American Enclaves in Ecuador?
by Bob Stone
(San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica)
In the several years we have lived in Costa Rica and watched newcomers turn a lot of Costa Rica into their hometown, I would be disappointed to see Ecuador become the same. Of the 4 million plus population of Costa Rica, over 80,000 are expats, many with their own razor wire covered walls, and their organizations just like "back home."
American developers with their greed factor have usurped much of the land with their "gated developments" and American ways. I recently found an Ecuadorian website, www.cuencaforexpats.com, which encourages you to join the "Chamber of Commerce" in Ecuador, so it appears that this is now occurring in Ecuador.
Is there no place that Americans go where they cannot just be a part of the landscape without their incessant need to change things to represent where they came from? Offering information to newcomers in foreign countries is great and to be encouraged, but developing American organizations in foreign countries where other Americans flock to them just to be with their kind is the wrong thing to do, and will eventually harm relations.
I would hope that Captivating Cuenca editors would encourage Americans coming to live in Ecuador to blend with their communities and become part of them, attempting to learn the language and customs, and assisting and participating in community activities instead of American organization activities.
Bob, thanks for your comments.
We do indeed try to educate people about becoming part of the community here in Cuenca.
Not only is it easier to live here if you know the language, you develop friendships and save money when you can communicate with Ecuadorians in Spanish (I was going to write "in their own language," but it's not likely that many of us will ever be able to speak Quichua, the language of the indigenous peoples here).
Just so you know, cuencaforexpats.com is not an American site. It was developed by the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce to capitalize on the influx of expats. They charge $150 for access to the same type of information that CaptivatingCuenca.com, cuenca-info.com and other sites provide for free.
Here in Ecuador, every home is either walled in individually, or walled as part of a gated community. That happened long before expats started pouring into the country.
We're already seeing changed attitudes here in Cuenca, and in Cotacachi, where we lived before moving here. The indigenous resent us for driving up land prices because we walk in and pay any ridiculous price that's charged for land or a house. Business owners and condo owners love us because they know they can make a lot of money as long as gringos are around.
And the average citizen just puts up with us, until we directly affect his/her livelihood or discretionary income.
It's entirely possible that expats (and here I include Canadians and those from other countries) will permanently change Ecuador, and not for the better. One of our goals with the site is to prevent that, or, at the least, reduce the impact.
We consider this country, the way it is now, to be our home. If it turns out to be another Costa Rica, we'll be very disappointed. And we won't have done what we set out to do with CaptivatingCuenca.com.
Click the Like button to share this page with your friends...