Sarah - Expat in Ecuador for over 25 years

I can vividly remember that day in 1984. I ran out to the mailbox and saw the letter I had been waiting weeks for ….my invitation to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer somewhere in the world. I tore open the envelope and read: My 2 year assignment was to be a rural public health nurse in Ecuador. I said to myself…”Hmm….Where exactly is Ecuador?” “ Well, two years…I guess I can handle anyplace for that long.” Little did I know this little envelope was to be the beginning of not only a two year experience, but a “rest of my life adventure?”

As most of you can recall, back just a few decades ago it was a bit more complicated to research a topic or a place. This being long before the days you could “Google” the answer, I pulled out an encyclopedia and read about this country I was about to travel to: ECUADOR….on the Equator, 4 regions, lodged between Colombia and Peru. The rest I had to learn for myself…….during 3 months of Peace Corps training, 2 years of work in a rural village in southern Loja and now 24 years of marriage to a wonderful Ecuadorian man with whom I have raised 3 great children. Even after almost three decades of living here, I still have so much more to learn about this amazing country and never cease to be amazed by its people, its beauty and its complex and diverse culture. 

Today with the internet it is much easier to research a country. Look for” Ecuador”,” retirement in Ecuador”, “the best places to retire overseas”…there are magazines, web sites, blogs, articles, newsletters……an incredible amount of information, opinions, perspectives on this country, now recognized as one of the best places in the world to retire.

Still….. There is only so much you can learn third hand and when I get asked questions about life here, I always tell people that the only way to know if moving to Ecuador would be a good decision for you is to come and find out for yourself. When I am asked where “the best place to live” is, again I say, come and check it out. The great thing about this tiny little country is that there is something for everyone…..cities, rural villages, the coast, mountains and Oriente each with their own climates, lifestyles and cultures.

Whoever has travelled and especially those who have lived in another country learn that they are never the same after such an experience….and this is especially true if you travel with a sense of awe and with the desire to learn and grow from your experience. If you travel or move to a country with the frame of mind of a tourist, you will watch from a far, see the sites and leave with a superficial idea of what that place is all about. Similarly if you move here simply for the climate and cost of living you may end up disappointed, isolated and frustrated, never appreciating or feeling a part of your newly adopted country and culture.

Though I have always loved showing off Ecuador to my family and friends, I never thought I would turn this into a part time business. It kind of came about by accident. My first exposure to the phenomenon of “Ecuador Retirement” was when I put up a rental apartment on Craig’s List and began to get inquiries and phone calls from people asking about all kinds of things about life here…..how to bring pets, where to live, what you can buy here etc etc. I ended up talking with people, counseling them and providing advice. It was obvious that many people’s ideas were based on a dream more than on reality and sound planning and that many had an idea that such a move would be easy and that it was a question of simply transplanting their US life and lifestyle abroad.

I teamed with my friends, Jonathan Hall and Susana Silva to design a project to provide information, cultural orientation, personal assistance and tours to those considering retirement in Ecuador. Thus EXPERIENCE ECUADOR began.


Ecuador Crash Course Tour…..a chance to show off Ecuador’s diversity and natural beauty, share our experiences (the good and the bad), provide a deeper perspective into Ecuador than can be gained by internet research or even a solo tour and to allow our travelers to gain the information and contacts they need to make a move here. We believe a move to Ecuador will be more successful if one is absolutely sure of their decision, has first learned the basics of the culture (and a little Spanish), and feels a connection with Ecuadorians and their country.

We call our tour an Ecuador Crash Course, to convey that we consider it a learning experience, not simply a tour. It is an opportunity to learn about what makes Ecuador distinctive and unique…its lifestyle, history, culture, heritage and its people. We do not try to “sell” Ecuador as a place to retire….but show you the country and help you interpret the culture, so you can make wise decision about relocation and start off with invaluable knowledge that will help make your experience successful.

If you would like to join our tours please CLICK HERE

Sarah Dettman on behalf of the

Experience Ecuador Team


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