Monday, December 9, 2013

Researching Living in Ecuador Online? Here are some NON BIASED tips.

Packing up your bags and moving to another country, for whatever reason, can be a daunting task.  Many people spend numerous hours of their days towards making this decision, but is the research even accurate?

What is the crime rate of Ecuador?
Are their any Jobs in Ecuador?
What is the best place to live in Ecuador?
Can I drive there?
Do I need to learn Spanish?

Thousands of questions pump through your cerebrum, ricocheting throughout the depths of your mind as your fear and anxiety start to overwhelm you into possibly backing out, or making a decision without doing your due diligence. 

I am going to give you a few non biased tips on doing your online research so you can come to your own decision on whether Ecuador (or any other country if you happen to be researching elsewhere) is right for you.

Tips to researching Ecuador as your living or retirement destination:

1.  You can not just simply Google ¨Living in Ecuador¨ or ¨Retiring in Ecuador¨ and clicking the first page you see.

Companies pay heavily for you to click on their site after searching those keywords.  Although these companies are doing exactly what they are supposed to do (promote the country they are selling in a positive manner), you must realize they will most likely paint Ecuador to look like a masterpiece from the distance of behind your desktop, only for your to arrive, take a Real Estate Tour that you already paid for, and realize in your eyes it is more of a monet.  Please note I am not saying to avoid reading the information these companies put out.  I am merely suggestion to broaden your search more.

Instead of relying solely on organizations marketing Ecuador to help furnish your final opinion, try to find some blogs, facebook forums, and places such as the or to connect with expats in Ecuador directly to get their personal feedback.  Be aware some of them may offer you more than just free advice, but also understand there are plenty of Expats here who have offerings that will genuinely help you.

2. When using Google to search for keywords related to Ecuador, format your search for the most recent results, or results written in the past year.  That way you do not get OUT OF DATE information which may hinder your research efforts.  Here is a screen shot I made showing you how to fine tune your Google search in Firefox.

3.  This one should be obvious, but I have to state it anyways because I have seen it happen many times.  TUNE OUT THE TROLLS.

Anyone who constantly posts negative content in the forums about Ecuador yet happens to live here for years, or anyone who thinks they know everything about Ecuador, but have never put their boots on Ecuadorian soil, are not good sources for research.  Someone who can not put together a cohesive sentence on the internet is also probably not a good source of information, and more likely someone who has forgotten to take their meds. 

Instead, if you are chatting in social networking communities find reputable people who are vouched for and give facts, or at least solid and well educated opinions about their life here.  If you want to know who some of these people are feel free to send me a request in my contact form which goes straight to my email.

4.   Include a 3 to 4 week trip (or as long as you possibly can) into your research efforts.

Book the flight and put your boots on the ground, using all the contacts you have established that you have confidence in to help you along your way.  Really get a feel for the country and how your life would be.  Go to the malls, grocery stores, mercados, a church, or whatever places you would normally need to go.  Don´t dedicate your whole trip here to touristic adventures because your real life here will not be all about chasing butterflies in Mindo or walking La Ronda in Centro Historico Quito.  You most likely will not be going on jungle Safari´s either so make sure you take time to research regular life activities. 

You will need to shop, eat, pay bills, and do regular routine tasks you had to do in your former life.  These routine tasks may be performed substantially different than what you are accustomed to in your home country so you must be aware of these changes, and determine whether you can adapt or not.

If I think of any more tips I will update this post, but I hope this gets you started on researching whether Ecuador is right for you.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why NOT retire IN Quito Ecuador??

Ok so maybe living in the center of a city full of 2.5 million people doesn´t appeal to the average retiree or semiretirees looking at Ecuador as an option but WHY NOT?

Skyline of Beautiful Quito Ecuador.

As I stand here on the outside I see so many people passing through Quito within 3 days HELLBOUND for Cuenca or Cotocachi, and I am thinking... Why??

1.  Quito has the best hospital in the country in Hospital Metropolitano.  You are going to eventually get sick right?  Or maybe you would like to jump on the opportunity to save some money on that ¨Lifestyle Lift¨you wanted?

2.  Quito also has all of the amenities of any major world city which, believe it or not, you have become accustomed to having in your native developed country.  Right?

3.  Looking for culture?  Quito has the largest and most well preserved historical center in all of the Americans.  It is literally half the size of all of Cuenca population wise.  Quito also has many exciting day trip destinations for the active retiree within a few hours drive on well paved roads.  You can´t always hide in your new home, fenced in with electric wire can you? 

Ok, so maybe those three points alone will not persuade you to change your mind from buying or renting your quiet piece of the Ecuadorian pie smack dab in the middle of the city, but maybe you should be looking for your piece of the pie somewhere near Quito?  Oh my how sweet the pie is here in the Pinchincha Province.

To the EAST* (Thanks for the correction Journeyman Jack!):  Cumbaya, Tumbaco, Yariqui, Puembo, Quinche, and many other smaller suburbs and towns surround Quito and offer a quieter lifestyle within an hour of the city.  They also offer temperatures in the mid 70s to the mid 80s, Everyday.   

There is also Pomasqui and San Antonio to the north of the city, also featuring warm and dry weather, along with Valle de Los Chillos to the South.

in fact, Sprinkled in and within an hour to an hour and a half of Quito are many small towns that are all charming in their own way, and close enough to the city where it won´t be a hassle just to live daily life.  Not all of them are called Cotocachi either which is realistically more than 2 and half hours away from Quito.

