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Archive for January 2016

Money matters

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 28, 2016

EcuadorAll good things in life are free, some say, but you can’t deny the fact that you have to spend some money here and there to enjoy little luxuries and attractions. When it comes to money in Ecuador, here are some things you need to keep in mind.

1. Ecuador’s official currency is the U.S. dollar. 15 years ago, Ecuador underwent a dollarization process which resulted to the elimination of the sucre.

2. ATMS are usually found at major banks, larger cities, airports, malls, and luxury hotels. However, a word of caution. In Ecuador, ATMs are usually offline more frequently compared to machines in other countries. Charges on withdrawals from foreign banks can be quite expensive, as well.

3. Carry some bills, but don’t forget your ATM card. Confirm with your bank to make sure your ATM card/s will work in Ecuador. Cash transactions are easiest, but if ever you run out of bills, you don’t need to worry. All you need to do is head to the nearest ATM to withdraw cash.

Always bring with you 1, 5, 10, and 20 dollar bills as they’re easier to accept than larger bills, even in banks.

4. Change your foreign currencies in Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. While you’re in Cuenca, Quito, and Guayaquil, take advantage of its variety of banks and other facilities and have your foreign currency changed. Once you go out of these cities, it will be harder to spot a casas de cambioor money changing houses, as well as money transfer facilities.

Most banks in the cities are open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 6 pm. Some banks in Quito and Guayaquil, however, stay open until 8 pm. Meanwhile, casas de cambioare open on weekdays, from 9 am to 6pm.

5. Diner’s Club is the most widely accepted credit card in Ecuador, but you can still use your card from American Express, VISA, and Mastercard. Before you get on the plane to Ecuador, consider raising the limit on your cards in case of emergencies.

Got any questions? Email me at See you in paradise!

Ecuador Visas: FAQs and tips

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 25, 2016

Ecuador1. Who needs to apply for a visa to Ecuador?
For American, Canadian, and most European passport holders, a visa is not required for a stay of less than 90 days.

2. How do I apply for a visa to Ecuador?
If you intend to stay for more than 90 days, apply for a visaat the Ecuadorian consulatenearest you.

3. What are the kinds of Ecuadorian visas?
There are 2 kinds of Ecuador visas: resident and non-resident.

The non-resident visa is automatically granted to travelers who intend to stay for less than 90 days. There are, however, special visas for longer-stay visitors who are non-residents if they happen to be cultural workers, volunteers, etc.

Resident visas are issued to those who plan on staying in Ecuador for more than 90 dayswith the intention of living, working, or investing in the country.

4. What are the requirements for non-resident visas?
For non-resident visas, you are required to present the following:

      • Valid passport for more than 6 months
      • A return ticket to your home country (land, sea, or air travel)
      • Proof of economic capability to support yourself during your stay (may be requested by immigration authorities upon arrival)

5. What are the requirements for resident visas?

For resident visa applications, you will needto consult with an immigration lawyer. Resident visas come in several types that fit a specific purpose. An immigration lawyer will be in the best position to speed up the application process.

6. How long does it take to apply for a resident visa?
Applications take from 4 to 8 weeks to process because resident visas are approved by the Immigration Board in Ecuador.

7. What happens if I overstay in Ecuador?
You will pay a fine of $200 for every day that you overstay. You will also be barred from re-entering Ecuador for 90 days following your departure.

If you’re in the US and you want more information on the opportunities available in Ecuador, call 239-848-5876. For all other countries, check out the other numbers you find on this page.

Hydroelectric dams are giving Ecuador greater energy sovereignty

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 15, 2016

The hydro-electric dam/power plant at Baños, Ecuador on the Rio PastazaThe Manduriacu Hydroelectric Dam was officially inaugurated earlier this year. The 60-megawatt hydroelectric dam is located between the provinces of Imbabura and Pichincha, and is the first of eight dams currently being built in the country.

About the Manduriacu Hydroelectric Dam

The Manduriacu Hydroelectric Dam features two 30-megawatt turbines and a reservoir with a capacity of 10 million cubic meters. Filling the dam to full capacity takes about ten days.

The hydroelectric dam provides over 2,450 jobs, and around 250,000 families benefit from the energy generated by the dam. As soon as the dam is fully functioning, it will reduce CO2 emissions by around 180,000 tons each year.

Many believe that the dam’s completion is the first step towards renewable energy in Ecuador, something that will greatly benefit the country.

The state expects to save around US$80 million annually in gas imports thanks to the dam, paving the way for greater energy sovereignty for Ecuador.

The Coca Codo Sinclair Hydroelectric Facility

Currently under development, the Coca Codo Sinclair is the largest energy project in Ecuadorian history. The giant 1,500-megawatt dam is located in the Amazon Basin, around 60 miles from Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

The dam is promoted as the centerpiece of the country’s new renewable energy plan, and is expected to generate an average of 8.63 gigawatt-hours each year – around 44% of the entire country’s energy needs.

The dam will create approximately 3,000 jobs, and will reduce CO2 emissions by about 4.5 million tons annually.

Completion of other hydroelectric dams

Once all eight dams are fully functioning sometime in 2016, they will collectively generate approximately 2,765 megawatts of energy, saving the country over US$3 billion on energy imports. The dams will create approximately 11,500 jobs, and will help Ecuador veer away from its status as an oil-based economy, eventually opening up opportunities for the country to become an energy exporter.

