Ecuador – Reinventing the Third World.


This essay, which may or may not be followed by others, has no real direction nor intention. I changed its main topic 3 times while writing it not to mention how many times I changed the title. It is kind of loosely related to Vilcabamba in the Loja province of Ecuador where I live but certainly not limited to it.  Some may find it funny some may not, it has different layers. It might even be thought provoking I am not sure. I enjoyed writing it. Life is good. Have fun.

It all started with one simple question: Do I live in the third world? Of course, Ecuador is part of the third world. This led me to the question: “How many worlds are there and where is the second world anyway, and what about the 4th world?” and so on…

Below are my findings. Read at your own risks.

1 .. 2 .. 3

We all know what “first world” means and where the so-called “first world” is on the map. A conglomerate of rich countries where civilized people live and where freedom and democracy abound in their native, raw, pristine and uncompromising states, something to do with “a way of life” they say, something that cannot be taken away from them no matter what. In fact, people are so free in the first world that they can choose between diet coke and diet pepsi knowing exactly what the difference is and why they choose one over the other. That is a kind of freedom that the other worlds simply neither have nor could comprehend.

The rest of the world is called the “third world” or “developing world“, the latter seeming to indicate that the countries belonging to the third world are in a process called “development” and it is just a matter of time for them to also find the holy grail of civilization and diet coke choosing, just be patient. To help these poor bastards become “developed”, there is the generous help from the World Bank and the IMF and similar entities that no doubt speed up the process. All good then.

One question remains: what and where is the “second world” ? I have asked that question to many people but I do not get a straight answer other than that look on the face seeming to say either “what a silly question” or “I never thought of it that way” or whatever. The answer is simple though. Plain and simply stated, the second world are the communists, stupid. But I am ahead of myself.

Before saying anything too assertive, let’s ask Mr. Google. The answer is shown below:

where and what is the second world

The good news is that there is such a thing as “the second world” after all. The bad news is that I don’t live in it.  I live in the red bits (really bad) , not in the green bits (really good) and not in the yellow bits (more or less good, it depends).

Here is a closer look at the map

As you can see on the map, we in Ecuador share our fate with the rest of South America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia and believe it or not : Greenland !! Russia is better off because it is only “second” and  not “third”.

It is worth mentioning here that, had the above map not been grossly distorted to make the northern hemisphere much bigger than it really is compared to the southern hemisphere, the green color would virtually disappear and the world would appear almost entirely red !

Also, for those wondering, the “axis of evil” is a different boundary line and is located in the red bits but with a tendency today of stretching towards the yellow bits because of all the bad things that the Russians do.

The green parts are the good guys, that is why they are green. There is no evil there. There in these green bits of the map, lie the birthplaces of ecology, nature protection laws, recycling, solar panels and electric cars and generally speaking places like the USA that aim at reversing centuries of out of control pollution by the Aztecs and the native North Americans, shame on them. More reasons to paint these countries in green.

On the same page, one line below the Goggle official answer, Wikipedia, this other bastion of truth, tells us  that, I quote:

“The three-world theory has been criticized as crude and relatively outdated for its nominal ordering (1; 2; 3) and sociologists have instead used the words “developed”, “developing”, and “underdeveloped” as replacement terms for global stratification (which in turn have been criticized as displaying a colonialist mindset) [2] —nevertheless, the three-world theory is still popular in contemporary literature and media. This might also cause semantic variation of the term between describing a region’s political entities and its people.[3]”

Crude? Outdated? Maybe a little. A colonialist mindset? No kidding !

Anyway, I was hoping, starting this article, that I could make a case to explain that I live in something better than the third world but I don’t, not even the second world, sighs.

Why is it then that I feel somehow that my life in Ecuador is richer than any life I could experience in the first world? Maybe there is a fourth world somewhere that transcend these old fashioned definitions and ignores the political boundary lines.


Maybe I live in the 4th world then. What would that mean? How would we define what the 4th world is? Before we get carried away with our own definitions of things, let’s once again ask Mr. Google, answer below:

According to Google topmost answer to this essential question we see that the 4th world would be an “extension” of the 3 world model (no kidding !) and, I quote, “a sub-population socially excluded from global society“.  That sounds closer to what I feel.

Did you know that there is a site called “Investopedia“? This is what they have to say about the 4th world:

I did open their link and read that:

Fourth world nations can consist of those excluded from mainstream society. For example, the Aborginal tribes in South America or Australia are entirely self sufficient, but they do not participate in the global economy. From a global standpoint, these tribes are considered to be fourth world nations, but they are able to function free from any assistance from others. Fourth world nations do not contribute or consume anything on the global scale, and are unaffected by any global events.” [Emphasis is mine].

Not sure that they are “unaffected by global events” when someone kicks them out of their land and dumps them into reserves as happened to the Aborigines of Australia but the rest of the sentence is about right and could be read in a positive way, as in, these people are an example that we would actually like to follow, as oppose to let’s exterminate them. However.

The 4th world is the the most underdeveloped regions in the world, worse than the 3rd world. Is this where we are heading in Ecuador? Some believe so.

While I was in the world of “pedias’ I looked up (English) and (Spanish) and am happy to report here that these domains are available for purchase. Maybe someone could start a encyclopedia of all the stupid things humans have done and said and do and say? Or is that already done in the Guiness book?

5 and 6

Let’s take a quantum leap and look beyond these petty categories created along the lines of wealth and poverty or political systems. Let’s look at what could possibly be the 5th the 6th and why not the 7th world, shall we?

With the 5th world we definitely enter the realm of fiction and mythology although the definition below seem to apply to the daily reality of a place like Vilcabamba with its “bizarre life forms” today in 2018 .

According to

The Sixth World is beyond all mortal comprehension. Mortals say that the Fifth World is where The Metaverse starts getting freaky, but eventually the 5th can make sense to a mortal, so they more accurately say that it begins with the 6th world. There is no translation for their language, because it predates actual language and is impossible to actually make sense, unless you’re one1 of them.

You may wish to read the text a few more times to fully absorb its richness but the picture below may also help you.

If one looks at the picture above with attention, it may very well look to one like Vilcabamba especially during a San Pedro or Ayahuaska ceremony or after spending too much time at Charlito’s restaurant.

This my friends is the 6th world like no language could ever describe it.

This is where I live or maybe not. It’s complicated.

Welcome to Vilcabamba.

To be continued…. maybe


Crepes n Coffee – American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador

us English versiones

Español AQUI

Fancy a genuine American breakfast or brunch with pancakes, waffles, maple syrup, coffee, eggs and bacon, you name it … the real thing ?

Head for the street where the Property Register is located (ask any taxi) and opposite to the Howard Jonson hotel is a small, cozy and beautifully decorated place called Crepes N Coffee.

Crepes n Coffee - American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador
You can sit outside and enjoy some delicious pancakes

For tourists and people not familiar with Loja, this part of the city, close to the university UTPL is nicknamed “la pileta” (the fountain). It has an abundance of cafes, bars, restaurants and discotheques and contributes to Loja vibrant night life especially on week-ends.

Note that this is not a place for lunch, it is open from 8AM to 12PM and then from 4PM until 22PM.

The owner

Denis is a young entrepreneur who has the essential and complementary qualities to make it: a background in marketing, the ability to think big and aim at the sky while at the same time rubbing shoulders with his staff in the kitchen to learn the ropes. His enthusiasm is obvious and contagious.

Crepes n Coffee - American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador
Denis – Owner and entrepreneur

I love being with the people and learning … at my age I want to learn … ” at this moment Denis stops in mid sentence and leaves his chair to go help a client with the front door. This is the right attitude !

Denis and his wife opened their cafeteria a merely 7 months ago, in July 2016 to be exact,  after doing a proper market study in order to carefully and correctly craft their product and their brand. The results are extremely promising. The place is alive.

Crepes n Coffee also provide a delivery service, “servicio a domicilio”.  Just call, make your order and they will deliver to your door in Loja.

Crepes n Coffee - Autentica Desayuno Americano en Loja Ecuador Loja Ecuador

  Please check their latest offers on their Facebook page /crepesn.coffeeloja

The clients

Our clientele starts in the womb“, he explains with a grin on his face. Pregnant women come here to satisfy their sudden craving for a pancake or a cappuccino ! We have students, young and not so young professionals, tourists, people of all ages …

“The client comes with this anxiety, this hunger, this craving for something sweet or savory, whatever that might be… I see sad faces like this [Denis makes a long face] when they arrive and faces like this [Denis makes a big smile] when they leave !”

Smiles and well being I have certainly witnessed first hand on the day of my visit.

Crepes n Coffee - Genuine American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador

The food

Crepes n Coffee - Genuine American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador
A variety of sweet crepes and waffles

Crepes n Coffee main focus is on the so-called “American breakfast”, not what most places call “desayuno americano”, which means that they just add an egg to whatever they normally offer (juice, bread, coffee and cheese). Here we are talking about the full breakfast with a variety of crepes and waffles served with fruit, maple syrup, nutella or oreo on the sweet side or with chicken, bacon, meat, eggs, cheese on the salty side. A good looking presentation and everything spotless adds another touch of professionalism.

