When considering whether to live in another country, the availability and cost of quality health care is always a big consideration. My wife and I have had personal experience with this in Ecuador, and all-in-all we have been very happy with our results. It is a difficult issue to compare, because it is almost impossible to do an "apples to apples" comparison. From the very start, Ecuadorians look at health care differently. Here the goal of doctors is to keep...

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One thing I really enjoy about living in Salinas, Ecuador is when we have an excuse to visit the 'Tad. That's what Rita and I call La Libertad, which is the next town inland from Salinas, and the commercial center of the peninsula. We love to jump on a bus and ride into the 'Tad. Although La Libertad is home to the modern El Paseo Mall, that is not where the action is, or where most of the locals shop....

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There was a cartoon I saw once on the Internet, and I just spent a fruitless 2 hours trying to find again. This was during a time when talking heads on cable "news" programs were explaining that a large part of the blame for our economic woes was the fact that teachers in Chicago were getting pensions. The cartoon showed three financial managers, dressed in pinstripe suits and smoking cigars, as they pushed wheelbarrows full of cash labelled "bailouts" out...

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It was the summer of 1998. On the radio Will Smith was telling us to Get Jiggy With it, Brandy F and Monica were fighting over The Boy, Britany wanted us to Do It Baby One More Time, and Offspring was Pretty Fly (for a white guy). In the theaters, Titanic was sinking, two different asteroids threatened earth (one dealt with by Bruce Willis, the other wiped out Téa Leone), and we were waiting to see if Tom Hanks could Save...

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Facebook is good for a lot of things. You can stay in touch with friends and family around the world, you can share pictures and experiences, and you can find out about different places before you visit. Recently their "Safety Check" feature was very helpful in finding out how our friends were doing after the earthquake, and quickly letting people know we were okay. But it has a dark underside as well. You see some incredibly racist and sexist posts....

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It is a question many people are asking themselves right now. For my wife and I, our answer is yes, we are staying. This is our home. Maybe we would feel differently if we were in one of the areas of destruction. Our hearts go out to those who are struggling to survive. We recently traveled between Manta and Canoa, and we met wonderful people that we are very concerned about. Here in Salinas, if you were dropped into town...

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Things are very quiet here in Salinas, Ecuador today. As you can see in the picture, the beach is nearly deserted, only a few boats and jet skis out. This is a resort town for Ecuadorians, and most of them have left to go check on their homes and families in other parts of the country. We normally are very happy to see the "touristos" clear out (see The Most Wonderful Time of the Year), but today it feels very different....

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The picture above was taken at 6:55PM last night, local time here in Salinas. I stepped out on our balcony and took a quick picture, just to see if it would capture the colors, which were truly spectacular. Three minutes later, 210 miles away and 12 miles down, a sudden shift happened. Have you ever been to Disney World or Universal Studios, and taken one of the earthquake rides? They simulate the shaking, things slide towards you or tower over...

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A great benefit of traveling and spending any amount of time in a different country is getting a different perspective on the world. In the US, we tend to think that we have the best of everything, and that everybody in the world would rather be in the US, or at least wants to be like the US. This turns out not to be the case. For example, the trains in Europe are miles (or kilometers, I guess) ahead of Amtrak....

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Let me tell you about one of my proudest moments. I'm not sure why I thought of this today, since it is sunny and close to 90F here on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador, because our story begins on a snowy evening in Washington DC. I was working as a computer and network engineer for the US Senate. Our office was in the basement of the Russell building, and it was time to head to Union Station and catch my...

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