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Top Expat Discoveries From Driving in Ecuador

I got my EC drivers license last September (2015) and bought a new car, 2016 Chevy Sail, three months later.

After driving in and around Quito for most of 2016, here are my Top Ten Discoveries and Realizations From Driving in Ecuador....

10.  Motorcyclists you didn’t see in the rear-view mirror zip around you and past you -- an unsettling experience.

9.  Due largely to insufficient road signage, I have gotten lost far more frequently driving in Quito than in any of the many U.S. cities I previously drove in.

8.  Knock wood, i have yet to be pulled over by the police.  This, in spite of occasionally driving the wrong way on (questionably marked) one-way streets.

7.  One wrong turn can cost you a lot of time.  I got into the lane for Interoceana (highway) in the middle of Quito .. and the next thing I knew, I had to go through a tunnel taking me out of the city into the suburbs.  Due to ensuing blocked roads and other traffic delays and mistakes, it was over two hours before I could make it back into the city.

6.  I’ve been nickel-and-dimed by the EC daylight-hours equivalent of meter maids and night-time (probably self-appointed) vigilantes who watch my parked car after dark.  The meter maids each work at least a couple of blocks’ worth of blue-zone hourly parking spaces.  The night-time boys seem to be making it up as they go.

5.  Driving a manual-transmission car -- which is what the overwhelming majority of cars on Quito streets happen to be -- is more challenging than I remember (from U.S. driving).  I burned out the embrague (clutch) by riding it too much during my first 150 kilometers.  The dealership repaired it under warranty .. but then sent me an email saying if I bring it back for the same reason anytime soon, the repairs will be at my expense.  Fair enough.

4.  The fancy security system in the car took a while to get used to.  I have to remember to enter a 5-digit code in order to start the car.  And my Chevy makes loud beeps at what were unexpected times when I am in or out of the vehicle.

3.  This one I love:  there is a button on the dashboard that allows me effectively to block out nearby bus fumes.  I still see the obnoxious black fumes coming out of the offending buses, but esmok de bus is blocked from directly annoying my nostrils. :)

2.  Right-of-way situations:  Merging and the myriad rendondeles -- ubiquitous traffic circles -- present many more challenges in avoiding other vehicles than I previously was used to.  On some streets with which I am now familiar, I avoid certain lanes that would put me in potential conflict with cars approaching from strange or unexpected angles.

And the #1 discovery after driving in Quito....

1.  Pedestrians jaywalking the city’s streets are epidemic.  The walkers act as if there are official crosswalks every 15 feet in the middle of the block in some neighborhoods.

cccmedia in Quito

Bonus realization:  Convenience.  It’s a pleasure no longer to have to wait for a bus or a taxi in the rain .. to be able to make unscheduled stops at a moment’s notice and not have to look for a second bus or taxi entonces .. and to tote stuff around in the trunk from any point A to any point B.

cccmedia :

I got my EC drivers license last September (2015) and bought a new car, 2016 Chevy Sail, three months later.

After driving in and around Quito for most of 2016, here are my Top Ten Discoveries and Realizations From Driving in Ecuador....

10.  Motorcyclists you didn’t see in the rear-view mirror zip around you and past you -- an unsettling experience.

9.  Due largely to insufficient road signage, I have gotten lost far more frequently driving in Quito than in any of the many U.S. cities I previously drove in.

8.  Knock wood, i have yet to be pulled over by the police.  This, in spite of occasionally driving the wrong way on (questionably marked) one-way streets.

7.  One wrong turn can cost you a lot of time.  I got into the lane for Interoceana (highway) in the middle of Quito .. and the next thing I knew, I had to go through a tunnel taking me out of the city into the suburbs.  Due to ensuing blocked roads and other traffic delays and mistakes, it was over two hours before I could make it back into the city.

6.  I’ve been nickel-and-dimed by the EC daylight-hours equivalent of meter maids and night-time (probably self-appointed) vigilantes who watch my parked car after dark.  The meter maids each work at least a couple of blocks’ worth of blue-zone hourly parking spaces.  The night-time boys seem to be making it up as they go.

5.  Driving a manual-transmission car -- which is what the overwhelming majority of cars on Quito streets happen to be -- is more challenging than I remember (from U.S. driving).  I burned out the embrague (clutch) by riding it too much during my first 150 kilometers.  The dealership repaired it under warranty .. but then sent me an email saying if I bring it back for the same reason anytime soon, the repairs will be at my expense.  Fair enough.