So again I ask, Why not Quito?  It is the perfect base camp to find your dream retirement destination, and I can not put my finger on why their are not entire retirement enclaves scattered throughout the cities suburbs and city limits.  Maybe all the major publications (no names mentioned) have bypassed giving Quito its true praise due?  Even my Ecuadorian father in law of 81 years calls Cuenca a ¨Baby Quito¨.   

Well, Quito and all its secret gems are doing just fine without all the marketing dollars being pumped into it from the retirement publications.  How?  Well, because it is already a self sustaining city without the retirement community investing in it.  Whether or not you settle here, Quito will continue to grow with its rising working middle class and many American establishments that make you feel at home when you are away.  Its developing Yachay Technology Center will most definitely attract more international jobs, (including consulting) and wealth.  No one is slicing Quito´s suburbs up into ¨dream retirement homes¨(yet).  No one really needs too, their are already plenty of middle and upper class Ecuadorians laying their nest eggs there.

I am not knocking Cuenca, Salinas, or any of the smaller retirement destinations that Ecuador has to offer, but they are all knocking Quito all the time.  Its too dangerous, too dirty, too congested, too this and too that.  Not entirely true.  There are sections of the city and its suburbs that are safe, clean, and quiet also.  Ever heard of Tenis? Gonzales Suarez?  Amaguana? Guayllabamba? Probably not.  All you can google up of Quito without due diligence is Mariscal and the Centro Historico (which is which nice in areas also).

So what I am saying to all the retirees who are considering Ecuador is give Quito a shot.  Take it from someone who is 32 years old, not a Real Estate agent or investor, and has NO SKIN in the game whether or not you even retire here.  Check out QUITO before you make your decision.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Ecuador - Whale Watching and other things Tonsupa - Esmeraldas Province.

So my family and I decided to take a last minute trip to Tonsupa for the weekend to get out of Quito.  It was just me, wifey, the little one, and my suegra.

The road trip took about 6 hours and featured a stop for delicious Almurzos in Puerto Quito at a small road side restaurant with a river running right by it.  My son and I went down to the River and spotted a few things photo worthy.

I bet this spot would make great for fly fishing

So many rocks

I am not sure what kind of bird this is but its super cool

Can you see the Trucha?  (Trout)

The river was a great unexpected diversion from the road trip and one day I hope to go back to explore Puerto Quito further.  Anyhow, this place served the yummiest breakfast.  I had a simple Continental Breakfast and it gave me the boost I needed to keep driving.

We arrived in Tonsupa around 12:00 and it was jam packed with locals from Quito and tourists from wherever.  We made the mistake of not securing reservations and had quite a hard time finding a hotel for 4.  We ended up in Hotel Tulipanes which is more of a hostel than anything.

Los Tulipanes Cabanas - That pool looks inviting. 

I was so happy to see this sign after 10 other hotels were already full.

Nice little waterfall rock thingy

Great place to kick back. 
  Our room was not so much photo worthy because it was simply two sets of bunk beds for the 4 of us.  Needless to say we weren't planning on hanging out in the room at all anyways.  Cost was $120 for all 4 of us.  We were about 4 blocks from the beach.  The owner was a great guy.

We hit the pool immediately and withing 30 minutes some drunk ass Ecuadorian college kids came plowing through the hotel towards their room.  They must have gotten an early start and one of them was flat out belligerent.  He could barely walk so I had a good laugh.  apparently he didn't like that too much.

When I got out the water and towards our room, the guy stumbled up to me and started saying something.  I never took a course in drunken Spanish so I didn't understand him but it had tough guy words in it.  Me, being with my family, I simply turned around, and my wife told his friends to collect his drunk ass before he got hurt.

The guy tried to grab me but he was so limp from drunkenness he had the grip of a jelly fish.   He must have weighed in at an even 120 pounds, I am pretty sure my son could have pummelled him, so instead of laying him out like a lawn chair, I just said "NO ME TOCAS!", and stepped back.  They he said something that sounded like "what did you say?" in Spanish, and I said "You heard me!".  Then his friends finally dragged him off.  That guy is lucky to have such good friends, I will leave it at that.

Anyhow, back to enjoying our time.  After the pool it was time to hit the beach!  I didn't take pics personally because I didn't want to risk getting my phone wet or sandy but here is a good shot of Playa Tonsupa I found on the net.  If you took this pic please let me know so I can give you credit.   

Playa Tonsupa Skyline
  I did however get quite a nice snapshot of the smooth road we walked in order to get to this beautiful beach.

This was one of the few roads in the beach area that wasn't just dirt rocks or sand.  Tonsupa is definitely in its earlier stages of development in comparison to places I have visited in the Sierra.

One of the highlights of this weekend getaway was having the opportunity to ride alongside of humpback whales!  I will let the photos do the talking here.

Seeing the Mommy and Baby whales frolic in the water made the whole trip worth it, and I highly recommend whale watching in Tonsupa.  If you'd ever like to take a journey like this don't forget to contact me on my company's official website  and I will be happy to have it arranged.

I wish I could have highlighted a bit more of the NIGHTLIFE in Tonsupa but Mother in Law wouldn't babysit the little one for the night.  I guess it all works out however because I found out the week after the trip that my wifey is now Pregnant with number two!!  Life is grand and I am excited to have another one in my life.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Find friends in Ecuador with InterNations.

