Guayaquil, Ecuador Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Guayaquil, Ecuador

Guayaquil, Ecuador 02/09/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, we have been posted to several other countries in Latin America.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

The US, which is roughly a four hour flight from Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most of the housing is located on the same area in three safe, nice, and gated communities. Depending on traffic, the commute to work can be seven to twenty minutes. Housing includes both standalone houses and apartments, most of which have 3-4 bedrooms. Most are pretty spacious, but the quality of the housing varies. Houses are generally a bit older with strange layouts and weird styles.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

There aren't many imported products in Ecuador, especially not from the US. If you can find imported products, prepare to pay two to three times the normal cost. You can buy Ecuadorian versions of most things, but the quality is generally pretty low.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Almost everything that I use/eat/drink on a daily basis, e.g., toiletries, dish soap, canned goods, bottled goods, spices. If I had to do it again, I'd max out my shipment and treat it as a consumables shipment.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Food in Ecuador is pretty bland. It is not a culinary destination. However, there are a few gems hidden in Guayaquil: one Indian restaurant, Korean, a really good dim sum spot, a few trendy cafes, Cuban, Venezuelan. It's pretty limited, though, if you want to go beyond local food. The star of Ecuadorian food in this region is seafood, particularly shrimp and octopus.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants and mosquitoes. There are plenty of little geckos, but they're eating the other bugs.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO and pouch are pretty fast.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Not as cheap as you might expect. Ecuador has pretty strict and protective labor laws. You will pay more for the help than in other countries, plus a 13th and 14th month bonus, plus a generous severance when you leave the country.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots of small gym options in Guayaquil, especially for crossfit. There's a Gold's gym right near the Consulate housing that people liked to use.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Some businesses accept credit cards, but smaller ones won't. I'd only use ATMs in safer spots; always inside, never out on the street.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not sure.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very few speak English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. It's hard to get around even without having physical limitations.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

If you're with the Consulate, you aren't allowed to use buses or public transportation. Taxis are safe if you call to request one from a "vetted" taxi coop. Do not hail taxis off the street. I've heard express kidnappings are common with hailed taxis. Uber worked pretty well once it started up in country.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Higher clearance SUV would be best, especially if you plan to travel. Do not bring an American brand, as there will be NO parts available if you need repairs or replacements.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet speed was decent and was installed in a timely fashion.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Claro's local service was decent.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Vets are pretty good in Ecuador, and prices are very reasonable. However, you will encounter some limitations due to technology and import challenges. There is a great vet near the Consulate housing behind the gas station on Via a la Costa. No quarantine required upon entry.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There aren'y many jobs available locally except for at the international schools. InterAmerican Academy has the best jobs and pay for American teachers.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business attire in the Consulate, and presentably casual in public. Locals don't seem to be as picky about appearance as in other parts of Latin America.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. Petty crime is high. Most parts of the city aren't safe enough to walk outside, so you're kind of limited within Guayaquil. However, there are some safe areas to walk around, dine, etc.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Mosquito-borne illnesses. Take the sun seriously and use sunscreen all the time. You are really close to the sun; it is not a joke. Medical care is pretty good there. You can get most things treated, coworkers got surgeries while there, braces, dental procedures, etc.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Decent air quality, but worse in congested traffic areas. People might struggle in higher altitude areas.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Lots of seafood in this area!

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

A lot of stress and frustration stems from the horrible traffic in Guayaquil. Traffic issues aren't really due to gridlock or density, but rather the way in which Guayaquileños drive. It is probably some of the worst driving in the hemisphere or beyond. Be patient and remind yourself to stay calm.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot, humid, and sunburned. Half the year is without rain, the other half is torrential rain on and off. When you leave town and head into the mountains, you'll experience much cooler temperatures and even worse sunburn.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a few international schools, and InterAmerican Academy seems to be the best.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Unknown

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, people send their kids to local daycare, where they learn Spanish.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very small. There are very few international missions in Guayaquil. Morale is pretty high!

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

People tend to hang out with family and coworkers. There is little interaction with the expat community, though families with kids at the international school will likely make more expat friends.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There are pros and cons for everyone.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There has been lots of progress compared to where the country was 20 years ago, but there is still work to be done. There is a large Pride Parade every year and community organizers push hard for change.