Crepes n Coffee - Genuine American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador
Chicken, Ham, Meat, Cheese, Mexican … A variety of salty crepes and waffles

Loja is building an international reputation for its quality coffee. At Crepes n Coffee you will find the expected choice of popular espressos (short, cappuccino, mochaccino … ) as well as the traditional filtered coffee (cafe filtrado o cafe pasado), all made with pure Arabic coffee harvested in the mountains of the Loja province and freshly roasted in Loja.

Of course I could not resist.

What are you waiting? Go indulge yourself next time you are in Loja.

Crepes n Coffee - American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador
Pure indulgence in Loja Ecuador

Crepes n Coffee - Autentica Desayuno Americano en Loja Ecuador Loja Ecuador


Crepes n Coffee - American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador

Address: Zoilo Rodriguez (frente al Howard Johnson)
Facebook: /crepesn.coffeeloja


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Crepes n Coffee – American Breakfast in Loja Ecuador

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QI Esencial – Biomagnetic Therapies in Loja Ecuador

us English versiones
Español AQUI
By Pierre Volter
and Martha Jaramillo

Part 2 – Biomagnetism

Read Part 1 HERE


Biomagnetic therapy, also called biomagnetic pair or terrain restoration therapy, is a natural therapy that proposes re-establishing normal cellular milieu through the use of pairs of magnets of medium intensity that seek to equalize the organism’s pH level.

To understand the principles of biomagnetism one must understand how and why appear in the body the so – called “pathogens” (viruses, bacteria, fungi). The truth is that contrary to the established science of Louis Pasteur that even today is the basis of conventional allopathic medicine, pathogens are not the cause of disease but the consequence of a unhealthy  or weak or out of balance terrain (the body) that allows their entry and multiplication. The result is what we call “disease”.

In this regard the disease comes first and then the pathogens and not the opposite. In English the word disease is actually quite appropriate when you look at it as 2 parts: a root and a prefix : “dis-ease”. The word “ease” means balance, comfort, well-being and with the prefix “dis” is to say “out of”.

Strange? Not that much!

Consider this.


Anyone who has tried to have a nice lawn knows that if the grass is dense and healthy the weeds do not appear.

It is in places where the land is naked and exposed that all kinds of weeds appear.

Or consider this:

What came first, the rubbish or the cockroaches?

Are cockroaches bringing the rubbish with them on their back like ants do with their food ? For the pleasure to live in it?

Or are they rather attracted by the garbage and feed on it and that leads to their expansion?
Follow this logic reasoning:

What if we just cleaned the trash instead of attacking the cockroaches with insecticide?

Would the cockroaches insist on living there …?

Of course not !

Cleaning the terrain

Cleaning the terrain means to stop the proliferation of pathogenic organisms in excess which are harmful to human health. This is what biomagnetism does. The magnetic field generated by the magnets allow the biological terrain to recover its capacity to self-regulate and recover its optimal acidity or pH (± 7.2) in the blood, the sweat, the tears, and each one of the organs of the human body. This restores the proper functioning of the body.

Placing magnets pairs on the body

QI Esencial - Oriental Holistic Therapies - Acupuncture Biomagnetism in Loja Ecuador
She places magnet pairs on your body

The “Biomagnetic Pair” is a method that involves placing pairs of magnets of medium intensity to regulate the pH (hydrogen potential or acidity level) and thus restore the body’s balance because it eliminates all types of viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites, causing exceptional recovery and providing the energy that our body requires. This therapeutic technique also acts on emotions.

It is known that stress and negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, depression, jealousy … make the body vulnerable and could consequently be one of the main contributing factors to make a person sick. It is also known that positive emotions could be very favorable at the time of recovery from illness.

Mind and body are closely related. It is important to get to know our own emotions. Recognize what are the emotions that we are feeling allows us to better know ourselves and helps us to direct and express those emotions towards others in an appropriate manner.

QI Esencial Biomagnetismo Holistico Loja Ecuador

“I think that we all come to a point in life where we do not know which way to go as to how to get healthy.  I had an unpleasant experience with doctors and western treatments and was actually feeling quite desperate because my ailments did not disappear despite my great efforts. However this was my big day when I met a beautiful person Dr. Ketty Vivanco who with her great experience and commitment helped me out of my difficulties.” Martha Jaramillo.

Dr. Raymond Hilu (left) and Dr. Isaac Goiz (the inventor of the technique) work with a patient.

For those who want a more detailed explanation of the Biomagnetic Pair method, a good primer on the topic can be found HERE.

An interview of Dr Gooiz (in Spanish) can be found HERE

He was interviewed in Quito Ecuador and what he explains in the video is very worthy of being heard by the entire world.

Ketty Vivanco

QI Esencial Biomagnetism Loja Ecuador
Ketty is a charismatic lady with a great sense of humor

Ketty,  a Biomagnetism Therapist, was a happy docent of the National University of Loja for 44 years and has a PhD in Education.

She told the story of how through her work met the inventor of the “Biomagnetic Pair” technique, Dr. Isaac Goiz

In 2008 Ketty Vivanco organized an important convention in the city of Guayaquil where Dr.Isaac Goiz was her guest of honor.

Ketty later became interested in such therapies and trained directly with the doctor.

Ketty is a charismatic, very cheerful and dynamic person who transmits good vibes and confidence. All her life she has practiced sport (basketball) and participated in championships besides being a professor at the University of Loja. She told us that the three things that have changed her life are biomagnetism, dowsing and kinesiology.

QI Esencial Biomagnetismo Holistico Loja Ecuador

QI Esencial Biomagnetismo Holistico Loja EcuadorShe explained that there are different ways to communicate with the body. She uses the body’s extremities, arms through the hands or legs through the feet. She establishes a connection through the feet of the patient.

The body does not lie, the mind does. Your body responds when I ask what you need and what area of the body is suffering “. Ketty

Thus the body makes its own diagnostic and knows exactly which organ is affected. It also identifies all types of micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi) that are affecting your health and where they are located.

Sounds far fetched ? Maybe. I am not here to judge. I am here to tell the story. Give it a try and if it works for you, that’s what only matters in the end.


QI Esencial is a team of professionals working together to provide the best service of modern holistic medicine. Acupuncture, Cupping and Biomagnetism are really complementary techniques. Finding high caliber professionals such as Leonardo and Ketty in the same place in a small town like Loja is a wonderful thing.

QI Esencial - Oriental Holistic Therapies - Acupuncture Biomagnetism in Loja Ecuador
QI Esencial – Oriental Holistic Therapies – Acupuncture Biomagnetism in Loja Ecuador


Address: 10 de Agosto between Juan José Peña and 24 de Mayo
(Edificio Plaza Murano)

Tel: 07 – 2574907

Web site:

qi esencial loja ecuador


Do you wish to comment or share some experience? Please leave your message in the section below. You can also contact us through our web page here.

Subscribe to our newsletter

If you wish to be informed about what goes on at and receive quality information about Vilcabamba, the city of Loja and the entire Loja province in Ecuador, please do subscribe here.

© 2016
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QI Esencial – Biomagnetic Therapies in Loja Ecuador

Tags: acupuncture, oriental medicine, cupping therapy, chi kung, qigong, biomagnetism, biomagnetic pair, Dr. Isaac Goiz, essential oils, aromatherapy, massages, spa, cosmetology.

Notaria Primera – A model of excellence in Loja

us English versiones

Español AQUI

By Pierre Volter
and Martha Jaramillo
Legal Security – Integrity – Honesty – Service – Amiability

Seldom can we see a person who fits so perfectly in her job as Dra. Gina Margot Calva Tapia. To a person like me who has used her services on several occasions and who has watched her attend the many people entering her office every day it is obvious that she was born for what she does, understands it, thrives at it and as a matter of course provides the best possible service to her clients.

We are talking business excellence here !

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina Calva
Dra. Gina Margot Calva Tapia

What is Business Excellence?

Business Excellence - Excelencia EmpresarialPlease do take the time to read our introduction to this important topic HERE (article in Spanish with Google translation).

Also, please do give your vote (1 to 5) using the stars at the top of the article and do leave a comment at the bottom to share your experience.

What is a notary and what do they do?

In very simple words accessible to all, let’s try to demystify this subject.

A notary public is an attorney to whom the state has invested public faith (licensed by the government). In other words, it is a lawyer whose intervention in various legal acts has a guarantee of legal security for all parties involved. The notary is the lawyer responsible for administering the “notaries”, places where legal procedures of diverse nature are carried out, as we will see below.

The tasks performed by public notaries are diverse, and are included in several areas. Among these activities are its participation in legal acts such as sales and all types of real estate investments, wills, powers, certification of copies, incorporation of companies, among others.

