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Cotacachi Expats Meeting at La Turista Restaurant

Cotacachi Expats Meeting at La Turista Restaurant
May 21, 2010

Editor’s Note: This article is the result of a meeting of Cotacachi expats.  It contains useful information for expats in Ecuador as well as others who are contemplating a move to Ecuador.  Some of the information in the article is anecdotal and unverified, so I suggest that readers check it out for yourselves.  Also, procedures, times and dates can change quickly in Ecuador.

Jack Moss and his wife Debbie are wardens for the U. S. Embassy in Quito.  They volunteer at the embassy as liaisons between the embassy and the local expat community.


Jack put together a very informative and helpful list of presenters for the gringo get-together Friday night at La Turista Restaurant in Cotacachi.

Dr. Don Santini, ND, MH, a local expat resident, spoke about Prolozone Therapy, which he offers at the medical office of Dr. Vaca on Bolivar Calle in Cotacachi on Thursday mornings at 9 am.  This therapy involves an injection of ozone that relieves severe pain and is reported to kill cancer cells. It may also regenerate deteriorated cartilage   Call him at 08-185-4289.

Next to speak was Phyllis Cooper, long-time Cotacachi resident and also a warden for the U.S. Embassy.  She said that although some people would rather not be involved with the embassy, it’s a good idea to register with them in case there’s some sort of emergency or disaster.  If you are not registered, they cannot really be of optimum assistance to you.

Crime in Ecuador and How to Help Avoid It

The embassy keeps track of crime trends and sends out emails about them to inform us of possible dangerous situations. Express kidnappings are occurring in which a cab driver will take you a few blocks, stop and allow strangers into the cab.  They then take you to several banks where they use your credit cards to withdraw cash to your limit, and then throw you out.

Jack suggests that you can help avoid having this situation occur by making sure you use a legitimate cab. These cabs are painted yellow, but they also need to have an orange license plate, not a white one.  Women should sit in the back seat of the cab and make sure both doors are locked.   It is also a good idea to call someone you know, give them the taxi number and make sure the driver hears you talking.  That way, the cab driver will think twice about becoming involved in anything nefarious.

Licensed cabs also have a four-digit number printed on the doors and on the window.  Jack added that Quito’s crime rating is currently “critical,” which is the worst of the 4 crime ratings.  If you get into a taxi and feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to get out at the next stop the taxi makes.  Trust your intuition.

Phyllis told the group about Taxi Lagos, a taxi cooperative that charges $8.50 per person for a one-way ride between Quito and Cotacachi.  Since hiring a private cab for the same journey can cost $50-$55, this is quite a savings.  They have offices in Quito, Ibarra and Otavalo. The Otavalo phone number is:  06-295-5150

Reservations are needed for Taxi Lagos.  If you have a group of 5 people, Taxi Lagos will come into Cotacachi to pick you up, but if there are fewer riders, you’re required to meet them at the Pan American Highway outside Cotacachi, where they will pick you up.

Phyllis shared information about Damas Norteamericanas y Britanicas.  Damas is a women’s service group that meets once a month in Quito and has the biggest English-speaking lending library in Ecuador.  For $15 per year, you can keep library books for up to one month before returning them.  They also have a children’s reading corner and videos.

Damas is located at 12 de Octubre #26-138 and Orellana Edificio in Quito
Phone- 222-8190    Website-<>
Library hours – Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 12 pm and Friday-3 pm – 5 pm

Jack shared this information from the embassy with us:

1.  There are 27 active volcanos in Ecuador.  Cotapaxi, a volcano between Cotacachi and Quito, is 10 years overdue for blowing its top.  Scientists believe that Cotapaxi  goes active about every 120 years.  Right now, about one earthquake tremor per hour is being recorded around Cotapaxi.

2.  Although there is growing opposition to President Correa, he is not a Chavez clone.  In fact, he is a very strong supporter of sovereignty for Ecuador.

New Constitutional Laws and Discounts for Seniors

Dr. Santiago Andrade, an attorney who represents several condo associations in Cotacachi, spoke about discounts in Ecuador for senior citizens:

1. The new constitution of Ecuador protects and gives priority to seniors, pregnant women, children and those with catastrophic illnesses.  The state will guarantee the health care and nutrition of these groups.  But he reminded us that just because the law is in writing, doesn’t mean it is effectively being enforced in the country.

