Ready For My Close-Up, Señor DeMille

Who would have thought that moving to Ecuador would make Rita and me TV stars? Not that we are exactly the Kardashians of the southern hemisphere, but let me tell you about an interesting little event that happened at the end of last year. As happens with the most interesting things in life, this all started with a chain of small events.

The first link in this particular chain started at the end of September, 2016. This humble blog was noticed by an editor with the Wall Street Journal, who contacted me to see if I would accept an assignment to write an 800 word article for the paper and their web site about our experience as retirees in Ecuador. Naturally, I was flattered, and took the assignment.

Not without a little trepidation. According to some stats, The WSJ paper and web articles reach between 4-5 million readers per issue. That’s a pretty big stage to walk out on. Of course, it was also too big an opportunity to pass up, so naturally I wrote the article, and worked with the editors (always an interesting experience to work with different editors), and the article was published in the paper November 28, 2016 and has been available on the web since.

I had a few trolls in the comment sections both in the original post and when it was picked up by MSN and a few other outlets, but in general it was very well received. When it first appeared, I fielded dozens of comments via email, which I made sure to reply to. I still receive an email once in a while, the last one just this past week. So it was very gratifying to feel that I had some kind of impact, no matter how small, on people’s awareness. Heck, I even got a couple of photo credits!

The most interesting response by far came from a young Ecuadorian woman who emailed me directly. Lorena Intriago introduced herself as a reporter with the Secretaría Nacional de Comunicación in Ecuador. She did not speak much English, and my Spanish is less “fluent” and more “inarticulate”, but I was able to gather that she enjoyed the article, and would like to do an interview with me to help promote tourism and immigration to Ecuador.

I told her I was happy to help, and we made arrangements for a December meeting at our condo building for the interview, and she said she would bring an interpreter to facilitate.

What she failed to mention, was that her interpreter would also be bringing a TV camera and crew.

So I show up in our lobby, expecting to sit on the couch and answer a few questions, and instead I’m being told that we are going to go upstairs and shoot a few establishing shots, find a nice spot for the interview, and then maybe go around town filming in different locations.

Umm… okay …

Imagine Rita’s reaction when I opened the front door a few minutes later with a cheery, “Hi honey, the film crew is here!”

Fortunately, the place was clean and all decorated for Christmas, and we both had showered in recent memory – because we were soon to be famous, ready or not.

We completed the indoor shots and the interview, and I of course insisted that Rita be in as many segments as possible. After all, one of the best things about having a beautiful wife is that it takes attention away from my appearance. Also, people assume they must be missing some (deeply) hidden, redeeming feature of mine because otherwise, ‘why would she be with him?’

The most fun and surreal part was filming the background shots on the Malecon. First we walked through the lobby, with the bewildered Alamar staff trying to figure out why we had a film crew entourage. Then multiply that by a factor of about 20, as the camera sets up in front and films us walking down the stairs a few times. My favorite part was strolling together down the Malecon while pretending there is not a guy with a camera who keeps shooting while we walk past, then scurries on ahead to set up and shoot some more.

On our way back to the Alamar, we were stopped by a visiting couple (you see them in the finished piece) who wanted to chat. “We’re filming something for Ecuador TV right now, but we can talk in a bit”, I said. They looked confused, so I helpfully added, “They think we’re Brad and Angelina, please don’t disappoint them”.

The segment aired on the last televised weekend chat of President Correa for 2016, and we had several amused staff members tell us they saw it, but we just recently were able to view the final product when it was put up on YouTube.

Here it is, for your viewing pleasure, our own little moment of fame in Ecuador. Disfruta!