It is amazing how childhood images can sneak up on you and how the cold, sobering reality of adulthood can frame them in a whole different light. I remember growing up to the Looney Tunes cartoons and Bugs Bunny. Bedtime stories about the Tooth Fairy. In the harsh reality of the adult world, I now recognize that for many in the USA and other “First World” nations, when Bugs Bunny says, “What’s up, Doc?”, the response, today, would be, “medical costs”. I now better understand that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t so much being kind, but rather was a victim of high dental prices and had an over-supply of tooth decay to address. Fortunately, we have recourse to options found in Ecuador’s booming medical and dental tourism industries.
Here, you can find quality healthcare and dental care, provided by highly qualified medical professionals, for literally a small fraction of those same costs in the USA and many other countries across the globe. We are talking medical professionals and dentists trained in the best schools found in the USA and Europe, who have returned to their native Ecuadorian homeland, as part of President Correa’s repatriation initiative, to bring back quality professionals that had fled the country during previous, less popular presidential administrations. The medical and dental tourism boom is on and the savvy, cutting edge crowd has been flocking to tiny Ecuador, nestled on the Pacific coast of South America, for great medical care at exceptional rates!
While the variety of medical reasons for the Ecuadorian medical/dental tourism boom is as varied as there are health issues, the two dominant arenas are cosmetic surgery and oral surgery. With extensively well qualified cosmetic surgeons and dental oral surgeons, waiting at the ready, and average costs that represent a 75%-85% discount (yes, you read those figures correctly) to prices in the USA and other “First World” nations, it is not too hard to understand the demand. In fact, a recent study in the desirable Guayaquil sub-market not only supported the country-wide statistical averages, but showed that for certain dental procedures local Ecuadorian costs approximated a 90% discount to USA prices! With prices so low, the Tooth Fairy might soon be out of business.
Generally, visitors seeking medical or dental tourism services in Ecuador have three central geographic markets from which to choose. Fortunately, the locations are as varied as night and day, providing a little something “just right”, for almost everyone.
The first medical/dental tourism market is Quito. Nestled high in the Andes mountains, centered around a charming colonial district, you can enjoy moderate temperatures year-round (although the rainy season is damp and the nights can be cold), while partaking of some of the finest cuisine that Ecuador has to offer. Colonial District aside, Quito is a modern, cosmopolitan city, brimming with international restaurants, elegant boutique shops and some of the most beautiful, well-maintained park plazas to be found anywhere in the world. All this beauty further enhanced and surrounded by the majesty of the Andes mountains.
Quito is also blessed with some of the finest, if not the finest, medical and dental care facilities in all of Ecuador, with eager medical specialists on call to address any and all of your medical and dental care needs. With a portion of the money you will save on medical/dental care, come pamper yourself in a colonial hideaway, partake of the culinary delights and allow your spirit and senses a brief respite, as you recover from the fine medical care you will have received.
By contrast, for those that crave a central location, with a bustling arts community, an energetic music scene, tropical weather (think Miami) and modern, gleaming malls that rival any in the Americas, then Guayaquil might be the better option for you. A bustling, yet enchanting, port city and the center of commerce for all of Ecuador, Guayaquil is, in many ways, the heartbeat of the Ecuadorian nation. Cultural diversity can be seen everywhere, as Guayaquil represents the international port of call for business from around the world.
Yet, in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, one can find a measure of serenity. Stroll along the Malecón 2000 Riverwalk, stopping along the way for a delectable espresso, or to rest on one of many park benches and just watch the river flow by, melting away the hours. Spend a few moments in Guayaquil’s renown Iguana Park, aptly named for…yes, you guessed it, the reptilian inhabitants that literally fall down from the trees above. They aren’t dangerous, blend in with the scenery and can be a joy to watch, if you can spot them.
Come enjoy a stay at a luxury 5-star hotel, take some of the funds saved from your medical/dental tourism excursion and splurge a little at the fine jewelry stores that abound in the local malls. After a fine dinner, top it all off with a night out on the town… music… dancing…performance arts, whatever your pleasure, Guayaquil awaits!
Lastly, if Quito and Guayaquil are not your cup a tea, how about a more quiet, resort community, bathed in sunshine, sitting on the shores of the majestic Pacific Ocean? A place that all at once, harkens back to its origin as a quiet little fishing village and, then, within a 15 minute drive, provides all the “fun in the sun” energy of any dynamic beach resort haven. The place is Salinas…the temperatures, a positively perfect 65º-85º band, night lows to day time highs, pretty much year round. Low humidity, desert-dry and almost no rainfall.
Take a whale-watching tour during “the season” and literally come face-to-face with some of nature’s largest inhabitants. Go on a fishing expedition and wrestle in a marlin, cast off for some delicious wahoo, or just use the whole “fishing trip” excuse for some good conversation and a cold beverage or two, enjoyed with good friends. You can always spin a tale later about “the one that got away”. Otherwise there is always jet skiing, para-sailing, or surfing on the Punta Carnero side of the peninsula, unless you just prefer to savor some fresh catch seafood, while sitting at a boardwalk cafe, enjoying the scenery. With all the extra cash in your pocket, from the medical and/or dental procedure savings, all these activities and many more are yours to enjoy. While you are enjoying the resort atmosphere and gently recovering, do it from the comfort of a fine 5-star resort hotel, or from one of many quaint, colorful, local area beach hostels. Whatever your preference, like a siren’s call, Salinas always beckons!
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