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Culture Shock in Canada: Our Visit Home (Is Culture Shock Good for You?)

Posted in: Our Perspective, Our Travels

Is it possible to have culture shock where you grew up? After two years in Ecuador, we took a trip back to Canada. And we were surprised to experience culture shock.


Culture Shock in Canada: Is Culture Shock Good for You?

A Surprise Trip Home

After living in Ecuador without returning to Canada for two years, we had no plans for a visit back, but there we were in Canada!

We had been living in Ecuador for two years on a temporary visa, but were in the midst of trying to get residency.  Just as we began the application process, the Ecuadorian government started changing some of the laws relating to residency.

They were trying to crack down on some fraudulent practices that had been slipping under the wire.  The changes would make things better in the long run, but it was just adding up to some extra headaches for us law abiding types.  The trip back to Canada seemed like one very expensive headache but proved to be just the opposite.


Paperwork is very important in Ecuador.  The emphasis on paperwork is very heavy, especially for anything like visa applications or getting a driver’s license.

You have to have the original of everything and then get multiple copies signed by different people, legalized, notarized, in color, in black and white, and then translated and copied and signed all over again.

Paperwork is what pushed us on the plane back to Canada.  Our temporary visa was running out, so we didn’t have enough time to wait on the postal system for the police report we needed to complete our application for residency.

It would have taken a couple of months by mail, but we could get it done in a couple of weeks in person.  We didn’t have months left on our visa, so we packed up and left for Canada as soon as we found out we needed the paperwork.  We felt a little like we were in the TV program The Amazing Race, except we already had the jackpot and were fighting not to lose it.


Aylesford Lake, Nova Scotia

A Bitter, But Sweet Reality

We were all grumbling about having to leave Ecuador, we like it so much.  The expense and the time away made us feel tired before we even set out for the trip.

It’s interesting that a forced trip can feel so different than a planned one, even when the destination is the same.  Needless to say it was not a planned trip, but we soon realized how much we needed it.

The trip came upon us so fast, we didn’t have much time to think about how awesome it was going to be to see all of our family and friends again.    There was something very soothing and rejuvenating about seeing everyone again.  Not much had changed, and after going through so many changes ourselves over the past two years, going back to “normal” was very good for us.

It’s funny how we didn’t really take note of our own culture until we had experienced extended time away from it.  Because of the trip we had a new aspect to add to the list of the benefits of living abroad, realizing how good it feels to visit back home.

We feel like we now have two homes.  A friend of mine said recently “when I’m in Ecuador I call the U.S.A home, and when I’m in the U.S.A, I call Ecuador home.”  That’s true of us for Canada as well.


English Books! Chapters Bayers Lake, Nova Scotia

Culture Shock in Canada

Although we didn’t know it of each other at the time, when we landed in Canada and felt the normality sinking back in, Bryan and I were worried about how we would feel about returning to Ecuador.

It was so easy to communicate “English!”  We were enjoying blending in (we get stared at a lot in Ecuador) and the extremely polite driving habits!  It all felt so good, and so easy!

Here are a few of the things we missed from home (Canada home):

  1. Ice cream at the petting zoo
  2. Fun at the local farms
  3. Swimming at the lake
  4. Fishing at the shore
  5. The Halifax Waterfront
  6. Fish and chips (the way they do it in N.S.)
  7. Cows Ice Cream (said to be among the best in the world)
  8. Warm blueberry pie with ice cream
  9. Watching the tide come in and go out (Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world)
  10. Time with the family
  11. Time with forever friends
  12. Feeling relaxed while driving
  13. Lobster
  14. Feeling relaxed while crossing the street
  15. High bush blueberries
  16. Feeling relaxed while communicating
  17. Blending in
  18. Hanging out at Chapters (we love the places books take us, and everything is better with coffee)

The tide is out in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia side

Why We Miss the Halifax Waterfront in Nova Scotia

On a sunny day in Summer one of our favorite places to spend the day is the Halifax Waterfront.  It’s a great place to get a good dose of our maritime culture.

The boardwalk is always a buzz with locals and tourists on the weekend when the weather is clear.  There is lots to do there, some of our favorite things are, getting fish and chips then grabbing some Cows ice cream and checking out some artisan shops.

Imagine the smell of salt air mixed with cotton candy and seafood. A couple of weeks ago some Ecuadorian friends cooked something similar to this – fish coated in shredded green plantain and deep fried (corviche) – it was the closest thing we’ve had to fish and chips since we’ve been in Ecuador and it was amazing!

Depending on where you eat it, sometimes the batter has beer or other secret ingredients mixed in to enhance the flavor.  I’ve never cooked battered fish so I don’t know much about getting it just right.  From the experience I have eating it, some people have got the knack for preparing it, and some don’t.