Coming to a new country by yourself can be a downright daunting experience.  Remember that Doors song "When your Strange"?  That is exactly how it feels when you and your family embark on leaving your long time home and Living in Ecuador.  The level of intimidation when you step on foreign soil with all of your earthly belongings can send shivers through your body.  Cold.  Alone.  Strange.

It does not have to be that way.  There are many others just like you.  Those who have embarked on this same journey.  Those who know how you feel.  Those who can share their stories of life in Ecuador with you and help you learn from their mistakes.  You do not have to come here alone and wing it all by yourself.

Do yourself a giant favor and sign up for:

It is an online social network dedicated to Expats all around the world!  Basic membership is free (and all most people need) and you will be able to connect directly with Ecuadorian expats JUST LIKE YOU, by registering yourself in the Quito forum.

The website allows members by INVITE ONLY, so if you wish to join, simply email me at "", and I will happily invite you.  I personally use this site often to make friends, business contacts, and obviously promote my travel agency

My wife even found a job opportunity on this site so there is no good reason not to sign up if you are considering living in Ecuador, or any other country for that matter.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Squashing the Controversy.

Hello all,

First of all, before I rant.  I want to thank all my readers for helping me reach over 6,000 page views.  I invite you all to subscribe to the mailing list so you can be up to date whenever I post.

Now, to squash the controversy.  I allowed a guest blogger to post their opinion of life in Quito on my blog.  When this blog was posted I got a few comments privately in regards to his slightly negative stance on life in Quito. 

I promised from day one that my blog would highlight the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY about what life can potentially be like for a gringo moving here.  It would not be fair for me to fall back on my promise and censor a guest blogger's opinion because it may have a negative impact on my business .

Now I have to disclose I personally love Quito, this city is not for everyone.  My guest blogger has had some experiences that he felt he should share with other potential expats to this city.  Everyone will develop their own opinion of the city and some of those opinions will not paint a rosy Garden of Eden like picture of this growing metropolis.

I think the best thing anyone can do with ANY INFORMATION they read on the Internet about Quito or the rest of Ecuador is put it all in perspective that you are merely reading peoples opinions, marketing literature designed to persuade you to fall in love with the country, or literature designed to keep you away.  When deciding if Ecuador is right for you the best step is to first SCOUT the country on a 2 or 3 week visit to feel it out before deciding if this country is right for you.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hoping for a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

 Hello all,

I would like to introduce William Perry, our first featured guest blogger for The Middle of the World.  He recently moved to Quito and will be practicing Psychology here helping Expats offering in person and virtual services.  You can learn more about him on his website

So it begins: 


Hoping for a Second Chance to Make a First Impression:  

Ok, can we get back to the corn discussion above? Yes, the American model definitely looks more delectable – probably artificially designed that way, but whoever proved that that is bad for you? Don’t preservatives keep you alive longer? The Ecuadorian corn doesn’t look at all bad to me either, and frankly my tongue cannot discriminate between the two. But here’s the thing: When I am served corn in the U.S. it comes with soft butter and there is salt on the table. Here in Ecuador you have to ask for both and tolerate a look as if you’re from Mars. And no, I do not like cheese on my corn, or, for that matter, instant coffee anytime – the country’s latest craze.

This is not a service-oriented society. Not once have I not had to ask for something I shouldn’t have had to ask for (like silverware). I’ve eaten out every day for two months, and had good service about 20% of the time, mediocre service 70% of the time and just-walk-out service 10% of the time. You name it: Slow service, forgotten food, wrong food, the chef watching TV while you’re waiting to be fed, and waiting forever to pay an overpriced check for lousy food. And to make matters worse, for some reason every restaurant here thinks it enhances their atmosphere to have a blaring TV on.

I don’t even like corn very much, so like many foods here I only eat it because not much food that I like is readily available, or good. Corn is, according to Consumer Reports, 89% fiber and carbohydrate. With virtually no nutritional value, those two things will make you, along with the water in corn, feel a lot fuller than you are. Hence, you don’t eat much more food. Hence, lose weight. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a cornophobe – I just don’t think it’s a healthy staple. Nor soup. Nor potatoes. In the two months I’ve been here I feel like the Incredible Shrinking Man (free Big Mac if you can name the stars in that movie).

I have lost a lot of weight in the two months I’ve been here. And it’s not so complicated: The food sucks. Period. I’ve heard so many rationalizations but overall the food simply sucks. Unless you want to go to American style restaurants and pay American style prices. But I’m assuming you came here at least in part to get away from that. This is not a cultural issue. I’m talking about undercooked, overcooked, leather beef and eggs floating in grease. Hence I don’t eat much. I find myself eating because I “should,” not because I anticipate a good meal. Hence I lose weight. It is no more complicated than that. If you’re a soup-lover, however, this might be the home for you. Just don’t ask what’s in it.

Ok, so that’s just corn. Ecuador, or Quito in particular, is a lot more than corn. There are also potatoes. With everything. If I see another french fry I will retaliate with projectile vomit.

Now the disclaimer – I have only been here just over 2 months. I know very little and I have not had enough time to acclimate. I’m sure I will find a way to eat happily. I like the city of Quito and have already made a few friends here, so I don’t see the snobbery that Quito is often accused of. The weather is great – From 7am until 4pm. Then it gets cold. Very cold. There go my beloved walks in the evening. And if I don’t freeze to death I’ll get robbed, or so I hear.

