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Friday, February 13, 2015

Why Ecuador Isn't Like Canada 2.0

I bet most of you are thinking..."Of course Ecuador isn't like Canada, don't be silly! Ecuador is warm, Canada is not!" There is some truth to that, but Canada isn't the frozen wasteland many people imagine it to be, but that isn't the point of this post. What is different is the time North American's obsess making their home "nice". While people like "nice" things here, it isn't their be all and end all of existence. First of all, there isn't time for it and secondly, isn't family more important than worrying about whether your paint tones match? (Plus there's an entirely different style design aesthetic here.)

These facts don't take away from the beauty of the countryside, amiability of the people or general pleasure of life here. What it does do is occasionally take you aback.

Case in point; TV and internet installers. They genuinely want your business, but I'm guessing that they have little training when it comes to the care and maintenance of a client's property. Our brand new building has beautiful lines of conduit, through which to run coaxial cable, tastefully hidden by interior walls with panels for easy access. 

Each apartment is duly wired and ready for telephone,internet and TV, but for some strange and unknowable reason (that even the builder doesn't understand) the various companies are unable (or unwilling) to use the lines provided. This necessitated 'cables visibles' (I'm pretty sure you can figure out the translation on that) to be run across the outside of the building to each suite and through a hole in the window frame. Complete madness.

The actual process to get the lines installed involved a dozen different people (from the cable provider) and at least five appointments. The second to last set of installers told us it would be a good idea to run the cables through the existing conduit (!!!), in complete contravention of what all the other techs, installers and salesmen insisted on. We said "Great! Let's do it." Then he talked to his supervisor and the answer was a flat "No." It would have saved us from the following unsightliness.

Across apartment below
Around the corner - why pin it neatly against the wall, right?
Along the patio dividing wall on lower level, so what
if it slipped off the wall a little? No one will notice!
The only thing I can figure (concerning non-use of the existing conduit) is that the cable company is worried about people jacking into the wires and stealing their services. (Probably not a completely unwarranted  concern.) That being said, the installers had no real concern for the window sills and heavily damaged our neighbour's wall in the process of trying to install the cable line. (A wall that had already been repaired once after having his blinds installed.) Had they but asked for a towel or piece of cardboard the wall would have been fine.

To save our own windows Ron put the hole in the window frame himself and drilled appropriate holes to ensure the cable wasn't running pell-mell across our living room floor.

In Canada, we would deem all of this as completely unacceptable, but this is just how it is here. If you want things done a certain way, you have to be ready to provide the necessary equipment (example; a hammer for the handyman - true story) and help. What we've come to accept as the norm (as North Americas) really isn't. A worker here gets the job done, without thinking about the before and after.

The good thing is, that for the most part, the workers are willing to try and remedy the situation, if they suddenly find themselves face to face with a disappointed (and often irate) home owner. It's just all part of the learning process.

They deserve a bit of slack. Imagine living in a house complied of items you scrounged. This is the reality of many Ecuadorians, especially when it comes to installing a roof; they can be made from found items like plastic sheets (hard and soft) metal scraps and even cardboard (used mostly for temporary patching). There isn't a lot of need to "seal" the house...many have large gaps between the cinder block and around their door frames and windows, or sometimes the window is missing all together. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely money here in Cuenca and it certainly isn't the expats that have the majority, despite the prevailing stereotype, but a good portion of the workers come from outside of the city, where houses have electricity, but not a whole lot else. It is their reality, so people like us, who have lots of windows, good furniture and several appliances (pure luxury!) are the exception to the rule, in their experience.

All this being said, we're in our new space, have internet and TV ($65/month including HD), plus hot water (you don't truly appreciate it, until you don't have it for a while) and we even have upper kitchen cabinets. Life is good and that's just about all that anyone can ask for.

Oh, and for those of you wondering about TV and internet quality, they're both fairly reliable, with just enough quirks to remind you where you are.

1 comment:

  1. It is surprising especially on a new build, we saw similar things like that in China as well.