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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Short Subjects

No, this entry isn't about the height of most Ecuadorians.  (RIM SHOT SMITTY!!).

Just some miscellaneous tidbits combined together in one post....kinda like a grab bag at a garage sale.


The top of my radiator cracked.   It's was made of plastic....thank you Chevrolet.  But, the good news was that it could be removed and replaced without having to get a whole new radiator.  My mechanic refered me to a radiator shop about the size of a dining room.   They work on cars in the parking strip on the street.   I took it in about 10:30am and he said it would be done by doce y media (12:30).  So, I walked home and killed time until 1pm then took a taxi back.  He was just starting on it.   Apparently, I misunderstood him as he said 'dos y media' which is 2:30.    Not wanting to go back home again, I stood around, went and bought an ice cream, stood around some more, then finally sat in the car and got a bit of shuteye. 

I thought they were going to install a new part, but they had a used metal one that would fit.  They did some cutting and soldering and grinding and crimping, etc etc and even had to cut a hole in the top to solder on a throat piece which the radiator caps twists onto!!  STRANGE    He sent me on an errand to buy a new radiator cap about 5 blocks away.  Around 3:30, the car was done.   Price?  $45.


Sometimes I wonder how things that seem so apparent, so on the ridiculous side, end up bypassing the part of every humans' capacity to apply the 'common sense test', then decide to keep it, throw it out, or challenge it.  It's inevitable anyone who's moved here from another country ends up observing how things are done differently here vs there...it's just human nature.   There are lots of things that have had ex-pats wondering 'HUH?', most of the time resulting in an 'oh well' shrug.  But, there are times it's just too whacky, you just gotta say something.  Case in point:

The first letter on a vehicles' license plate indicates the province the car was licensed in when initially purchased the FIRST time.  It doesn't change during the life of the car, even if the car moves to another province.    I live in Cuenca, which is in the Azuay province.  If I bought a new car here, the plates would start with 'A' even though I might choose to live in Quito which is in the Pichincha province.  Get it?

Guayas is the province where Ecuadors' largest city, Guayaquil, resides.  Try selling a car with plates starting with 'G'.  You'd think the car had cooties.  First question out of peoples' mouths....'What's the first letter?'.   If it starts with a 'G', forget it....it's a bad car.  They don't want to touch it.    WHAT??!!!   It's not bad because it was manufactured there (it's not) and the plant is known for bad workmanship...noooooo....it's bad because Guayaquil is bad (no mention of all the other towns in Guayas province).  Everyone drives badly there.  It's humid there.  They don't take care of their cars there.  Or, so the naysayers say when they see 'G' plates.

WHAT!!!???    I could buy a car brand spanking new and be assigned 'G' plates and move the next day to Timbuktu, never spending more than 1 day in the 'G' province, and my car is doomed for all time?  You mean ALLLLLLL the over-million people in the 'G' province are bad drivers?  And, NONE of them take care of their cars?

UMMM....didja ever think maybe you could EXAMINE the car and look at all the indicators as to whether it was taken care of or not?  Upholstery clean, no rips, dents/scratches, tires worn properly, no rust, functional stuff still works, examine maintenance records/receipts???????     Nope.   Brain does not compute that logic.   Press Control/Alt/Delete.

I was talking to a person in his mid-20's and he said he can remember this 'rule of thumb' existing back when he was a kid.  Aye Caramba!!!

Luckily, I sold my 2009 Peugeot to an American couple who moved here from NW Washington State and engaged their brain and saw past the 'G' curse.


Mercados are the big open-air markets where farmers and indigenous folk sell their fruits, vegetables, meats, animals, seafood, etc etc and vendors have booths selling just about everything else from spices, to eggs, to shoes, to sunglasses, to DVD's.   Those who can't afford the supermarket chains, generally do all their buying at the mercados as it is far cheaper.

Examples of one of my recent sprees:
  • 10 lbs potatoes $5
  • 16 bananas $1
  • 11 lbs chicken $13
  • 1 lb shucked peas $1
  • 1 mango (free…negotiated with potatoe price)
  • 1 lb grapes $1
  • 3 huge avocados $1
  • 5 rose plants $10
  • sunglasses $3
  • DVD $1.50
  • 2 lbs of large strawberries $2
  • 5 apples $1
  • 20 juice oranges $1
....they were fresh out of partridges in a pear tree.  (RIM SHOT SMITTY!!)

Total $40

Back home in the US of A, just the 5 rose plants would've cost me $40.


Let's go back to the car subject for a smidge...which also correlates to the common sense reference I made earlier.

When people sell their car themselves, they stick a sign in the window of their car saying 'Se Vende' (For Sale) and their phone number(s).   What's wrong with this picture?  Or, more appropriately, what is MISSING from this picture?  How about:
  • Price?
  • Year?
  • # of miles/kms?
  • Transmission type?
  • Features?
Nooooo.   I have seen hundreds and hundreds of cars for sale, all marketed the exact same way.   I've asked many people why they don't provide more information?   Their response:   'people can call me and ask me'.

WHY would I want to waste my time calling a bunch of people, often playing phone tag, to ask questions that, many times, will result in a 'no thanks' from me?  For example, I may want a car with less than 100,000 kms on it, but theirs has 200,000 kms.   Or my budget is less than $10K but they're asking $15K.  Or, I want an Automatic, but theirs is a Manual transmission.  Wasted my time.  Wasted their time.  Wasted cell phone minutes.