In addition to the enormous professional preparation that a professional must have to become a notary public, it is necessary to be a person with a great heart, optimistic and above all with a great patience to listen to their clients and to be able to explain in a clear way the legal issues of what they ask for, but above all the above must be a professional with a high sense of ethics and honesty, placing these values always in front of any problem that a client presents, and so as to safeguard the legal security of all.

It should be clearly understood that the function of a notary public is not the same as that of your preferred lawyer. While your lawyer can advise you as he pleases, including subjectively, down to unethically or even in the margin of the law, the notary public gives you a guarantee of legal security. It is obvious that a lawyer always tries to “stretch” things a bit on the side that is beneficial to his client (that’s why the client pays him or her). The notary absolutely can not do this and must maintain absolute neutrality.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina Calva
Listen with attention and patience

Hence comes patience. The notary public has to listen and listen again and explain and explain again when and how and why things are not as the customer always wants them to be. In case of disagreement between the parties, he should not hesitate to send them all back home until they solve their differences. Because the principle number one is that if there is disagreement it will not be solved at the notary but in court. Mutual agreement is indispensable.

That’s where the great heart part also comes into play. Because the notary public deals with human beings in the face of sometimes serious and complex problems. A notary at heart will always try to help his clients find the path of peace.

Why choose one notary rather than another?

notary publicAren’t notary publics just paper pushing bureaucrats with an addiction to putting stamps and stickers on everything? Do they not merely stamp documents that lawyers have written and collect your hard earned money by the hundreds of dollars at a time?

There may be such notary publics but Gina is for sure not one of them.

I asked her what in her opinion makes a good notary public and what is most important in the service she provides as a notary public in Loja Ecuador.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina Calva

Lo mas importante es la seguridad juridica que debe tener el usuario y la confianza … sobre todo la legalidad que es la caracteristica principal de un profesional de la legalidad“.

The most important is the legal security our clients receive from our services and the trust they can place in us… above all the legality that is the main characteristic of law professionals“.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina CalvaTenemos muchos clientes que regresan porque les hacemos bien las cosas y les explicamos bien que exactamente contiene una escritura, que efectos pueden tener dar un poder o hacer este documento … Entonces para mi realmente lo mas importante es la legalidad y la confianza que nosotros brindamos a nuestros clientes“.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina CalvaMany of our clients come back because we do things well and explain them what exactly contains this deed that they are about to sign or what effects could have this Power of Attorney that they will give to someone … Consequently to me really the most important is the legal security and the trust that we give our clients” .

The importance of getting it right

Notary Humour
“Chuta ! Tu partida de nacimiento nunca fue notariada !”

The documents that we sign at the notary are legally binding and some irreversible. An example of the latter is the escritura publica de compraventa (purchase and sales agreement) : once a property is sold and the escritura is duly signed, notarized and registered there is no way back. On the other hand, a Power of Attorney (POA) for example can always be revoked by the grantor but still serious damage can be done if granted to a dishonest person.

It is of uttermost importance to know exactly what it is that you are signing. If you are a mature individual, knowledgeable and experienced in your field it might not be an issue for you but think for example of the elderly or the young or the simple people coming to the city from their remote farms or the indigenous people who have different cultures and traditions often purely verbal. To them the concept of trust is vital.

Moral decadence

Gina has 32 years of experience and has seen it all. Elderly people are often manipulated by their children, asking them to sign a Power of Attorney in exchange for their care.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina CalvaAlgunos son totalmente lucidos como esta señora de 95 años que queria hacer un testamento. En este caso no le puedo negar. Pero la mayoría no. Hay que tener cuidado. Realmente son los poderes, poderes para el bono, para vender … Es una situacion terrible, una decadencia de la moral.

Some are totally lucid like this 95 year old lady who wanted to write a testament. In this case, I cannot deny her. But in most cases with the elderly I have to be very careful. Really the main issue are the POAs (Power of Attorney), POA to collect pensions, POA to sell property … This is a terrible situation, a moral decadence in our society.

The lawyers

Obviously lawyers and notary publics work together very closely. I remember my first years in Ecuador when I could not yet speak Spanish fluently. I would have never thought of entering a notary’s office for any serious matter without being accompanied by my lawyer. Maybe the notaries have changed or I have changed, but I don’t find them as intimidating anymore. The main problem is that the place can be so packed at times that it is hard to even enter let alone have a nice conversation with the doctor. A little patience usually goes a long way.

Dra. Betty Santín Castillo
Dra. Betty Santín Castillo

Dra. Betty Santín Castillo was born in Loja but she confides that her heart is in Quilanga, land of great coffee and cheese. In the course of her profession as a lawyer she deals with different notary publics depending on the location. Through the years she has developed a trust relationship with Gina who she refers to as “Ginita”.

Gina is a straightforward person, dead honest and not complicated, no wishy- washy stuff. She tells me what she needs of me, if I have some questions, she advises me thanks to her substantial experience. All her life she has been working in the field of notary“.

Notaria Primera

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina Calva
Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador – Legal security – Honesty – Integrity – Amiability and Service

As its name says, this was the first notary in Loja.

A long time has passed and several notable people have left their mark on the “Notaria Primera”.

Since 2012 it is Dr. Gina Calva Tapia’s turn who with her essence and her inimitable charisma. In turn she reveals a great humility and simplicity. In short she is a woman educated in values and manifests it through her daily work.

Gina has worked for 28 years in the Notaria Cuarta for Dr. Camilo Borrero and tapping into his huge knowledge and experience in the field.

The notary has records dated as far back as 1708. I went to the department of archives and was allowed to see one of their antique boxes. Gloves should be worn before opening the books and touching the sheets. Impressive !

La primera notaria de Loja

This is a field where experience matters a lot, not so much for simple things like certifying a copy of a document or witnessing a signature but certainly when it comes to more complex documents such as escrituras.

The team

Dra. Gina Calva has surrounded her with a great team of approximately 10 people. In fact about half the team are family members.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Gina's sister
Gina’s sister
Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Gina's sister
Gina’s sister
Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Gina's daughter
Gina (Dra Gina Calva’s daughter)

All seem to work in good harmony and smiles come easy.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Fernando Abogado
Fernando Abogado Colaborador
Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Martha
Martha Abogada Colaboradora
Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Alfredo
Alfredo – Invoicing – Scanning – Data Entry

Alfredo takes care of scanning absolutely all documents that pass through the notary so there is a digital copy of everything.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Oralis Student
Oralis – Law student

With a smile 🙂

notary humourThere are two entrances at Notaria Primera, the main door where one goes through the usual human “filters” (reception, information…) and that is what most people do.

But people who know the other entrance where the photocopy machine is can go directly to Gina’s office.

I asked Gina if it bothered her and she answered with a smile that it does not because if people want to talk about a specific topic with her she will attend them with pleasure.


At Notaria Primera you will find first class service from a very experienced notary public and her dedicated team. Gina is an approachable lady and once you get to know her she is extremely friendly and has a good sense of humor. She is honest and straightforward, tells things like they are and gets the job done fast and without errors.

Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador - Dra. Gina Calva
Notaria Primera – A model of excellence in Loja


Notaria Primera Loja Ecuador

Address: Sucre 06-50 between Jose Antonio Eguiguren and Colon
Tel: +593 (


Do you wish to comment or share some experience? Please leave your message in the section below. You can also contact us through our web page here.

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Notaria Primera – A model of excellence in Loja

© 2016
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Huaquillas Ecuador – right on the border with Peru

Español AQUI NO es una traducción humana!

Content: Varadero Seafood RestaurantL’Moned HotelLa Habana Hotel and Restaurant

If you live in Loja, enjoy the sea and want to put your feet in the water without going too far, Jambeli is your best option.

Jambeli is actually not just an island, it is an archipelago, meaning it is a group of islands, just like the world famous Galapagos. One of the islands is also called Jambeli and that is where most tourists go. We have already published some information about the island of Jambeli on HERE.

However Jambeli is not the only island on the archipelago. This time I decided to take a look at Costa Rica which I had heard was also quite beautiful. While Jambeli is easily accessed from Machala, to access Costa Rica one best option is to go to Huaquillas. Below is an orientation map

Huaquillas Costa Rica Jambeli Ecuador
Huaquillas Costa Rica Jambeli Ecuador

Going to Huaquillas from Loja is easy by bus. I happen to be in Guayaquil, so I went straight from Guayaquil to Huaquillas. This took about 5 hours if I remember correctly.

Once in Huaquillas, all it takes is a short taxi ride to Puerto Hualtaco (I did it for $1 in a moto taxi, it is more fun).

huaquillas moto taxi

And then take a boat to Costa Rica.

