3. Why Ecuador?

I spent 13 years in Ecuador, from 1972 to 1985. I arrived at the age of 24 with $35 and no job. Over time, I got a job and made several attempts and building a business. Eventually I was successful.

One day in the late seventies, I was sitting outside in downtown Guayaquil drinking beers with Klaus Gyth, a good friend of mine. Two young boys were begging in the street. My friend said, "if we ever become successful, we've got to do something about this." We made that promise to each other. I've recently undergone a successful open heart surgery. I realize that keeping that promise is overdue. It's my intention to address this now.

Many people of goodwill were instrumental in my success. These included people who became my friends there and included people of all nationalities and backgrounds including Europeans and Ecuadorians. In 1985 I sold the business and moved to Germany with my wife, who was German. A year later we moved back to Southern California where I was raised and educated.

Ecuador is a small country in South America of some 17 million people. There is much available information online so we have no need to go into it here. For purposes of this discussion, the most interesting feature is the turbulent politics of the last 50 years. I'm personally familiar with the first 13 years of that period. While I was there there it had just struck oil, had two subsequent militarily dictatorships, populist democracy whose president died in a plane crash, moderate left wing president, military territorial dispute with rival Peru, real estate boom and bust, president who was conservative businessman. After I left, the chaos continued and I lost track of the details. It included among other things, a populist president whose signature accomplishment was the hit song "un loco enamorado" (lunatic in love) and who fled the country leaving it broke. Another conservative businessman/architect who was very well regarded. Another territorial dispute with Peru. Crash in value of local currency and replacement with the Dollar. After 20 years, this still stands! Throw in some failed coups, revolt by national police over pay, multiple prison riots with fatal consequences, multiple instances of media suppression, debt renegotiation, etc. I could go on, but this gives the gist. There are very positive things as well: e.g. Competent stewardship of priceless ecological resources including the Galápagos Islands and rain forests of the upper Amazon. Clearly its a very mixed bag with an abundance of good and bad elements. Almost anything is possible. Although Ecuadorians all seem to consider themselves Socialists, in particular cases, I would consider them to be mostly pragmatic and not particularly ideological.