Why would you go to South America?
When I had decided, at the ripe old age of 21, to move to Ecuador, S. America, a lot of people in my tranquil suburb of Wisconsin could not understand my desire to move away, especially to a developing country. What can I say? What DID I say? The more people responded negatively to my idea to go, the more I stubbornly dug my heels in and made it happen. Which says a lot about how I live my life, I guess.
I don't regret it, even the bad experiences I had, because the good far outweighed those times. It is a spectacularly beautiful country with three distinct regions, the mountains (as in the Andes), the coast, and the rainforest. There is a large indigenous population that speak the Quechua language, but Spanish is the principal one spoken. It is a relatively safe country to visit, although the biggest concern is pickpocketing, but if you use common sense you will not have a problem. I actually saw tourists wandering around with money hanging out of their pockets- HELLO!
Poverty is prevalent, but the land is very productive, and a diet of rice and beans keep the people well nourished. The country exports bananas and roses, amongst other things, and you can find all kinds of fruits and vegetables in the open air markets. When I visited last, seven years ago, the average monthly salary was $120! But food, utilities, and gas were cheap. Plus with public transportation everywhere you don't need a car.
Along with the good, comes the bad. When I lived there 19 years ago, a man, Colombian born, had been captured after allegedly raping and killing 300 women, beginning in Colombia and then in Ecuador. The longest prison sentence in Ecuador is 18 years, no matter what you do, but justice has a way of working it's way around, and the man was murdered by relatives' of the victims. This news was ironic to me because I moved to Ecuador from the Milwaukee area around the time of Jeffrey Dahmer, and everyone in Ecuador knew of him. But did we ever hear of their serial killer, who killed approx. 300? vs. 17 from Dahmer?
Okay, I'm going to lighten up this post with a funny story. On Mondays I work out at the local gym in a core strengthening class and was behind a cute little blond with a perfect body. I consoled myself with the fact that she had a little gut hanging out until the instructor announced at the end of the class that she was pregnant. I should be depressed but I'm too busy laughing about it!
Last but not least, I'm fostering the world's CUTEST kittens for the shelter. There are four of them, but here are pictures of two.