An online article about leaving the US before “the collapse” has generated considerable buzz on Ecuador forums, since the writer claims to have lived in our country for two years. The guy is a survivalist who lives in a trailer and drives a pickup so he won’t “stand out.” He hoards food and supplies, and practices suturing wounds on chicken meat.
The gist of his message is that the grass isn’t necessarily greener, which is a perfectly valid personal conclusion, but several of his judgments about Latin American culture, and that of Ecuador in particular, deserve rebuttal.
First we should frame the author’s point of reference. He begins by stating that “one of the most common questions I'm asked today from people who are aware of what's really going on is, ‘Should I leave the USA to get away from the coming police state?’.” It’s safe to surmise this cat hangs with a very different crowd from most of us.
There is no mention of why the author lived in Ecuador or why he left, but the tone of his writing indicates that for whatever reason perhaps things didn’t work out for him here. Often people in this position choose to find fault with their former residence rather than examine their own flawed motives for going there in the first place.
The title of the article promises “words of wisdom,” yet the author exhibits a shallow understanding of and condescending attitude towards the local culture. For example, he cites as an example of the lack of “long-term preparedness thinking” that the “idea of buying large quantities of facial tissue at a Costco or Sam's Club is completely foreign to most South American cultures (more so in rural areas than urban).” Maybe for starters that’s because we don’t have Costco and Sam’s Club.
He ridicules the locals for purchasing one prescription pill at a time, or buying a few screws for a project when it’s obvious they will need more. The minimum wage in Ecuador is $260 per month. In many cases a small quantity is all a person can afford at one time.
Driving through the countryside you see homes everywhere in various stages of completion. Is this due to lack of planning? Absolutely not. A member of the family is most likely employed in the US. Each time extra money is sent home work is done on the new house until funds run out. These homes sit unfinished, sometimes for years, while a husband is far away trying to create a better life for his family.
And what about the people still farming the land by hand instead of buying a John Deere tractor? The author correctly points out that one such machine can do the work of 12 men. He fails to appreciate that in a country of high unemployment this strategy puts 11 men out of work.
Our large families come under attack, again for lack of planning. The author forgets that in an agrarian society more children equate to more help growing the crops needed for survival. And while having multiple children is blamed on the “cultural devaluing of the female,” no mention is made that Catholicism, which eschews birth control, is practiced by around 98% of the population.
Ecuador is a beautiful country filled with kind and loving people. We have an abundance of fresh food and water. Perhaps we are not as prepared as the author would like for a “collapse.” Perhaps we don’t need to be.
Is our country perfect? Of course not. There are political, social, and financial problems to solve here just like most every other place. But I’m damned proud to call Ecuador my home, so don’t pick on my fellow citizens to justify your extremist position, mister.