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5. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Yes, it is possible to make friends with locals, as Guayaquileños are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Political rhetoric seems to have picked up over the past year or so, but people are generally very nice.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Gender equality is still an issue. Femicide is a persistent problem and receives lots of news coverage.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The travel in Ecuador is incredible. Galapagos, beaches, big cities, indigenous communities, mountain towns, rainforest. There is so much to do.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Get out to local micro theaters, wander the malecon, go to soccer matches, visit cacao farms, and travel outside the city.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes, lots of beautiful artisan products you'll want to take home. There is a lot of overlap in availability between markets in Guayaquil, Cuenca, Quito, Otavalo. Otavalo is an iconic destination and the largest indigenous market in the hemisphere, so worth a visit.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Fresh, plentiful, cheap, high quality seafood. Dirt cheap quinoa and chia seeds. Warm weather all the time. Easy access to incredible travel options, including the Galapagos Islands; you can only get to the Galapagos from Guayaquil, which is probably the only reason there are tourists in the city.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How few imported products there are, and how bad and expensive the Ecuadorian versions of most products are. Bring everything.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

It's not at the top of my list, but it wouldn't be the worst thing. I would rather live in Cuenca or Quito, but thankfully Guayaquil isn't that far from either.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations for culinary greatness; This is no Peru, despite what people will tell you.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience, flexibility, and willingness to adventure.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Ecuador Reader: History, Culture, Politics

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Guayaquil, Ecuador 06/15/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, this is one of several other overseas assignments that I have experienced.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base is the western United States - California. Normally we would fly out of Washington DC during transfers, but flying from the west coast to DC normally takes about six hours. 2 hour flight to Miami, and then a 4 hour flight to Guayaquil. American Airlines is the main carrier which Foreign Service members use getting to Guayaquil. There are co-shares available such as LAN, but it depends on how your organization wants to route your trip.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Approximately three years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Affiliated with the US Consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

If you work for the US Government, then you will be part of a furnished housing pool. There are 4 main housing areas, one of them (Puerto Azul) is where the school is located. In my experiences with other housing at past assignments, the housing here is sub-standard. The construction of the houses is quite poor, and the GSO/Facilities crew are fixing things around the clock. During the rainy season the leaks become a major problem, in addition to electrical, air conditioning, and periodic power outages. Most houses come equipped with generators to help with the power spikes and outages than happen.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Anything imported is high. Fruit and vegetables can vary. Household supplies also vary in cost. Meats are not of good quality.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

US soap, different spices, and other pantry products not seen on the supermarket shelves here. More equipment for beach activities.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Carl's Jr. Prices are not too high.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and various types of insects that one can expect to find in a tropical climate.

The mosquitoes are the most problematic - don't forget to bring plenty of insect repellent.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The consulate has a DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) for US personnel who are affiliated.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

It's affordable. Part-time domestic help will run about $160 a month, plus insurance for the maid (usually 40 dollars per month). Full time help is about $300 or more per month plus the health insurance for the maid.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are some, but I don't know the quality of them.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I wouldn't recommend using them.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need to know Spanish - otherwise it will be difficult to get around and go shopping without knowing the language.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

This is not a city which is friendly for those with disabilities. Accessibility to hospitals and shopping centers is not the best, and that makes it difficult.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Only vetted taxis are permitted. Check with the security office at the consulate. If you don't use the taxis at the hotels or the ones recommended by the consulate, then you place yourself at risk. Buses are prohibited to use for Americans who work at the consulate.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

An SUV or 4x4 would be recommended, especially if you're going to travel outside of Guayaquil and explore the country. If you're just going to stay within Guayaquil and go to the beaches, you really don't need an SUV.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

The internet here is mediocre at best. You can pay for higher bandwidth but the quality and service is not great. There will be frequent disruptions in service.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Bring one that will work anywhere in the world and which is unlocked. You can also check the local cell phone stores for programs that work for you.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Don't know about the town, but within the consulate it's not good.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Shirt and tie for those who have management responsibilities.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Guayaquil is a critically rated city for crime - there are all sorts of issues with security here. It is not advisable to travel during the night outside of Guayaquil, and constantly be on the alert when going into Guayaquil or surrounding barrios. Use common sense and listen to the security alerts that are given by the consulate to Americans. The security problem causes a lot of stress among the expats here in Guayaquil.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Poor healthcare here. Many people use medevacs to resolve their health problems that cannot be resolved locally.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