Well that was the plan anyway. There is just, I found out, a small problem. There ain’t no boat ! I was expecting something like Puerto Bolivar from where every hour a boat takes tourists to the island for $2 a head. Not so in Puerto Hualtaco. There is no such service. I was told that if you want to go to the island you have to charter one boat for the day which is what people do. They come in groups of 10 or more, pay something like $5 per person and spend the day. For one single person it is however not economical to pay $50 for a passage.

So I was stranded.

A bad situation in my opinion can most often than not be turned into a good or at least decent one if you have a bit of patience and some social skills. Ecuador is a brilliant country for that. My slogan would be “In Ecuador expect the unexpected”. I looked around and saw a nice looking place called Varadero, right on the port.

Varadero Puerto - Puerto Hualtaco - Huaquillas Ecuador
Varadero Puerto – Puerto Hualtaco – Huaquillas Ecuador
Varadero Puerto – Huaquillas – Fantastic seafood

It was about 11 AM, the owner was present and I introduced myself. I explained that I was interested in tourism and wanted to find a way to go to Costa Rica. His name is Dalton Otero and he is a very nice man. We ended up spending two hours together and I ended up eating some of the best seafood I had in Ecuador.

Dalton Otero - Varadero Puerto - Huaquillas
Dalton Otero – Varadero Puerto
Varadero Puerto - Puerto Hualtaco - Huaquillas Ecuador
Conversing with Dalton about life in Hualtaco

He offered me some coffee which was excellent, strong the way I like it, and with this, some delicious appetizer. These were cups made out of platano verde  stuffed with mushrooms in a garlic sauce.


Varadero Puerto - Puerto Hualtaco - Huaquillas Ecuador

His restaurant is quite stunning I must say, made out of a tasteful combination of bricks, stones, bamboo and straw, all open space and very bright. People can sit and enjoy watching the mangrove.

Varadero Puerto - By the mangrove
Assuming they can leave their phones

Well, assuming that they can put their phones away…

A couple from Guayaquil arrived while I was chatting with Dalton. They drove all the way from Guayaquil only to have lunch and then go back. That is about 5 hour drive each way. Impressive.

Varadero Puerto - Puerto Hualtaco - Huaquillas Ecuador

The food is equally impressive, simple, nothing complicated but all excellent and fresh. Below is a new creation of Dalton’s: raw fish in a sauce, avocado, olives.

Varadero Puerto - Simple and delicious
Varadero Puerto – Simple and delicious
Going to Costa Rica island

The president of the gobierno parroquial of Jambeli dropped by and joined us. He lives on the island and was just about to go back so he invited me to join him and also to stay on the island for the night. Just what I said earlier, a little bit of patience and things turn around. Not only did I get a delicious meal (for free, thank you Dalton) but now I was invited on a private tour by someone who knows the place in and out.

Miguel Cruz - Presidente del gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado Parroquial Rural del archipiélago Jambelí
Miguel Cruz – Presidente del gobierno Autónomo Descentralizado Parroquial Rural del archipiélago Jambelí

What happened next deserves an other article, so I shall leave Costa Rica for a little later. It was most interesting and Miguel is a very nice man indeed. I met his family and talked to several people on the island. All were warm, courteous and generous people. More on Costa Rica later.

For now and to finish this article, let’s go back to Huaquillas, where it all started. It is important because a person who wants to visit Costa Rica will most likely stay in Huaquillas at least for one night.

Staying and eating in Huaquillas

When I arrived in Huaquillas by bus from Guayaquil, my first thought was “Pierre, what have you done to yourself again?“. The place is not pretty by any standard, just one of the many concrete jungle towns that abound in Ecuador, even more so on the coast. Below is a typical street view.

Huaquillas Ecuador Street View
Huaquillas Ecuador – Street View

I was getting worried about finding some decent accommodation. The place was quite noisy, it was getting late, I was tired and had heavy bags and I did not want to run around town too much. I asked a moto taxi driver for a quiet place, meaning without a bar, a disco or something similar next door. He indicated me a hotel 100m from the Loja International bus terminal and that is where I stayed

Hotel L’Moned – Huaquillas

Hotel L'Moned - Huaquillas Ecuador

Hotel L'Moned - Huaquillas Ecuador

Hotel L'Moned - Huaquillas Ecuador
A simple, modern and clean hotel in Huaquillas

This hotel is basic, modern and clean. Rooms have hot water (and it works), Flat screen TV, good wifi, a small fridge. It is only a short stroll from the Loja International terminal, no need for a taxi.

What I liked most is that the hotel is not noisy because it is not right in the center and that the rooms have a modern almost completely silent air conditioning system. Most often than not one has the choice between not sleeping because it is too hot or not sleeping because the airco is too noisy.

Hotel L'Moned - Huaquillas Ecuador

Hotel L'Moned - Huaquillas Ecuador

Prices are reasonable at $22.80 per person not including breakfast (at the time of this writing Nov 2016).

One can see the Peruvian border from the hotel window. It is only a few hundred meters away.

Huaquillas Ecuador - Peru
Huaquillas Ecuador – right on the border with Peru

The lady at the reception is Peruvian and was friendly and helpful. She gave me some tips about going for a stroll in Peru, which is something that I wanted to do.

Hotel L'Moned - Huaquillas Ecuador
Chatting about Peru

Going to Peru is just a matter of walking 10 minutes down the street and crossing a bridge. The place is absolutely packed. There is police but no border control. People just walk back and forth between the two countries. You can pay in dollars or you can change your dollars if you prefer.

Huaquillas Ecuador - Peru
Going to Peru

You can buy clothes and shoes and alcohol. Clothes are supposedly cheaper in Peru. However I must say that all the T-shirts that I bought in Peru a few years ago are completely disintegrated today. So you have to be wary of the quality you get for your money.

Huaquillas Ecuador - Peru
I understood why they call Loja “an ecological city”.

Crossing the bridge to Peru, I had a look at the “river” and it was filthy. I understood why they call Loja an “ecological city”. It is all relative I guess.

Huaquillas Ecuador - Peru
The border between Ecuador and Peru in Huaquillas

The white herons did not seem to bother. They seem to like it dirty.

Where to eat in Huaquillas

I would definitely recommend going to Port Hualtaco to try the Varadero’s seafood. It is only a dollar away by moto taxi. See our comments above about the Varadero.

Hotel La Habana - Huaquillas Ecuador
Hotel Restaurant La Habana – Huaquillas Ecuador

However, if you want to stay in Huaquillas, I had a nice and inexpensive meal at hotel La Habana on the central square.

The hotel is nice, a little more expensive than the L’Moned, I would say one category up. I have not tried it so I won’t comment. I only tried the food and it was excellent and quickly served.


Hotel La Habana - Huaquillas Ecuador
La Habana friendly staff
Hotel La Habana - Huaquillas Ecuador
Hotel La Habana – Huaquillas Ecuador


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QI Esencial – Oriental and Bioenergetic Therapies in Loja Ecuador

us English versiones
Español AQUI
Pierre Volter


Part 1 : Introduction – Acupuncture – Cupping

There are things in life that neither have a beginning nor an end. Trying to find some straight line is a waste of time and energy. This is what I felt when facing that blank page on which I was going to relate to our readers what we encountered at QI Esencial. I did not know where to start.

The word HOLISTIC came to my mind because soon after entering into this beautifully decorated space in the center of Loja, it becomes obvious that in this center, people look at health as a complete mind-body-spirituality thing. They don’t just provide “treatments”. It is about healing in the deep sense of the word.

QI Esencial - Orinental Therapies
The colors, the light, the Chinese paintings on the wall …

WHEN  I opened    the QI Esencial front door on this busy street of Loja (10 de Agosto), there was that beautiful smell, the colors, the light, the background music, the Chinese paintings on the wall,  the bamboo on the ceiling.

Clearly one feels entering another dimension, a dimension of peace and tranquility.






Leonardo Miguel Luzuriaga León
Leonardo Miguel Luzuriaga León

THEN   there is the incredibly charismatic  personality of the health center owner: Leonardo (Leonardo Miguel Luzuriaga Leon is his full name).

How do we begin describing him?

Gentle, soft-spoken, intelligent, calm and energetic at the same time, definitely passionate, experienced and wise, multi-faceted, extremely skinny are just a few words that come to my mind. Leonardo studied oriental medicine in Brazil with a Korean maestro.



Leonardo studied oriental medicine in Brazil
Leonardo studied oriental medicine in Brazil

WHILE UNDERTAKING    an acupuncture or cupping session, listening to Leonardo is a rich part of the experience. He will share with you his extensive knowledge of all things oriental, will enlighten and possibly amuse you with some Chinese parable, will tell you if you like about one of his favorite subject “the multi-orgasmic man”, about how people’s mental state deeply affect their physical health and how to let things in your life flow to achieve a better state of happiness.

What he won’t do is tell you what to do or give you a pill to cure the ailment that brings you there or even try to sell you some expensive supplement. His favorite phrase is to say: “simply take from what I say what you feel is right for you, no less and no more. As a patient you can then feel that he genuinely does not care whether you believe it all or not, whether you are going to do what he recommends or some part of it or not much at all. This way you can relax, be yourself, take what you want, leave the rest and feel absolutely no guilt. Quite different from a typical visit to the doctor I must admit.

