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The Ecuador Chronicles - 2010-19
Thoughts on the Expat Life;
                     How do You Know if it is Right for You;
                                        At Least These Days You Can Try before You Buy
by Ray Almand 
There is a lot of interest in the expat lifestyle these days.  Leaving behind everything and starting a new life in a new culture is attractive to many people.  Some are looking for an economical way to live, some want a place in the sun, some may want to escape from something in their past - others simply have the wanderlust.  I have always enjoyed this poem by Robert W. Service - please read and take a moment to ponder it.

The Men Who Don't Fit In


There's a race of men that don't fit in,
 A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
 And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
 And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
 And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
 They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
 And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
 What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
 Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
 With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
 Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
 Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
 In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance; 
 He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
 And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha!  He is one of the Legion Lost;
 He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone; 
 He's a man who won't fit in.

Robert Service spent his formative years in the Yukon Territory during Klondike Gold rush that started in the late 19th century.  He became wealthy and famous from writing poems and stories about the Gold Rush.  The interesting thing about Service is that he actually spent his Gold Rush years working in a bank, first in Whitehorse, Yukon and then in Dawson Creek.  But he paid attention to the stories he heard and the people he met - and he had a vivid imagination.
Probably most of us are the "Steady, Quiet, Plodding Ones" - but many of us also barely control the "Curse of the Gypsy Blood" just beneath the surface, or as Jimmy Buffet puts it, "Got a Caribbean Soul I Can Barely Control".  Service lived to the ripe old age of 84, with a long, steady writing career - it is safe to say he won the "Lifelong Race" - and led a fascinating life.
The quote below is from Jack London who in his youthful years actually lived and worked prospecting for gold in the Klondike.  He also spent early years at sea working various jobs on ships.
from The Son of the Wolf

When a man journeys into a far country, he must be prepared to forget many of the things he has learned, and to acquire such customs as are inherent with existence in the new land; he must abandon the old ideals and the old gods, and oftentimes he must reverse the very codes by which his conduct has hitherto been shaped. To those who have the protean faculty of adaptability, the novelty of such change may even be a source of pleasure; but to those who happen to be hardened to the ruts in which they were created, the pressure of the altered environment is unbearable, and they chafe in body and in spirit under the new restrictions which they do not understand....... It were better for the man who cannot fit himself to the new groove to return to his own country; if he delay too long, he will surely die.

Though they were contemporaries and both wrote about their experiences in the Yukon, I don't know that Service and London ever met.  London was perhaps very near to being one of the "Legion Lost".  While Service was the commensurate successful individualist in control of his life, London was, in his early years, an itinerant socialist - he lived a life of adventure, but without focus.  But he did finally focus on his writing and was able to bring his adventurous life experiences to bear through his incredible stories.  Unfortunately London had poor health and died at the age of 40.
OK.....So What Has All This Got to Do with Ecuador


Well, in the distant past, making a journey "Into A Far Country" was a difficult, expensive and sometimes dangerous proposition - and often there was no way back.  In more recent times it was often artistic types who thrived abroad.  An article in The Economist (The Others - Dec 19, 2009) stated that Ernest Hemmingway laid the ground rules for the artist as foreigner when he was part of the Paris expatriate community in the 1920's:  Work in Cafes, Meet Other Artists, Drink a Lot.


But today, the "Steady Quiet, Plodding Ones" like many of us can satisfy our "Caribbean Soul".  It is affordable and reasonable for us to test the waters before we jump in.  We can travel to that Far Country that may interest us.  We could even spend an extended time there without giving up our old life.  Many will find they are comfortable only in their familiar homeland.  But others will find it liberating to live in a strange new land.


For me it is stimulating to be in Ecuador, to be operating in Spanish, to figure out how to get things done in a different culture.  Returning to the article in The Economist, a psychologist, Alison Gopnik, looking for an analogy as to how a baby experiences the world, compared it to Paris as experienced by an adult for the first time - a "Pageant of Novelty, Colour, Excitement" and as a reverse analogy, that living in a foreign country can "Evoke many of the emotions of childhood:  novelty, surprise, anxiety, powerlessness, frustration, irresponsibility".  I agree - Ecuador is incredibly exhilerating / it is incredibly frustrating - it is absolutely amazing.


Don't Do it to Save Money


Many people look at moving abroad simply to live more cheaply - many publications and websites strongly emphasize the financial aspect of the expat life.  And yes, depending on where you go you can live well on far less money.  But if you do it only for financial reasons you will be making the biggest mistake of your life; stay where you are - live cheaper or make more money.  You must feel the stimulation, the excitement (and the humor) - because if you don't the frustration and anxiety will soon rule you life.  Should you think about money at all?  Of course - it is an important part of the equation, but keep it in perspective.


At Live Well Ecuador our goal is to show people what Ecuador has to offer.  Our goal in working with travelers is to provide an interesting, stimulating experience - not just rest and relaxation.  We want people to gain an understanding and appreciation for this great country.  It is the same with real estate - we first want our clients to feel the stimulation and excitement - and then make the decision to purchase.  It is said that purchasing real estate should not be a decision based upon emotion - as you can see, I do not agree.  Yes - keep a cool head with regard to a particular property, a particular deal.  But you must be excited at the prospect of owning property in a new country.



Take a Look at Our Apartment


Below are a few photos of the view from the large picture window of our apartment and some of the inside.  We really enjoy our place in Colonial Quito.  But you will figure out what is right for you - you may prefer a smaller city or town, the coast, the countryside, or another country - or after due consideration you may like it right where you are.


















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