Why I Moved from Victoria to Ecuador
Ron Capern, Class of '56
(This is the first of a series of articles that Ron has agreed to write about Ecuador. For those of us who travel widely, it may stir interest in a part of our world that most of us know little about. In this first installment, Ron explains why he moved and why he chose Ecuador. It's a study in retirement thinking. Ron is not a member of our class but is well known to Navy types and to the Victoria Branch Club, where he served as Secretary, and he still writes Obits for Veritas. Ed)
Bill Hughes wrote to me in June 2011 to say, “Ron, South America does not appear on our radar very often, so Canadians know little about it. The Galapagos Islands receive attention because they photograph well and offer something truly different.
“As for travel to Ecuador, the Canadian Government's web site is not very encouraging. The US State department's advice is more sanguine. Where does the truth lie? What's worth seeing?
“The economy? I realize that Ecuador uses the US$ as its currency.
“Climate? Ecuador sits right on the equator. What else is there to know?
“You might comment on living there, the pros and cons. If memory serves, it wasn't your first choice.
“Photographs would be welcome. If you include them, please do it as "attachments" rather than "inserts". They're easier to handle that way.”
My story really began back in about the late 1990s. I had by then already buried my parents and was second only to my brother as the family patriarch. I had been fully retired from the work force for several years, and had retired to the Greater Victoria BC area in 1984.
I was probably bored with life, and had somehow stumbled upon a very small book, the title of which was Take Your Money and Run. It had been written by an author whose name I can no longer remember. He had been an accountant in Toronto and suddenly announced to his friends that he was chucking it all in and leaving Canada. His friends, of course, thought he was mad to leave the good life in The Small Apple.
But he had done his homework very well, and when he finally settled aboard a comfortable ship in the Mediterranean, he wrote his book, describing what he had done, and how he had done it. As I read it, I began to make my own plans to escape the humdrum safe life in the People's Democratic Socialist Republic of British Columbia, and to lead my own life free of the nanny State.
By 2006, I had sold my house in Sooke, BC, and had got rid of most of the “stuff” I had acquired during my lifetime. A very severe downsizing it was; I realized that I did not really need all that “stuff” and that it had, in fact, kept me captive for many years.
Where to go? Well, as keeper of the Family Tree, I realised that I had a bunch of relatives in Australia whom I had never met, although I had corresponded with a second cousin living near Brisbane, to acquire data on my “Oz Rellies”. So, I decided to visit those many relatives and see Australia.
I applied for, and eventually received, a 12-month visa from the Australian government via their Internet web site. I departed Vancouver on 16 November 2007 and arrived in Brisbane on 22 November, after Air Pacific flights through Honolulu and Nadi, Fiji. I spent a couple of days in each place to avoid a really long flight (Vancouver – Brisbane direct would have been about 19 bum-numbing hours with a aircraft strapped to me).
I spent about a month in the Brisbane/Ipswich area of Queensland, getting established at banks, shopping for a motor home, and trying to learn the local language. I did manage to get established with a bank, and bought a Winnebago motor home. Learning the language was less easy, in spite of daily contact with my many relatives.
With my motor home, I began to prowl around the south-eastern states of Australia – southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. A great adventure, that brought me back to Brisbane by about mid-April 2008. I had enjoyed Tasmania enough that I thought to settle there, and began enquiries with Australian Immigration about acquiring permanent residency.
After several frustrating interviews with increasingly senior bureaucrats, I was finally advised by one kindly senior Immigration officer that there simply was no category for permanent residency for retired folks. While the government would be delighted to have me buy property and invest in Tasmania, I would have to leave the country every six months. This applied, I found out, even in my then-present circumstances – although I had been granted a 12-month visitor's visa. No problem, he said, just fly to Fiji and come back a couple of days later!
So, by 22 May 2008, I was aboard Air Pacific again, headed for Vancouver via Fiji and Honolulu. At least a second summer, in Australia, was more pleasant than a winter in Canada would have been!
While “on the road” in OZ, I had subscribed to International Living Magazine, which I received by Internet. In it I had read articles about Merida, Mexico and Cotacachi, Ecuador. So, back briefly in Canada, I began to plan a trip to see each of those apparently interesting places. After a cross-country trip to visit family in Regina, London, Toronto, Dover, New Hampshire and Washington, DC, I flew Miami – Belize on 18 October 2008.
“Why Belize?”, you may ask. That was part of my Take Your Money and Run planning. Belize has very strict banking laws, so any financial affairs held there are safe from the prying eyes of Ottawa's “revenoors” - or of anyone who might have thought that I had enough assets to be worth suing. I established Tormar Trust - as an educational trust to be used for the education of future generations of children – and Tormar Inc., as a company to generate income through suitable investments to fund the trust. Tormar is an acronym for Take Old Ron's Money and Run...
A couple of weeks living in Belize in late October convinced me that I would never be able to handle the climate in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, so I decided to pass on Merida, and to carry straight on to Ecuador – where I arrived at about midnight on 01 November 2008. I have been here ever since.