Listening to Leonardo
Simply take from what I say what you feel is right for you

This total lack of pressure, this openness is something that makes you want to stay and come back. Not that you will necessarily need to go back either and that is OK by him. He confided that his main “problem” (if this could be called a problem) is that the treatments are so effective that often people don’t come back. He said that his Korean master used to treat 80 patients per day and then to “relax” he used to go to his other job which involved carrying 50kg sacs of coffee on his shoulders. He was a martial art penta champion which Leonardo said in Korea is something extremely serious and demanding. “It is quite complex. The training starts from a very early age. It is like being a basketball champion in the US or a soccer champion in Brazil


QI Esencial - Oriental Therapies on Loja Ecuador - Acupuncture
QI Esencial – Oriental Therapies on Loja Ecuador – Acupuncture

Obviously when referring to oriental medicine, the name acupuncture comes to mind first. This is one of Leonardo’s specialties. He has learned it not from some academic place but through years of living with his Korean master in Brazil.

A Korean acupuncturist inserting a needle into a leg
A Korean acupuncturist inserting a needle into a leg

I watched the session he gave to my wife Martha. He looked very concentrated, always observing the patient with deep attention.

Always observing the patient with deep attention
Always observing the patient with deep attention

Never hesitated with a needle. Some time they can hurt. This happens when the flow of energy is interrupted or disturbed in some part of the body. The purpose of acupuncture is to help restore the normal flow of energy along the meridians (well that is my no doubt oversimplified explanation of it).

QI Esencial - Oriental Therapies on Loja Ecuador - Acupuncture

There was one needle in particular that really bothered her in her left foot. No worries, after a little while, Leonardo took it off when the pain was too strong. One has to take time and allow the body to react. Things cannot always be achieved in one session.

In the following session she was more relaxed and instead of pain the needles were giving her tickles.

Qigong (Chi kung)


Qigong (Chi Kung)

Qigong (also spelled Ch’i Kung) is a powerful system of healing and energy medicine from China. It is the art and science of using breathing techniques, gentle movement, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the life energy (qi).

During the acupuncture session when the patient is peaceful an relaxed Leonardo moved around quietly and performs qigong movements to help circulate the energy in the  body.

I hadn’t heard the term Chi Kung before but I had attended some Tai Chi clases in New Zealand and it was very relaxing. Here is what they say on this infomative web site

Taiji Quan is a style of Qigong. It is graceful, relaxed, slow, and fluid, like a slow- motion dance. Unlike some Qigong methods that exercise specific systems or parts of the body– nervous system, endocrine system, heart, kidneys– Taiji Quan is a whole body, whole mind exercise. It treats health systemically, restoring the body to its original “program”, uncorrupted by stress, pollution, and disease. The Qigong Research & Practice Center offers training in all aspects and levels of Taiji Quan.

The true cause of disease – Somatizing

The key to really curing any disease is to understand the true cause of it. This is where the so-called “conventional” medicine fails miserably. This medicine only treats symptoms and more often than not is not even interested in the true causes of any disease. There is no time for that.

I asked Leonardo what he believed was in most cases the true cause of his patients’ health problems. He said that in most cases people somatize their mental problems. These can be from the plain vanilla every day variety of stress and anxiety for example all the way to some deep disorder that may stem from a past traumatic event or even from childhood. Somatizing means that when the mind has no way to “express” what it feels, it passes the dis-ease to the body. Then one gets an infection, some back pain, gastritis, migraines, you name it.

Addressing this situation with some pill of course does not really solve anything. Even addressing the problem with natural therapies is not the answer. A nice baño de cajon or a massage or a liver detox are certainly good things but when the root cause of a person’s disease is located in the unconscious or subconscious, these forms of natural medicine are also just treating  the symptoms rather than the cause albeit in a less dangerous and toxic way.

Cupping therapy

is another type of therapy that Leonardo provides at QI Esencial.

QI Esencial Loja - Cupping Therapy
QI Esencial Loja – Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.

Relatively unknown to most people living in the West until recently, cupping therapy is an alternative therapeutic method that has been popular in China since around 1000 B.C. Some records show that variations of cupping practices might actually be much older — possibly dating as far back as 3000 B.C.

An excellent summary of what cupping is about can be found in this article HERE

QI Esencial Loja Ecuador - Cupping Therapy

At the end of the day

We found that we left the center on that first day of acupuncture and cupping having made a new friend in Leonardo and looking forward to our next session which we will relate in one or more future article(s).

One thing that struck me is how relaxed my better half looked at the end of her session. I invited her and Leonardo to a photo session and they obliged.

Leonardo and her happy patient Martha after the session
Leonardo and her happy patient Martha after the session

Leonardo and her happy patient Martha after the session


QI Esencial in Loja Ecuador is a very special place indeed where you will feel good, relaxed and well attended. They provide holistic treatments which means that they work on the entire body including the mind and not just on the specific illness that brings you there.

QI Esencial - Oriental and Bioenergetic Therapies in Loja Ecuador
QI Esencial – Oriental and Bioenergetic Therapies in Loja Ecuador


Address: 10 de Agosto entre Juan José Peña y 24 de Mayo en el Edificio Plaza Murano

Tel: 07 – 2574907

Web site:

qi esencial loja ecuador

QI Esencial – Oriental and Bioenergetic Therapies in Loja Ecuador

Tags: acupuncture, oriental medicine, cupping therapy, chi kung, qigong, bio magnetism, essential oils, aromatherapy, massages, spa, cosmetology.


Do you wish to comment or share some experience? Please leave your message in the section below. You can also contact us through our web page here.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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GAS – Lo que se destaca en Ecuador – Gentileza

es Versión Español us
English HERE
Por Pierre Volter
Y Martha Jaramillo

(Gringo Al Sur – Nov 2016) Este es el primer relato de lo que espero serán muchos. Por favor, primero lea mi introducción AQUÍ para entender mejor el ángulo que deseo enseñar.

Puesto que soy una persona positiva, voy a empezar con lo positivo. Hay tantas cualidades positivas de este país que se podría escribir un libro sobre lo positivo. Este no es mi objetivo. Me gustaría dar algunos consejos y espero que la gente comente en la sección de abajo para compartir sus propias experiencias y puntos de vista.

Para aquellos que están buscando artículos de alta calidad recomiendo revisar los siguientes que contienen información sobre todos los aspectos de la cultura ecuatoriana. Visiten este sitio web mediante el siguiente enlace. Es el mejor análisis que he encontrado hasta ahora. Para las personas de habla hispana también se proporciona una traducción de Google.

En lugar de escribir una larga lista de todo lo que creo que es correcto y otra lista de lo que creo que no es tan correcto, voy a proceder de forma incremental y descomponerlo en partes. En cada parte me limitaré a hablar solamente sobre uno de los temas.

Hoy hablare de la dulzura y la no agresividad.

Algo en los genes

Mi conclusión después de algunos años de haber estado inmerso en la cultura ecuatoriana es que hay un factor profundamente genético que hace que el pueblo ecuatoriano sea lo que es.

Mayoritariamente aquí las personas son “mestizas”, lo que significa (en Latina América) la mezcla de los españoles (europeos) con los indios (incas). No soy un experto en el tema pero creo que esto sería acertado acerca de los colombianos y los peruanos también. Sin embargo, debe haber algo específico sobre la mezcla ecuatoriana que hace que la gente sea muy linda.

Lo que quiero decir con “linda” es que son una raza gentil, amable, pacífica y fundamentalmente feliz. Por supuesto, la cultura juega un papel igualmente importante. Está más allá de mis habilidades hacer un análisis pertinente y preciso de cómo siglos de cultura podrían haber dirigido al pueblo Ecuatoriano a ser lo que hoy en día son. No soy más que un humilde observador, que hoy vive aquí y mi deseo es solamente compartir algunas de mis observaciones con otras personas que podrían considerar la posibilidad de vivir aquí y también con los propios ecuatorianos que a menudo no son conscientes de estos rasgos de su propia cultura.

Por supuesto, uno puede encontrar esta bondad natural con más facilidad en los pueblos que en las ciudades. Las ciudades son ciudades en cualquier parte del mundo, no se debe esperar la misma amabilidad de un taxista estresado en el centro de Quito o incluso de Loja que de un campesino tranquilo en medio de su huerto de bananos. La foto de abajo fue tomada recientemente en Mercadillo (Cantón Alamor – Provincia de Loja). Como habrá notado la dama no usa zapatos.

