For Americans, Ecuador is the easiest and cheapest place to travel (and even to retire) in South America

from VIVATROPICAL – – 7 of the top places U.S. Expats are living in

Ecuador is the only country in South America where its national currency is the US dollar

39,000 Americans Live in Ecuador.
Ecuador continuously battles nearby Panama for top billing as the world’s best place to retire.
In 2014 it lost by only .1 of a point, according to International Living’s annual survey.
Among the reasons for its consistently high scores are its unrivaled scenery and its extremely affordable cost of living.
A couple can live quite comfortably in most Ecuadorian cities on $1500 to $1800 per month, which includes housing and even luxuries like a part-time maid.
That same feat can be achieved elsewhere in Latin America, but it won’t come with the same quality of life.
Ecuador has historic colonial cities like Quito and Cuenca with their cathedrals and Spanish colonial architecture.
The weather in the mountains is pleasantly mild, and even on the coast the temperature rarely reaches 90 degrees.

August is the hottest month in Quito with an average temperature of 14°C (56°F) and the coldest is February at 13°C (55°F) – – not much difference throughout the year!
There are only really two obvious seasons in the city: dry and wet – – the dry season, summer, runs from June to September and the wet season, winter, is from October to May.

There’s good private health care, particularly in the large cities.
Infrastructure is also improving, with enhancements like a new airport just outside Quito and the widening of the Pan-American Highway.

The country’s economy is stable and growing.
The friendly and welcoming Ecuadorians are thriving, enjoying better lifestyles than previous generations.
(But, best of all is the fact that Ecuador’s national currency is the US dollar).
– – from VIVATROPICAL, 7 of the top places U.S. Expats are living in.


(Click to enlarge above – – popular US dollar coin widely used in Ecuador.
This dollar coin honors Sacagawea, Native American Shoshone guide of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
The image of the Native American resembles the indigenous people of Ecuador. The US dollar is the official currency in Ecuador, the only such country in South America.)

by Jim Wyss / Miami Herald
Mar 26, 2017 – –

QUITO, Ecuador — Busy selling fruits and vegetables on a recent weekday, Luzmila Mita dug into her apron and pulled out a fistful of coins embossed with the image of a Native American woman with a baby strapped to her back.

“I always thought she was one of us,” said Mita, as she looked at the image of Sacagawea, the 18th-century Shoshone woman who was part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. “It took me a long time to know she was from up there.”

“Up there” is the United States, where the U.S. Mint has been producing Sacagawea dollar coins since 2000. And even as the coins have lost their luster in the United States, they’ve been embraced in Ecuador, where they’re preferred over paper money.

On the streets of this small South American nation, which adopted the dollar in 2000, Sacagawea is ubiquitous — and something of a kindred spirit in a country where many have indigenous roots.

About 4,000 miles to the north, in rural Idaho on a recent Wednesday, Randy’L Teton was thrilled to find out that her face was so prominent in Ecuador.

In 1998, when she was still in college, Teton, a member of the Shoshone tribe, was asked by artist Glenna Goodacre to be the model for the young Sacagawea. (Teton still holds the title as the only living model for U.S. currency.)

When the coin was launched in 2000, she spent a year with the U.S. Mint touring the country trying to drive up interest in the coin and Sacagawea’s rich history. But the currency never took off. Vending machines spat them back; cashiers saw them as a hassle.

“American people prefer the dollar bill that they can fold and put into their pants pocket,” said Teton, 40. “Even my own community never really showed the support for (the coin) that it should have.”

Tom Carroll, the general manager of Coins and Valuables in Hollywood, said the dollar coins are thought of more as collectors’ items and keepsakes than walking-around cash.

“You don’t see the Sacagawea coins very often in circulation because dollar coins in general have never really worked out,” he said. “People just don’t respect them.”

But in Ecuador, it’s George Washington who’s spurned.

“Nobody wants to carry around dollar bills,” said David Maji, a taxi driver in Quito with an ashtray full of Sacagawea coins. “If I ever get a bill, I get rid of it as fast as I can.”

He said there was something about the weight of a coin that simply felt “more valuable.”

(Luzmila Mita holds American Sacagawea dollar coins in Quito, Ecuador – – Sacagawea, an 18th-century Shoshone tribeswoman, is seen as something of a kindred spirit in Ecuador….Jim Wyss/Miami Herald/TNS)

Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar 17 years ago amid an economic meltdown and hyper-devaluation that forced the country then to abandon its beloved Sucre currency.

And while the country does mint some of its own coins, dollars rule the day.

Byron Imbaqo, who works at the Rio Intag cafe in Quito, said he pulls in about $120 a day, but he only gets a paper dollar bill about once a week.

“Nobody wants those things,” he said, “because you think they might be fake.”

One U.S. tourist said he’d never seen the coin until he traveled to Ecuador.

Official figures don’t quite explain the phenomenon. The United States Mint has shipped approximately $149.1 million in dollar coins to Ecuador since 2002 — mostly Sacagawea dollars but also dollar coins from the U.S. presidency series. That means there would be about nine $1 coins per person in the country. By comparison, there are about 6.5 billion dollar coins circulating in the United States, or about 20 per person.

But with so many of the coins in the United States stashed away, hoarded and collected, they’re simply not visible on the street, Carroll said.

Teton has never been to Ecuador, but she said she would love the chance for a Native American from the north to visit Native Americans in the south.

“I would love to share the story of Sacagawea,” she said. “And if you’re telling me that Ecuadoreans are fully utilizing the coin, I’m just so glad someone is using it.”

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