Archive pour la catégorie ‘Visas & Immigration’
Thinking about a change of scenery? Move to Ecuador! Here is an interesting article on Natural News that states Ecuador emerges as world’s most affordable retirement haven which I completely agree with after having lived here on and off for two years. Ive also lived in other Latin American countries like Brazil and Bolivia but I keep on returning to Ecuador which I consider my second home outside of Australia.
In fact, I think its possible to live in Ecuador on a budget much lower than the $850 stated in the article. Cities like Cuenca and Quito which are very popular amongst expatriates can be expensive (comparably speaking to other cities in Ecuador) but if you were to consider moving to the often overlooked but incredibly beautiful Riobamba you will no doubt spend much less.
Rent in Riobamba for a nice apartment is between $100 to $200 per month. For lunch you can get a delicious soup, a main course of chicken and rice, and a glass of juice for $1.50
The article states $200 per month for ¨Entertainment¨ and I wonder if what the writer really meant was ¨Beer¨ – A longneck 1 litre beer is normally about 80cents at a shop and $1.50 in a bar in Riobamba (a little more expensive in Quito and Cuenca) but much cheaper than Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and even Bolivia. Either way, its easy to have fun and go out on the cheap wherever you are in the country.
Overall, Ecuador is a phenomanly beautiful country and an easy place to settle down with – so why not take a leap of faith and buy that plane ticket??
Hey guys i’m writing this post from the beautiful beach town in the North of Peru called Mancora!
Unfortunately I had to leave my beloved Riobamba behind because I accidentally overstayed my Ecuadorian Tourist Visa and I was unable to renew it with the Ecuador Volunteer Visa.
Its not too big a deal however because Wlady will be taking care of things on the ground while I work on Ecuador Eco Volunteer website remotely making sure things like the blog are updated regularly with volunteer experiences and interesting facts and stories about Ecuador.
Advice About The Ecuador Volunteer Visa and Tourist Visa
A word of advice to anyone already in or coming to Ecuador regarding their visas – all visas in this country whether its the Ecuador Tourist Visa, Ecuador Volunteer Visa, or the Ecuador Student Visa are measured in DAYS not MONTHS. I carelessly believed my 180 day Ecuador Tourist Visa would run out on January 6th because I got it on July 6th – that many of the latter months of the year have 31 days never even crossed my mind until it was too late.
Even if you have merely overstayed your visa in Ecuador for one day the fine is $200, overstay your visa for longer periods of time without a good excuse and that fine can increase to $2000.
When I was in Ecuador three years ago it was much easier to renew a visa and just a short trip over the border could guarantee you a few more months. Now however, it is much harder to go to Peru or Colombia on a « Visa Run », that is, spend a few nights in a foreign neighbour and come back to Ecuador with another three month visa. Whether you are successful or not depends on the whims of the border patrol who stamp your passport.
How to Avoid Paying a Fine if you Overstay Your Ecuador Visa
From what i’ve researched these lax visa laws have been tightened in the last two years because Ecuador was turning into an human trafficking hub especially for Chinese nationals being smuggled into America. There are also economic reasons that these $200 – $2000 fines are almost always enforced because its very lucrative for the government.
Because I felt very hard done by that my $200 fine didn’t match the crime of overstaying my visa in Ecuador by a matter of days my girlfriends friends mum made me a doctors certificate saying I was too sick to travel on the day. I was skeptical that it would work and while heading towards the southern border of Tumbes I asked the bus driver advice and he nonchalantly suggested I privately slip $20 into my passport as a bribe.
Now while I have little qualms about getting a fake doctors certificate (something akin to « chucking a sickie » to get off work in Australia) to avoid a fine, paying a bribe on the other hand is to me utterly unethical and completely unacceptable – I would have sooner paid the $200 fine than play apart in the corruption of this already very corrupt world.
Fortunately the doctors certiciate worked and I avoided the $200 fine. So those incriminating photos taken over new years when my visa ran out actually never happened because I was actually in hospital with grade three gastroenteritis hehehe
The Downright Dangerous Border Crossing Between Ecuador and Peru
I have been through some pretty dodgy border towns in my travels around the world but I have to say that Tumbes on the Peru / Ecuador border takes first prize for most dangerous. It has become a magnet for corrupt cops and unscrupulous con artists that have become very sophisticated in ways to rip you off.