La gente amable de Alamor Loja
La gente amable de Alamor Loja

Para mejor comprensión, yo diría que en comparación con las personas de Norteamérica son totalmente lo opuesto y por las mismas razones, una combinación de la genética y la cultura. Son conflictivos, agresivos y generalmente infelices. Hablo en general, no hablo de nadie en particular. Uno sólo tiene que mirar la situación del mundo para ver quienes son los agresores. Una vez más, está más allá de mis habilidades y mi alcance para analizar las razones históricas de este fenómeno. Y antes de que la gente quiera estrangularme, permítanme decirles que los europeos y Australianos (Oz y NZ) no son mejores, sólo un poco diferente. De hecho, hay algo en el hombre blanco, en general, que lo hace fundamentalmente agresivo. Debe ser algo que ver con el ego.

Ecuador es un gran laboratorio de observación del comportamiento humano y Vilcabamba (o Cuenca) en particular debido a la alta presencia de personas emigrantes blancos. No puedo contar el número de historias en las cuales he sido involucrado, donde los expatriados simplemente no pueden llevarse bien. No tienden a luchar en las calles.

Ellos discuten mucho por mensajes de correo electrónico. En una ocasión fui lector de un grupo de yahoo llamado “ecuador expats”. Las conversaciones eran invariables y con facilidad los intercambios eran muy groseros. Hoy en día continua la misma situación a pesar de que ya no es muy activo parece ser que esta dando su último aliento, la mayoría de las personas se han trasladado a Facebook.

Facebook es lo mismo. Tenemos el Boletín Vilcabamba y Vilcabamba community. 99% de tiempo son tranquilos y educados, pero de vez en cuando estallan y la agresividad natural de la gente viene a plena luz. Nada es diferente.

los ecuatorianos son diferentes.

Su cultura es verbal más que escrita. Incluso los abogados no se comunican bien a través de mensajes de correo electrónico. La mejor y única manera eficaz de comunicarse con la gente es cara a cara y verbalmente. Confía en mí Yo sé de lo que estoy hablando.

Cara a cara, se encuentra esta bondad, la no agresividad de la que estoy hablando. Por supuesto son latinos, lo que significa caliente. Pueden hablar mucho, pueden mirarte enojados, pueden gritar. Sin embargo, esto no significa mucho generalmente. Las cosas a menudo se suelen solucionar después de que la sangre latina se haya enfriado un poco.

Yo personalmente prefiero esto a un rencor reprimido a sangre fría que las personas de diferentes culturas pueden exhibir. Naturalmente, es más saludable dejar salir el vapor y luego empezar de cero.

Incluso la policía

Tal vez nada revela más a cerca de un pueblo que la actitud de las autoridades del orden, en particular de la policía. Podría escribir muchas cosas positivas sobre la policía, otras negativas estoy seguro. Alguna persona que lea esto podría haber tenido alguna no muy buena experiencia.

Mi experiencia después de años de vivir aquí, y de nuevo resaltar mi tema principal, que es la no agresividad de la población ecuatoriana, es que todavía no he visto a un policía agrediendo a alguien. El otro día, tuvimos la oportunidad de charlar sobre este tema con dos policías y el teniente político de San Pedro mientras disfrutábamos de un jugo natural de maracuyá en el corredor delantero de mi casa.


GAS - Lo que es correcto sobre Ecuador - Gentileza
GAS – Lo que es correcto sobre Ecuador – Gentileza

Los tres fueron en todo momento muy amables, tranquilos y realmente tratan de ayudar. Parece que su lema “Proteger y Servir” no son sólo palabras vacías. Me explicaron que pueden portar armas, pero solamente se les permite utilizarlas en casos extremos. Compare esto con lo que leemos acerca de la policía norteamericana: disparar primero – hablar después.

Los niños sienten y los niños no mienten
Los niños sienten y los niños no mienten


Cuando los acompañamos a la salida espontáneamente sin que nadie se lo diga nuestra hija de 4 años agarró la mano del oficial para caminar. Los niños sienten y los niños no mienten.


Les pedí que me dieran una entrevista y parecieron contentos de tener la oportunidad de explicar la forma en que operan. Esto será muy pronto en

Incluso en la carretera

¿Cómo conducen los ecuatorianos? Conducen rápido, no toman las señales muy en serio, pasan en la línea amarilla sólida, rebasan el vehículo en marcha rebasan otro vehículo en marcha, crean el tercer carril cuando hay sólo dos etc …

Manejando entre Loja en Vilcabamba
Manejando entre Loja en Vilcabamba

Sin embargo, a pesar de eso, no son conductores agresivos.

He visto un montón de conductores agresivos, en Europa, de donde soy y también en la tranquila Nueva Zelanda. La gente conduce lentamente a causa de las restricciones de velocidad y las cámaras ocultas. Sin embargo dada la oportunidad, pueden llegar a ser agresivos.

Solía conducir una motocicleta de 150cc en Nueva Zelanda y cada luz roja del semáforo era un estrés, porque como motociclista estaba haciendo lo que todos los motociclistas hacen trataba de ponerme en la parte delantera. Casi siempre en cuanto el semáforo cambiaba al verde, el primer coche arrancaba tan rápido como podía para evitar que yo vaya en primer lugar. Esta actitud era generalizada. Resolví el problema cambiando mi 150cc por una 900cc de Kawasaki y a partir de entonces ya me dejaron en paz  😉

En Ecuador, conduzco una moto de 250 cc, no es para nada rápida y lo que les mencionaba anteriormente nunca me ha pasado acá y cuando digo nunca me refiero a que ni una sola vez. La gente siempre me deja pasar. Es mucho más seguro para una moto estar en frente de los carros o alternativamente detrás de los carros, pero nunca en el medio de los carros.

Con respecto a los accidentes, no estoy en condiciones de proporcionar estadísticas, pero puedo decir que no he visto más accidentes en Ecuador que en los “límites de velocidad obsesionados” de Nueva Zelanda. Creo que la no agresividad inherente de la población ecuatoriana es un factor importante. Conducir rápido es una cosa, la conducción agresiva y enojada es otra.

No todo es perfecto

Existe la agresión en la sociedad ecuatoriana. La mayoría de ellos son delitos menores, robos. Vilcabamba ha tenido su parte. Todos somos conscientes de algunos ataques bastante brutales que tuvieron lugar aquí.


para más información sobre este tema

Sin embargo esto no es una reflexión sobre la cultura general. Son eventos aislados. Una vez es necesario mantener las cosas en perspectiva y comparar con el número de ataques mortales en sus países respectivos.

En pocas palabras, la gente es gente. Los seres humanos han sido siempre una especie agresiva. Ecuatorianos apenas parecen estar en la parte inferior de la escala. Yo nunca he estado en nuestro país vecino del norte, Colombia, pero me han contado que tienden a reaccionar de manera más agresiva ante los mismos estímulos. He estado en Perú dos veces y he observado la misma tendencia.


Como siempre, mi conclusión es que no existe una conclusión y no hay necesidad de una. Me encanta vivir entre gente amable no agresiva. Si eres como yo y odias cualquier forma de agresividad, Ecuador puede ser tu lugar de elección. Este tipo de rasgo ecuatoriano yo diría que es el que más me gusta. Hay otros rasgos positivos que voy a revisar en las próximas partes de esta colección de artículos.

Ecuador - Gente dulce y tranquila
Ecuador – Gente dulce y tranquila

Manténganse al tanto.

© 2016
All rights reserved

Gringo al SUR - Living at the boundary between two worlds
Gringo al SUR
GAS – Lo que se destaca en Ecuador – Gentileza

Tags: Ecuador Loja Vilcabamba Cultura Extranjero Gringo

GAS – What is right about Ecuador – Gentleness

us English versiones
Español AQUI
Pierre Volter


(Gringo al SUR – Nov 2016) This is the first write-up of what I hope will be many. Please do read my introduction first HERE to understand where I am coming from.

Since I am a positive kind of guy, let’s start with the positive. There is so much positive about this country that a book could be written on the positive alone. This is not my goal. I wish to give a few pointers and I hope that people will comment in the section below to share their own views and experience.

For those who want a high quality in-depth article about all aspects of the Ecuadorian culture I recommend to read this one from the web site using the link below. It is the best analysis that I have found so far. For Spanish speaking people a Google translation is also provided.

Instead of writing a lengthy list of all that I believe is right and another list of what I believe is wrong, I will proceed incrementally and break it down in parts. In each part I will restrict myself to one and only one topic.

Today we talk about gentleness and non-aggressiveness.

something in the genes

My conclusion after years of being exposed to the Ecuadorian culture is that there is something deeply genetic that makes the Ecuadorian people who they are.

Most people here are “mestizos”, meaning (in Latin America) people of mixed race, especially the offspring of a Spaniard and an American Indian. I am no expert but I guess this would be true about the Colombians and the Peruvians as well. However, there must be something about the specific Ecuadorian mix that makes the people so nice.

What I mean by “nice” is that they are a gentle, non-confrontational, non-aggressive and fundamentally happy race. Of course the culture plays an equally important role. It is beyond my skills to make a relevant and accurate analysis of how centuries of culture might have lead the people of Ecuador to be who they are today. I am only a humble observant, living here today and my scope is only to share some of my observations with others who might consider living here and also with the Ecuadorians themselves who often are not aware of these traits of their own culture.

