Jessamyn: Life in Ecuador
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Ecuador, etc.
My name is Jessamyn Salinas. I am from Colorado, USA. When I was 15, my parents decided to move our whole family to Ecuador to do voluntary missionary work. My parents returned to the States 3 years after our initial move, but I loved Ecuador so much that I convinced them to let me stay. I have now lived in Ecuador on and off for over 11 years. I am married to an Ecuadorian and we have one son. We currently live in Tena in the Amazon region of Ecuador.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
In 2009, we were preparing to move back to Ecuador after an extended stay in Wisconsin, USA. While going through visa applications, house building and other crazy experience I thought it would be a good idea to share what I’d learned with others going through the same process. In 2010, Life-in-Ecuador.com was born. I’ve been working on it constantly ever since, adding more of my experiences and places of interest found in this very diverse country.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
That’s a hard one. :) I’ve written over 200 pages on the website, so it’s hard to pick favorites. Right now I’m really enjoying the Expat Files, which is an invitation I made to any who have lived or are living in Ecuador to share their experiences. I really enjoy reading others’ experiences.
I also enjoy the Ecuador Vacation page, which is a list of reasons to visit Ecuador. The list is soooo long and all are great reasons to visit! Ecuador is really an amazing place; I’m still exploring all that it has to offer.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Ecuador differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I love the simple lifestyle we live in Ecuador. I don’t need a car. I don’t get stress induced headaches like I did living in the States. But it wasn’t all easy. Learning Spanish was challenging and I still have more to learn. Also getting used to a whole new way of cooking continues to challenge my imagination and creativity.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Ecuador? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I think no one can be completely prepared for the challenge of moving to another country; there are so many unknowns. The one thing I wouldn’t recommend to others that we did was making the move without ever visiting. We jumped in with both feet and had only the knowledge of our friends living here in Ecuador to prepare us.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
In 2008, we bought a piece of land here in Ecuador. While still living the States, we started building our house. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were in charge of the construction. We sent a three-bedroom house plan, but the bid price was higher than we wanted to pay. So we drew up a new plan for a smaller, two-bedroom house instead. After three or four months, we traveled down to see the progress. The first thing we noticed when we walked into the house was that it was huge! After looking around, we realized that they had built the second floor plan according to the dimensions of the first floor plan. The room sizes were way too big, so we ended up adding in another bedroom and another bathroom.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Ecuador?
- Visit first. Do your homework.
- Try out a few different places. There is a huge variety of options in Ecuador. If you don’t like living in one area, don’t be afraid to try somewhere else.
- Make friends with the Ecuadorians. Without the people, Ecuador is just another pretty place. The people are what make this experience amazing! Learn their language and get to know them.
How is the expat community in Ecuador? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are lots of expats in Ecuador. I have met many people from all over the world. We have many friends, both expats and Ecuadorians.
How would you summarize your expat life in Ecuador in a single, catchy sentence?
Young family living adventures in Ecuador’s jungle.