Retiring In Ecuador: In recent years, Ecuador has become a top overseas destination for retiring U.S. citizens. Bear in mind that organizations promoting Ecuador or any other place as a retirement destination may have a financial incentive to attract retirees, and may not always present a balanced picture. Consider multiple sources before choosing a destination.
Remain vigilant when contracting professional services for assistance with Ecuadorian visas, real estate transactions, or customs brokering for imported household effects. U.S. citizen retirees regularly complain about unethical practices by lawyers, real estate agents, and others who have taken advantage of their lack of knowledge about local language, laws, and culture, resulting in costly losses and little hope for a remedy through the local judicial system.
As in any country, Ecuadorian rules governing visas and customs are subject to change with little notice. The Ministry of Foreign Relations and other Ecuadorian government agencies publish little information in English, increasing foreigners’ reliance on lawyers or other facilitators, some of whom have distorted the true cost or requirements for obtaining Ecuadorian visas. Staff members at the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General are not in a position to give detailed advice about Ecuadorian immigration law.
Ayahuasca: Ayahuasca is an Amazonian psychotropic plant, generally brewed as a tea, which has traditionally been used for religious, ritual, and medicinal purposes by the indigenous peoples of the region. It is said to elicit intense modifications in thought processes, perception, and emotion. The psychoactive ingredient is Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a drug classified as Schedule I in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
Ayahuasca tourism, in which shamans “guide” visitors through psychedelic rituals, is a burgeoning industry in the jungle regions of Ecuador and Peru. There is no way to thoroughly vet ayahuasca tourism operators, and if you choose to participate, please be aware of the potential risks involved. Some participants have reported adverse experiences during the rituals, including being seriously assaulted and robbed. Victims report a range of scenarios, from being alert but unable to maintain control of their surroundings, to total amnesia. In 2012, a U.S. citizen died in Peru while under the influence of the drug.