On the Hook: A Guide to Deep-Sea Fishing in Manta and Salinas

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 13, 2016

Deep Sea FishingThe coastline of Ecuador holds a wealth of potential for fishing enthusiasts. While other fishing spots across the globe get more press and love from devout anglers, Ecuadorian waters can boast just as much diversity and challenge when it comes to deep-sea fishing. The waters off Salinas and Manta, in particular, offer unique opportunities for everyone from novices to expert anglers to hook the catch of a lifetime.

What to Bring

There are several charter operations in the area and their boats are usually fully equipped so you won’t have to think about bringing your gear.If you’d prefer to strike out on your own, however, and/or you’re attached to your tackle, here are some things to keep in mind:

    • Fishing Rods

Opt for a graphite rod, especially if you are a first timer. This rod is often lighter and sturdier, albeit more expensive than a fiberglass rod. The rod should be at least six to eight feet long and strong enough to withstand pressure from gaming fish like giant halibut and marlin.

    • Saltwater Fishing Reel

Try to use a reel that is made of aluminum and that is easy to cast. A spinning reel is a good choice for sea and ocean fishing as it can cast a long way. Also opt for a reel that is resistant to the ocean water’s corrosive effects.

    • Fishing Line and Hook

They make up the most essential part of the rod. Choose a line that is heavy and able to carry at least three pounds of fish without breaking. For the hook, opt for either a high carbon make or a stainless steel one. The choice of the hook’s size will depend on the size of the fish you want to catch. The bigger the hook, the bigger the fish.

The Catch

    • Blue marlin

This is the top prize foray deep-sea angler. Able to reach up to 1000 pounds, the great blue marlin is the ultimate test of skill and strategy. Many world-record-worthy blue marlin can be found in the waters of Salinas and Manta.

    • Dorado

Also called “dolphin fish” and “mahi-mahi,” the dorado is a worthy catch. Noted for its speed and its power, the dorado is also supremely delicious.

    • Yellowfin tuna

The yellow fin is another prize catch and perhaps one of the most recognizable. Be prepared for a long struggle as yellowfin tuna are noted for their strength and stamina in the water.

Organic chocolate production in Ecuador

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 7, 2016

Ecuador’s organic cocoa, or “cacao” production plays a significant role in the country’s history and economy.

The cacao beans produced in Ecuador are famous throughout the globe for its unique, fine aroma. There’s even a separate category in the cocoa industry for “Arriba cocoa,” the beans grown only in Ecuador.

History of cacao in Ecuador

The true origin of cacao is largely unknown; however, a recent archaeological study provided evidence that Ecuador may have been the original home of the cacao tree.

An archaeologist named Francisco Valdez unearthed ceramic pottery dating back to 3,300 BC that contained microscopic traces of cacao, suggesting the beans were cultivated and consumed in the area more than 5,000 years ago.

Many believe Ecuador was largely responsible for introducing chocolate to the West – while gold and silver were taken from most Spanish colonies in South America, Ecuador was exploited for its abundant supply of cacao.

Exporting cacao

Ecuador produces only 4% of the entire world’s cacao, however, the country is the largest producer of fine aroma cacao, providing over 70% of the world’s supply. Given the fact that cacao is a huge part of Ecuador’s history, it comes as no surprise that it was declared “Product Symbol of Ecuador” in 2005 by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.

Though Ecuador produces some of the best cacao in the world, due to the limited processing capacity, a significant percent of the cacao beans are exported as raw material overseas (mostly in Europe). The beans are then processed in chocolate factories, and later on sold at gourmet chocolate shops throughout the world.

There are various types of cacao cultivated in Ecuador, but the most sought-after variety is known as “Nacional,” a type with distinctive aromas and the highest quality of grains.

The cacao beans’ fine aroma and superior quality makes it ideal for producing gourmet dark chocolate or vegan chocolate, as milk products are no longer required to balance the rich taste.

The artisans of Cuenca, Gualaceo, and other towns in Ecuador

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | January 5, 2016

Along with the world-class organic goods Ecuador exports throughout the globe, the country also boasts exquisite art, apparel, and other products handcrafted by many skilled indigenous artisans.

Ecuadorian artisans have mastered their craft over the past 200 years or more, passing down their skills and knowledge to succeeding generations. Many of the traditional methods practiced in the past are still used to this day.

Tourist guides and travel books will point you to the direction of Plaza de los Ponchos in Otovalo if you’re looking for the finest artisan products, but this isn’t the only place where you can find unique crafts…


Ecuador ArtisansIn Cuenca, you can find a number of craft shops along Gran Colombia and Benigno Malo Street selling artwork and souvenir items that include carvings, ceramics, basketwork, jewelry, embroidered apparel, painted wood, and woven accessories. Visitors can also shop for unique leather items in the stores along Simón Bolivar, the street parallel to Gran Colombia.


The charming rural village of Gualaceo is known for producing fine artisan crafts. The town is home to two well-known markets that produce a variety of beautiful handcrafted products. Drop by the textile shops and observe the artisans’ expert use of the back strap loom and horizontal loom. You can also see them use a Hispanic technique known as “Ikat” to create shawls, ponchos, rugs, and scarves.

San Bartolome

Head to San Bartolome, a town located below the majestic Andes Mountains. In addition to the marvelous views, you’ll get to see the unique process used by talented artisans to create guitars.


The town of Chordeleg is known throughout the country for producing elaborate ceramic, gold, and silver jewelry. The local artisans are experts in filigree work made out of gold and silver threads.

If in you’re interested in discovering more about Ecuador’s skilled artisans, LIVETHELIFE is more than happy to provide you with more information. Get in touch with Torrin Brauch at 239-848-5876 (US) or 097-994-7640 (Ecuador). You can also send him an email at