Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Playing Post Office in Ecuador

One of the things people love about Ecuador is that it reminds them of the United States a few generations ago. For the most part, people leave you alone. The cost of living is generally much less than the States, there seems to be far less commercialism, and the feeling is far more rural, even in big cities.

As a matter of principle, many Americans are choosing Ecuador because they want to be as far as possible from a government they believe cannot keep its hands out of their pockets. But one of the trade-offs for this lack of taxation is a lack of infrastructure. All those tax dollars back in the US are used for things like highways, schools, public service employees, etc. And post offices.

The postal service in the US is far from perfect and getting unperfecter all the time. But at least there is one. Want to pay a bill, send snail mail to Aunt Gertie, or get a package from Amazon? The post office has your back.

If you are moving to Ecuador, one of the first things you must get used to is a lack of any sort of home postal delivery. None. Nunca. When it's time for you to get your bills, the company sending them uses delivery boys to stick the bills into the fence surrounding your dwelling. You want to pay the bill? Travel to the applicable offices (banks handle a lot of this) and pay it.

Moving to Ecuador? One adjustment is no mail delivery. Bills
are brought by delivery boys and placed in your fence.
Many of us don't think twice about the United States Postal Service. It's like air. You don't miss it until it's not there. Of course, there are services that purport to make it easier for you to get around this. Bryan and Dena Haines have written an excellent blog on one of them, and the problems you can encounter. http://www.gringosabroad.com/club-correos-avoid-problems/

Like any other issue when relocating to another country, this isn't a deal-breaker, but it does take adjustment. If you are used to ordering things from Amazon and having them delivered, I hope it's books and you can receive them on your Kindle.

Speaking of reading material, another thing Ecuador lacks is greeting cards. We set out one day to find my mother-in-law a birthday card. I'm not sure we visited every single stationary store in Cuenca, but we had to come pretty close. After several hours, we found a business with a few cards thrown in a dusty bin in the back of the store room.

People in Ecuador celebrate birthdays the old-fashioned way...they go see each other. But without a birthday card.

So when people tell you that life in Ecuador is like stepping back in time, they are telling you the truth...the time before home delivery of mail. A lot of people actually like that, and you may, too. Imagine a world of no junk mail. Sounds like a little slice of heaven, yes?

But you do need to become proficient at paying bills online or finding where to pay them in person. That means getting out and seeing the city, practicing your Spanish, and remembering whether a la dereche means turn right or turn left at the next street to find your destination.

For those of you who already live in Ecuador, how have you adjusted to life without mail delivery? Any pieces of advice? For those planning to move, any questions we can help get answered? We'd love to hear from you. Just don't send it via snail mail...

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