Jeff Van Pelt

By Jeff Van Pelt Critical thinking seems to be in short supply across the planet. One reason is that, too often, we teach children to memorize information (and disinformation) instead of teaching them to think critically. In other words, we teach them what to think, not how to think. This is my definition of critical...
By Jeff Van Pelt Mark Twain said, “Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.” Some people must not have gotten that breeding. Trolling on Facebook, and in the comments section of various online publications, is a hobby for some. Lately there has...
If you are learning either Spanish or English as a second language, you have probably had the experience of “I am reading and writing it pretty well now, and my speech is even coming along, but when an Ecuadorian – or North American – starts talking to me at their normal pace, using vernacular, I...
By Jeff Van Pelt I first wrote this article while confined to a hotel room in Quito 24/7, after being stranded in Argentina for 7 weeks. My emotions inevitably colored the message. It was titled “Exiled and Abandoned.” I decided not to publish it as it would have been controversial, and people are already polarized...
By Jeff Van Pelt Common sense is not so common, to borrow a quote from Voltaire. Critical thinking, to use a more technical term, seems to be on the wane in the world. From Donald Trump’s lack of concern about, and failed response to, the coronavirus, to other governments’ heavy-handed, knee-jerk responses to it, we...
By Jeff Van Pelt I knew about Mendoza. Argentine wine country. I love good wine and had long been intrigued by the thought of a visit to Mendoza. But I had never heard of Salta. It is an old colonial city in the far north of Argentina, about the size of Cuenca, and like Cuenca...
By Jeff Van Pelt I lost my German Shepherd, Klaus, at 11 years from a neurological disorder. Any dog owner knows that is like losing a child and a best friend at the same time. Klaus was my camping and cabin buddy in the mountains of Virginia (USA). The Blue Ridge Mountains are one of...
By Jeff Van Pelt People love to debate how much crime there is in their town, whether it is getting worse, and where it is the worst. A more profitable enterprise is to look at how to avoid being the target of crime wherever you are. The information in this article could save you from...
I was a rebel in high school. The year was 1970 and Virginia Beach had largely avoided the upheavals of the 1960s, but we were making up for lost time. We grew our hair long, wore tattered jeans with American flags sewn on the butt, and talked in lingo: a cool guy was a freak...
So, pene means penis in Spanish. Hold that in mind. I was volunteering for English conversation groups at a local university. The two young female students I was talking to asked me if I cooked. I said yes, I like to cook. They asked my favorite dishes to prepare. I said something like “pescado encocado...
By Jeff Van Pelt Are you thinking about moving to Ecuador? If so, it might be wise to ask why approximately 50% of expats who move here eventually return to their home country. After more than three years in Cuenca, I have seen many people repatriate — or move into the gray zone, staying in...
By Jeff Van Pelt One of the cultural differences first noticed by gringo expats upon arrival in Ecuador is the myriad dogs running loose, or sleeping, in the streets. In North America, dogs are usually kept in fenced yards or inside houses, and their owners can be fined it they run loose. Not so in...

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The Cuenca Dispatch

Week of June 16

Noboa’s Government Moves to End Fuel Gasoline Subsidies, Highlighting Inequities for Low-Income Groups.

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Cuenca-Girón-Pasaje Road to Temporarily Close for Pipeline Replacement.

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Ecuador to Initiate Construction of $52 Million ‘Bukele-Style’ Prison to Combat Organized Crime.

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