As I have been travelling in Ecuador, I constantly wonder how we in the USA got so involved with buying, having and owning stuff, and how that involvement with stuff has led to higher prices- due to consumer demand and ´keeping up with the Joneses.´leading to – of course a $700 billion dollar and counting bailout.
For instance here in Ecuador, a gallon of bottled water is $.96, not even a dollar. In the USA, you buy a small bottle for $2.00, most of the cost is due to marketing.
In Ecuador, an hour massage is $20.00 in a tourist area, in the US, it is upwards of $80.00/hour. Yesterday, i had a great massage and facial for $35.00 (2 hours total) In Bali, beach massages were $5.00.
Most people do not have a computer, therefore cybercafes are all over. Pricing in Ecuador is $.50-$1.00 an hour. It should be so easy in the States.
Here and other parts of the world, they have great private and cheap bus (transportation) infrastructures. It is faster and easy to drive than mass transportation in the states. (although, this is not true in all cities) People hop on and off the bus constantly here. You can get around any town in Ecuador for $.25, and longer routes, $2.50- $5.00. (4-5 hours)Could you imagine getting from San Diego to Los Angeles for $1.50?, with many drop off points along the way?
Clothing selection is limited. Designer clothes, who can afford them here! Nobody worries about their Prada or Coach purse, real or knockoff. Great, handmade leather purses go for $6.00 and up. I bought beautiful, handwoven scarves for $3.00. A few years ago, I brought back some great straw purses for my nieces- they have never been used, no designer name, not the look that everyboday was wearing. It didn´t matter, that I watched the weavers make this purses in a very small traditional city in Bali.
Food is also simple. The basics, bread, meat, beans or rice, juice, eggs. I´ve had some of the best meals of my life in little restaurants for less than $3.00. I still remember the Corvina Fish I had in Costa Rica years ago for $2.00. Today, my breakfast, 2 eggs, 1 large juice, 2 piecs of bread, 1 coffee for $2.00. I am surprised that wine is fairly economical here in Ecuador. limited amount, so if you want wine, you can find. But no wine snobs here. ( I think we all know them!)
Many of the museums are free as well, and if not free, reasonable prices so everybody can go. Entertainment, day or evening is also free. Music is constantly playing in Central and South America.
Hotels- another story. I am staying in an immaculate hostal, with hot water, private bath for $10.00 a night (single) it goes for $8.00 if with other people. The last time I checked the average hotel cost was $77.00 a night, plus taxes in the US. In Cuenca, we stayed at a hostal for $6.00 a night, including a full breakfast and hot water.
Not to rant too much, but- How did we get here? When did Stuff become so all consuming important? What would happen if more people went back to the Simple life? What I think- we would not have a $700 Billion dollar bailout, more people would still own their homes, the economy would still be flourishing, companies would still be in business, and products would still be made in the USA .