There is a little shack (The Battered Fish – only in Canada do fish and chip stands have their own web site…) along the boardwalk on the Halifax Waterfront where we like to go for really good fish and chips.  There are picnic tables out back where we sit and take in the sights while enjoying our meal.

I like to spread a coating of tarter sauce over the surface of the fish batter, and then drizzle ketchup in squiggly designs all over the tarter sauce.  Believe it or not I can still taste the fish and batter under all of that, and it’s perfect.  The french fries (chips) added as a side to the battered fish make for a bit of a greasy meal, which may not be the healthiest dish in the world, but so worth it!

If you ever visit Halifax in the summertime – you have to try a basket.


Canada’s Best Ice Cream: Cows Ice Cream


Cows Ice Cream is one of our favorite treats while visiting back home in Canada.  It’s said to be among the best ice cream in the world.  It is definitely among the best I’ve ever tasted! Reader’s Digest Magazine voted it the best ice cream in Canada!

The branding that Cows has established is rather bizarre.  They have taken a dairy cow and turned it into everything from a Star Wars character to a Justin Bieber impersonator.  It’s very interesting to walk around the souvenir shop and talk about all the cheeky things they’ve created with their brand.  We found it surprisingly entertaining.

Whenever we stop in for some ice cream on the Halifax waterfront, there is always a line up out the door and down the boardwalk beside the building.  The ice cream is more expensive than most, but that does not seem to stop people from enjoying it, it may even add to it’s popularity.  We took some pictures of the branded products, and the ice cream that keeps it all going.

cows-ice-cream-3-cones best-ice-cream-cows-halifax-store best-ice-cream-cows-halifax-storefront cows-ice-cream-busy-serving-counter cows-ice-cream-being-served cows-ice-cream-todays-flavors

YouTube becomes MooTube

YouTube becomes MooTube

MarioKart becomes MoorioKart

MarioKart becomes MoorioKart

Star Wars becomes Cow Wars: A long time ago in a pasture far, far away…

Star Wars becomes Cow Wars

Gift store where they sell all the moochandise (sorry, couldn’t resist).


Cows Ice Cream had a pretty neat sign in their window. We had lots of time to read it – the line was so long…. They even had 4 people serving and they still couldn’t keep up – and it was a weekday.

The Sign Reads: World Best Ice Cream

Tauck World Discovery, a company that offers tours in 63 countries, asked its staff around the world for the inside scoop on the best places to eat ice cream. Its Top 10 list:

  1. COWS (Prince Edward Island)
  2. Gelateria Perche No! (Florence Italy)
  3. Tip Top Ice Cream (New Zealand)
  4. Kula Lodge (Maui, Hawaii)
  5. Freddo (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  6. Gelateria di Piazza (San Gimignano, Italy)
  7. Hot Licks Homemade Ice Cream (Fairbanks, Alaska)
  8. Glacier Berthillon (Ile de St. Louis, Paris)
  9. Las Iguanas (Boca de Arenal, Costa Rica)
  10. Ben & Jerry’s (Waterbury, Vermont)

There is also a Buskers Festival on the Waterfront every summer.  When we lived in N.S. we would make the trip to the city at least once during the busker festival to take in the sights.  Buskers are basically professional circus type entertainers preforming on the street, or in this case the boardwalk.

We would see everything from amazing trampoline performances, to a contortionist who could squeeze his entire body through a toilet seat.  There were also really talented face painters, a rock climbing wall and a trampoline bungee cord type ride to try out.  Some of the acts are a bit off color at times, so we had to be a bit choosy which ones to take in.

All the acts are on a donation basis and admission is paid at the end, so it’s easy to pick and choose with ones to spend time at.


One year for our anniversary we took a sailboat tour of the harbor from the board walk.  It was really beautiful and we’re reminded of it each time we visit the boardwalk.  It’s an easy place to make nice memories.

Seeing the boats, ships, seagulls, sparkling saltwater, people and everything else that goes with that atmosphere is definitely one of our favorite things to do in Nova Scotia.


How Our Feelings Changed

Our feelings began to shift about a week and a half into our visit back.  We started talking about how much we missed Ecuador!  That’s when we found out the secret fears we had each been having just after arriving in Canada.

I guess the fact that we both expressed this to each other, and how we were both look forward to getting back to Ecuador, was a true reflection of how we felt about our Ecuador home.  Which felt pretty good, considering we were fighting so hard to get residency 🙂

Why Culture Shock is Good for You

why culture shock is good for you

Are you concerned about culture shock? Some new expats think that it won’t affect them. Others make their move, prepared to handle it.

In this post, you’ll learn about common culture shock factors, the six stages of culture shock, and six ways to handle it. And, most importantly, why culture shock is good for you.

What is Culture Shock?

The term culture shock describes the effect of moving from a familiar culture to an unfamiliar one.