It's fair, but with the humidity it can cause mold problems and wreck havoc with one's allergies.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dry and not as humid from May until November. Hot, humid, and rainy from late November until April/May.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The main international school here is the InterAmerican Academy, and it's the best that Guayaquil has to offer, but well below the standards of other international schools within the region. There is a high turnover of teachers because many have a difficult time adjusting to the isolation factor of living here. When I arrived, they had gone through many directors in a very short span. The current director has been here the longest, and although not the best I have seen, he's really tried hard to keep the interest in the school at a high level. Some families have sent their children to boarding schools in the United States because the IAA school does not challenge the students sufficiently and lacks quality materials and curriculum that are currently used in the US.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

There are no accommodations here. If you have children with special needs, whether they are gifted or have difficulty with learning - do not bring them here, because the school simply does not have the resources or the programs to work with special-needs children.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes. It's ok I've heard from others that have children there.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are some available, but they are very limited.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small.

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2. Morale among expats:

This is the worst I have seen in my career - it's very low.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Barbecues, parties, drinking - that's just about all that most American employees do. There is a tremendous sense of isolation, and therefore many people feel the need to entertain and socialize with Americans. So they don't do much about getting to know the local community.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think for singles it can be entertaining. For families there isn't much to do here but hang out with other families at barbecues and social activities sponsored by the consulate. It all depends on what the family wants with their activities, because there isn't anything to do here in Guayaquil - you'll see all there is to see in a few weeks, and then it becomes redundant and boring.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I think that the LGBT community is well represented here. Ecuadorians, in my view, do not discriminate against LGBT, and within the office there seems to be a large representation of LGBT.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, there is some. The Ecuadorians themselves are prejudiced against dark-skinned people. However, there are many black and dark-skinned Ecuadorians throughout the city and Ecuador. The discrimination isn't obvious but it's there.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

I think the best part of the experience was exploring outside of Guayaquil. Going to Cuenca, Quito, Baños, Mindo, Puyo, Mishahuaí, Amazon, the beaches, Isla de Plata, etc.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

I didn't find anything unique that was worth buying.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

You can save some money here, but the prices of groceries have gone up, especially with anything imported into Ecuador. The weather outside of the rainy season is quite delightful - cool breezes at night, not too hot during the day. The rainy season begins in December and ends in May normally, and does have its hot days with plenty of humidity. Comparably, it's like Miami during the hot summer during the peak summer months. I did not find any advantage living in the city, didn't really find any culture in my opinion that was worthwhile in Guayaquil - outside of Guayaquil is a different story altogether.

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11. Can you save money?

Some, but not if you're traveling to the Galapagos and traveling around Ecuador and throughout South America.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely not.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

winter clothing and your expectations that Guayaquil is going to offer a lot.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

I realize that some people like the rustic atmospheres and places around the globe, without worrying to much about the comforts and modernization of other posts. This place wasn't for me, and I will never serve again at a small post. The city just didn't have anything worthwhile to offer, and the hypersensitivity to security caused a lot of stress and anxiety. The traffic and driving here are absolutely atrocious.

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Guayaquil, Ecuador 05/02/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Asia & Europe.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Direct flight to NY and Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

30 minutes or so when traffic is bad.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The local Mega Maxi is very expensive. Fish Market is good and cheap. Anything imported is expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Speciality foods, such as Asian sauces, etc.
Spices, as there is not much variety here.
A treadmill, as it is very hot to exercise outdoors.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Regular American ones. Cheap street food, like empanadas, patacones, rice and beans. Not many ethnic choices are available.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes, tons of them, especially in the summer time.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Plenty.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Nor recommended.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

As much as possible. Local do not speak English.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not recommended.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

High clearance. Bring a safe car, as driving is aggressive here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but service is patchy at times.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Public transportation is not authorized for US Consulate people; only vetted cabs. Some Americans have been robbed.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Affordable. Not sure about quality.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Seasonal. During rainy season there is no dust, but when it's dry it can be a problem around the consulate housing area, as there is work going on.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and rainy or hot and dry.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Teacher retentions seems to be a problem. The high school is not recommended.
Students are primarily Ecuadorian kids.

