2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


We don't need nor do we want a McDonald's or any other fast food franchises here in Cuenca.  We don't need nor do we want a pervasive invasion by American fast food corporations here in Ecuador.  We don't need nor do we want more junk food on the market, when we are living in one of the most, if not the most healthy food countries in the world.  Ecuadorians don't need to fill their arteries with faux fried and deep-fried foods filled with all kinds of chemicals and preservatives.  Ecuadorians are already growing heavier from the changes in their diet.  Just walk into Supermaxi or Coral and in the last two years that I have lived here, more aisle space is given over to candies, cookies, and especially chips and snack foods of all kinds. 

El Presidente and his congress placed high taxes on alcohol.  President Correa reasoned that a high consumption of alcohol by Ecuadorians was a serious health hazard, therefore, the high taxes were justified.  Here are some suggestions to the government both of Ecuador and of the city of Cuenca; because fast foods, processed foods, and junk foods are also a very serious hazard to Ecuadorian and expat’s health as well.   

First, keep the foreign fast food franchises out of the country.  Second, if the government won't do that, then don't allow exemptions from the 35% import tax, even if these foreign businesses are operating local franchises in Ecuador. Third, at a minimum, limit all fast food foreign franchises to the malls.  Do not allow them to grow into the neighborhoods.  Fourth, another suggested alternative would be to place high taxes on junk foods and fast foods, and in turn not exempt them from the 12 ½% I.V.A. tax as well.  Fifth, through education, instill within  the Ecuadorian people a strong national pride of the natural resources of wealth for which they have been truly blessed and their need to protect these resources.  Educate the people to just how serious to their health junk food is before it takes hold as a national cancer of ingrained habits. Fifth, too many young people in Ecuador smoke.  Smoking has seen dramatic drops over the years in the United States, because of the increased taxes that make smoking very expensive.  Why hasn’t the Ecuadorian government increased the taxes on smoking, as they have on alcohol?

The fast food franchises also become a threat to the small Ecuadorian owners as well.  Ecuador is one of the few countries that currently has a genuine free enterprise system, which certainly will not be found in today's United States. Economically speaking, the Ecuadorian individual family-owned chicken restaurants and the locally owned chicken franchises, for example, of healthy rotisseire chicken don't need the unfair competition of international conglomerates like Kentucky Fried Chicken, with its deep fried, crud-laden chicken that may be tasty, but screams body abuse with every bite.  There are many good places in Cuenca where excellent hamburgers can be purchased, the best hamburgers are not found in fast food franchises, and the same holds true in the United States as well.

Cuenca is changing too rapidly into another American entity.  Many of us gringos came here to experience a different culture, a different mind-set, and different ways of doing things, even if at times we find those differences to be challenging and frustrating.   If there are expats in Cuenca, who can't wait to see Cuenca become another boring American clone, where across the continent no matter where you visit the uniformity of life is stifling; if you are missing the fast food franchises, the malls, and the endless strip malls, then you need to go back permanently to the states to live, where you can enjoy the conformity of life as you knew it.  It won't matter if you live in Baltimore, Chicago, or San Francisco or any of their suburbs; it will all be the same and you will be contented.
If El Presidente and his national congress, and the city officials of Cuenca really care about the health of Cuencanos, they would say NO to these franchise invasions.  With a little ingenuity and a little less corruption by the money these corporations can use to buy into a foreign market these franchises wouldn't see the light of day in Ecuador.  An alternative way of providing for good health alternatives,  jobs, and more tax revenue in Ecuador can be found.  Why should an alternative way be easy to find, because politicians never have a problem finding ways to raise new revenues.  Some suggestions for consideration are listed above.

Hopefully, Ecuador can be a developing country that learns from the egregious mistakes of developed countries like the United States, and follow a saner path in the operation of its economy and in the provision of the well-being of its people.  Lung cancer, emphysema, obesity, adult on-set diabetes, coronary problems, and food-related allergy problems can also be prevented before they become the major problems they are in the states, and reduced as well in Ecuador from their current levels.  Can the government and the Ecuadorian people make the right choices, or will they like sheeple mindlessly do whatever comes out of Western commercialism no matter how detrimental to the well-being of the Ecuadorian people and therefore the country as well?  