What can contribute to culture shock? Here are some of the common factors:

  • Climate
  • Food
  • Language
  • Dress
  • Values
  • Etiquette and behaviour
  • Prices

6 Stages of Culture Shock

  1. Trip Planning: This first stage is generally full of excitement as you plan your trip / move.
  2. Initial Euphoria: Sometimes called the “honeymoon stage” this begins when you first arrive in your new country and ends when the realities of life begin to sink in. At first, everything seems rosy – even perfect.
  3. Irritability: This is the stage that sometimes gets the better of expats. The frustration of “how they do things” can quickly take the shine off your relocation. This can be made worse by the inability to communicate in the local language. Unrealistic expectations only make this worse.
  4. Gradual Adjustment: With some patience, you can learn to adjust. As the local ways become familiar, you can learn how you should act and how to get things done. This usually happens in stages.
  5. Adaptation: As you learn how to function in the new culture, you’ll hopefully come to feel part of it.
  6. Re-entry Phase: Sometimes this is planned – other times a return home can be unexpected. Either way, you’ll probably realize that you have become a different person. Most expats have found that their time abroad has matured and inspired them. We were affected by reverse culture shock when we landed back in Canada earlier this year.

Below the infographic, find six suggestions for getting over a rough landing.

Why Culture Shock is Good for You [Infographic]

culture shock is good for you

Infographic source.

6 Ways to Handle Culture Shock

There is a huge set of Culture Shock country guides that will help you understand the nuances of your new home. While most of what these books say can be helpful, they can quickly go from observing the cultural differences to judging them.

  1. Stay Grounded: Realize that culture shock is normal. Most people deal with it, in varying degrees.
  2. Eat Comfort Food: Prepare some of your favorite foods from home – or maybe a variation based on what’s available locally.
  3. Get Active: Exercise will lift your mood, get your outside and improve your perspective. Look into joining local activity groups – sports or exercise. Consider learning a new sport.
  4. Stay Connected: Take the time to connect with friends and family. It will help with the transition and give you someone to share your progress with.
  5. Challenge Yourself: Set daily goals such as interacting with a new person each day. Or set the goal to learn a new word. Language learning is a critical step in adapting in your new home.
  6. Find a Guide: Find someone to help you learn the language and culture. You might find help online (forums or Facebook groups) or in person once you arrive.

Why Culture Shock is Good For You

So, how is culture shock good for you?

Culture shock means you’re growing. Breaking out of the familiar can be uncomfortable. But that is one of the best ways to grow as a person. When you understand what causes culture shock, and how to handle it, you’ll see that it really isn’t that bad.

Hang on and ride it out. You’ll be a stronger, more mature person on the other side.

Your Turn

How have you coped with culture shock? What are you dealing with right now? Please join the conversation below!

Please comment on this post and let us know what you miss from home while you’re traveling or living abroad.

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Meet the Author

Dena Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. She is a travel blogger and content marketer. She is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

63 comments… add one
  • Rey Waters Jul 5, 2016, 4:47 am

    Thanks for your story about returning home. I have been living in Japan for three years and will be making a trip back to the U.S. in September. After I became a resident of Yokohama I really had no desire to go back to the states. My wonderful Japanese wife thought it would be good for me to visit my 94 year mom and my children. Since we use facetime often, I really did not see a reason for going. But after reading about your trip back to Canada, I realize it will be good for all of us. I think the States have changed much more than perhaps Canada and I am a little nervous about that. Anyway, I will look forward to seeing the family, yes eating some of that food we can’t get here, and of course returning to my home in Japan.

  • Max Jun 21, 2015, 9:42 pm

    Hi Dena,
    I went back to Toronto for a couple of weeks and also enjoyed the trip but was glad to be back in Banos. The things I missed in Toronto was the ease in getting take out food delivered i.e. ordering pizza and chicken wings at midnight and having them dropped at the door. Also miss BBQ ribs at Montana’s. Toronto’s pretty flat as you know so getting back to the mountains I love in Ecuador couldn’t happen fast enough for me. 🙂
    Hey, I hope Bryan is getting better and that you and your family will get to return one day.
    Take care

  • angelique Apr 29, 2015, 11:56 am

    i’m a french girl and i will go to equator from september with all my family for 11 month to be a french assistant in a university.
    (sorry for my bad bad english…)
    Estoy de acuerdo con usted cuando dice uno se puede sentir en casa en ambos lado. Por ahora no sé si me faltara mi pais, tampoco sé si me acostumbraré a Ecuador. Estoy un poco nerviosa
    Have a good day and continue like that i adore your blog

  • Rey Waters Aug 12, 2014, 1:34 am

    I returned to the states back in June and as this article mentioned there were things I missed about home. Mainly, our family and a few things like Jersey corn and Jersey tomatoes. After a few days each in Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey we were both ready to come back to our home in Japan. In between the Southeast and New Jersey we did a nice trip to Chile and Uruguay. I too didn’t know how I would feel going back to the states and I am glad we did, but wow what a change from our daily routine that we love so much here in Japan.