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2. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Limited options, as IAA runs a different schedule than the local schools. No summer program.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small. There is limited social interaction other than with Americans.

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2. Morale among expats:

Low.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Limited, only within the consulate.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Depends, some love it, some hate it. Expat morale not very good.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel to Colombia, Chile, Peru, etc.
Getting fluent in Spanish as hardly anyone speaks English.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Beaches & seafood.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Seafood.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Travel around South America, although air fare is very expensive.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if you shop locally and avoid MegaMaxi.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

warm clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

insect repellant.

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Guayaquil, Ecuador 01/25/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Kathmandu, Nepal.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Direct flights to Miami (4 hrs) and NYC. Transporting pets becoming more difficult due to certain airlines discontinuing service.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Commuting all depends on when one lives, but overall traffic flows pretty well. Maybe a 20-30 minute commute is average, nobody could average longer than an hour, even with bad traffic.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Some supplies are ridiculously expensive (regular sized can of cooking spray- $8), while others are super cheap (fresh herbs, fruits and veggies: dirt cheap).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

If you drink, alcohol. The prices are very high for basic liquor, and beer selection is ok but limited.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, Carls Jr., Chilis, el Capi (local burger joint, really good!), Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Dominoes, Subway, Quiznos, KFC, etc.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Eat lots of rice and beans and you're set for gluten-free. Have gluten-free friends and they say living here is pretty easy.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

This year mosquitoes are carrying a lot of dengue, though no reported expat cases yet. Large cockroaches and beetles are regulars in our house. But that's everywhere, right?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Relatively cheap and widely available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Don't use ATMs in public; if possible use cash and not your credit card. Too many issues with people swiping them. Use an ATM close to your house if possible.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

They just started an English-speaking service at the church in the Inter-American school. No other English services are available anywhere in the city.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

As much as possible. You will find that the majority of your interactions will be in Spanish if you go out into public here.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All my local friends view it as a fact, that when they use the bus there is a good chance they could get robbed or the bus held up. Plan accordingly and don't take much with you. Don't hail taxis on the street. Go to a reputable hotel or restaurant and have them call one.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Hyundai. Re-sale value is high because of import taxes. Or Toyota, but recommend against Subaru because they aren't sold here and few people want to buy them, if you're planning to sell your car before you leave.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Get Transtelco, a new company, not TVCable. You will have far faster internet than all your friends with TVCable.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cheap plans for simple phones are available for US$20-30 a month. Blackberries are more expensive and more prone to be stolen, as everyone here uses them.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Women here like to dress up to go get groceries. Foreigners still dress down (shorts, flip-flops).

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No problems with security personally, but many foreigners do have problems getting robbed. If you just choose to never hail a cab off the street or take a public bus and don't go out partying late at night, you shouldn't have a problem. A couple females who hailed a cab in the middle of the city in the afternoon ended up getting raped recently. Taxis aren't safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care can be very good, but you better speak Spanish if you just walk into a hospital. High-quality, English-speaking professionals can be found with some digging.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

You won't notice it unless you like to exercise outdoors.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Dry season, rainy season. Always cloudy (think a warm Seattle), but when the sun does come out it gets pretty hot.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Terrible experience with Inter-American Academy's director.. Under the current director I couldn't recommend this school to anyone. I feel comfortable saying this because have heard of three other families who have had similarly frustrating experiences. Some of the best American teachers are leaving and being replaced by less experienced individuals with weaker communication skills.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Very good preschool available and daycare is mostly provided by a nanny, because it is cheap to hire them. Just make sure you get a hard-working, trustworthy one if you want a full-timer.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Not too big.

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2. Morale among expats:

People are generally pretty excited to leave, but as they're leaving they start saying they realize how much they'll miss it.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It can be good for anyone who likes to travel a lot and see the country. There are very happy and very disgruntled members of the expat community; some love it and others don't. But I suppose that is any city!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Seeing a spectacularly diverse country and eating cheap fruits/vegetables/fresh herbs.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Go out to eat; there is decent food here, but you have to constantly be adventurous and try new places and parts of town. Get a GPS so you feel more liberated to go places you haven't been.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Cheap hammocks!