Maybe there is too much optimism in this clarion call.  Maybe people the world over are too conditioned by the onslaught of advertising to hedonism and greed as they become increasingly affluent to make anything but bad choices.  Ecuador is one of the few places left in the world where their crown treasure of rich earth and uncontaminated food still reign.  Where a people who have not yet completely chosen to go down a road of crass materialism and narcissistic values, and without the sacrifice of the best in their traditional values and the best of who they are still have a chance to follow a better path.  Ideally,  Ecuadorians can still create an Ecuadorian definition of the “good life”, that synthesizes the best of traditional Ecuadorian values with those contemporary values which don’t suck the life and identity out  of the Ecuadorians, just to become another clone of their Norte Americano neighbors.  McDonald's is a symptom of sheeple making bad choices.  What the United States and the American character have become is sad.  For Ecuador to follow the same path is madness and insanity.


  1. Jim, Not that I don't agree with much of your post, but . . . From an Expat's point of view, let the Ecuadorians support the restaurant chain. As with many other things, it is their country! If we as Expats are repulsed by McDonalds opening in Cuenca - don't go there to eat. Their success or failure in Cuenca is left to the support from the locals.

    1. Jim is king of the world and wants to change the world. Go spend some time in Zermatt, Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris or London and try to impose your dislikes in those countries. Luckily, you can only bark from behind an electric fence (this blog) like an old pit bull without it's teeth.

  2. Kenny, in theory that sounds good. However, the big myth in America is that people are first and foremost logical beings, present them with the facts and they will make the "right" decision. The problem is that people are primarily psychological beings. They are raised in a particular culture and the cultural values with which they are conditioned have a far greater impact on the herd mentality of what people believe and how they live.

    Obviously, the big question is how far should government be allowed to go in that decision-making process? Some people would say the government should have no place in making such decisions. While some of these people can be very sincere in their libertarianism, the fact remains that many use this as an argument for other agendas: wanting to use illicit drugs without being hassled by the law, or wanting to condition people to bad choices for their own profit motives by the constant marketing repetition of psychological conditioning that feeds a herd mentality, "of everybody's doing it."

    The vast majority of individuals in any society and in Ecuador will not be able to withstand the cultural shift that these major conglomerates can cause with their billions available for marketing. As baby boomers we went down that road. Many of us not knowing any better. Today we can see the mistakes we made, know a great deal more about nutrition, the medical problems caused by bad food choices,and all the other problems caused by the encouraged hedonism that feeds the corporate coffers. The Ecuadorians don't have to make the same mistakes, but right now they lack the knowledge about what these conditioned choices have done to the health of people in the U.S., and what those choices will do to their own culture, and the sad fact of what kind of people they will become. McDonald's is only a symptom of the poison of the narcissism and greed of corportism in general,which puts impersonalization first, maximizes short-term profits at the expense of people, community, and any other values, and doesn't give a damn about how the cultural values of the people are destroyed, because the only value people have is as consumers, who feed the voracious appetites of the corporations.

  3. Jim - I enjoy your blog. I tried to email you but your yahoo email did not seem to work. I ma actually in Cuenca today 7/26.. I am a 53 year old attorney from Florida, and am here for a very short visit (we leave Sunday) with a couple f colleagues, and we were hoping to perhaps meet with an American ex-pat for a beer or drink, to get some suggestions and the lay of the land..

    If you see this and would be willing to meet for a drink, email me at jgriffith@petersonmyers.com .

    Buenos Dias


  4. John,

    Sorry I missed you. I would have enjoyed meeting with all of you. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of checking my comments section on a regular basis, so I'm just reading your comment. Also, I have been sick over the past week, so I would not have had the chance to meet with you anyway. I'm glad you brought my email to my attention. I was hacked big time a couple of months ago, and had to close out my account and completely change my email account to finally eradicate the problem. I forgot to change my email here on my blog site. I hope you enjoyed Cuenca. If you ever have the time, drop me a line about observations and experiences of Cuenca, and what brought you here. jmola777@gmail.com

    Best regards,


  5. Market penetration. You might try Antarctica.

    1. Dennis, I'm shocked. You mean McDonald's isn't already there? From what I read Monsanto supposedly is. Thank you for your comment.

    2. Ah, a "Monsanto" type. No, but the ice there is more than ever due to all the accumulated chemtrails. Too cold for crop circles so that's the only thing. Too cold for "GMOs" so there you go. Imbecile. Cuenca; this place really attracts the weirdos, liberals from CA and conspiratorialists. Glad I only have five more months here. Like somewhere old people can't sit for more than an hour on a bus. So at least 80 miles or more from..."you people." Nuts.