Which brings us to safety. Face it folks, crime is everywhere and there are a few things you can do to prevent it. Especially since us gringos stand out more and everybody on this continent seems to think that we all carry gold coins in our pockets. Don’t wear jewelry (ANY). Don’t look lost, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t be drunk (yes, you can do it). Don’t go NEAR an ATM at night. If none of that works please just make them happy and give them your money, go home, get on your knees and say a prayer of gratitude. You still have your arms and legs (hopefully), and you’re not in Kansas anymore.

One further gripe: THIS PLACE IS NOT CHEAP. Don’t be mislead, like I was, by all these Internet forums and guidebooks. And especially not International Living. I live modestly and my expenses are pretty close to what I was paying in the U.S. I was counting on a much less-expensive experience. I was counting on being able to just write and not work for awhile. No way. And whatever you do, PLEASE don’t believe all those “Move to Ecuador and Live like a King” articles. You won’t, not unless you’re willing to give up most of what you like. And it won’t be king like at all. This is an expensive city, bottom line.

I’m learning that “manana” (“tomorrow”) means anywhere from 2 days to a week. I’m learning that when you smile at someone and say “Buenas Dias” you get a warm smile and greeting back. I’m learning that Juan Valdez makes the only good espresso in Quito and carries the best Tres Leches Cake I’ve ever had. I’m excited about exploring the city and getting to know it. I like the people, the culture, the parks, and (most of the time) the weather. I like that there is an actual opera here. I know that I know very little so far, and all this is no more than an initial impression from a total stranger only here for two months. I am determined to give this city a fair chance. I do see a lot of potential, gastronomical issues notwithstanding.

Dr. William I. Perry, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist and recent ex-pat to Quito, Ecuador

Thursday, June 20, 2013

American Licensed Psychologist living in Quito.

Hello everyone.  I would like to introduce to everyone in the expat community an American Psychologist who is now living in Quito.  He has been in the country for a few months and decided to open up his services to local expats here.  His name is Dr. William I. Perry and and his license number is #PSY10384.

He offers Online Therapy for help with Alcoholism, Drug Addictions, Anxiety, Depression
Internet Therapy Sessions via Skype.  If you struggle with any of these problems and are seeking help it wouldn't be a bad idea to contact him directly through his website .

I just thought I would spread the word since there are so few working professionals here in Ecuador.

Unrelated to my posting but I thought you all might enjoy this little skyline snapshot I grabbed of Quito.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quito Traffic "Que Bestia!"

I promised in the beginning I would keep it real, upfront, and honest throughout all of my blog posts.  So as promised I am here to tell you one of Quito's ugliest and most brutal realities.


This is where you will spend a ton of your time if you live in Quito

I mean it is really bad.  Absolutely horrible.  This is being typed from the hands of a Los Angeles native driver, so that in it self should say a lot.  But seriously, my 10 mile commute is actually an hour and a half at a minimum. 

The miniature version of "streets" you find in certain sections of the city, plus the street lights that are green for a whole 1.8 seconds on major intersections, multiplied by the over abundance of mid sized and large SUV's here in Quito, only begins to describe this mess.  (massive run on sentence I know)

Everyday congestion in the city of Quito

If you must drive here, You will find these many little caveats or unwritten rules helpful:

  • It is perfectly OK to be all the way in the right lane on a 3 lane road, then suddenly make a left turn without using your signal.  This works both ways. 
  • It is also perfectly acceptable to park in the middle of the street to send a text message, make a phone call, or even get out to buy some street food.  
  • If you own a motorcycle you are allowed to drive pretty much anywhere you can make your bike go, even down stairs.    
  • Running a red light is perfectly OK after sunset or on Sunday, however the concept of what "Right on red" is has not caught on yet, even though it is actually legal here. 
  • Buses are above the law and actually gain 50 points for every car they run into.  Blue buses have diplomatic immunity.
  • People will beep at the people in front of them to go when the light is still red, even if it is a police officer in front of them.
  • The space between the two lanes on the road is actually another lane, if your car can fit.   
By following these unwritten laws, you will survive driving here in Quito.  Good luck. 


Monday, June 10, 2013

Getting my Cedula.

Hello everyone.  It has been quite a while since I have posted.  Only because I have been extremely busy piecing together my new life here.  I finally got my Ecuadorian "Cedula" which is great, considering how complicated it can be to go through that process.  I was ready with my perfect "carpeta" with all my apostilled and translated documents they needed to properly process my Ecuadorian ID card.  Well, it turns out when I got my Visa, one of the required papers for my Cedula had my last name as "Bruner Ii" instead of "Bruner II", which made the whole process a nightmare.  The Registro Civil wouldn't take my paperwork and they made me go back to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores to have my name corrected.

When I got to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores they told me it was impossible to change it, then printed out an email they wrote internally stating this.  I had to go back to the Registro Civil with this paper, which proved to be helpful... for now.