Of course, one will find this natural kindness more easily in the villages than in the cities. Cities being cities all over the world, one should not expect the same kindness from a stressed out taxi driver in the middle of Quito or even Loja than from a tranquil campesino in the middle of his banana plantation. The photo below was taken recently in Mercadillo (Canton Alamor – Provincia de Loja). As a side note the lady never ever wears shoes.

Gentle people from Alamor Loja
Gentle people from Alamor Loja

To bring things more into scope, I would say in comparison that the North Americans people are essentially the opposite and for the same reasons, a combination of genetics and culture. They are confrontational, aggressive and generally unhappy. I speak in general, I don’t speak about you in particular. One only has to look at the world situation to see who the aggressors are. Again it is beyond my skills and my scope to analyses the historical reasons for this. And before people get at my throat, let me say that Europeans and Australasians (Oz and NZ) are not any better, just slightly different. In fact, there is something about the white man in general that makes him fundamentally aggressive. Must be something to do with the ego.

Ecuador is a great human behavior observation laboratory and Vilcabamba (or Cuenca) in particular due to the high presence of white people expats. I cannot count the number of stories that I have been exposed to where expats can simply not get along. They don’t tend to fight in the streets. They fight by emails. Once upon a time, I was a reader of this yahoo group called “ecuador_expats”. Conversations would invariably turn into beside topic rude and some times very rude exchanges. It is still the case today although this once very active group appears to be now on its last breath, most people having moved to Facebook.

Facebook is the same. We have the Vilcabamba boletin and the Vilcabamba community. 99% of the time things are quiet and polite but from time to time they explode and the natural aggressiveness of the people comes to full light. Nothing is different.

Ecuadorians are different.

They have a verbal rather than written culture. Even lawyers don’t communicate well at all through emails. The best and only effective way to communicate with people is face to face and verbally. Trust me I know what I am talking about.

Face to face, you will find this kindness, non aggressiveness that I am talking about. Of course they are Latinos, meaning hot. They can talk a lot, they can look angry, they can yell. However, this does not generally mean much. Things can most often be sorted out after the Latin blood has settled a bit.

I personally prefer this to a bottled up cold blooded rancor that people from different cultures can exhibit. It is naturally healthier to let the steam out and then move on.

Even the police

Maybe nothing reveals more about a people that the attitude of its law enforcement authorities, in particular, the police. We could write many things about the police, some negative I am sure. People who read this might have had some not too good experience.

My experience after years of living here, and again sticking to my main topic which is the non-aggressiveness of the Ecuadorian people, is that I have yet to see a confrontational policeman. The other day, we had the opportunity to chat about that very topic with two sergeants and the San Pedro teniente politico  while enjoying a natural jugo de maracuya on our front porch.

GAS - What is right about Ecuador - Gentleness
GAS – What is right about Ecuador – Gentleness

All three of them were at all time extremely courteous, calm and genuinely trying to help. It seems that their slogan “proteger y servir” is not just empty words. They explained to me that they do bear arms but are not even allowed to pull them let alone use them unless in extreme cases. Compare this with what we read about the north American police: shoot first – talk last.

I asked them to give me an interview and they seemed happy about being given the opportunity to explain how they operate. This will come soon on

When they left, we walked them out to our gate and spontaneously without anyone saying anything our 4 year old daughter grabbed one of the officer’s hand. Kids feel and kids don’t lie.

Kids feel and don't lie
Kids feel and kids don’t lie
Even on the road

How do Ecuadorian drive? They drive fast, they don’t take the rules very seriously, they pass on the solid yellow line, they pass the car passing the car passing the car, they create the third lane when there are only two etc…

However, despite of that, they are not aggressive drivers.

I have seen plenty of aggressive drivers, in Europe where I am from and also in peaceful New Zealand. People drive slowly because of the speed restrictions and the zillion cameras. However given the opportunity, they will become aggressive.

I used to drive a 150cc motorcycle in NZ and each red traffic light was a stress because as a motorcyclist, I was doing what all motorcyclists do which is to move to the front. Almost always, as soon as the light turned green, the first car took off as fast it could to not allow me to go first. This attitude was widespread. I solved the problem by swapping my 150cc for a Kawasaki 900cc and they left me alone from then on 😉

In Ecuador, I drive a 250 cc bike, not fast by any mean and this has never and I mean never happened to me once. People always let me pass. It is much safer for a motorbike to be in front of the cars or alternatively behind the cars but never in the middle of the cars.

With regard to accidents, I am not in a position to provide statistics but I can say that I have not seen more accidents in Ecuador that in “speed limit obsessed” New Zealand. I believe the inherent non aggressiveness of the Ecuadorian people is an important factor. Driving fast is one thing, driving angry and aggressively is another.

Not everything is perfect

There is aggression in the Ecuadorian society though. Most of it is petty crime, robberies. Vilcabamba has had its fare share. We are all aware of some pretty brutal assaults that occurred here.

See for more on this topic

However this is no reflection on the general culture. They are isolated events. Again one needs to keep things in perspective and compare with the number deadly assaults in their own respective countries.

Bottom line, people are people. Humans have always been an aggressive species. Ecuadorian just seem to be on the lower part of the scale. I have never been to our northern neighbor country Colombia but I was told that they tend to react more aggressively to the same stimuli. I have been to Peru twice and have observed the same tendency.


As always, my conclusion is that there is no conclusion and no need for one. I just love living among gentle non aggressive people. If you are like me and hate any form of aggressiveness, Ecuador may be your place of choice. This is the one Ecuadorian trait that I would say I love the most. There are other positive traits that I will review in the next parts of this collection of articles.

Ecuador - Sweet and gentle people
Ecuador – Sweet and gentle people

Stay tuned.

© 2016
All rights reserved

Gringo al SUR - Living at the boundary between two worlds
Gringo al SUR – Living at the boundary between two worlds

Tags: Ecuador Loja Vilcabamba Culture Expat Gringo

Gringo al SUR – At the boundary between two worlds

Español AQUI NO es una traducción humana!

In Ecuador, whoever has fair or fairer skin and does not look Chinese is called a “gringo”. Whether you are Swedish, Australian or even, how ironic, Russian, you are a gringo. At the beginning when I first arrived in this country in 2008, this was a little disturbing to me. I am European, from a tiny country  called Belgium and I feel in no way related to the real so-called “gringos” from North America.

Belgium - Country of beer and chocolate
Belgium – Country of beer and chocolate

My English is pretty good due to the fact I enjoyed 15 years of British style total immersion in New Zealand where I lived and worked as a software consultant. However my native tongue is French, not English.

I tried many times to explain to Ecuadorians that Belgium is only 1000 km from Spain, and I add, to make sure that they understand, that this would be roughly equivalent to the distance  between Loja and Lima in Peru, and that consequently, if I am a gringo, then the Spanish are also gringos. Logical right? I use to spend holidays in Spain with my parents. Everybody goes to Spain. For us it is next door after France. In addition, there are many Spaniards who are whiter than me, so it cannot just be the skin color. They can also have blue eyes. Even Ecuadorians can have blue eyes. To no avail. I am a gringo and there is nothing that I can do about it. Better get used to it and make the most of it.

One key advantage I have on most real gringos, e.g. North Americans, is that I speak almost perfect Spanish now. Many times, Ecuadorians ask me if I am from Spain. This ability to speak Spanish helped me develop a wide circle of contacts in Loja and gave me the possibility to participate in TV and radio programs. This is how…

El “Gringo al SUR” was born.

This was a Ecuadorian’s good friend of mine’s idea: Ramiro Jimenez. He is the creator of a TV show on Ecotel TV in Loja and had the idea to create this character: a gringo not like any other gringo. A gringo that would appeal to an Ecuadorian audience and have something to say to an Ecuadorian audience about their own country. His nickname would be “Gringo al SUR” or shortly GAS. I am flattered that I was deemed suitable and qualified for that role.

Video Show - Canal Ecotel TV - Loja Ecuador
Video Show – Canal Ecotel TV – Loja Ecuador

In a few words this is the GAS character’s profile:

Gringo al SUR is an expat who embarks on a discovery trip around the Loja province and it numerous “pueblos”.

He likes talking to the people. He is very curious by nature and wants to know everything.  He is not scared of asking silly questions and make people laugh.

Locos de Loja

Gringo al SUR - Video Show - Canal Ecotel TV - Loja Ecuador
Gringo al SUR – Video Show – Canal Ecotel TV – Loja Ecuador

His ambition is to help the people living here rediscover the beauty of their own country and province, to show them things from the perspective of an outsider..

In Spanish the slogan would be “Vuelve a descubrir tu pais”.