  • Jay May 16, 2012, 1:47 am

    I don’t often have a strong need to visit Canada often but as soon as I land I revel in familiarity. I normally stop in Toronto and the second I set foot in the airport I notice how clean and organised it is, how friendly the customs/immigration agents are and just how much I missed ‘home.’ Usually as the trip comes to an end, I’m ready to go but I’m happy that I always feel a bit of joy when landing in Canada – shows what a good country we come from!

    • Bryan Haines May 16, 2012, 6:52 am

      When we landed in Halifax, after having been gone for more than two years, there was this weird relaxed feeling. In the past 24 hours we had been through both Ecuadorian and US customs – both making us feel just-a-little criminal. When we met the Canadian customs agent in Halifax (and even before we showed her our passports) she was super friendly – more like she was a greeter for Nova Scotia Tourism than an agent for national security. Going home was one of the nicest and weirdest experiences that we’ve ever had.

  • Austin Lehman Adventures Apr 22, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Great blog, I agree with one of your readers about Trader Joes!! Groceries aren’t cheap here in Costa Rica (large import taxes) and you end up spending a bundle just to eat. I do live in a very touristy town so the high prices is a trade off to the money I can make as well as the beautiful beach front view I get to enjoy every day. Can’t wait to go home to eat all the local fares of home. Happy travels.

  • Andre Hugo Jan 14, 2012, 8:30 am

    One more thing – for a Visa – I came as a retired person. The key requirement is that you have to be able to prove a pension income of at least $ 800 per month. The paperwork, however, cannot be avoided.

    • usasgh Mar 1, 2012, 4:19 pm

      … here’s a post with the salacious details on Ecuador Visa realities for “do-it-your-selfers”.

      “The (former) director of Extranjería, along with several members of his staff, were arrested by the National Police just before Christmas.” is even more interesting at:

      Guess we’re just not in Canada anymore on certain items it appears.

  • Andre Hugo Jan 14, 2012, 8:28 am

    On my trips home from Quito, I am very aware of the sense of security. Walking around, houses are not behind walls and I can have my Nikon hanging openly around my neck without fear of being robbed. In Quito, I must always be much more “street wise” and not show anything that may attract criminals. – Admittedly, there are some areas of every major North American city that I would not feels so comfortable; but, home in Canada is a very safe place.

    Ecuador and paper work – incredible ! Yet, the government is trying to do everything to attract North Americans and Europeans with pensions or investment to the country. As for security, tourist areas in Quito are heavily patrolled by city and national police to help ensure good times.

  • george Dec 13, 2011, 7:12 pm

    Hey Brian,
    We will make our second trip in September 2012 and then hope to move within months of that trip. We have savings so we were going to just deposit cash into an Ecuadorian bank. Last we checked it was $25,000 per person but I heard this might also be going up. We like to do things easy… I was wondering if you think this is the easiest way to establish residency.


    • Bryan Haines Dec 15, 2011, 9:30 am

      Hi George – unless you want to marry an Ecuadorian, or have a baby here, the investment visa is probably the easiest way to get residency. 🙂 I think the requirement has been $25,000 for the primary applicant and a smaller amount per dependent. It has been $500, but I don’t know the current rules. It would be best to check with a lawyer to know what the current rules are.

      • george Dec 17, 2011, 12:37 pm

        Thank you Brian…. you are aways so helpful. Going to try to open a bank account the next time we are there. The largest bank in Ecuador has a branch in Miami so once I open an account I should be able to add to it through the Miami branch until we finally move there. I also here the interest they pay is considerably more than what they pay in North America… We are very anxious to move… we loved our visit.

        • Bryan Haines Dec 19, 2011, 9:10 am

          The interest is much higher, especially on term deposits. Thanks for your comments!

  • Gary and Logan Dec 5, 2011, 8:31 pm

    Well put Bryan and I agree.If it is anything there like it is in the P.I.(or even Florida) you must know the rules and sometimes they get lost in presentation.What worked for you then may be completely different now and the way the “paperwork”is delivered and presented probably makes a difference.
    If everything was cut and dried there probably would be no need for attorney’s and after all who writes the rules?Job security?
    I think they call it Bureaucracy and every Country has it like it or not.
    Gary and Logan

  • Idea Merchant Dec 5, 2011, 1:05 pm

    Dena & Bryan ,

    One more question, if you do not mind (while waiting your answer to the first one) 🙂

    If I want to do it all by mail, what exactly do I have to ask for and where/whom? Some special Police Report? What are the Ecuadorian requirements? Where does it have to come from, if I have lived in many states in the USA. Sorry, have never had to deal with this before, only with the security clearance 🙂

    • Bryan Haines Dec 5, 2011, 6:23 pm

      Again, you should speak with a lawyer about this. The rule was, when we needed it, was that it was for 5 years back. Since we had been in Ecuador just 2 years we needed one for here and one from Canada. We could have requested it by mail – I’ve heard that some Americans have requested it online.

