Curb appeal from the inside: The Latin tradition of courtyards and private spaces

    I recall almost every detail of my father’s ancestral home in Mendoza, in the wine country of northwestern Argentina. The layout, the tile, the woodwork, the planters — even the service quarters with giant sinks for hand washing clothes — remain vivid in my mind. But I remember almost nothing about the exterior of the […]

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    Learn how to develop good hunches: Being lucky isn’t always an accident

    You can learn to model lucky behaviors that will give you an edge in life, without resorting to astronomy or carrying a rabbit’s foot. It’s better to be lucky than good. The large, impersonal forces that shape the economy, political movements, and ultimately the lives of citizens may seem haphazard. Yet you will find folks […]

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    Thanksgiving for my Ecuadorian friends — served up with all trimmings

    On Thursday morning we attended our exercise class in the park. One of our classmates had lived in the U.S., and we got to talking about Thanksgiving. She said she missed the holiday, and since this year we planned to cook a turkey, we invited her to our house to celebrate in the North American […]

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    Enjoying the beach life in Ecuador? Don’t sweat the details

    Where I used to live, in the Midwestern United States, folks often had one room with rattan furniture, shells, and tiki lights to remind them of far-off paradises on warm sandy shores. I secretly loved these rooms, because gray, Midwestern winters last so long and the cold penetrates the bones. You need a reminder that […]

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    Some like it close and noisy

    By Fernando Pagés Ruiz Latinos are not afraid of close contact even with strangers There’s no “three foot” rule. Why waste the space? Same goes for sound. Why would you turn down the music? Lonely beaches exist because Latinos prefer the crowded ones. My wife, from Mexico, and me have always preferred the crowded sidewalk, […]

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    A Shangri-La with less culture shock

    Images of paradise often include white sand beaches, palms, breezes, and aqua blue waters. Perhaps not for those finding Shangri-La in the cool altitudes of Cuenca. Yet it’s certainly, what expats settling Salinas, Olon and other coastal gringo-magnets imagine when coming to Ecuador. For them, there’s an alternative much closer to home. St. Croix The […]

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    Buildings don’t need to last forever — impermanence is part of life and sometimes it just makes practical sense

    By Fernando Pagés Ruiz In the U.S., people are very focused on durability. If something lasts for a long, long time, it’s said to be sustainable by definition, because the environmental and economic impact gets amortized over the ages. The Japanese have a different concept; this is why they build with paper. Life is impermanent; […]

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    Bamboo hut on a firm foundation: A close-up look at Ecuador’s amazing stilt homes

    By Fernando Pagés Ruiz If you’ve traveled along the Ecuadorian coastal plains, you’ve seen the traditional Ecuadorian stilt homes, standing proud above the grass, built of stiff guadua cane and palm-leaf thatch. (Article continues below photo) Driving down to Guayaquil, almost as soon as you exit the sierras, you can see these esterilla homes hovering […]

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    Gender PC: Just don’t call me a ¡Latinx!

    You may have seen the image on Facebook: a poster on a “Wholefoods” storefront window asking customers and employees to avoid “gendered” speech, such as “Hello Sir,” and “Thanks Brother.” It’s actually misleading. The Whole Foods Market in the United States does not have such a policy, but a restaurant in Australia with a similar […]

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