2.  Seniors can get 50% discounts on public services such as buses and airlines.  According to Andrade, this discount even applies to taxis.  You can receive a 50% discount on movies (at age 60), recreation, museum fees.  You just need to present your cedula, which is a citizen identification card,  to verify your age.

Andrade told us that if you are refused a discount you are entitled to get, report the store or business to a civil judge.  The employee may be fired so it is a serious offense.

Although an American Airlines top official told Jack that seniors can receive a 50% discount on the net price of airfares on airlines with flights in and out of Ecuador simply by going online, others report this may not be the case.  Rather, it’s best to go to the airline’s office in Ecuador where you must present your cedula to verify your age.  There is no way to verify this information online and you don’t receive a full 50% discount online.

Also, web fares are generated in the U.S. and therefore the 50% discount isn’t awarded.

Oliver Burkhardt, director of YuraTours in Otavalo, spoke to the group.  He can help expats with arranging tours all over Ecuador and with ticket purchases in and out of the country.  You only need present your cedula or Ecuadorian ID.  He will give you a factura for the tax so you can get that money back.

Yura Tours can write airline tickets at the discounted senior rate.  Bring your cedula with you to the office.  This may be easier than going to the airline offices in Quito.

Burkhardt’s office in Otavalo is open Monday through Saturday.  Send him an email for a quote or call him.  His office is near the Plaza de Ponchos at Morales 505 and Sucre on the first floor of a 3-story building.  Email:          Cell: 09-498-9513

3.  Seniors over 65 years of age with an income of under $1200 (this may also mean $1200 per couple) per month or a net worth not exceeding $120,000, are exempt from any government or municipal taxes. If your amounts are more than those listed, you simply pay taxes on the difference.  After age 65 you pay no municipal taxes.

4.  Seniors get 50% discounts on electric bills (if not over 120 kilowatts per month) and phone bills.  Again, take your cedula to the utility office.  Nancy Showalter said that Andinatel  wouldn’t give her the 50% discount, but Dr. Andrade says the constitution gives foreigners with a cedula the same rights as Ecuadorians, so they should honor the discount.  Sometimes they avoid paying the discount by claiming that services like phone and internet are not essential services, but if you insist, you may still receive it.

5.  Now expats can vote in Ecuador elections, based on new constitutional laws.  Just take your cedula to the tribunal in Ibarra to register first and then you can automatically vote.  In fact, if you are under 65 years of age, you are required by law to vote, but this is discretionary for foreigners.

6.  After you have had your cedula for three years, according to Dr. Andrade, you can apply for citizenship in Ecuador and then will have the benefits of dual citizenship.

For more information:  or  Google – ley del anciano

7.  Seniors can receive a refund of the IVA they pay.  IVA is the 12% value-added tax added to everything from groceries to appliances, clothing, restaurant meals, household items and other purchases.

Go to SRI (the Ecuadorian name for IRS) with your cedula, fill in the paperwork, turn in your facturas (receipts with your name on them) filed in chronological order and you will get 100% of the IVA back.  This is good for 6 years back.  You may also need to supply such information as your address and bank.

SRI offices are in Ibarra in Parque Pedro Moncayo and in Otavalo in the municipal building. There is no SRI office in Cotacachi, but a mobile SRI office comes to Cotacachi’s municipal office every second Tuesday.  You must be registered first in the SRI system in order to receive the tax back.

If a purchase is less than $4, a store doesn’t have to give you a factura with your name on it, but will instead give you a regular receipt, or nota de venta.   Some of the restaurants in Cotacachi are giving nota de ventas and are not charging you the 12% state tax and the 10% IVA, so if you want to use these receipts you must ask the restaurant owner to add on the taxes.

Health Insurance in Ecuador

Jack gave us information about health insurance in Ecuador:

1. He found 3 companies that will give expats good coverage.
2.  Many companies won’t write policies if you are over 65 years of age.  Others, not over 70 years.
3.  But if you are under 75 and insured already, they will continue coverage after age 75.
4.  Most have a $200 deductible.
5.  In general, if you are in your 50’s, with a $200 deductible and a very comprehensible program you will pay $175 – $180 per month.  If in your 60’s, premiums are $200-$225 per month, and if in your 70’s, expect to pay $200-$275 per month.
6.  Some policies in Ecuador will cover emergency transportation to the U.S., Medevac, which can cost up to $15,000 for air flights from Ecuador to the U.S.