      • Idea Merchant Dec 5, 2011, 7:08 pm

        Bryan, I am a fully grown up and rather well educated person, who does understand about lawyers and such 🙂
        Since you have consulted your attorney and obtained your police report according to his/her instructions, could you PLEASE share that information here? It should be very helpful to many people.
        So, what sort of police report/s your attorney instructed you to obtain?

        • Bryan Haines Dec 5, 2011, 7:42 pm

          Idea Merchant – we share almost everything on the blog. But if I begin posting legal requirements, who are the readers going to be upset with when the rules change, or if I’m misunderstood, or even if I’m mistaken? The rules for us, having come from Nova Scotia Canada were different than another expat who was coming from Prince Edward Island (also Canada – just a couple hours drive away) because of the police departments there. Each State in the US has different rules as well. And when the Ecuadorian government changes rules again – as they have numerous times this year alone – it will affect everyone. It doesn’t make sense to post the rules that applied a couple of months ago for a couple of Nova Scotians. There are questions that I’m qualified to answer – like the price of gas, the weather or how to make money online – but there are other questions that you’ll need to direct to someone more qualified, like a lawyer. As you have already made contact with a number of lawyers, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to confirm what you will need to do.

          • Idea Merchant Dec 5, 2011, 9:54 pm

            I do not ask you about legal requirements. Once again I have been asking you a very specific question:

            What sort of police report/s did your attorney instruct you to obtain?

            If you put a straightforward answer, with a PS, stating that your info should be clarified and confirmed for a particular State/country, this would be very helpful.

            After all, Ecuadorian attorneys know only what a new law asks them to do in Ecuador, and have no idea as of how that requirement may be interpreted worldwide. And most certainly nobody can blame you for what the State of Ecuador does with their laws, nor how different countries interpret the latter. All of us, who have lived here for, at least a yer, understand that, whatever you do, you may be told that it needs correction

            • Bryan Haines Dec 5, 2011, 10:06 pm

              This is getting silly…

              With all due respect, the requirement of a police report is a legal requirement. As stated, you need to confirm with your Ecuadorian lawyer as they can ensure you will get the correct document.

              And while no one “can blame me for what the State of Ecuador does” popular opinion isn’t always so balanced in their reasoning. I think we’ve established that you want me to publish something that I’m not going to. Lets call it even, and move on?


              • MJ Guerra Dec 13, 2011, 11:06 pm

                Hi guys, I’d like to take Bryan’s side here. Being a US citizen who’s lived here for a very long time, my experience is that laws change unexpectedly and without any prior notification. So it’s better to play it safe and contact an attorney who has updated knowledge of the changing laws.

  • erika Dec 5, 2011, 9:12 am

    hi. I recently moved to Quevedo-los rios , Ecuador from scranton,Pennsylvania about three weeks ago. I am still adjusting to the culture shock. I was born and raised mostly in Bronx, NY so this it totaly different lifesytle for me especially since I am a stay at home mom now. I will be trying to appy for Ecuadorian residency soon and I did get the chance to get all the originals, translations, noteries and police report that I need. Hopefully I have everything I need. Please write when you come back to ecuador to inform about how the process went. Thanks for your blog I have been able to get alot of information from it.

  • Idea Merchant Dec 4, 2011, 10:06 pm

    Great post, thanks 🙂 Love your blog!

    Hope you do not mind sharing here, or via email, how did you get that 2 year temporary visa that was mentioned above. As of today, I have spent a year in Ecuador. It was filled with all sorts of unwanted adventures, beginning with my robbery, at gun point, upon arrival. Because of those unwanted adventures (my documents were stolen with the rest of my belongings), I anticipate problems with registering my nonprofit here. Anyway, to make my story short, a temporary visa could help A LOT. Despite all my misadventures in Ecuador, I love my life here and want to stay.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 5, 2011, 6:21 pm

      There are a number of temporary visas – ranging from 3 months to years – sports, commerce, tourist, missionary, volunteer, teach, etc. You should check with a lawyer to confirm current rules.

      • Idea Merchant Dec 5, 2011, 7:03 pm

        I most certainly have consulted a lawyer, and not one at that, but nobody mentioned any sort of temporary visa available. On the other hand, you mentioned a two year temporary visa. which is why I had asked you about your PERSONAL experience. If you could write either here, or in email, what it was and whether some attorney helped you with it, it would be very nice. If you cannot, i understand and apologize

        • Bryan Haines Dec 5, 2011, 7:11 pm

          Temporary visas are primarily dependent on others (for work sponsorship, you need an employer who will hire you, for example). We have friends attending university and they are on a temporary visa. It was pretty straight forward to get. Permanent residency is more dependent on the individual – having the funds to meet the requirements. Any lawyer can help you with it, but they most frequently process permanent applications. Here is some information on permanent visas: Because the rules change so much, its best for you to get the current information. Our visa was approved 2.5 years ago.

