Monthly Archives: August 2017


How is working out in Cuenca, Ecuador?

Keeping in shape while travelling can be hard. I love gyms, and even though it’s possible to stay in shape using body weight exercises it bores the heck out of me. For me finding the best countries to retire cheap also requires finding a good gym in the potential city. More of my checklists LINK Which is better Bangkok or Medellin?

When I landed in Cuenca, Ecuador, the first thing I looked for was a gym. It didn’t have to be fancy, just clean & some basic equipment. (The second thing I usually look for is a bar….LINK … Hot pussy & cold beer in Cebu

I found one place, and stayed there for a month. While it was clean and basic, it was a little small. Month two I signed up at Zona Gym (best way to contact them is on Facebook : Zona Gym Cuenca)

For $20 USD it includes a couple things that don’t exist in most gyms in South America.

  • It’s open. Most gyms in South America open at 6am and then shut down in the afternoon. (They reopen again at 4 or 5pm. ) Zona actually stays open till they close at 10pm.
  • Unfortunately like most gyms in South America, they still close at odd hours on the weekend.  2pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday (although to be fair most gyms don’t even open Sundays here). When I asked them about this, they answered “We have to be closed sometimes for resting.” Hmmmmn….seriously forget a fancy 24hr gym like Snap Fitness. Somebody could make a killing just opening a gym that is open 7 days a week.
  • Another thing about gyms in South America, they think slow salsa music is good for working out music. Tip: Bring headphones.

Here’s a few little quirks about working out in Ecuador. Protein powder is $100 USD for a 5lb tub. That’s right. Literally next time I fly in, I’ll be bringing a second suitcase for protein powder and supplements. And shoes? How does $200 for a nice pair of Nike’s sound? (You can get knockoffs for cheap.) Same thing for headphones, super expensive or not available if you want good ones. So, those are a few things to make sure you bring with you from Canada.

To balance it out though, the food options are great!  You can buy quail eggs pre-cooked on the street like the Ecuadorian version of hot dogs. $1 USD gets you 10 quail eggs. A perfect post work out snack.  Super tasty too!

Chicken breasts and beef, are all super fresh and relatively cheap at little tiny neighborhood markets. I got 4 lbs of steak, and a quarter chicken for $9.25.

Also juice bars are everywhere. You can get a fresh carrot/alfalfa juice for $1 USD.

One other thing that is neat is that Cuenca is high altitude. So if you’ve ever wanted to try high altitude training, this is a great spot for it.

So while protein powder, supplements and vitamins are super expensive. Cuenca, Ecuador is a great place if you want to have a fun Gymcation.  Want to know more about Ecuador? LINK Can you retire on $1000 CDN in Ecuador . I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

How is working out in Cuenca, Ecuador?2018-06-20T19:05:59+00:00

Body Positivity, fat shaming & the worldview.

If you’re looking for the best country to retire cheap, you should know that the world view on obesity  is very different from North America.
On one end of the scale (no pun inteded ) Kuala Lumpur has over 500 KFC locations, as well as a belief that size equals prosperity. The children are now getting surgery due to obesity.
The other end of the scale is here in Colombia, where there are public gyms in the parks. Concrete blocks, adult monkey bars, iron universal machines. That coupled with a love of dancing keeps people thin. (Although that is also balanced out by their love of empanadas, and the fact that the Menu of the Day generally has about 1000 calories per meal).

North America is diverging into two very defined groups. People who believe that you “Can be healthy” at any size, and people who want to “maintain or improve the way they look and feel.”

My German housemates here in Cali, Colombia were telling me about how when they have lay overs here in the states that they can definitely tell they are in the USA because people are so much larger. I also notice this when I get home. Let me tell you the Latin men here that are in shape are really really in shape, with 6 packs being the regular not the exception.

I don’t believe in fat shaming, but I believe this body positivity campaign in North America  is doing more harm than good.

If you’re healthy and happy, I’m all for it, but if a vice is killing you? Smoking, drinking, eating too much….then just stop it.

It’s not about being better than the person next to you, a flower just blooms, it doesn’t compare itself to the flower next to it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Love yourself, but also don’t let yourself get into an echo chamber. Don’t let other people tell you that you’re “fine” and if accept life. If you want to, make a change. Push yourself.

If you are obese, or overweight and planning to find the best country to retire cheap, there is some good news though. During the time I’ve spent travelling and writing this blog I’ve lost 20lbs. That’s mainly due to the amount of walking you have to do, and the change from my North American diet. Eating the same portion size as the little Thai person beside me, sweating buckets and always walking really kills those pounds.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Body Positivity, fat shaming & the worldview.2018-06-29T05:32:17+00:00

How do you beat the blues travelling the world?

Today, I realized that I had gotten sneakily gotten lonely while travelling. How did this happen? I’ve met so many people since I started this year’s tour of the best countries to retire cheap. Some great ones, some boring ones and some that’ll I’ve never forget.

