I love blogging about all the good stuff about expat life. I adore living abroad and sharing all my adventures with you guys. But I’m very conscious that some blogs read like advertisements from the local tourism board. I won’t shy away from telling you the bad stuff too.
A couple of months ago I moved to Quito, Ecuador. I hate it. Yes, the pandemic has made things especially tough. We arrived exhausted after a series of mishaps and cancelled flights. The five-hour flight from Santiago to Quito was a 30+hour struggle via Miami.
After so many mishaps in Chile, I thought it was all going to be better as soon as we landed. I was pushing my husband to leave Chile sooner to get our relocation going. I thought we’d be in a nice house, basking in the sunshine. I knew it was going to be tough getting out and about due to the pandemic, but I didn’t think I’d feel so disappointed.
Cultural shock vs personal taste
Call it cultural shock, call it a difference in opinion, I do not like it here. I miss Santiago. I miss London. I miss just about everywhere I’ve ever lived before – India, Switzerland, France, Germany…
I’m trying to keep an open mind, but it’s tough. I’ve been warned by hotel staff and my husband’s company that I shouldn’t leave alone with my three kids. If I go out I need someone to accompany me, for security reasons. I thought they were exaggerating, but I took a little stroll out and… never again.
Call it bad luck, call it ignorance on my part; I didn’t feel safe. And when I have had company I haven’t found anywhere I’d want to go back to. We’ve been to see houses which look beautiful in the photos, but not so great in reality. Quito has some serious Photoshop talent!
I’ve been to a lot of places recommended to me here in Quito, but I just don’t get it. I don’t see the charm that others do. Yesterday we went to a touristy site which was a nice break, but I wasn’t as impressed as my husband was.
And here’s the thing. It’s personal. My husband loves it here. It’s cheap, it’s religious, the food is hearty, the nature beyond the city is beautiful and rules are for breaking. But for a vegan, blonde, city girl who likes to walk around in the sunshine, it’s been… an experience.
The same applies for (pre civil war) Syria which I loved and my husband was only luke warm about. The culture, the food, the people, the history… I found it so invigorating. I felt alive! He saw dirt; I saw a mystic land of wonder.
This blog post isn’t about dissing Ecuador. I have met some wonderful locals and expats. But the way they talk about the lifestyle here, the more I realise it just isn’t for me.
Settling in during a pandemic
People keep telling me to give it time. I’m very aware that we are in unprecedented times and our journey has been especially bumpy. I know that when I first moved to Chile, Antwerp and Lausanne it was also tough. I’d often swear under my breath how much I hated Switzerland, France, Syria, Germany and so on. But I didn’t feel depressed like I do now. Within weeks or even days I was loving life there.
Not my gig
Think of it like this: imagine a chocolate cake that everyone raves about. So delicious! Out of this world! You will love it! You’re so excited… and then you see it.
It looks gross to you. Why is everyone raving about it? But still, you give it a try. And yuck! You don’t like it at all. ‘Oh but you haven’t tried the icing!’ So you try the icing and you now feel sick. ‘Oh but you must try the ganache!…’ And so it continues.
Ready for ‘home’
I haven’t tried half of Quito, but I’m done trying for now. I’m exhausted.
I get how others might love it here, but not me. I’m cold, tired and I just want to go home. Any home, just not here, because I don’t think Quito could ever be home to me.
Have you been struggling during a relocation? Leave me a comment below or send me a message
In our temporary accommodation in Arizona, [where we couldn’t even find teabags for a cup of tea (and don’t even MENTION coffee)]… my husband was tickling our 5 year old who was screaming at the game. Half an hour later there were two officers at the door (both looked like the Terminator 2 cop), because we’d been reported! It was terrifying (because of the stories that you hear) to be in a position of contemplating if they removed our child…?? We were as quiet as mice for the remaining weeks living in those condominios. It’s like you say – not feeling safe.
Oh Vikki what a horrid experience. I think the worst is fearing for your child. And it’s worse when you don’t know the local laws, customs etc. And hang on, hang on, no tea?! Were you somewhere seriously rural?
No! We were in Tucson! It was such a relief to move to Chile – much more family-friendly IMO. And you can buy tea.
I can imagine! I never thought of chile as a good place to buy tea before your comment 😁