  6. Nice post, I bookmark your blog because I found very good information on your blog, Thanks for sharing more informatiom

  7. Jim,
    I am an Ecuadorian and use to live in the US also. One thing I learned as I lived in the US is that people that live in a free country can choose what you want or you don't. Many Cuencanos have been waiting for so long for McDonalds and I don't think is your right as a guest in our culture to tell us what is best or not for us. Please leave it to us to decide and just enjoy the freedoms we still have in Ecuador


    1. Jim is the kind of guy who will moan about a McDonalds but complain that the taxi costs him $1.50 or complain that the servers in the mercados (probably never been in one) don't speak English. All American ExFats come to Cuenca and want to change it. Jim is the kind of guy that comes here and hits on all the 19 and under types. Oh, and wears his Everest expedition sized backpack on his front.

  8. Fernando,

    Thank you for your comment, responses are always welcomed and encouraged even when they disagree with my perspective, which is one of the stated objectives of my blog.

    I have already written thoroughly about my position on the topic. if you read the post as well as the responses to various comments, I have nothing new to add to the discussion, and besides for better or for worse you have your McDonald's.

    However, I will take issue to a specific comment you made. concerning that I am a guest in your country and therefore have no right to express an opinion. First, I am not a guest. I am a legal resident of Ecuador. Second, I anticipate that next August, I will become a citizen of Ecuador. Third, maybe you are not aware that legal residents in Ecuador are allowed to legally vote in national and I would assume local elections. Obviously, the government thinks that legal resident expats have a right to express an opinion and a vote. Finally, you say you lived in the United States. Well then, you know that both legal immigrants as well as the eleven million plus illegal immigrants in the U.S. do not fail to continually attempt to influence American government policies to their liking, even to the point of numerous mass demonstrations.

    Oh, and flocking to whatever mass marketing influences people in any country are conditioned is not freedom. It's just another form of mass consumer slavery. If you truly want excellent hamburgers, which granted just finding something better than a mediocre hamburger in most Ecuadorian restaurants is diifficult, May I suggest that you try California Kitchen or Inca Bar among others.

    1. Since this article first appeared. An Ecuadorian owned business opened up just down the block from the McDonald's across from Parque Madre. It is called "Chill and Grill". It serves at least fifteen varieties of meaty hamburgers. Many of them with an international flair. You get much more for your money than at McDonald's. Guess which one is absolutely packed during the lunch hours? It's not Mickey D's.

  9. Great read – there must be thousands of people who would like to travel around the world. I took a year out 9 years ago and met my wife. The trip changed my life for sure and quiet a few of the people I met still keep in contact. Online Travel Agencies

  10. Well, I see I have three comments by Dennis A. All on April Fool’s Day. I don’t know if Dennis’ comments are an April Fool’s joke for which I need not respond. Or simply a fool writing in April for which I choose to respond. I am disappointed in you, Dennis, because of your total lack of courage to use your full name, if Dennis is in fact your first name. Of course, after your mean-spirited comments, if I were you, I also would be ashamed and embarrassed to use my real name and would also choose to hide behind anonymity—the refuge of cowards.

    I allowed your comments to remain on the blog post, Dennis, because anyone who reads them and is not mentally and emotionally deranged will procure quite an insight into the kind of person that you are. Your comments speak volumes about your character and the lack thereof. I don’t know whether your diatribe of venom and vitriol is due to a hard-core ideology, which places ideologues like you in highly psychological vulnerability when someone even indirectly attacks your calcified world view; or whether you, whoever you are, have a personal vendetta against me, since your rants are totally devoid of rational thought and consist of nothing but ad hominem attacks. A third possibility is that you are a McDonald’s share-holder, and you have seen your dividends shrink and your stock devalued. Same store sales in the U.S. are not doing well. McDonald’s has been shut out of Bolivia, and has been forced by a lack of sales to close over one-hundred restaurants in a Japanese market that was one of McDonald’s early international successes.

    I have not come to Cuenca or to Ecuador to change it. McDonald’s menu amplifies the world–wide obesity epidemic, and therefore, it has come to Ecuador to change Ecuador. The change comes through McDonald’s overall unhealthy meals of which they obviously do not stand alone. The change comes through the invasion by international conglomerates like McDonald’s, which will do as much directly or indirectly to undermine the sovereignty of small countries like Ecuador as clearly as would Ecuador’s domination by world powers like the United States or China would do. No Dennis, I would just like to contribute a voice to the preservation of what I see as some of the best of Ecuadorian culture.

    For the record, Dennis, your assumptions and caricatures about me not only did not hit the bulls-eye, but also did not come remotely close to hitting the target. You created a straw-man, Dennis, from your own deranged mind—a phantom from which you can project your inner demons. Dennis, if you would sign your real name, I am sure that 95% of the expats in Cuenca would love to facilitate your departure from Ecuador as soon as possible. Since you can’t wait to leave, you will not be missed in Cuenca with your characterization of me and of expats. For your information, the expat community, unbeknown to you, represents a full spectrum of political views. Go back to the United States where you can do your bullying in trying to silence anyone who expresses a view you don’t like.