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Beaches are close (1-3 hours), roads are new and wonderful, mountains are close (2-3 hours), you can wear shorts every day of the year.

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11. Can you save money?

Definitely.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

It was a great experience; I'm better for it; I met some amazing people; I had a great traveling around the countryside and working with the people here; but I don't plan to return anytime soon.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Skis and ice skates.

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3. But don't forget your:

Beach gear, hiking gear, and positive attitude.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Office Space
. The writer was born in Guayaquil.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

You'll love it your first few months, then likely hate it, then come to a mutual agreement with the city to neither love nor hate each other.

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Guayaquil, Ecuador 01/14/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

yes

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Northeast US. All day to travel to post

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3. How long have you lived here?

2010-2012

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Work at the U.S. Consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

three main neighborhoods, all gated with 24x7 security. 25 minutes commute to work and 35 minutes going home due to a recently redesigned traffic pattern. No is happy about that.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

local groceries are very reasonable but anything imported is expensive. There are several supermarkets within easy distance from residences. Don't worry about bringing cereals from the States as they cost only about $4+ a box. The limes and pineapples here are great! There's a seafood market near the residential neighborhoods where you can get very cheap shrimp, fish and you should always bargain. Bartering is expected in open market in many countries around the world, you know. I think it's actually fun to do.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Electronics as they are two-three times as expensive. Over the counter medications,specific spices and condiments. Clothes are cut small and lower quality in Ecuador. Good to have UPS (uninterrupted power supply) because there are many short blackouts, especially in the rainy season.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Americn fast food like McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos,Papa Johns, , Subway. Restaurants like Chillis, Hardrock cafe, and Hooters. Other decent restaurants are Caracol Azul, Hilton Colon hotel and Oro Verde hotel are nice but expensive. La Parrilla Del Nato is a good local steakhouse, with 900g or bigger steaks. There are some good seafood restaurants. Chinese foods are prepared using different recipes and aren't quite as good as those in the States in my opinion.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

mosquitoes and no-see-ems are abundant during rainy season. The no-see-them make nasty bites that can itch for a week and you'd never see them.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO service is available for Consulate employees and their families.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Local help is about $190/month but there are legal requirements, and contracts so know what you're getting into.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

yes, there is one in the Oro Verde hotel right next to the current Consulate and another one less than 10 minutes from residences.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are accepted at many places but be careful of frauds; Within two months of arrival, someone put an $800 charge on my Amer Express but luckily, Amex caught it and did not pay the fraudster and my card was promptly deactivated and replaced. ATMs are everywhere but I only only cash checks at the Consulate and have never had any problem. Many local businesses can't break a $20 bill but the larger shops can accept them. BTW, Ecuador adopted US current back in 2000 so no need to exchange anything.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, there are plenty of English channels, news, movies, sports, etc. TV Cable and Direct TV are the two service providers in the area.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It helps if you know some basic Spanish as most locals don't speak English.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Only vetted taxis are allowed. They are very reasonable. Buses are not allowed due to crimes and they cost 25 cents but I wouldn't take them either.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Everyone at Consulate drives an SUV except me. I have a Toyota Corolla and never had any issues. Parking spaces are tight so my small sedan is convenient. Gas is very cheap, $1.48 a gallon, yes, a gallon of Extra while Super is $2.29. Diesel is even cheaper than Extra. There is no Regular grade. The prices don't change either. It's been that way since I've been here. Some people buy tires from the States and have them shipped here ot packed with HHE. There are many dealerships like Chevy, Nissan, Toyota, Jeep.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed internet is widely available and costs from $35 and up.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Everyone uses cell phone in the city. Consulate gives all Direct Hires a cell phone.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No, but there are certain requirements of shots and vet checkup.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