One of the reasons that border crossing is so dodgy is because of the 5 kilometer stretch of « no-mans-land » between the two borders – Ecuador and Peru have been to war many times before and the general mistrust between the two nations meant they both believed it best to have a buffer separating them.
This no-mans-land makes it impossible to walk across the border, especially with an heavy backpack, so your only two options are taking a bus or taxi. My strong recommendation is to take a direct bus over the border because they shuttle you to both immigration checkpoints and there is safety in numbers. Yesterday I took the CIFA International from Guayaquil to Mancora for $11 and it was a breeze, i’ve heard the Ormeno buses are safe and comfortable as well.
Don’t even think about getting a taxi and this is why….
My Experience: Corrupt Cops and Con Artists
Four years ago while traveling into Ecuador from Peru I ended up trapped in the back of a taxi while three big Peruvians and a corrupt cop tried to extort me for money in exchange for my « protection »
Normally I have the street sense to avoid those types of situations but i was tired and groggy after a 20 hour nightbus and broke all my own rules. The first warning sign of the incoming trap was when the taxi driver stopped to give his two amigos a lift down the road, relax man relax they said when i told them i was uncomfortable sharing a taxi « these guys you can trust, they like family »
The three men then began to pander my ego with praise « wow your spanish is really good, i bet the chicas latinas love you » and I started to think, hey these guys aren’t that bad, they seem pretty cool! They also played on my fears telling me how dangerous the border is, to not trust anyone (except them of course) that my passport could be pimped on the black market for $2K.
After getting the Peruvian Exit Stamp we headed towards the Ecuadorian border and turned down a back alley where a cop mysteriously appeared in the window, his corrupt open paw reaching in toward me for money. Now the taxi driver had said he would get me to the Ecuadorian immigration and a bus for $5, now he was saying I had to pay $100 to this police man for my own protection « there are lots of dangerous people around here »
My heart raced with adrenaline as I realised the consequence of this experience but I acted calmly, confidently and talked firmly, appearing to have grace under pressure even though I was scared inside. I argued and argued saying I was not going to pay $100 and they said « why don’t you believe us? we are your friends, this is for your own protection, we dont want something to happen to you! why would we lie to you? »
Complete intimidation but I stood my ground and I was proud my Spanish (at the time it was very average) was flowing confidently and forcefully. I argued them down to $50, then to $30 « give me $10 and i’ll give you two $20 notes » The corrupt cop gave me $10 and I held it up to the light and he said « el billete no es falsa » – the notes not fake – and I replied how can I tell? how can I tell your uniform is real? and gave the note back to him indicating I knew that he was a lowly con artist parading around as a cop and this really pissed him off.
After arguing I gave up and decided to pay $25, gave it to the cop who disappeared and at that very moment the three Peruvians in the car said « now you’ve paid the cop you have to pay us $10 each » and our argument began again me saying no thats bullshit I just paid the cop. I said if one of you take me to the bus you promised me then I will pay him $30 – a lie – and the guy in the front said no you have to pay us each $10 now because we are going our separate ways – more bullshit.
I then forced my way out of the car and pulled my bag out of the boot saying I will pay one of you when we get to the bus. One of the big Peruvians followed me into a crowd of people where we happened to pass that corrupt cop and I pointed and shouted « corrupto! corrupto! » to make him squirm while I felt more confident in the company of the crowd.
I walked faster and dodged through a few people and lost that morally bankrupt blob of a man and a few minutes later found another police man and told him « one of your compañeros is corrupt! » and he laughed and shooed me away. After a further five minutes in the baking hot sun I arrived at the Ecuadorian Immigration, got my exit stamp and got on a bus to Cuenca. I sat next to a foreigner and the first thing he said which indicates how widespread these scams on the border are « how much did you get done by the cops on the border? »
The English guy introduced me to a website called couchsurfing, and serendipitously speaking the second couchsurfer I ever met after him was Wlady – if it wasn’t for that turn of events and for couchsurfing Ecuador Eco Volunteer would not exist. I’ll save the next part of this story for another blog post!