not only that, but there is no such thing as pest control here (if you want to know how to make a great living in Ecuador, learn how to be an exterminator and then come hire yourself out to the gringos – you will make a fortune!) I have had to learn to co-exist with ants in my kitchen, mosquitos, spiders, “no-see-ums” and an occasional scorpion, just to name a few. And that is just the bugs that manage to get inside – you should see what roams around outside! Which brings me to my next category…
Sores/Bites – At least a few times a week I find some type of new “alteration” on my skin somewhere. Everything from mysterious bug bites, to other sores, rashes or just who knows what. Most don’t require any treatment and are nothing more than a “huh, look at that – I wonder where that came from?” But just another part of living life in a buggier/dirtier world. And finally…
Parasites – I saved the worst for last and this is definitely the most unpleasant part of my life in Ecuador. I have had more of these issues than I care to mention and it is common knowledge among the gringos that it is not an “if” but “when” thing and that one needs to take a parasite clearing antibiotic at least once every six months (and more often if needed). The places these can come from are numerous, no matter how careful you are. I long ago decided I would be “reasonably careful” but not “paranoid” in this area. However, this is the issue I take most seriously and have added many anti-parasitic things to my diet (including coconut water – as previously described in this post). I have learned when it comes to parasites (which even in the U.S., a huge amount of the population carry without even knowing it) the key is not necessarily avoidance, but becoming an “inhospitable host.”
Quite honestly, these are all things I was well aware of before I moved here and (although not an exhaustive list) are overall a very minor part of my life – the good still far outweighs the bad. And I long ago gave up the “entitlement” idea that I somehow deserved to live a more comfortable life than most of the rest of the people in this world (even though I still do). I have always trusted that the God who called me here would see me through the “unpleasantries” (which He never promised we would not have) and that the blessings that would follow my obedience would far outweigh them all. But there you have it – a snapshot of “the other side” of my life in Ecuador.