Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pros/Cons Living in Ecuador vs Canada

We are trying to decide whether to stay in Ecuador long term or return to Canada.
Please have a read and email me ANY thoughts, comments, critiques, ideas etc...
Hopefully you'll have a laugh or two and scratch your heads at the same time :)

Ecuador Positive

-Our children in the same school I teach at
-Walk to work
-Use of school library/pool/playground/internet after hours and a seemingly endless supply of avacados!
-Year round spring like climate
-Ease of growing food
-Can actually afford a decent house with some land
-Semi-rural area, outside of Quito
-Bus to Quito every 15 minutes
-Geo diversity/Amazon and Pacific coast within a 1/2 a days drive
-Volcanos to climb
-No need for vehicle at the moment
-Fantastic vegan lunch at school
-Reasonable work commitments
-Fewer teaching hours than Canada/more time off
-More time for family
-Close to Pasto/grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins
-Better/faster health care 4 kms from house
-Cheap/professional dental care
-Easy access to school nurse
-Less pervasive advertising
-Fresh, inexpensive fruit and veggies, delivered twice a week to our door
-Lower overall cost of living
-Spend less/not so many things to spend $ on
-Rental income on townhouse in Calgary
-Cheap restraunts
-Low cost of utilities/no heating or cooling bill
-Low cost of house construction/low cost of materials/more basic structure
-Dry clothes outside/no need for dryer
-No winter clothes
-Bike/climb all year
-Lots of running races/fun runs in Quito and better prize money for Maria
-Swimming lessons for kids at school
-Free tuition for 2 kids (standard in most international teaching contracts)
-Hot springs in local area, including next door
-Ilalo: 900 vertical metre extinct volcano out the back door/hike/bike/run
-Cheap taxis everywhere
-People live more in the present and don't worry so much about the future
-Maria can work as a teacher assistant in the same school
-Violent crime is rare

Ecuador Negative

-No "real" community neighborhood (takes a village to raise a child)
-Many students and teachers leave the school every couple of years.
-We are guests in the country
-Always a gringo in a foreign country
-A bit too close to 1.5 million people in Quito
-No teaching pension
-No union job benefits/security
-Reliance upon a single, non-profit school for income
-Can't contribute to an RRSP (and don't have any), Canada pension plan, Old Age Security, except for what I have already put into the last two
-Pollution: dead rivers coming out of Quito, garbage/litter all over, dog poo everywhere
-Dangerous sidewalks if there is a sidewalk
-Lack of respect for privacy: Dogs barking, loud music is acceptable
-Very poor police force/reactive rather than proactive
-Need security for house/property: neighborhood/house guard/alarm/elec fence
-Car accident: guilty until proven innocent. Must leave the scene of an accident that you are involved in!
-Don't really know/understand much of the local issues/news
-Difficult to find my size of shoes! and clothes
-No sense of time changing or passing by/no real seasons
-Too hot at work sometimes (28C in the classroom)
-Black flies come and go during the months
-Lack of English for our kids
-Must buy drinking water or boil from tap
-Stomach bloating from altitude
-Live in an expat bubble (rather than real, like-minded community working towards local sustainability), while surrounded by much poverty
-Monster potholes

Canada Positive
-The 4 of us are citizens
-Family in BC and Halifax
-Better higher level secondary/uni education...therefore more opportunities for the kids
-Better civil society organization
-Better social services
-Better infrastructure
-Rocky mountains/endless trails
-Better security/police
-Clean water
-Own a townhouse
-Libraries
-Skating
-Safer streets for kids (even though we don't play in them like we used to)
-English
-UN lists Canada as one of the top countries in the world to live in.
(I'm sure there is much more to add to this list that isn't so obvious to me...that I take for granted)

Canada Negative
-Climate...winter is too long. Leaves are on the trees in Calgary for only 5 short months
-Teenage peer culture/Drugs
-Family spread out and far away...no young relatives for the kids
-Extreme energy use/especially transporation and heating
-Must have a vehicle and the time or money to maintain it
-A cummute to work is very likely
-Junk food culture
-Consumer culture/xmas shopping a "duty/responsibility"
-Teaching: More work hours/less time off/weekend work
-Health care wait time
-Too much advertising
-Probably need another mortgage to live in a decent size house for 4 with garden space
-Fruit and veg expensive and not fresh out of season
-Limited Spanish
-Expensive utilities

