Mike: Middle Of The World
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Ecuador, etc.
My name is Mike Bruner and I am originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia USA. When I was 15 I moved from Virginia to California with my family. We first lived in San Diego for a year, and then moved to Suburban Los Angeles. When I was in my mid 20’s I met my wife, Salome, who happens to be Ecuadorian. We first visited Ecuador together in 2007 and I was amazed by the natural beauty of Ecuador. I then came back in 2009 and noticed a lot of progress. I decided I wanted to live in Ecuador with my wife and my son who was an infant at the time. The move became an actual reality in December 2012, when my wife and I decided to make the big jump.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging around the same time I arrived here, figuring it would be a great way to record my experiences here, along with share with everyone I left behind. I wanted to create a brutally honest blog that would show the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly of life in Quito.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I actually have two favorites it seems, because my left hand and right hand are fighting over what URL to type. I guess I will let them both have their way.
- Left hand’s favorite: Quito Traffic “Que Bestia!”
- Right hand’s favorite: Planking in the Middle of the World
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 actually did not experience much culture shock. Being married to an Ecuadorian woman for 7 years, I was fairly prepared by her on what to expect. I also did a massive amount of research (mostly through blogs) about other people’s lives here to get a good idea. The biggest difference was the food, and the idea that restaurants serve rice with potatoes on almost every meal. Two starches are hard to adjust to. One time I went to “La Concha de la Lora”, and their lunch of the day was Lasagna. I was excited to try a hearty Italian dish. What I got was disappointingly not delicious, AND they served my Lasagna with RICE? Who does that? Rice and Lasagna do not go together and I wish that was understood here. But what can I do? I am not here to change the world.
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 don’t think I realized the actual scope of moving an entire family and all of its earthly possessions into another country. It was extremely nerve racking. I am positive I gained 5 to 7 years of aging in the 4 or 5 months it took us to get here, find an apartment, get our possessions here, get our kid in a school, and find work.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I think the funniest experience I can share is a couple of local kids pitiful attempt at robbing me near Mariscal Foch. From what I hear you are not officially a Quito resident until you get robbed. I was with my wife walking out of Juan Valdez and I was on my phone. Apparently smart phones are like gold here and two guys approached me from behind to try to snatch mine. My wife saw them as they were trying to reach for my phone out my ear from behind and warned me. I turned around just in time with my phone in my hand and started screaming in bad Spanish, “Quieres mi telephono?! TOMA mi Telephono!”. I threw my hands in the air and waved my phone at them like if they were going to take it they were going to take a few lumps from it first. They just walked away laughing, which made me laugh out loud also in the street. My wife wanted to tell the police, but I was just like “forget it”.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Ecuador?
- Don’t be scared but be aware – If you act like a mark you will be marked.
- Start with soups and breads before you graduate to the “street meat”.
- Watch out for dog poop, glass, and giant holes in the street while walking
How is the expat community in Ecuador? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I have met a few expats that are either my clients, or people I’ve met through Internations.org events, but I will admit when you have a family to juggle you are not super concerned with the expat community. I do enjoy speaking English sometimes but my wife’s family has really taken care of me. I really should spend more time with the expat community.
How would you summarize your expat life in Ecuador in a single, catchy sentence?
I will share a quote I heard from someone who would prefer to remain anonymous.
“Welcome to Ecuador, where everything is impossible”.