So I keep shuffling through the endless lines getting passed back and forth to different cubicles and windows until finally I land in the area where they are supposed to take my photo for my ID card.  When I sit down with my approved paperwork, the lady decides to review the papers one more time.  Just my luck.  When she looks at my paperwork she notices that they put my middle name where my last name was supposed to be on the paperwork.  Not a big deal right?  OH YES.  Big deal here in Ecuador.  Every paper has to be perfect.  She told me she could not process my Cedula until this was fixed.  My face and eyes turned into an inferno and I nearly turned into the Human Torch hearing this.  I was close to exploding.  I looked at her computer screen and said, "Can't you just type it into your computer correctly?", in Spanish.  She responded "That is impossible" and rudely told me to go.  She must have really been proud of her position of authority.  I saw clearly on her computer screen she could type whatever name she wanted.  I realized it was pointless to fight so I went home in defeat, then went back the next day to the Registro Civil to fix the same stupid piece of paper again.

Turning Point:

When I arrived at the Registro Civil the next day, I had an epiphany.  When they made my original document they could not make my name "Bruner II" because their system was set up to automatically capitalize the first letter of each name and make every letter afterwards lower cased.  As a result, my name became "Bruner Ii".  With this discovery, I decided not only will I get my Cedula TODAY, but I will also teach the girl behind the counter a little trick so the next "II" that tries to enter this country won't have to go through the hell I went through.

It is simple actually.  In most fonts a capital I looks exactly like a lower case L, so my solution was to make my "II" by having the clerk on the other side type "Il".  It took a lot of convincing and humbling to the kind girl on the other side but she finally tried it and it worked like a charm.  She cracked a thankful smile and I was happy to make her day as she did mine.  She also corrected the other error on the document and returned it to me to submit again.

I returned to the Registro Civil with renewed vigor and energy, along with positive thoughts, which paid off dearly.  Not only was the document corrected right, but in the same morning the Registro Civil decided they no longer needed 1,000,000 pieces of paper to hand out a Cedula.  They were going "Paperless".  My paperwork (what was left of it) was finally approved and my photo was taken.  I was able to pick up my Cedula 3 days later.  It was a hard fought battle but I remain VICTORIOUS.  I would never wish my experience upon anyone, but I have also heard of worse experiences.  The moral of the story is, if you can afford it, get a facilitator to handle these type of matters on your behalf.

Wish me luck... My driver's license is next. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

JourneymanJackInEcuador: Discover Quito Ecuador: La Mariscal District in Qu...

 Great article compliments of Journeyman Jack here in Ecuador!

JourneymanJackInEcuador: Discover Quito Ecuador: La Mariscal District in Qu...: Discover Quito Ecuador: La Mariscal District in Quito Ecuador :   La Mariscal District in Quito Ecuador La Mariscal District As ...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mindo is freaking awesome.

Yea I said it.  Just like that.  Mindo is freaking awesome.  I love everything about it except for the mosquito population.  Don't sweat they are not the malaria infested "skeeters" you find in the Jungle.  But for some reason they like to attack in between your toes and your fingers so the itchiness can be unbearable without some type of cream.  BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT TO MINDO. 

Mindo Ecuador is about a two hour drive from Quito.  The road trip itself is one of the most scenic I have seen.  You pass through multiple "micro-climates", such as Quito's cooler moist climate, into Pomasqui's dry arid southern california like climate, bypass the Middle of the World Monument (or stop by.. why not?), then finally spiral down hill on a freshly paved highway into the depths of Mindo's "Cloud Forest".  The roads are curvier than a pregnant Kardashian, so make sure you take it easy if you are driving. 

The road to Mindo Ecuador

What is a Cloud Forest?  Well, without getting all scientific, a Cloud Forest is a higher altitude "jungle" of sorts, which has a high level of diversity when it comes to animals and plant life along with birds.

Mindo is famous for it's birdwatching, (something I haven't personally participated in yet), river tubing (yes I've done this), zip lines over the forest canopy, along with hiking and delicious Chocolate.  You can also rent Quads and ride them around the Cloud Forest which is super fun.  If you are into riding quads be sure you check out "Xtreme Quadrones" in the center of town.  Tell Gonzalo and Nataly that Mike said Hello.  

Xtreme Quadrones in Mindo Ecuador.  Go rent a Quad.
They will be happy to show you how the use the Quads and guide you on where the best riding is.  You can also make arrangements ahead of time through my travel agency at  It is not a book online type thing, but it is important to contact me if you want to ride quads because sometimes the owners are in Quito, and it is hard to rent them when they are not there. 


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Getting your Residency in Ecuador

In all the phone calls and emails I get asking for advice about Ecuador the number one question I am asked is "how do I get my residency Visa?"  It is a very important question and also a pretty complicated one.

The truth is there are many ways you can get your Visa but most likely you will need some help from an experienced Visa Facilitator.  A Visa Facilitators responsibility is to help you learn what Visa you will need to apply for, what documents you will need to bring (or have shipped), and what will need to be Apostilled, notarized, or translated into Spanish.  Then they submit the paperwork on your behalf and follow your application through from the initial application to completion, ultimately saving you time, headache, and money.  

This can be a nightmare to do on your own ESPECIALLY if you do not know Spanish and understand the way that the Ecuadorian government works.  If you think things get done here the way they get done in America and Europe you are in for a big surprise.

With all of the other things you will need to worry about making a transition to life in Ecuador would you really want to fumble around with all the paperwork also?  This applies especially to retirees who want to come here to relax and enjoy their years here.  Processing your own Visa paperwork is hardly fun times when you have already worked for 40 plus years of your life.  Let a pro handle it for you.