Gringo al SUR - Vuleve a descubrir tu pais

Indeed, it struck me that many Ecuadorians underestimate their country because they don’t really know it that well and don’t realize how beautiful it really is. There is this slogan written at the back of the buses in Loja that says “if you haven’t been to Loja, you don’t know my country”. This is absolutely true. Loja deserves to be better known.

However the opposite is also true. Loja is only one part of Ecuador and the rest is also worth seeing. I slightly changed the slogan in order to tell the people from Loja to open up not only to the rest of Ecuador but also to the rest of the world.

If you haven’t been out of Loja, you don’t know my country

We produced 8 episodes of Gringo al SUR and they were aired on Ecotel in 2015. This was a unique opportunity to “go deep” and see remote places such as Chuquiribamba.

Gringpo al SUR in Chuqiribamba Loja Ecuador
Gringpo al SUR in Chuqiribamba

Many people in Loja still recognize me and ask about the show. Ecotel TV is no more and we wait for some new opportunity to resume our work.

Here is a video sample (in Spanish) of what happens to me all the time in the course of my normal activities in Loja.

Video - A message of positive attitude in Loja Ecuador

You can watch all the episodes on line HERE

At the boundary between two worlds

What is explained above is only one side of the Gringo al SUR, the side that Ecuadorians can relate to. The other side is that I am still and will forever be, an expat. I have spent far more years of my life in the first world than I have spent in the so-called third one (I have always wondered where the second might be !). So I understand what the first world mentality is. When I feel a bit down, when the third world gets at me, when I want to scream at Ecuadorian people “get off Facebook” or when I am confronted with the bigger than life Ecuadorian bureaucracy, I try to not forget why I walked away from the first world.

It is certainly not because I was living in a bad place. Here is a photo of my hometown Nelson in New Zealand. Not exactly a bad place.

Nelson in New Zealand
Nelson in New Zealand

However something is broken inside me. Or maybe not. A better way to look at it might be that since I left the first world I have now become more myself, the person I have always been. Ecuador has shaken me so much. I certainly feel that I am a better person now. There is something that contributed a lot to make me fit into that GAS role and it is that

I live with a woman from Loja

and we have a young girl together (3 1/2 at the time of this writing) while she has two of her own (boys, 11 and 9). She does not speak English and neither does our daughter nor her two boys . I know that I should do something about it but I keep postponing. For a start, English is not even my own language so why should I teach it to them? Some days when I watch American politics I think that Russian or Mandarin might be a far better choice for the future. And why not French? In the mean time we speak Spanish.

She helped me like no-one to understand what Ecuador is really about. She made me realize that most expats live in a bubble and frankly have no clue about this country. This does not mean that they don’t love it. It means that what they see is only the outer layer of the onion. Going deeper requires time and effort and a good knowledge of Spanish is absolutely indispensable. I also helped her to understand her own country better. This is because I often question things that she never really thought about. Why are people acting this or that way? may I ask her. The fact is that often she does not really know either although she was born here. So we talk, exchange ideas and it is an enriching experience for both of us.

A rich European Ecuadorian Blend
A rich European Ecuadorian Blend – She helped me like no-one to understand what Ecuador is really about

On the other hand I help her understand better how expats think. Thank to my near perfect Spanish I can converse with anybody about any topic. I realized that the gap between Ecuadorians and American expats is huge. There is NO WAY they will ever understand each other. This does not mean that things are bad. They will coexist peacefully just like tourists coexist peacefully with their hosts. Integration is another kettle of fish which is way out of reach for most.

In further write-ups, I will develop this important topic further and try to give concrete examples.


Living at the boundary between two worlds is a very exciting and nurturing experience. I can liaise equally well with the expats in Vilcabamba and Loja, speak their language and share their values (to a degree), as I can liaise with Ecuadorians of all ages and social status, speak their language and share their values (to a degree). After all if one wants to be friend with his car mechanic, one has to be able to crack a good car mechanic joke in Spanish, as simple as that !

Gringo al SUR - Living at the boundary between two worlds
Gringo al SUR – Living at the boundary between two worlds

Tags: Ecuador Loja Vilcabamba Culture Expat Gringo


Zaruma Ecuador- A gem not far from Loja (part 1)

Español AQUI NO es una traducción humana!

Part 1

Zaruma is a small city of approximately 22,000 people in the province of El Oro. For those who don’t know, the El Oro province is just next to the Loja province and is one part mountain (sierra) and one part coast. Machala is this province  main city and is on the coast whereas Zaruma is in the mountains.

How to get there

It is extremely easy to go to Zaruma from Loja. Everybody knows how to get to Catamayo which because it is where the airport is located. From Catamayo one needs to drive to San Pedro de la Bendita, then to El Cisne and finally to Portovelo/Zaruma

It takes about 4 hours from Catamayo to Zaruma however I recommend to allow more time because there is a lot to see in between.

Zaruma El Oro Map
How to get there : Loja -> Catamayo -> El Cisne -> Portovelo -> Zaruma

Zaruma in just a few words

For the impatient here is what Zaruma is all about:

  • a wonderful climate, warm just like Vilcabamba or even better with more water and greener vegetation (a bit like Zamora but not so humid)
  • stunning architectural landscape made out of traditional wooden houses and buildings
  • lovely relaxed atmosphere
  • friendly people
  • not expensive (unlike Vilcabamba)
  • not far from Loja, if you can go to Zamora and think it is not too far, then going to Zaruma will not look like the end of the world
  • food traditions and great coffee
  • gold, silver, copper and other minerals
Zaruma Ecuador- A gem not far from Loja
Zaruma Ecuador- A gem not far from Loja

On the way to Zaruma

The great thing about going to Zaruma is that the trip is really nice. Here below are a few photos that I took on the way

El Cisne

El Cisne Loja Ecuador

El Cisne Loja Ecuador

Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, if you saw what I saw, you’d have to admit that the display of faith that can be seen in el Cisne in September each year is something truly amazing. I was told that 1.5 million people visit the cathedral each year around that time. What can be seen on the right side of the first photo above is a line of parked buses. There are hundreds of them. People sleep anywhere they can, on the floor, they sell esteras (straw mats) to sleep on. Every single room or corner of a room is for rent. It is an unbelievable display and I was so lucky to drive through El Cisne just at the right time of the year

El Cisne Loja Ecuador

In the clouds

After El Cisne, we drive to Ambocas which is the boundary between the Loja province and the El Oro province. The road is unsealed for approx 30 km. I don’t understand why with such an important event taking place each year in El Cisne, they still haven’t managed to seal this important connection between the coast and Loja. Going from Loja to El Cisne is a breeze but going from Zaruma to El Cisne requires about 1 hour of unnecessary suffering on this 30 km long stretch of dirt road. The remaining part after that is perfect all the way to Zaruma.

Immediately after El Cisne you find yourself on high land with absolutely stunning views above the clouds that are close to impossible to convey with photos.


Views between El Cisne and Ambocas
Views between El Cisne and Ambocas

The peace and the silence are impressive. An eagle was flying above us and granted us enough time to take a good shot of him. In Spanish Eagle is “Aguila” hence the design below.

Aguila - Eagle

From there we drive though a few small villages like Santa Teresita and get to the end of the Loja province. We cross a bridge and we are in Ambocas.


In Ambocas there is a nice waterfall well worth visiting. It is only 15 minutes from the main road (5 minutes by car and then 10 minutes walk). There you can relax, have a picnic and take a dip. On week days it is deserted but on week-ends the place is quite popular, so beware !

Ambocas Waterfall

Ambocas Waterfall


From Ambocas, the road is very good again and in no time we get to Portovelo then shortly after to Zaruma.

Portovelo is nothing really special at first sight and we did not spend any time there. Zaruma is different. It has this “wow factor”. It is really pretty, quite stunning I would say.

Here is a view from the distance:

Zaruma El Oro Ecuador

As you can see, Zaruma is perched on a hill. It is actually quite steep, full of narrow streets, pedestrian steps etc… One has to keep fit to live in Zaruma !

In the distance on the left side of the photo above you can see “the dark side of Zaruma” as I would call it, the green looking ponds containing the effluents of the mining industry. Of course these ponds leak and they contaminate the aquifers. How serious is the problem I don’t know. I haven’t done any research but this is something that is mentioned on web sites (e.g.

Zaruma El Oro Ecuador

Zaruma Downtown

Wandering around downtown Zaruma is fantastic. The buildings, the clocks, the museums, the churches, the streets, the shops, the restaurants, the hotels everything is pretty. One could almost feel like being in Switzerland. Actually, one of Zaruma traditional dishes is called “Tigrillo”. It is quite a cheesy dish I must say, not as much as the Swiss Fondue but pretty close. So yes, Switzerland is not too bad a comparison.

Zaruma El Oro Ecuador - Parque Central
Zaruma Ecuador- A gem not far from Loja

Zaruma El Oro Ecuador

Zaruma El Oro Ecuador

Even the internet cafe is different, all wooden, all traditional, pretty.

Zaruma El Oro Ecuador


To be continued …


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