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garden, treehouse, bird treat

Took about a 1/2 hour to dig some rows. Just left the grass between them, so we'll see how this turns out. Chard, Zucchini...7 rows and I can't remember what else we planted!
Seeding...mystery seeds!
Black soil on top of the seeds.
Ramon pounding in posts to mark the rows and hang the seed packages.
Ta-da!
Treehouse construction. Well...a few boards on a Eucalyptus stump.
Making bird feeders: paste peanut butter on a pine cone.......
Roll it in bird seed.....
Lick your fingers, spread it on your face and eat more than what you put on the pine cone.
Attach a string and hang it up.....

After 2 weeks we have not seen one bird take a nibble. Just lots of hummingbirds on the other feeder.

Hiking holiday

Had a week off and for the 1st time ever, we didn't plan a big adventure and take off somewhere. Just hiked around the Quito area.
Papa bear, mama bear and two baby bears!
Think they better re-google their kms to miles conversion.
Gotta love that year round green.
False coral snake.....non-venomnous apparently....although I'm sure the bite would hurt.

Carla at 3

Dad's a bit late with this posting, as her b'day was Oct 20th
Goosy Goose! "
3 big ones!

I'm a big girl now"
Snug as a bug in an MEC sleeping bag.
Always something blooming here!
Hiking with baby.
Learning how to do a full cirlce with those pedals.
Taking pictures with her cell phone!
Dad's little climber girl!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pedal girl pedal!

video
Ramon has moved up to a bigger bike....Carla get's the hand-me-down....with training wheels re-attached.  As you can see, she is trying to get the pedals to go all the way around!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ramon's 1st big mountain-Volcan Pichincha 4696m

Well...this dad is just so darn proud of his little boy that he had to do a separate entry for this achievment! On his own two legs, at age 4.10, Ramon made it up his first big mountain! 700 vertical metres height gain; 4 hours up, 1 hour on top, and 2.5 down, on a rare clear day in what is supposed to be the middle of the rainy season. What makes this even more amazing is that we all climbed up the extinct Volcano behind our house, Ilalo, the day before, for about a 600-700m gain! And furthermore, upon returning home from Pichincha at 5pm, he had a bath and then went to play at the new playground at the school and rode his bike unit dark, just before 7pm. Dad stayed at home for that one, licking his wounds. Of course I'm sore today and Ramon is a bundle of non-stop energy.
At the start....4000m at the top of the gonola ride up from Quito.
A piece of Quito in the foreground. We live at the base of the round hill, which is an extinct volcano below Quito. Antisana at 5700m? in the background.
Cotopaxi and South Quito
It was t-shirt weather all the way...but it was cool enuf in one spot for some tasty icicles.
Thanks for the great boots Elisa!
Ta-da!
Clouds over the Pacific lowlands
Anyone know the name of this critter?
Upon decending, Ramon was somewhat apprehensive, as he was not facing the mtn rock anymore, but rather the "abyss"....he held my hand thru the rocky bits and was then worried about sliding down the sand as I had told him on the way up, that we would come down this way. Need I have worried? Let loose for a few seconds and he was on his own!
Teleferico/gondola back down to Quito
Around 6pm from the house. Now he can look out the window every day and know that he has stood on the top of that big volcano.
Upon his return home, Mom had made him a cake with this flag stuck in it.

The quote below is from a little PDF booklet "Cycle touring with Children" Written by a family that biked from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego with their two 10 year old kids. They stayed with us Christmas before last.

"But honestly, the best bit of advice I can give is to never doubt your child. Never, ever doubt your child – not even for one nanosecond.
You see, children have this uncanny ability to live up to their parents’ expectations. Somehow, kids know exactly what their parents expect them to do – and they do exactly that. If parents expect their children to pedal around the block, they’ll do it!! And if parents expect their children to cycle around the world, they’ll do that too. It’s us – as parents – who tend to limit our children.
We are the ones who look at our kids and say, ―You’re just a kid. You can’t do that!‖ But do we ever ask our kids what they can do? Rarely. We tend to assume they can’t do it – and so they can’t. Or maybe we assume they won’t do it – so they won’t."