Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ten things I enjoy about Ecuador

As I've now been working and living in Ecuador for 8 months, and have not been writing that much about Ecuador itself, I thought it was time to correct that by making an overview of 10 things I enjoy about Ecuador.

Here's the list:

1. I found a job in the same institution as my husband

Main attraction of the country: being able to find jobs in the same country, same city and even same institution. So far so good, and the two-body problem is solved!

2. Hiking

In terms of the great outdoors, Ecuador is a perfect destination. I haven't even visited the coast, the jungle, the Galapagos or anything more than 3 hours of driving away from Quito, but I've been greatly enjoying the many options for hiking and exploring around the city.

3. All the fruits

Fruit here is extraordinary, and I did write about all the fruits earlier. I keep seeing fruits that I haven't tried yet. Bananas are dirt cheap. Raspberries, my all-time favorite food, are at 2,30 USD for a package.

4. Finding an exercise schedule that works
I joined a local gym (way overdue), and I'm settling in with a schedule of working and working out that leaves me happy and energized. It was awfully expensive (like, 3 times more expensive than a fancy gym in Europe!), but worth the investment.

5. Hanging out in Quito's historical center
Quito has the world's largest historical center (not always equally well-preserved, but there is progress and you see how the center is getting revived these days). I enjoy walking around, buying eastern spices from a small vegetarian store, and seeing the activities.

6. The mild weather
I barely ever need a jacket (only when it rains), and especially the months September through January were sunny and generally very pleasant. The last 2 months have brought more rain, but it doesn't get cold at all. Unfortunately, our house gets really humid, but that seems to be the result of poor construction more than anything else.

7. Good healthcare
I've been sick and hospitalized already here, but the healthcare seems to be quite decent. Since I, as a foreigner, am susceptible to stomach bugs, I'm glad that so far I've been getting good treatment that got me back on my feet after a couple of days every time I caught something.

8. Opportunities for developing big projects
I'm freshly graduated from my PhD and I get the chance to build up a structural concrete lab. In Europe and North America, the labs exist (or are being phased out bit by bit), but since Ecuador is experiencing an economic boom, there are excellent opportunities to get involved in projects like the development of a lab.

9. Friendly people
Generally, Ecuadorian people are open (and certainly more open than Belgians), so it's easy to feel welcome as a foreigner. I'm still struggling with the language, so that has been holding me back, but I slowly start to build up some social life here.

10. Being able to have the same standard of living as in Europe
There's only a limited number of things that I can't find or buy here, and, however annoying, I haven't felt too limited by living here. Generally, I can live a life that is at the same standard as in Europe, although at a higher cost (which is something I did not expect).

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