Disabled in Ecuador

Every now and then I receive an email asking how a disabled person, especially if wheelchair bound, can live in Ecuador.  So I went searching and found a beautiful couple living in Ecuador who are happy to share their experience with my readers.

Disabled Travelers Guide is a fantastic inspirational website set up by Nate and Nancy.  Part of their journey has been living in Ecuador and I am happy to have their permission to share this story with you.

Disabled Travelers Guide
by Nate and Nancy

Twenty six years ago when she was just 46, Nancy and I were living a the dream life. Kids out of college, mortgage nearly paid off, no outstanding bills. It was great. Then, literally overnight, our lives were ripped apart and changed forever.

Returning from a friend's house one evening. I parked in our driveway, came around to help my wife out of the car, and she remarked she was dizzy and had trouble walking into the house.

She was a bit frightened, but it was quite late so I told her we should go to bed. If things were no better in the morning, we would go to the hospital near our home and have things checked out.

Next morning she was not much better, so we had a little bite to eat, then got into the car and drove the three miles to the hospital. I parked in the emergency room parking area, and, as I had the night before, got out of the car and came around to get my wife out.

We started to walk the 50 or so feet from the car to the ER entrance when she simply collapsed into my arms. I literally dragged her the remaining distance to the emergency room.

Everyone could see she was in bad shape, so they took her directly into the treatment area. While I filled out the insurance forms and everything else, they began to test her to see what was wrong. Nothing certain showed up on any of their tests. She was admitted into the hospital to undergo further testing.

A few days later, while we were visiting together in her hospital room, I noticed her right hand begin to curl into a fist, and her speech became slightly slurred. I realized she was having a stroke. And over the course of the next few days, she would have several more strokes, 5 in all, involving the blockage of major arteries on both sides of her brain. It was rather "touch and go" for a few days.

Survival rates for multiple strokes are gloomy. She was in such a bad way I stayed over at the hospital because, to tell the truth, I was not sure she would make it through some of those nights.

I recall once, when things were really going badly, I prayed my heart out. "Lord, I said, "if you let her live, I will see to it that she has everything she wants from here on, and I will do everything I can to make the rest of her life as peaceful, happy, content, and fulfilling as is humanly possible."

The Lord was listening, and thankfully Nancy survived. So I set upon keeping my promise.

Given the choice of doing anything she wants to do, Nancy likes most to travel and she especially likes to be around animals. And that is how it has come to pass since that time to this, we have traveled the world, been on all 7 continents, and in more countries than I can name without a World Atlas.

Before we could do any of that, however, there was much work to be done, as she was severely limited in all respects, and far from "normal". She still had some use of her left hand, could walk a little, but had been left with the thinking and reasoning ability of a three-year-old child. It was clear to me we would have to start from scratch.

The above is only part of Nate and Nancy's story.  Nate is a loving devoted husband to his wife Nancy, who by the way he calls "Queen of the Disabled Travelers" and I encourage you to read more of this beautiful story CLICK HERE.  In the meantime below is part of their journey into Ecuador.

Living in Ecuador

This chapter is different from all the others on our site because we live in Ecuador, "commuting" back and forth to the United States several times a year. One of the reasons we have chosen this place is the natural beauty of the country, whose capitol, Quito, is surrounded by a string of nine volcanoes. 

We first visited Ecuador early in 2008. I had been searching for a place where Nancy and I could continue to travel abroad, but with less stress and strain. Getting older has begun to make some of our more adventuresome travels harder.

For us, living on the East Coast of the United States, travel to Quito is easy because it is "vertical", rather than "horizontal" to get there. A single transfer in Panama or Miami is not too taxing. Except when the States go on Daylight Savings Time, we are in the same time zone, which eliminates jet lag. At at 8 hours airport to airport, we can do the trip in one day and not have to spend the next three or four days recuperating.

Standards of living are quite high- the cost of living is very affordable. Food, gasoline, medical expenses, and housing, are very reasonable, though prices for everything have become somewhat higher than just a few years ago. 

Because of our special needs situation, we decided we would be best off living near a modern city, close to a good international airport and modern, Western-type medical facilities. The Ecuadorian consulate and ambassador in DC both immediately recommended Cumbaya, a suburb of Quito, located about 25 minutes drive from the old main airport- a little further from the new airport.

We quickly discovered you need someone familiar with the country to help you through the "minefield" that can overwhelm someone who is an obvious "outsider" in the land. You really need someone you can trust who has only YOUR best interests at heart.

We bought our place when it was about 80% completed. We were able to make some major structural modifications to suit our needs (for some additional expense), and have been extremely pleased with the results. On the day we moved in, I took this photo:

There is a small municipal park right behind us that has trees that flower several times a year. The trees are now mature, and full of birds all year around.

Beside the obvious economic considerations, there is so much to love about Ecuador! The temperatures are never harsh, and vary depending on where you are in the country, so you can virtually pick the type of weather you want to suit your needs. Where we live, in Cumbaya, daytime temperatures average around 78-82 degrees daytime, 56-58 degrees at night. A little warmer in "Summer"; a little cooler in "Winter". Never really "too hot" or "too cold".

There is an almost endless variety of activity to go with the varied natural beauty.


If you have read this far I am sure you would like to read more and I ask they you visit the Ecuador page on Nate and Nancy's website Disabled Travelers Guide and I am sure you will find lots of answers to those unanswered questions.  And should you not then I am almost certain Nate will be happy to answer them for you.  Thank you so very much Nate and Nancy for sharing your wonderful experiences and I wish to you both the very best for the future.


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