Out of millions of people in Ecuador, no one has thought outside the box enough to think they might sell their car faster and not be bugged with useless calls if they provided more information upfront?  REALLY??


PS.    It seems I've irked someone with this post.  If you're interested in 'why', see the Comments section.    As always, please feel free to post a comment following any of my posts.  


  1. Hey Dano,

    Ya know pal, it's probably OK to compare and discuss the "different" way things are done in other countries. What's NOT OK - is to criticize those methods. Remember, we are guests here and it is not our 'job' to tell these folks how to do things. I'd guess that nearly 100% of the local folks have gotten this far without our 'help'. Adapt friend! We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

  2. At first, I thought I would simply delete the above comment because IMHO, I think it's rude. But, I decided I would respond here to give another perspective everyone else can see.

    #1. I did not "tell" these folks how they should be doing things.
    #2. I simply made an observation about the way they do things, and presented a theoretical alternative(s) that could improve the results both parties are seeking.
    #3. I adapt...I adapt A LOT here 'Pal'. I didn't swoop in here to change everything. I like a LOT of the ways they do things here over the way they do in the US of A. A LOT!!!!
    #4. No matter where you are, who you are, or where you are from, everyone should be open to examining ways to do things differently. After all, if they weren't no one would be using computers here.
    #5. If an out-of-country visitor landed in Mississippi in 1960 and suggested Blacks should not have to sit in the back of the bus, should we scorn them and say 'hey, you're in our country...ADAPT!!' Or, should we respect their input and give it due consideration.

    People are instruments of change.

    Just sayin....Dano

  3. It was nice to meet you at Moca Cafe today.


  4. I like your posts Dan. They're always informative and entertaining. Keep up the good work.

  5. I think the offensive part of your blog is when you said: "I wonder if Ecuadorians are born with the 'common sense' part of their brain missing or disconnected."
    Make all the suggestions that you want, but this comment is kind of showing "the ugly, superior American" attitude, don't you think?

  6. Got it. Obviously, it was never intended that way. Modified.


  7. anonymous said
    kudos to you you are so right ! ugly superior american attitude fits him perfect

  8. Some of the responses to this blog entry are both self-righteous....and silly. "ugly american attitude"? Huh? Some of you folks take yourself way too seriously and it's quite obvious that you have no problem with being offensive...as long as you are doing the offending.

  9. Tee hee...I read of all of your blogs and have never felt that you were being negative - only saying what you saw or felt - and you always seem to comment that these are YOUR opinions. Your comments are funny, insightful and helpful. And, I agree, that things change - but they wouldn't if no one knew that there could be a change.

    Charlotte NC

  10. My name is Dave Crichton
    I'm not here to defend Dan, he's more than capable of doing that for himself. However I'm compelled to comment on the criticism posted Nov.21st by ANONYMOUS. You have every right to your opinions, condescending as they were. However, if you are sincere, you should validate those opinions with your name. Otherwise, they have no value. In all fairness maybe you’re missing the subtle nuance of Dan’s wry sense of humor…. pure tongue in cheek with an added dash of “wink”.
    Hi Dan, this is my first time on “AHHH CUENCA”, indeed this is my first time ever to participate on a Blog. I’m 72 my wife Sharon is 61… almost retired. We live in Hamilton, On. Canada. Two years ago we put together a bucket list of possible winter getaways with the hope of finding “the one”. We love the Latin American Culture and the list reflects that. Last year it was Panama this time Ecuador. Because of Sharon’s job we will have only 3 weeks. I’ve been doing most of my research on the Net. And Dan, I have found your Blog. very informative, (now I know how to pronounce Guayaquil) from the reno. of your kitchen and bathroom, to the car registration, not to mention Gracie and the Boyz, all written from a personal perspective. I’ve traveled extensively but this will be a first for Ecuador, we’re really looking forward to it….. and your next update. Good stuff, Dave.

  11. Hi all, I'm Dan's sister Chris. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed and valued reading Dan's blog. It's helped me feel closer to a brother who is so far away. It's a shame that anyone would feel offended by references made in Dan's post. After I won't reveal how many years we've been brother and sister, I can tell you that he is strongly opinionated (who isn't?) but he would never say or do anything to intentionally hurt a person or people in general. He's smart, creative, adventurous, talented, ambitious, and funny. I could go on, but I'm confident you've quickly picked up on my point, however biased it may be :).

  12. I'm a friend of Dans and been a friend for a very long time. We've had many joyfull debates about observations and I can tell you, with certitude, he is the most accepting of other peoples differences. He is not afraid of expressing those observations and I, personally, find it refreshing. After all, this is a blog where one should express and read about perspectives. So carry on Dano - we've enjoyed your blogging.

  13. Hola, I'm Ana from Ecuador living abroad. I discover this blog yesterday and read all in one breath. I enjoyed and laughed a lot. The longer you live in Ecuador more things will bother you. We are very critical by how we handle things, so I quite understand all those AGGRRRRS. But I hope you always can feel welcome and at home and because it is your home you have the right to say what needs to improve, chage or dissapear. We need to learn and and I know you are a good influence to us pero, Ojo Dan no te pases! :) Muchos saludos, Ana


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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