    Dennis, before you criticize my writing ability, you should learn to express yourself without punctuation errors, run-on sentences, and comments lacking conciseness and coherence. Practice what you preach. I am sorry that I don’t express myself in bumper sticker slogans with which you may be able to read and identify. Unfortunately for you, Dennis, some of us are capable of reading compound sentence structures. It’s been real, Dennis. Adios!

  11. Comment Part I

    In a series of headlines that would pass as virtually unbelievable several years ago, mainstream economists are sounding the alarm over the financial decline of both fast food giant McDonald’s and biotech juggernaut Monsanto.

    CNN asks, ‘Is McDonald’s doomed?’ Business Insider declares that ‘McDonald’s Is Losing America’ as the company fires its own CEO. What’s happening? As it turns out, the world is starting to ask what they’re truly eating in their food — and the new conglomerate of natural grocers and restaurants are trailblazing the way into an entirely new economic environment. In other words: people are simply tired of shoveling garbage into their bodies, and they’re not going to put up with it anymore.

    Here’s just a few of the ingredients you can find in many fast food meals:

    - Dimethylpolysiloxane – A chemical known for its use in silicone breast implants, silly putty, and also… chicken nuggets

    - Propylene glycol – A laxative chemical and electronic cigarette filler that even e-cigarette companies are beginning to phase out

    - Azodicarbonamide – A chemical used in the creation of foamed plastic items like yoga mats

    So are you surprised to find that many are turning away from fast food leaders like McDonald’s?

    Nations around the world are already rejecting the ensemble of artificial ingredients included in many staple McDonald’s meal options. Back in 2013, their attempts to expand operations in Bolivia were completely shut down by the reality that the Bolivian citizens were not willing to purchase their fast food creations. As reported back in July of 2013:

    “McDonald’s restaurants operated in Bolivia for 14 years, according to "Hispanically Speaking". In 2002, they had to shutter their final remaining 8 stores because they simply couldn’t turn a profit—and if you know fast food companies, you know it’s not because they didn’t try.

  12. Comment Part II

    The Golden Arches sunk plenty of money into marketing and campaigning—trying to get the food-loving Bolivians to warm to their French fries and burgers, but it simply wasn’t happening.”
    And they’re absolutely still trying to become ‘relevant’ again in the United States, as natural food giants like Whole Foods are able to offer a medley of organic-based options for the same price of a Happy Meal with extra fries. Even CNN Money admits that with public knowledge expanding over these meal options, McDonald’s is fighting to stay relevant. Paul R. La Monica, reporting for the CNN Money column, writes:

    “Are the meals no longer as happy for McDonald’s customers as they used to be? The fast food giant definitely seems worried.

    McDonald’s (MCD) reported lackluster quarterly results last week. And company executives used the words “relevance,” “relevant” and “relevancy” a combined 20 times during its conference call with analysts. Translation: the leaders of the Golden Arches are very concerned about whether the company is still relevant.

    If you look at the expected growth rates for Mickey D’s biggest burger rivals — as well as upstarts in the so-called fast casual restaurant chain industry — I’d be “Grimace”-ing too. (Sorry. But I miss that purple blob!)”
    From Super Bowl commercials to mega marketing campaigns, McDonald’s is shoveling cash into their PR machine — something they have in common with GMO juggernaut Monsanto. Another company that is facing a financial loss amid increased awareness and international import issues. As the Associated Press article ‘Monsanto Loses $156 Million in Fiscal Fourth Quarter’ explains, the multinational corporation has entered a very unique loss period that spells out a lot about the future of its GMO technology:

    “Monsanto #$%$ Wednesday reported a loss of $156 million in its fiscal fourth quarter.

    The St. Louis-based company said it had a loss of 31 cents per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 27 cents per share.

    The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 24 cents per share.”
    The news comes as Monsanto continues to spend millions in attempts to stop GMO labeling campaigns around the nation, funding opposition groups and ensuring that you don’t know what’s in your food. After all, there’s a reason that 96% of Monsanto shareholders absolutely do not want GMO labeling legislation to pass within the US — it could hurt business.

    As information continues to spread on key issues like the prevalence of toxic substances within fast food meals and the reality behind GMOs and their secrecy, there is no doubt that these two companies (and many others) will experience the economic backlash. Will they change in order to meet the new economic shift?