I don't believe so. The locals said it's hard for them to find jobs in the city.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

casual

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

robberies, car jacks are serious issues. Post is ranked 'critical' for crimes. In one particular case in 2011, the robbery took place in broad day light in front of the Consul General's residence. Apparently, they had been following a lady from the bank when she took out the cash. One of the armed robbers kept the CG's security guard from intervening while the other two robbed the lady at gun point and they took off with $5000. Another incident occurred inside one of the gated neighborhoods, Puerto Azul, 5 armed robbers tied up a local family in their own home and robbed them. There have been some protests with rock throwing at the Consulate. Local buses are not allowed and only vetted taxis are.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

It seems everyone I know gets sick from food poisoning, one or more times, from minor to severe vomiting and diarrhea. No maleria risks in the city but if you travel to the jungles in the Orient region, then beware of a much worse problem with mosquitoes. Dental care is reasonably good and less expensive than at home. My guess is many medical professionals got their training in the US or Europe.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

poor; trash burning fouls the air quite often; Exhaust fumes are a big problem;

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

December - March is rainy,hot and humid, high 80s-90s F. The rest of the year is pleasant, very dry in the 60s-70s.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Everyone I know have their kids attend the International American Academy. There are other German school but I don't know much about school because I don't have small children.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

yes, basketball. There may be more but with no kids of school-age, I don't know much about school programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

Low; There's not much to do in the city other than going to malls, dining out and going to small concerts. Have to travel far for anything else. Last year, 3 local employee staff were fired, 5 others quit and 3 expats curtailed for different reasons. Because of the high crimes, there aren't too many things you can do after work in the evenings.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

not that I know of

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

ceviche with seafood-a popular local cold soup; Cuenca, a very nice European-like city; and quiet beautiful beaches like Libertador Bolivar, San Pablo, Mantanita.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

many beaches, closest one is Playas which is 1.5 hours drive and others are farther. Cuenca is a very nice city in the High-land with cool climate year-round, about 60s. There are volcanoes and jungles but I have not visited them. Then, there is the famous Galapagos. There's a movie theater near residences and it playsmany movies inEnglish with Spanish subtitles. Admission is $4.50

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

the locals are friendly; some nice beaches; temperatures range 60s-90s year-round; easy to save money

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. The city is boring and too much politics for a small post. I must say the locals I met were all very nice people and they seem to like Americans. However, there are too many crazy drivers on the road-- basically, anything goes and they don't care about safety.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, published Lonely Planet has a good description of the everything Ecuador.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Don't show of your expensive jewelry and watches as that would increase your chances of getting mugged.

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Guayaquil, Ecuador 08/17/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I lived in Budapest, Hungary.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

South Florida. Direct flight to Miami take 4 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

I live in Via a la Costa which is about 20-25 minutes from the city center. Traffic can be very bad here.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

You can find most things that you would find in the United States here, just different brands.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Mainly baking related, i.e. chocolate chips.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are plenty of fast-food places and some decent restaurants but not a lot of ethnic (i.e. non-Ecuadorian). Prices are cheaper than the United States.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Lots of mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the consulate.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very cheap and readily available.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are lots of gyms.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use credit cards at most places.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Spanish definitely helps.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not a lot of walking, as you drive everywhere.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Affordable but not safe.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Better to bring a high-clearance vehicle, i.e. SUV, but I don't think it needs to be a 4x4.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about $30 per month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy a cheap one as it may get stolen. Most people have BlackBerries. Not a lot of iphones.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Vets are great. Not a lot of kennels.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

It is more dangerous than I thought it would be. Beware of taxis off the street. Do not ride buses.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The quality of medical care available is good. I have a friend who had a baby here. I have a great GYN. I had an MRI for a herniated disk but went back to the U.S. for the surgery.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality seems fine to me.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot year 'round. Hotter in the summer (January - March) than in the rest of the year.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?


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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?


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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?


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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Almost non-existent.

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2. Morale among expats:

Not very high.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The beach is 2 hours away. This is where I spent most of my weekends.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

For singles, better for men than for women.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travel. Cheap.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Nothing interesting/fun to do in Guayaquil. Everything interesting/fun is outside of the city.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Hammocks.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Ecuador is a small country but is very diverse geographically. You can go to the coast/beach, the Galapagos, the sierra/mountains, or the Amazon.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, if you expectations are realistic, you won't be disappointed.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Cold-weather clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bug repellent.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a good place only if you are adventurous and like to travel.

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