4.  The fancy security system in the car took a while to get used to.  I have to remember to enter a 5-digit code in order to start the car.  And my Chevy makes loud beeps at what were unexpected times when I am in or out of the vehicle.

3.  This one I love:  there is a button on the dashboard that allows me effectively to block out nearby bus fumes.  I still see the obnoxious black fumes coming out of the offending buses, but esmok de bus is blocked from directly annoying my nostrils. :)

2.  Right-of-way situations:  Merging and the myriad rendondeles -- ubiquitous traffic circles -- present many more challenges in avoiding other vehicles than I previously was used to.  On some streets with which I am now familiar, I avoid certain lanes that would put me in potential conflict with cars approaching from strange or unexpected angles.

And the #1 discovery after driving in Quito....

1.  Pedestrians jaywalking the city’s streets are epidemic.  The walkers act as if there are official crosswalks every 15 feet in the middle of the block in some neighborhoods.

cccmedia in Quito

Bonus realization:  Convenience.  It’s a pleasure no longer to have to wait for a bus or a taxi in the rain .. to be able to make unscheduled stops at a moment’s notice and not have to look for a second bus or taxi entonces .. and to tote stuff around in the trunk from any point A to any point B.

Good stuff ccc. I appreciate the info about the Sail, because that’s one of the cars I’m looking at and it’s actually number one on the list. BTW #3 is great I didn’t know about that.

I have a question if you don’t mind. Why did you choose a manual transmission? BTW I love stick shifts and owned several but my wife abhors them, and would not drive one, especially in hilly and mountainous terrain. But I’ve heard automatics and mountainous regions don’t do well and would like your perspective.

As for #1, haha, we cross whenever we have a chance!

V Simple wrote:

I appreciate the information about the (Chevy) Sail, because that’s one of the cars I’m looking at....


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Chevy dealerships are abundant in Quito.  I figured that with a new car from Chevy, repairs would be easy, parts would always be available and -- given the abundance of so many moderately-priced Sails driving around town -- my car wouldn’t be a target for the larcenous.

cccmedia in Quito

V Simple asked:

Why did you choose a manual transmission ?


----------

I chose it for the same reason that most drivers in Ecuador buy ‘stick’ vehicles:  big savings.

At the purchase-dealership, I discovered that I would save at least $13,000 buying the Sail compared to an automatic-transmission Chevy car.

Yes, the hills and inclines here in the highlands are more challenging if driving a ‘manual’ car .. and, if the price had been about the same, I would have chosen the automatic.

However, it’s like a lot of things in life -- after a while you get used to it and it’s not a problem.

Also, I’ve developed strategies to make the gear-shifting more manageable.  For instance, when I return home to La Basílica area from Mariscal, I take the Calle Matovelle route instead of the Calle Carchi route.  The incline is less steep on Matovelle .. and it’s an easier and softer turn onto my street, García Moreno, than from La Carchi.

cccmedia in Centro Histórico

cccmedia :

V Simple asked:

Why did you choose a manual transmission ?


----------

I chose it for the same reason that most drivers in Ecuador buy ‘stick’ vehicles:  big savings.

At the purchase-dealership, I discovered that I would save at least $13,000 buying the Sail compared to an automatic-transmission Chevy car.

Yes, the hills and inclines here in the highlands are more challenging if driving a ‘manual’ car .. and, if the price had been about the same, I would have chosen the automatic.

However, it’s like a lot of things in life -- after a while you get used to it and it’s not a problem.

Also, I’ve developed strategies to make the gear-shifting more manageable.  For instance, when I return home to La Basílica area from Mariscal, I take the Calle Matovelle route instead of the Calle Carchi route.  The incline is less steep on Matovelle .. and it’s an easier and softer turn onto my street, García Moreno, than from La Carchi.

cccmedia in Centro Histórico

I assumed there was an automatic option Sail for like $1000-$2000 more max. Just visited Chevy EC now and there’s only a standard and air conditioner version. I’m not paying $13,000 more just for an automatic either, that’s crazy  :o

Admittedly, I am in the early stages of car buying research here. Had no idea that automatics cost so much more. I thought manual transmissions were also popular because automatics don't fare as well in inclines (engine wise) and are costlier to repair.

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