          • Idea Merchant Dec 5, 2011, 9:46 pm

            Once again, and I cannot figure out how to make myself any clearer – i have been asking a very specific question,

            I had asked you, and this is my THIRD time, about your PERSONAL VISA experience. If you could write either here, or in email, what it was and whether some attorney helped you with it, it would be very nice. If you cannot, i understand and apologize.

            This has nothing to do with all existing options, nor about residency requirements VS other visa options.

            • Bryan Haines Dec 5, 2011, 9:52 pm

              I understand your question. My response is the same, I am not going to publish it for the reasons I have stated. The problem is that many readers will take what we publish very literally. Some will take what the requirements were and think that is what they are.

              • Jennifer V. Dec 6, 2011, 12:51 am

                We are p/t expats who are currently chasing the new requirements that even our lawyers can barely keep up on… and we pay them A LOT to maintain a shred of accountability for this minute’s/our state’s rules!

                Brian, I really support your decision to NOT give the details, as it is irresponsible to current and future readers. People “skim and scan” and miss important details like “this does not apply to your country/your part of the country,” and they also read things later that are out of date since being posted… seen it sooo many times in the blogs and on-line groups. People ACT on the erroneous info, say, “But I read it on line…”

                Your blog is fantastic; you are maintaining integrity to your readers both now and in the future. The info you report is awesome, & you are smart enough not to become arrogant in imparting that which you should not. BRAVO!

  • Jennifer V. Dec 4, 2011, 2:49 pm

    Being from the southwestern part of USA, when we are at our home in Ecuador we desperately miss excellent spicy Mexican food! we also miss Trader Joe’s (a grocery chain that is well-priced, health-oriented, and sells so may items prepped, chopped organic veggies, etc). We miss the ease of communicating in our native language everywhere we go! We miss long sunny days… It’s hard to adjust to endless 12 light/12 dark. But when at our USA home, we miss the walking active lifestyle, the abundant cheap fruits and veggies at the big markets, and the FREEDOM from nit-picky, revenue-producing laws, policies, regulations, ordinances, etc… In comparison to EC, we feel the USA monitors it’s people like children who lack common sense, legislating to the lowest common demoninator.

  • David Doost Dec 4, 2011, 9:08 am

    Hi Bryan & Dena – Great blog post Dena. Very interesting description on how feelings and attitudes towards “home” can change with the passage of time. Really drives home the point that ultimately home is truly where your heart is and not the plot of land that you are currently on. We all have daily choices to make, some trivial, some more life altering. In this instance, it seems to me that the choice is between the familiarity and fondness with what you grew up with that gives the outward feelings of security and temporary happiness versus the adventure that you have embarked on by moving to an unfamiliar country that carried the risk of the unknown but held the carrot of the dream of what you wanted to explore.
    If happiness equates living and acting on your dreams, then I think you guys have made the right choices. When you are doing that, then it may not matter as much whether you are in Canada or Cuenca. But I think I would rather be in Cuenca for many of the same reasons as why you have chosen it as your current home.

  • dennis fahey Dec 4, 2011, 6:24 am

    Delightful post! Keep ’em coming. When traveling we miss our routine mostly. My wife always misses our bed; she’s fussy about beds! If and when we come to Cuenca, I assume we’ll miss some favorite foods and some of our material possessions.

  • Lyn Dec 4, 2011, 12:13 am

    Dena, I’m a military wife who lived 14 out of 22 years of service OUTSIDE the US. You are prepared to experience culture shock going TO a new country–but not coming home. (HOME should always stay the way you left it-right?) The first culture shock home is always the worst. Long ago (BC-before children) we returned after 3 years in Germany. The milk tasted different, the cars were different (what the heck is a Saturn?), the TV was all changed; “who shot JR”? and a new Star Trek series! (which I initially hated). And worst of all, the speed limits were way too slow. We were used to driving at MUCH higher speeds in Gernany. It is really hard to make yourself go slower! Your first speeding ticket helps with that.
    But over the next 19 years we managed to go to Cyprus, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey. Each time we returned to the US there was less a shock. Now out of the military and about to retire for good, we are planning to go to Latin America–someplace by the beach. If we come to Ecuador it will probably be somewhere like Salinas. I am reading everything I can about Ecuador, and it’s a great feeling to know there will be other expats around to speak English with. Lyn

  • Cheree Butt Dec 4, 2011, 12:08 am

    I have visited Ecuador only twice but I miss the beauty and the culture of the country. What I miss the most is seeing you.I am so happy you came back home .

