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Friday, December 13, 2013

BANOS AND PUYO

BANOS REPORT

Note it is a partial report as I've spent all my time in Banos.  After my money situation eventually gets sorted, I am planning on going to towns nearby.

For those who don't know, one of my readers expressed an interest in perhaps expatriating to Ecuador some day so I looked around with that in mind.

Politics:  The last four presidents got ousted and took off with a bunch of money before they finally came up with one that not only stuck around without taking off with government funds but who seems pretty popular.  Just because this president is good doesn't mean the next one will be so perhaps renting for a few years might be better than immediately purchasing property.  Just in case.

Property:  Depending on where you buy it there is a huge range of costs.  For some reason, Banos is cheap to rent places but freakishly expensive to purchase them.  I have no idea why that is.  Also, there is a big fucking volcano nearby so this gives banks pause in lending money to buy property here.  They will, I'm told, make loans for improvements.  This is odd.  As of three years ago at the time of this writing (2013) volcanoes have gone off so it's not like getting a nice property near Pompeii.   [For those without knowledge of history and too inept to use Google, that seems to have been AD 79.  The cynical may think this just means 'it's due'.]

People:  I'd put people's friendliness within the top ten of the countries I have visited.  [As of the time of this writing, approximately 40 countries.]   You will need to learn Spanish as finding people who speak English outside (and even  often inside) tourist areas is uncommon.  Fortunately, Spanish is so easy, even Logan can learn it.  That's easy.  Also, I like the people of Banos.  They seem to have 'civic pride' and keep their town clean - something that is not seen in many of the countries to which I've recently been.

Crime:  Comparing murder rates, Ecuador is much higher than your native country of Canada, but where isn't?  Well, actually that's a long list.  I'd read that the murder rate here is half of what it is in the USA however Wiki says this is a lie.  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate]   The police here seem fairly friendly and helpful rather than in Ukraine where you are expecting them to shake you down for a bribe.

Education:  I'm not sure how old your children are or if you will need to send them to schools here or if you are waiting to expat when you and your husband are old.  Like Logan.  The schools here seem fairly abysmal and underfunded.  Much like my native country.  The good news is that here, private tutors are totally affordable.

Economy/Prices:  Pretty cheap.  Living in a private room (hotel style though it's at a hostel), eating out every meal, smoking and drinking rum nightly I'm spending under $30 USD a day.  That's another nice thing, you get to use USD.   The local currency was seen as too unstable so they just use dollars.  Easy.  Since the Canadian dollar is roughly equivalent to the US dollar [at the time of this writing nearly 1 to 1] you will have no problems figuring out the actual price for things without the need to convert.  There is one important caveat to this however and that is electronics.  Before you leave the land of Canada
Picture above, Toronto during rush hour.

it is important to stock up on anything electronic you will need and understand that your choices in the future will be paying double (or more) for technology that is woefully outdated or going  the hell somewhere else to purchase it.  On the good side, getting around via public bus (moderately comfortable) is dirt cheap - about a dollar per hour of drive time.

Climate:  Though I've not yet experienced the entire country, I've been told that traveling anywhere you can be in a totally different climate within a few hours.  Personally, I like the climate of Banos.  In the day time it is nice and warm - maybe even a bit hot - in the day time and cool enough at night to sleep with all the windows closed and blankets on the bed.  During the winter it rains a bit more but not like the rainy season in SE Asia.  Assuming you have an umbrella it is nothing to worry about.  As Canadians, you may feel like you are missing snow but this feeling will pass as you admire pictures of famous Canadian hockey players on the internet.

The shocking example above is known as 'Canadian Porn' and is a picture of Wayne Gretzky.