If you are having problems finding this pro allow me to recommend one for you that has helped a few expats I know here get their Visa paperwork facilitated along with their Cedula.  Just email me Mike Bruner at and tell me what your situation is and if it makes sense I will point you in the right direction.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two words to describe Quito?

I have been thinking about this post for a while.  If I could use two words to describe Quito what would those two words be?  I drive around the city a lot and it is truly a complicated place to describe, especially with only two words. Then one day while I was dodging local drivers who treat red lights and other traffic laws more like suggestions it hit me like a bag of bricks.  Or maybe it was a bit more like a concrete slab.  Or possibly it was like a whole building being dropped on me.  Or maybe around 400 buildings, which is about how many buildings or other projects are currently being built in this city.

I then realized the best two words to describe Quito right now are "Under Construction". 

Everywhere I go in this city of progress I see a new high rise going up.  Every block is full of construction workers pile driving or laying concrete or putting the finishing touches on a beautiful new building.  It must be a sign of the economic times here because the construction business is BOOMING. 

On top of the 400 buildings going up, the new airport is finished (as you read from my previous blog).  Also a Subway system for the city is under construction, and the whole city has a big initiative to lay all of the electrical cables under ground.  Their is a park and a college being constructed where the old airport was so the land will not be wasted, and it seems like many of the home owners here are remodeling.

Something RIGHT is going on here and I don't know what it is, but I know I like it.  It is amazing to see so many projects!  I personally love architecture and even though none of these current projects are over 30 floors the artistic thought they put into the buildings here is amazing.  I look forward to seeing what Quito looks like 20 years from now.

I wouldn't be surprised if it looked something like this poster's post that you can view here: 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The new Airport in Quito -Quiport

My father in law and I decided to take a trip to the new airport today just to see what it was all about.  I have heard a lot of rumors that the roads were horrible and that it would be a nightmare to get from the city to the airport so we decided to find out the truth.

We left the house in Mariscal at about 10:15 and found there was not much traffic leaving the city.  I do believe this is partially due to the fact that it is a Saturday so we didn't have to worry about the rush hour traffic we normally encounter. 

We were out of the city and through the tunnel Guayasamin in about 15 minutes which is amazing in itself.  We travelled through the normal weekend traffic you run into through Cumbaya and Tumbaco.  There was a slight bottle neck (5 minutes or so) over the bridge that crosses the river.  I can't remember the name of the river or the bridge but it is one lane each way so a bottleneck is understandable.  From my understanding they will be building a wider bridge soon.  Once we crossed the river it seemed like the roads were all brand new!

From here on out the HORRENDOUS traffic looked something like this all the way to the airport. 

As you can see the massive gridlock was very tough to navigate.  There was constant honking of horns and there must have been 12,000 cars trying to fight their way to the airport on this "unfinished" road.  If you can't sense the sarcasm in my keystrokes then I don't know what to tell you.

The road was smoother than a baby's bottom and traffic was NO WHERE in site.  Once again I will state this is a Saturday so normal rush hour does not apply, but I can't help to think of how horrible the traffic was in LA during the daytime on the weekend to get to LAX. 

It looks to me like the roads were freshly paved and ready to be heavily traveled by tourists and business people alike.  I will state for the 3rd time however, this was a Saturday morning.  We arrived at the the airport right around 11:00 give or take a few minutes.

Once we got there we decided to camp out with all the other curious bystanders and watch the planes land and take off at the new airport.  The boy got a kick out of that along with my father in law.

Looks like all is well at the new airport.  See you all soon!



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Planking in the Middle of the World. HAHA! #Planking

Last Sunday I went to the Middle of the World Monument (the fake one so I hear).  I went to the museum and checked out all the stores selling souvenirs.  It was good times.  If you go to Ecuador this is a must see destination.  Being in the Middle of the World is an amazing experience and a definite on your to do list if you come here.

the Museum inside the monument features historical break downs of all of the various indigenous cultures that live here within Ecuador's borders.  It is well worth the entrance fee of $3.00.  I was with my wife's cousins Patricio and Janette (I hope I spelled her name correctly if not please tell me) and we were acting quite foolish so I decided to "Plank" The Middle of the World!

I think I was the first person to ever go Planking in the Middle of the World (vigorous Google search to determine this) so I hereby release the photos (credits to Patricio Garzon for taking).

There it is!  The first Planking of the Middle of the World!  I had to do another where my body was lined up with the Equator so here that is (also compliments of Patricio Garzon).

Patricio also planked the Middle of the World but I don't know if his plank officially counts because he was not face down.  If it doesn't count please leave a comment so I know he needs to get his ass back down here and do it right!

Good times I tell you.

By the way, there is a proposal to build the WORLDS TALLEST Building here in the Middle of the World.  When I was inside the current monument museum they had this model of the project on display:

It is supposed to be twice as tall at the world's current tallest in Dubai and cost $200,000,000 to build.  We will see if this actually happens.  I have my doubts but apparently it is a private investor looking to have this built.  I re posted an article about this on my blog so dig deeper if your interested.  

We also visited the Panecillo with them and got to enjoy a panoramic view of Quito from the top of this monument dedicated to the Virgin Panecillo.

Guess what, you can go inside this one also!  at the top you can see all of the Quito and this one is also worth the $1.00 it takes to get in.

