Ecuador: UFOs, Head-Shrinkers and Other Misconceptions

“Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.”  (Oscar Wilde)

Ecuador: UFOs, Head-Shrinkers and Other Misconceptions

Salinas, Ecuador Photo by Rinaldo W.

I’ve told many people about our plan to move to Ecuador and received a lot of feedback. People have a tendency to believe almost anything they read or hear — some of it absurd.

Following are examples of the comments I’ve received and clarification of some of the common misconceptions.

I may have embellished some most of these…but you’ll get the gist of what I’m trying to convey.

“Ecuador is a “third world” country, controlled by dictators and drug lords, where just walking down the street will surely result in kidnapping, rape or execution.”

“Malaria, chikungunya or typhoid will kill you shortly after you step off the plane.”

“Most people live in huts and shacks, some of them spear-wielding cannibals and head-shrinkers — you’ll be lucky to escape alive.”

“You’ll have to survive on rice and bananas.”

“There’s nothing to do down there. Boredom will kill you — if you make it through the first week without contracting a deadly disease or having your head shrunk.”

“UFO sightings and alien abductions are common — if you’re not kidnapped by drug lords, you’ll be abducted and brainwashed by aliens.”

“If you do get sick or hurt, (and it’s pretty obvious at this point that we will) you’ll die before finding a hospital or doctor — if they even exist.”

Contrary to many of these thoughts, I’ve discovered that Ecuador is a different country than I’d previously thought. The government is a democracy, people live in regular houses, eat a variety of foods, and activities are plentiful.

Although the threats of earthquakes and tropical disease do exist, the opportunity to experience a new country and its culture far outweighs the risks.

P.S. I do believe there are head-shrinkers living in the jungle and possibly a UFO hiding inside a volcano…

Facts about Ecuador that you may not know.


Enjoy some of Ecuador’s outdoor activities:

  • Iguana parks
  • Whale watching
  • Close encounters with the famous blue-footed booby
  • Fly-fishing for rainbow trout
  • Swimming with dolphins, turtles and sharks
  • Strolling along miles upon miles of sandy beaches
  • Bird-watching at Mindo and Amazon jungle tours
  • Hiking through parks and reserves teeming with wildlife
  • Touring Incan ruins and walking through a petrified forest

And, if you get bored with the mainland, you can visit the Galápagos Islands…

Ecuador: UFOs, Head-Shrinkers and Other Misconceptions

Photo by Fisherga

Experience and learn:

  • Incan legends
  • Ancient Andes cultures
  • Many festivals celebrating local crafts and traditions
  • Indigenous experiences in the Amazon such as local healing and spiritual rituals

Recreation and adventure:
Ecuador: UFOs, Head-Shrinkers and Other Misconceptions

Photo by funkz

Have some fun:

  • Mountain biking
  • Thrill jumping and paragliding
  • Volcano and mountain climbing
  • Surfing, tubing and scuba diving
  • Canyoning, kayaking and whitewater rafting

Or just relax by camping, hiking, horseback riding or soaking in hot springs…

Food and drink:

Try some new dining experiences:

  • Local cuisine, such as an indigenous specialty, roast Guinea pig or “cuy asado”
  • Inexpensive, traditional food from a street vendor or international cuisine in an upscale restaurant
  • There are oodles of fresh fruit, vegetables, and juices to choose from
  • Ecuador is a major coffee producer, so high quality “café” is available
  • Local brews, such as “chicha” (made by fermenting chewed-up pieces of yuca) and sugar cane liquors called “aguardiente” and “mapanagua”

Transportation, health care, and housing:

  • Sightseeing in a “moto taxi” is an option, but there are regular taxis, cars, buses, and modern airports throughout Ecuador.
  • Diseases do exist and it’s necessary to take precautions. If there is a need for medical attention, there are plenty of top-notch physicians and health care facilities available.
  • Housing ranges from very basic lodging, with no hot water, to luxurious penthouse apartments and haciendas. For short stays, there are cheap rooms and “hostales” or deluxe hotels and resorts with views of the Andes mountains or Pacific ocean.

As you can see, common misconceptions are sometimes just that — misconceptions.

Every place has its dangers and downsides. However, after doing your research, you’ll find many positive and wonderful things about the places you want to travel to.

Don’t let other people’s views influence your decision to visit, or move to another country. Do your own research and do it thoroughly!

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