Google Medevac insurance for more information.

You can talk to Phyllis about Coopseguros Anos Dorados, a health insurance company that will insure those over 75 years old. Their premiums are $100 per month but they only have one hospital near Quito that they provide service for.

Phyllis says the company will send a rep to Cotacachi to talk to those who are interested.  If you get their health insurance by age 55, they will never drop you.

Also, Jack is looking for four Cotacachi expat volunteers to help him evaluate the health insurance companies in Ecuador that he has found.  If you can help, contact him at –

As soon as Jack’s committee has a recommendation, a meeting will be called for expats who are interested in getting health insurance in Ecuador. We will be asking for rates for a larger annual deductible in order to lower the monthly premiums.  We will also invite the company reps to finalize the policy coverages.

More Things to Do Around Cotacachi

Fliers were passed out announcing  Hatha Yoga classes at the  Dharma Yoga Studio in Cotacachi.  Call instructor Deborah Miller for price, schedule, directions and information – 09-363-1206.  Deborah, a Certified Lifestyle Counselor and graduate of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico,  is also now giving Ayurvedic consultations in Cotacachi.



  1. I’m considering moving down to Cotacachi later this year. I am in Chicago now and I’m having a hard time finding out what the year round weather is like there. I’ve read that it is Springtime year round. But then others say that ti’s really cold and rainy during the winter and that it’s so cold and rainy it’s hard to even go out for a walk.

    I have a dog that I walk everyday and I’m real curious just how cold and rainy it gets there.


  2. Malcolm Reding says:

    After looking at all the options for health insurance for people over 70, I decided for me at least going Al Fresco, makes the most sense. Canceling my medicare supplelment and Medicare part B will save me about $4,000 per year. You can buy a lot health care in Ecuador for $4,000.00. It’s probably not for everyone, but I’m pretty healthy, I don’t have to carry a drugstore around with me and all my parts still work pretty well.

  3. What should I try to get the RSS feed working? Can’t seem to figure it out. Thanks

  4. Mahria Thompson says:

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you so much for all your information on line about Ecuador.

    I would like to visit Cotacachi in a few weeks. I am coming to Ecuador on July 14th. Will go to Guayaquil and then to Manta.

    Cotacachi sounds wonderful. Can you please recommend a hotel I could stay at a couple of nights?

    I plan to fly to Quito and then take that taxi that one of your expats recommended (Taxi Logos). Do you know where I would catch that taxi?

    I’ll be coming in at the airport from Manta. I don’t want to spend time in Quito because of the high altitude. I am thinking Cotacachi has a much lower altitude. Is that correct?

    I am a “senior”, traveling alone. I am a former professional teacher of Spanish and French. It’s been awhile so I have much practicing of Spanish to do. Also have a degree in Clinical Psychology. And experience in Real Estate Investing. Just to let you know about me.

    I am just visiting this trip. Open to however I am guided.

    I would love to connect with the Expats there.

    Thank you for responding. I would love your answers and any advice you want to give.

    Many Thanks,

  5. Hello,
    I own a property in Manabi province. I owe 30 dollars tax yearly. I am in Canada. How do I contact a municipal tax office for my area in Manabi Ecuador and how do I pay them the 30 dollars from here in Canada?

    • Hi Liz,

      You can have someone you know go down to the Municipal building and pay the taxes. They will have to have a copy of your deed to take with them. Or you can wait until you come down to pay. The governments are not typically very anxious to collect the taxes. If you are some late, no problem.

      Gary Phillips

  6. Dianna Jaimes says:

    Im coming to Cotacachi in Septemebr to buy a house.
    Can anyone recommend a lawyer?
    If so please email me at

  7. how do you get a cedula can you get one on a tourist visa or do you need to live in ecuador for a specific amount of time first.. I plan to staret with a one or two month visit..Can a cedula help me immediatly?? All the above onfo is very useful . thanks Robert