viernes, 14 de noviembre de 2014

THE BEST FOR A VARIETY OF SERVICES: TOURS, SPANISH CLASSES, RESIDENCY PAPERWORK



I came to Ecuador three years ago as a tourist and fell in love with the place. A few months ago, I quit my job after working at Microsoft for 14 years and decided to return to Ecuador in order to see more of the country and to improve my Spanish. An old friend from work recommended
Francisco Guayasamin as a tour guide.

I spoke with Francisco a couple times over Skype from the US and found him friendly and knowledgeable. He booked an excellent hotel for me, picked me up at the airport, and made sure
I was comfortable in my hotel room. My initial plan was to take Spanish classes at one of the many language schools for foreigners in Quito. However, Francisco offered to help me with my Spanish at no additional cost. So, we’ve been speaking in Spanish ever since I arrived. He corrects my mistakes, teaches me practical, everyday Spanish, and when I get stuck, he’s able to explain things to me in English. I’ve been studying Spanish over Skype with different language schools over the past three years (since my first trip to Ecuador), and have worked with multiple teachers from Guatemala and Ecuador. Francisco is among the best teachers I’ve worked with, and charges less for this combined service (tour guide + language teacher) than any school I found (and I’ve searched across multiple Latin American countries).

Over the course of three weeks, I visited numerous sites in and around Quito with Francisco, attended several cultural events that I would never have discovered on my own, despite my travel experience and all the travel books I armed myself with before returning to Ecuador. He also discovered that I’m a glutton, and so took it upon himself to help me explore the culinary traditions of Ecuador, in addition to its history and nature sites. Every day we ate something different and he would explain the origins of the dish, how it’s prepared, etc. At my request, he also introduced me to several locals and thanks to him, I now have some great friends in Quito. He even introduced me to one of the most famous authors in the country, and thanks to him, we’re now friends! This was a cultural immersion experience beyond my wildest dreams.

Perhaps the highlight of my visit was the weeklong trip to Baños de Agua Santa and to Alausí. I cannot rave enough about this trip. Francisco arranged all the details, as usual, and we went together. We took the bus, and the ride was fun because of the great scenery and because I enjoyed chatting with him all the way (another chance to work on my Spanish). The hotels he chose in both towns were excellent, and he knew all the neat sites to visit. One of the things that stood out to me was his friendly manner in dealing with everyone, from the bus drivers to the street vendors. He treats people with respect and it pays dividends.

Last but not least, I’ve been considering getting residency here in Ecuador. Francisco knows all the paperwork that needs to be done. He helped me prepare a list of all the documents I needed to bring with me and, once I arrived in Ecuador, he started taking me to the government offices where I needed to get certain documents certified and helped me submit the right application forms, etc. Needless to say, this isn’t an easy process for a foreigner to try and navigate alone. I had heard from others that it’s best to avoid lawyers because of their tendency to overcharge and overcomplicate things. With Francisco, the process was a breeze. He kept apologizing to me for what he considered too much bureaucracy in Ecuador. I didn’t know what he was talking about because as far as I was concerned, it couldn’t have been easier—thanks to his help, of course.

If you want to visit Ecuador as a tourist, or if you want to learn practical conversational Spanish and get a real taste of the culture, I highly recommend Francisco Guayasamin. And if you’re trying to apply for residency, do yourself a favor and try him out. You won’t be sorry. If you want to contact me in person to hear more about my experience, please don’t hesitate. I’ve given Francisco permission to give out my email address and phone number in the US upon request.

Moe Ibrahim




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