But since I haven’t been home since April 4, 2017 (Edmonton, Alberta)…it does sometimes start sneaking up on you. Maybe it’s when I’m eating a menu del dias in Ecuador ($3 for a protein, a soup, a drink and beans), and thinking….I loved eating this day one…but now….I would love some sushi.

It’s like whattttt?!! How does this even happen? I’m not complaining. I’m super duper lucky to be able to travel the world, write about it for you to read How I make money

One moment I’m watching this crazy sunset, with a beer in my hand….and boom I’m missing home. I’m wishing I could share this magnificent moment with my magnificent friends. Then I shrug it off, and finish my beer. (I’m no girly man with emotions. Said in my best Schwarzenegger voice).

I find when I’m travelling for long times, even though I have Facebook, it’s not quite the same as actually being home.  And even though I’m an emotionless cyborg, I think those little moments of missing home build up. Just having a little break from constant travelling is nice. I wasn’t planning on being home for at least a year (plane tickets to Edmonton, Alberta aren’t cheap from Ecuador…on average $1000 return). But I think 6 months a year of being not at home, is my happy spot.

Why did I write this article? Just to let you know, one fact. 

If you’re going to look for the best country in the world to retire, (like I’m doing) you might also be hit with the odd case  of the lonelies. (Even though you’re surrounded by awesome new friends).
Other digital nomads I’ve talked to, or messaged has told me it has happened to them too. Some of their strategies of dealing with it?

  • Make new friends
  • Take the time to write (even if it’s just a journal for yourself)
  • Call your friends

I do all that but I also find myself sometimes spiralling into destructive behaviours

  • Drinking way too much $7 booze
  • Partying until 6am in the morning
  • Skipping the gym, and language training because I’m way too hung over

One thing, that I find helps? 

Knowing that even though, I’m far far away, adventures my friends will always be there! 

Bonus tip?

  • Eating Pizza Hut. I go to a Pizza Hut, with my kindle and it’s kinda like being home just a little bit. Or I go looking for a a giant buffet

Seriously….my poor abs! See you soon friends!

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

How do you beat the blues travelling the world?2017-09-10T06:28:13+00:00

Exploring Cuenca

Oh Cuenca. How I love how sleepy you are. Everything is closed on Sunday’s here. Well almost everything. Still you don’t come to Cuenca for the excitement.

I found on my exploration today a bakery that was open for 15 cents a fresh bun, 

and a restaurant called Picantes de Leo. It’s a seafood themed restaurant where you can get a crab and bowl of soup for $3.50. Yes that’s a whole crab (albeit a small one, like blue crab sized).

  • Cervice $3.50
  • American breakfast $4.50
  • Almuerzo $4
  • Vino Hervido (mulled hot wine) $4
  • Chaulafan (Ecuadorian style stir fried rice) $7.50

I’ve included my walking map too! 
What’s also a neat bonus? I got my boots shined for $1. Yup. 

Love it! I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!) 


Exploring Cuenca2017-08-13T20:03:34+00:00

Surprise trip to Banos de Agua Santa

Looking for the best countries to retire cheap, I’ve made up a list of must haves. Wifi, a gym and good quality of living are all essential for my life. What is nice to have in a place to retire though, is a close proximity to neat places.

Living in Cuenca, Ecuador one of the coolest things is that it’s just a quick bus ride to other parts of Ecuador. Why is that important? Let me tell you a story about my weekend. I woke up (at noonish) and found out that there was an opportunity for a guided tour of Banos de Agua Santa. Alejo who runs the Blue Door Housing Quito & Cuenca (where I’ve been staying) Stay at the blue door, had a guided tour booked for one of his clients in a private car.

His girlfriend Belen lives in Cuenca, and was going to take the bus to Ambato (where they were going to meet her). Did I want to go?

Remember I was still in my sleep pants, and super groggy…..”Why the heck not?” I thought.

And that was how my weekend adventure started.

A five hour bus ride from Cuenca (we got on a bus, that was slightly better than the last donkey bus I was on)

LINK Bus from Quito

By the way the best BUS company in Ecuadot is Flota Imbabura.

Then we arrived in Ambato, where we drove to Banos de Agua Santa.

The air bnb we stayed in, was $18USD a night. Staying at the Blue door, I’ve gotten really spoiled. It was a a beautiful view, but there was no wifi and only one bathroom for all the rooms. Eek! Luckily it was only for the night.

That night we explored the town of Banos de Agua Santa. At night on the weekend it’s packed with people out for a good time. Think of the Las Vegas strip but full of Ecuadorians. There weren’t very many foreigners around on the weekend. And strangely enough there were no girls either. (I counted 20 guys to 1 girl was the ratio.)

Staying out till 1am, I was asleep by 3am….which was really late considering we were planning to start our adventures at 830am tomorrow.