I took a panoramic shot myself to share with you all but it is mega miniature because I don't want to make my whole blog 8 feet long on your screen. 

 Now that there is going to be no airport in the middle of the city and the height restrictions are lifted, I can imagine this skyline shot will be full of skyscrapers in 20 years. 

This was a great day full of amazing sites sounds and food!  I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant we went to because it was delicious.  But most importantly it was a day where I got to spend time with two people who made a big impact on my life here in Ecuador.  Patricio and Janette.  Thanks for all the fun times!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Hello all who are spying.

I promised Juan Carlos and Andreas from the Quito get together that I would write again.  Apparently my blog is catching on.  Whoop Whoop!  Please don't scalp me if I misspelled your names.  Blame it on the Whiskey and Pisco Sours.  The Internations event was amazing and I met a lot of other expats and "extranjeros" who are walking in my shoes.

Last time I told you all that Centro Historico and the Mariscal District are night and day, and I was asked, "Why?".

Since you already know what Centro Historico is, (If you were paying attention to my last entry), I will focus today on Mariscal.  If you are from Los Angeles, or have been to Hollywood then Mariscal in my opinion is Ecuador's version of Hollywood minus the stars on the street,....Oh..  and that silver dude.

Mariscal is like grand central station for tourists who are traveling throughout Ecuador.  

There are more bars per square meter here than a prison yard, and I am not just talking about places to get a drink.  Every establishment has barred windows, barred doors, and barred ceilings.  Even the third floor of a building is barred up.  You can also get some of the most delicious Chocolate bars here that come from Mindo but that is another story.  I even saw barbwire wrapped around a tree.  Who is going to steal a tree?  Maybe they just don't want people to piss on it.   

Back to the other bars where we get belligerent, the choices are infinite in this gritty but festive district.  Every bar is packed from 2:00 PM till 2:00 AM on Wednesday Through Saturday.  Sunday is a day of rest and church here in Ecuador so you can not buy booze after 4:00 PM unless it is with a meal.  I would have snapped pictures of the Plaza Foch, but it is hard to hold a camera while you are two fisted and there is no way I am giving up one of my Ecuador's finest cervezas, Club Roja.

This beer is delicious and reminds of the many Newcastles I drank with my friend Isaac in the states. 

Some of my favorite places to go to here in Plaza Foch (Reina Victoria Y Mariscal Foch) are:

Q - Nice vibe and awesome happy hour
Finn McCool's - Authentic Irish Pub
Mulligan's -  To play Billiards and Foosball
Cafe Espanol - Ecuador's version of Starbuck's also located on every block
Restaurante Olympico - best Chinese "Chifa" EVER.
Playa Azuca - Good place to eat

There are also plenty of nightclubs but I am not the nightclub type so I will let you explore those on your own.

Mariscal is much more modern than Centro Historico and sometimes you forget you are in another country.  I guess you could say it is more "Westernized", or "Gringonized" or whatever you want to call it.  I snapped this Mariscal Skyline picture from the 11th floor of the Hotel Mercure.

Beautiful isn't it.  I love living here.  But be careful walking around here especially solo and at night.  As with any major city crime does exist so don't walk around like your in love.  Watch your surroundings and please don't wear your backpack on the front because that looks corny and doesn't protect you from someone who wants your stuff.  Besides, the backpack slashers and pickpocketing types tend to hang out in Centro Historico, so if you get robbed in Mariscal it will probably be with a knife or gun anyways.  Wearing your backpack on the front makes you look like a mark.  Your pretty much saying "Hey! I am a gringo tourist!  I probably have an Ipad in my backpack which is why I am so scared to wear it regularly!".  I see thousands of people with backpacks on and they get to their destination just fine.  Be aware, not paranoid, or you won't enjoy your time in Mariscal.  It is probably best to only bring what you need anyway.
They have beefed up security significantly in this area in the past few months.  Like I said before, don't walk around drunk and stupid by yourself especially at night and you will probably be fine.  Take a taxi instead of walking if it more than a few blocks.

the bottom line is, Orlando Florida is more dangerous than Quito, and I don't see American's thinking twice about visiting Disneyworld.  So... Tranquilo.  But do yourself a favor and leave the flower print Hawaii 5-0 ass button up shirt in your closet at home. 

I only write this because I read some other blog from some other Extranjero which basically said "don't come here you will definitely get robbed".  With that type of attitude you are probably right.  I suggest people like should read "The Secret", or at least watch the video. 

Anyhow, if you plan to come to Mariscal hit me up and I will show you around.  Speaking of which it is 11:00 and I still haven't had a beer yet, so I must go.







Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Night Stroll in La Ronda

Last night we decided to head over to the Central Historico sector here in Quito and check out La Ronda.  I have read that Quito has the largest historical center in all of the Americas, but that never meant much to me until I had a chance to drive through it.

Blocks upon blocks of edificios historicos (historical buildings) unveiled before me as my "Compadre" Santiago drove up and down hill on cobblestone roads.  As soon as we entered this section of the city I truly felt we must have driven through a time warp.  The only modern day scars to this side of town's authenticity are the Trole and the stop lights.

We arrive and park in a parking garage, normally a modernized an unsightly structure in most cities.  But this one was somehow, someway integrated from an existing hollowed out old building, to blend in with the rest of history.  We cross under the cobblestone bridge and enter La Ronda.  Again, I was amazed by the authenticity of this near ancient passage.