    • Dena Haines Dec 5, 2011, 3:03 pm

      Hi Mom 🙂
      So nice to hear your voice here on our blog!
      I’m really happy that we came home and had time with you too. We are really looking forward to your next visit.
      Miss you, and love you

    • Jim Dec 5, 2011, 3:10 pm

      Hi Cheree, greetings from Jim, Janice, Meghan and Emma. It’s been awhile.

  • Mary Dec 3, 2011, 10:23 pm

    Love your blog! I’m seriously considering moving to Ecuador when I retire, but let me tell ‘ya, culture shock and menopause, it ain’t pretty.

    I live in China and boy has it been an adjustment. Don’t get me wrong, I love China and the Chinese people (I chose to live here, right?) I just didn’t anticipate the double whammy of culture shock and menopause combined…

    • Dena Haines Dec 5, 2011, 3:01 pm

      Hi Mary,
      You are a strong woman! I can just imagine having to deal with so many changes and hormonal ups and downs at the same time. My time will come, but I should be well adjusted to Ecuador by then, at least I hope I will be 🙂
      Thanks for your comment

  • Dave Dec 3, 2011, 8:54 pm

    I thought you guys were residents/citizens of Ecuador, but having read the blog, I guess not?

    Any advice from Canadians would be greatly appreciated. Are we Canadians ex Canadians in Ecuador, or do we become expats?

    I’m currently in Peru (my first trip to South America, and loving it!) I’m looking to travel to Ecuador in Dec or Jan/Feb, so any and all advice would be most appreciated.


  • Gary and Logan Dec 3, 2011, 7:22 pm

    Nice post::Living where I do paperwork is monumental so that will be something I would be used to.I’ve known numerous expats here (the P.I.) that have criminal and prison records but are immigrated anyway as it is usually who you know and “bribe:I think it’s a good idea for the clearances as RG says to eliminate undesirables even though if someone made a”mistake”in life and paid the price should have a second chance.If done properly it should “sort out”the undesirables coming into the country.Being the way it is here it reflects on the good expats and the locals tend to generalize and feel all foreigners just came to take advantage.Totally understandable.
    Being masters at forgery and the fact you can buy anything as long as you have the money makes a place where you definitely do not want to reside unless that is why you moved there.It causes the “natives” to resent your being there especially in an impoverished country.
    Always good to know before you go and I appreciate the info.
    Gary and Logan

  • Eric Lutz Dec 3, 2011, 6:01 pm

    Hi there Gringos; this comment is all the way from good old NS. While I have never lived in another country…well USA. And other parts of Canada . In answer to your question about what would I miss? I’m older and have different priorities in life.Than you younger folk.Here is wwhat I missed when i was living in the mentioned places. I missed the beauty of the lakes that I love, in the spring walking along on the washed out banks of the babbling brooks, letting a fishing line dangle In the fast running water and pulling out small book trout. My wife rolls them in flour and spice and fries them up for supper.
    Now that I would miss dearley, nothing can wet your appitite any more than a trout frying in in an old iron frying pan. Yummy!
    I also missed the forest with the tall hardwood trees and the smell of dead leaves spread out like warm blanket on the ground , especially after a new rain That I missed
    So loving those simple things that are free. Why should i leave it? I shall remain in NS. Thanks Folks for your comments , keep them coming

    • Dena Haines Dec 5, 2011, 2:55 pm

      Hi Eric,
      We are not as different as you seem to think. When I was little I would spend my summer vacation fishing in the little streams around our house, and I loved it! I would bring the trout home, roll them in flower and salt and then fry them in butter the same way mmmmmmmmmmmmmm! We did that a few times with Drew before we moved, and I do miss it.
      Your comment brought back a lot of memories for me, thank you.

  • Lisa Dec 2, 2011, 9:19 pm

    Nice write up Dena. After visiting with you here, in NS,Canada, we could see how you felt about Ecuador. I don’t think it is just ‘that’ country in itself, but the lifestyle it affords and what you are able to accomplish for what is important to your family. There are things to miss from anyone’s home, but I didn’t really consider some of your points until reading your article. For us only being away for 1 month in Cozumel wasn’t long enough to appreciate missing one certain thing, except for ‘good’ chocolate. 🙂 Couldn’t find any on the island. Fish from warm waters, somehow just isn’t as good as fish from cold atlantic waters. yum. It’s all what you are use to.

    • Dena Haines Dec 5, 2011, 2:50 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      We really do like Ecuador, but I think you are right, it’s the lifestyle and what we are able to accomplish because of it that is important to us.
      I guess you’ll just have to spend more time in Cozumel in the future, so you can really figure out what you miss from Canada. That would be a difficult project wouldn’t it 😉 (just don’t forget to bring the chocolate along)
      Miss you guys!