Public Services:  Unlike places like Nepal, the government hasn't shut off the electricity for several hours a day due to incompetency.  In fact, in the month plus [as of the time of this writing] I've been here, there has never been a power outage.  The internet has been off so briefly that it is easily discounted.  There are only two strange things about the services within this country.  First is that you can't flush your toilet paper down the toilet.  I have no clue as to why this is.  Could it be small pipes?  Not enough water pressure?  Strange recycling?  I have no idea.  But you get to toss your used toilet paper into a bucket and save it.  It is disgusting.  Can't imagine a lot of people get into 'dumpster diving' as a result.  The second thing is there is no assigned 'trash day'.  Due to the 'mañana' attitude of all the Spanish speaking countries I've been to they don't have a schedule.  Instead, the trash truck drives around playing a strange tune and when you hear it you grab your trash and go out to meet them.  Weird but it seems to work.

My overall impression of Ecuador is very positive.



PUYO SHOPPING

I traveled to Puyo to look for pants.  The Ecuadorians don't seem to like my 'wrap pants' and I dislike wearing things that draw too much attention.

Before heading there, I'd been warned repeatedly that Puyo is much more hot and humid than Banos.  After I'd stressed a couple times that I've not only lived through the hot and humid south east Asia but also lived in several deserts, people relented.  Puyo is a bit more hot than Banos but I failed to pass out from heat stroke during my brief visit.

The bus dropped me off at a bus stop which seemed to be well outside of town - or in the middle of the countryside.  Fortunately, there were several taxis nearby and the charge was only a dollar for the fifteen or twenty minute ride.  I suspect New Yorkers would slit each others throats to get that kind of deal.

The taxi driver dropped me in front of a red store selling clothing.  They didn't have what I wanted so I wandered around trying to find clothing in 'extra American fat' size.  Subsequent stores kept sending me back to the red colored store.

I'd even managed to find a tailor but for some reason in this country they only make suits.  I could get a pair of suit pants for $30-$40 but not only would they clash with the sun bleached t-shirts I wear but they'd wear out pretty quickly.  Getting someone to make something cheap out of more rugged cloth seems impossible.  This is confusing because the tailor shop was not only empty but there was no evidence of any projects in the works.  No business is better than the 'wrong sort' I suppose.

Being in Puyo made me grateful I'm staying in Banos.

Since traveling, I've seen plenty of 'no personality' cities.  Were you to remove all of the people from Puyo and replace them with Thais or Cambodians, the city would look just like any of the 'no personality' cities there.

Puyo seems to be mostly a marketplace - and not a very good one for Logan.

It is interesting just how far behind their computer stuff is.

At the time of this writing, a quick search on Amazon shows I can buy 32 GIG drives for about $20.  Proudly displayed on the shelves of Puyo were 4 GIG drives.  Quite a difference.  [Yes, I realize 4 GIG drives are also available on Amazon.  Not sure what kind of insane person buys those.]

Eventually I became convinced there were not enough fat Ecuadorians to warrant anything like a 'big and tall' store and having grown tired of pawing through the bins of 'Salvation Army' used clothing I set off walking.

The only restaurants in town seemed to be Ecuadorian.  Since I have the same opinion of the local food here as I do Cambodian (it is not something I look forward to but will happily eat it if I am starving to death) I kept my eyes open for any kind of foreign restaurant.  Since it was a few minutes before noon and lightning has a habit of striking dead anyone who opens their restaurant for business before noon, nothing was open.

Fuck it.  I can wait until returning to Banos to eat.

Turns out the route I'd picked by chance was in the direction of the bus station so I just kept walking.

Like all bus stations everywhere in the world, this one was built on the most beautiful of land so that the town could be showcased in the best light for new arrivals.  Or the opposite.

So, I got back on the $2 bus for an hour and a half sixty kilometer ride through roads clinging to the mountains.  Tufts of cotton clouds dotted the mountains as did fields built onto steep enough surfaces that the sight of a farmer tumbling by would take no one buy surprise.





PRICES

Taxi, $1

Approximately 250-300 ml of juice, $1.75.  (Why it is almost double the taxi fare I have no clue).

Map, free.




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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia - Michigan - Illinois - Colorado | England: Slough - Lancaster

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