Everything slowed down.  The people walking, the cars driving, even the smells of street cuisine being served on the corners seemed to slowly find their way into my nostrils.  I was getting hungry as of course I always am.  We let the kid run around and play while we simply digested our surroundings.  It felt comfortable, homely, and welcoming.  An exact opposite of the feeling you get walking through La Mariscal at night, which is the modern tourist trap and gringo landing destination here.  (We will talk more about that on another blog).

With all the smells of typical Ecuadorian cuisine cooking from the multitudes of restaurants, my stomach finally wrestled my brain, convincing me and my family in law to walk inside a cozy little spot to eat.  By cozy I mean that my head nearly touched the ceiling, and I am only 5 foot 8.  I would have taken pictures of the Seco De pollo and Empanadas I ate but I was too busy destroying them.  For any travelers who come I highly recommend Cafe Musica in La Ronda.  Since I devastated all the food before I could whip my camera out I snapped a picture of the menu. 

Cafe Musical Menu.  For some reason I could not rotate the picture sorry. 

After our meal and a few Pilsener's (one of the locally brewed cervezas), we took off and headed back towards the car.  It looked like the bars and live venues were just starting to wake up by the time we were leaving.  I am positive I will come back without the little one to see how this place kicks off la noche.

Off topic.  My Spanish is evolving faster than expected.  I am still looking for trabajo but I am learning fast that being "American" is not a get out of jail free card when it comes to finding decent work here.  you need to know the language to thrive here, PERIOD.  there is NO "Little USA", here in Quito, and you will probably get charged double and taken advantage of if you do not speak the language.  If you are going to come here and you don't know the language, travel with someone who does, or make arrangements to have a guide take you around.  If you are coming here to live make sure you know basic Spanish at a minimum.  There are a few Ecuadorians that speak English and will be happy to speak with you, but not many.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I am Mike and I recently decided to move to Quito Ecuador, to start a new life with my wife and my 3 year old son.  I started this blog to share this experience to those considering visiting or living in Ecuador.  I will post as often as I can in between the multitudes of "Mini Adventures" I will ultimately endure.  I will post the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful, without regard or favoritism towards any organization persuading you to move here, or any former tourist warning you to never set foot here.

First of all, Why did I decide to live in Ecuador?  There are many reasons I decided to take off from my Suburban Los Angeles OC Lifestyle and move to the developing world, but the main reason is to help my wife take care of my Father in Law, Gus, who is at the age where he needs our help.  My wife has a wonderful family that has welcomed me in their world like I am one of their own, and they have extended a red carpet to my son.  It is hard to describe the love but to a "cold hearted American" like me, it can almost seem overwhelming.  The first time I visited here in 2007, I had a hard time coming back to the hustle and bustle of the rat race I was living.

Dont get me wrong, Quito is a bustling metropolis!  It just seems to move at a pace that gives you time to absorb its endless blocks of political and artistic graffiti, abundance of "Comidas Tipicos"and wordly restaurants, and historical heritage that forges its identity. In fact today I had the opportunity to eat "Truchas" (a type of local trout) at Rincon Amazonicas.

the "Real" Rainforest Cafe - Rincon Amazonicas

  I can see why UNESCO named this city a World Heritage Site in 1978.  According to UNESCO, "the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America".  I snapped a picture of this plant on the terrace my son's God Father and God Mother's home in the Colonial Section of Quito.
Typical scene inside a home in Centro Historico

As soon as I make it to "Centro Historico"  I will be sure to snap as many photos as possible for you all as well.

Republica de Salvador Sector in Quito

As you can see from above, Quito also has all the makings of a modern "1st world" city, including city streets clogged with smog spewing cars, SUV's, and trucks.  You think America loves SUV's?  You should come here, it seems like everyone has one, even if they have no kids or passengers to tote in them.  It is hard to understand why, especially when they cost nearly DOUBLE what they would cost in the USA.  I have also spotted Porsches, BMV's, Mercedes, and a few Volkswagens.  The KIA Sportage must be the official car of Quito, because at least 1 in every 8 people here own one, or maybe two.  This city has 2,000,000 people but there must be at least 4,000,000 cars.

Anyhow, I went on a mini tangeant here regarding the city I chose to live in, mainly because a lot of my USA friends have asked me questions like "Are you going to live in the Jungle?", and "Do they have internet there?".  Oh, and I can't forget "Can you drink the water there?".  The answer is NO, YES, and NO, but bottled water is between a quarter in la tienda (the store) and available absolutely everywhere.  FYI there are a lot of places in the states where I would not advise drinking tap water.     

I will give credit to my USA friends for asking me one important question.  "What are you going to do for work there?".  I will be running my own online Travel Agency dedicated to Ecuador at, but while I am getting this set up (Thanks to John from I will need to find steady employment.  I have already been contacted by a Language School here to potentially teach English, but the initial pay is half of the USA Minimum wage so I don't know if that is the right fit for me.  Teaching English seems like the gateway drug for entering Ecuador for Americans and Europeans.

I will keep you all posted on my job search, my adventures, and things I think you should know if you decide to come here in future blogs.  Bookmark me and feel free to email me at  Thanks for reading!  I will leave you with a picture of this park I visited today about 45 minutes out of the city center in Amaguana.

Mike B.