  • Deborah Dec 1, 2011, 8:37 pm

    Hey Dena, LOVE your blog! Sounds like you’re really enjoying your time in Nova Scotia. I live just around the corner from the Bayers Lake Chapters store in Halifax…small world. I’m travelling to Cuenca January 9th., will be there for eight weeks to explore the option of retiring there full time. Would be SO GRATEFUL to hear if you know of any safe apartments I might be able to rent for the two months I’m there.

    • Dena Haines Dec 5, 2011, 2:41 pm

      Hi Deborah,
      Yes it is a small world!
      You might want to consider an apart hotel called El Puente for your stay. It looks nice, and you can walk into the center of Cuena, or catch a bus/taxi right in front of the hotel.
      Thanks for your comment, and all the best with your visit to Cuenca.

      • Deborah Dec 11, 2011, 9:58 am

        THANKS…much appreciated!

  • Mark @ ramblecrunch Dec 1, 2011, 2:54 pm

    Dena, your post strikes a cord in me. I wonder about our return to Canada next spring after this year-long journey we will have completed. Vancouver will be the same. If we’re not careful, the city’s comfy familiarity will quickly lull us back to the same lives we gave up. Of course it will be great to see family and friends, speak English, eat some favorite foods and go to the library. But WE will have changed. For us it won’t be the same. I am happy to hear you are missing Ecuador.

    • Dena Haines Dec 1, 2011, 3:48 pm

      Hi Mark,
      I know what you mean, we changed too. I think that’s part of the reason we were missing Ecuador after only a week and a half in Canada.
      Thanks for you comment, and all the best with your plans for a trip back next spring.

  • RG Dec 1, 2011, 2:03 pm

    I’m glad that police report is one of the requirements. At least we can rest assured that the gringos and other expats we meet are not of dubious character.

  • Henry Lord Dec 1, 2011, 1:22 pm

    My wife and our mothers are getting ready to move in March to Cuenca. We did hire a lawyer we met in Quito and one of the items is the police report. I have had the opportunity to live in Turkey with th US Amy and the in England for 2 years as a Latter-day Saint missionary. In both cases I had culture shock going and then upon returning home. It is interesting what you miss from where you have been.

    • Dena Haines Dec 5, 2011, 12:59 pm

      Hi Henry,
      It really is interesting! It’s not really something we can plan for is it? Somethings we like right away, and others grow on us, and then others we don’t even know how much we like them until we are away from them. It is an ongoing experience of growth.
      All the best with your plans to move in March.

  • Jim Cohoon Dec 1, 2011, 10:26 am

    I really haven’t had the opportunity to miss much yet. You know the story, everything takes longer in Ecuador, so you don’t seem to have as much time to reflect on what you miss or don’t miss. But, when we have those moments, I would say we miss the health food stores that offer truly gluten free rice flour, of course we miss family but we alleviate that with constant contact via email and Skype video. We miss Port Royal and the rocky beach’s, clams, scallops and properly made sausage and we miss the Valley apples which are truly the best in the world. We lived in Alberta for a year and a half and don’t miss it in the slightest, the Rocky’s are over-rated as is Calgary. I miss my woodworking tools and the option to pick away at a project from time to time. I miss being able to travel to the shore whether it be Margaretville or Hall’s Harbour. I guess I could keep going. But I don’t miss most of those things enough to even remotely consider moving back. We do love Ecuador.

    • Dena Haines Dec 5, 2011, 12:47 pm

      Hi Jim, thanks for you comment. We are glad to hear how much you like Ecuador and we hope everything works out for you to stay. We are still working on getting residency. Like you, we really want to stay!

    • Jim Dec 13, 2011, 12:46 pm

      It’s kind of funny how this post got me thinking. So to give Alberta some credit, I miss the Blackfoot culture despite it being difficult to see the pain they are in, I miss apple fritters from Tim Hortons and I really miss Cuppers coffee in Lethbridge. I don’t miss the hundreds of windmills, they are destroying the beauty of the Prairies. I regret that I will likely never get enjoy Burts BBQ’d elk again or his company.

      I guess when you make a huge move to live abroad there are many things to let go of. If you take the time to ponder them you see the little things you miss which helps you to see the larger things you maybe took for granted.

  • Terrisita Dec 1, 2011, 9:39 am

    You mentioned the requirement of a police report for establishing residency in Ecuador. Do you know the purpose of this? I’ve worked in many fields that required it, but never travelled to a country that did. Enjoying your blog, we are considering a move to the coast in the next few years.

    • Bryan Haines Dec 1, 2011, 9:41 am

      I guess it would be to ensure that residency applicants don’t have a criminal record. Because we have lived in Ecuador for more than two years, we also had to submit an Ecuadorian police report.

    • Renee — ramblecrunch Dec 1, 2011, 9:57 am

      We needed police reports as Americans getting permanent residency in Canada as well.

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