Here’s the guided tour we did

  • Ziplining , suspension bridge & rock climbing. This was at Parque Aventura. $15 USD paid for the whole thing. Getting pictures was $5 USD for 55 photos and some raw video. I’m super cheap, but I think having somebody following you around taking your picture is worth the $5. They give you a cd with the images on it after you’re done. (If you want a physical copy, its $2 per shot). Also they’ll email you the photos too on Google Drive.  ) They did speak English, (it was right along the lines of my poor Spanish.
  • The Zipling was fun, but I definitely was exhausted after the 92 steps over a suspension bridge, and the rock climbing. My quads were killing me.
  • Its not hard, but the tension I was carrying, kept my legs tensed the whole time.
  • We went to the swing at the edge of the world, it was a giant swing, and it was a $1 (tip….go early….). The area for the swings, there are a whole bunch to choose from. The famous one is the one we did, but they all looked fun from what I saw. The swing is perfect if you wanted a fun view and a neat picture, not scary at all.
  • At the swing I found a craziest souvenir. There was a guy who was hand cutting words out of keys. I have never seen anything like this while travelling the world. I had him make a few for me.
  • Then lunch. Wow. I cannot believe we hit a 5* restaurant, where lunch and a coffee was $8 USD. The view of the mountains was the best I’ve seen.
  • Now after lunch, we went to see a majestic waterfall. My companion and I decided that we really didn’t want to do an hour long hike, and we were driven up there to the view. (I’m so lazy)

After the waterfall we were all exhausted, and Belen and I still had a 5 hour bus ride from Ambato to go……. and that’ a different story. All in all Banos de Agua Santo was 100% worth it. Taking the tour with Blue Door Housing was great because Alejo and Belen speak both English/Spanish. BEST PART? Having a private car driving around all day? Priceless.

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Surprise trip to Banos de Agua Santa2018-06-20T19:10:50+00:00

Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador is ranked #1 on many sites as the best place to retire cheap. After exploring Quito, Ecuador for the month LINK TO ONE MOTH IN QUITO I  decided to head to Cuenca, Ecuador.

The first step is getting to the bus station. Terminal South in Quito is the one you’re going to want to head to. If you’re staying in old town like I was it’s less than $5 to get there via Cabify LINK CABS IN QUITO.

Getting to the bus station, you’ll have a lot of companies to choose from. 

They all cost the same. $15 USD for one way. So since they all cost the same, the buses should all be the same level of quality and comfort right? Wrong.

Some of the buses have tons of leg room, like flying business class, with almost lay flaT recline. Other buses, you’ll be in the equivalent of economy in Air Canada (aka the worst).

Why wouldn’t everybody take the best buses? Well, depending on time and schedule you might have to take the donkey bus.

When I got to the bus station to buy my ticket at 10pm for the night bus the bus tickets for all of the good buses were sold out.

The good bus lines

  • Float imbabura
  • Sucre Express

With no choice, and a heavy heart I headed to the donkey bus line.

That’s when another

Not only was I going to be spending 9 hours on the donkey bus….

…tickets were all sold out!

According to my travel companion, Alejandro this is really really really rare. In all the times he has done the trip (over a dozen) he has never seen it so busy when it wasn’t a national holiday.

There isn’t information booths, but with a huge line of people still wanting tickets, one of the companies told us, if they could wake up some drivers they’d get us a bus. Maybe.

At this point I was stuck. Do I take a taxi back to the Blue Door Quito LINK TO BLUE DOOR REVIEW and come back in 4 hours for the first morning bus? Or maybe I could find a cab to take me? I thought maybe if I got a few people, Alejandro and I wouldn’t be paying too much more. Wrong again. The cab wanted $200 USD. That option being way too much, I settled in for maybe getting a bus.

The cool thing about travelling with somebody is that it does allow you to take a nap on the floor of a dirty bus station in Quito without worrying about your stuff. So, I grabbed some beers and some chips $10USD (2 big bags of chips and 2 beers) and we hung out till 330am in the morning.

At that point after a mini floor nap, one of the bus companies had rounded up a bus. It was a Patria bus (aka El Burro Autobus).

Cramped and squished with my bag (always take your valuables bag and put it on your lap) I pulled down my sleep mask and headphones. This is super important because, the bus plays a movie on a flat screen tv in Spanish, so if you want to sleep, be prepared.

About 7 hours in, we stopped at a little roadside diner near Alausi for breakfast. There you can get fried chicken, curried goat or curried beef. Usually about $3.

I chose to eat a protein bar.

A few hours later, I arrived in Cuenca. Total cost $25.15 USD ($15 bus ticket, $10 snacks, 15 cents to use the bathroom in the bus terminal).

I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)

Taking the bus from Quito to Cuenca, Ecuador2018-11-16T21:04:26+00:00

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