Passion and Prose-Lee O’brian


Lee O’brian is one of those all around guys guy who just seems to be there to lend a hand when you need it.  He has a knack for it.  Really.  I can name five times when I was working behind the bar when there wasn’t a lot going on, I had a specifically Ecuadorian dilemma that I didn’t really know how to handle, and Lee showed up to answer the question or point me in the right direction.

To the dismay of all of his friends here He has moved on leaving us to fend for ourselves and try and fill the gap with banter at the bar that’s not as sharp or witty due to his absence.  Well, maybe not to that extreme but he is missed.  The following is his take on living and working in Ecuador as an expat.  Again, the man demonstrates that he can help even when he’s not in the country.. That’s a rockstar for you!

1. You spent some time in Ecuador living, working, and making a go of it.  What brought you here in the first place and what were the hardest parts of living here that you found as opposed to the US.

I first went down to Ecuador 6 years ago to work in flower export. The difference in development is tough to get used to down in Ecuador. Not all of the public services, i.e. schedules for transit, client services, internet/cable, etc. are reliable. You definitely learn to let go of expecting everything to work out and you have to adjust to that. At first it is hard, then you start to joke about it, then you learn to make do and find other ways to get things done.

2.Your living in the Bay area undertaking a new gig,right? What’s that all about and do you find yourself missing specific people, places, things from Ecuador.

I have begun a new business which leverages incredible travel opportunities and the internet to make travel fun and incredibly cheap. I find myself missing some of my dear friends from down there, i made a cool group of foreigner friends and a couple of solid Ecuadorian groups of friends. I miss moments down there too, and there are some things you just cannot get anywhere else, i.e. 1. the views of incredible volcanoes all around, 2. the rush when a goal is made by Ecuador in the elimination matches for the World Cup, and 3. sipping an ice cold pilsener and eating a nice fat ceviche or encebollado, be it at the beach, in the Andes, or in the Jungle. Did that just sound like an advertisement or what??

3. I get messages all the time from people who are interested in moving here.. they always ask about places to live.. Where would you recommend in Quito.  Where would you live if money wasn’t an issue?

In Quito, I always felt a preference for the Gonzales Suarez area, La Floresta, Batan Alto, and Cumbaya especially near Colegio menor. I was always looking for cool views, easy access to services (transit, shopping. entertainment, etc.) and a place void of the hustle and bustle of quito. Guapulo is incredible too!

4.Where are your favorite spots to visit that aren’t really known?

This is kind of a trick question, because the more people who answer this then the more places become known rather than not known,  Anyways, in the provinces, I have always liked La Paz up in Carchi, the people there are wonderful and great people, out near Mindo, you can meander out and find some incredible places, I have always liked going around Montanita, the town itself is cool but sometimes it is great to just get to the surrounding towns. I also love the Manta area for its food and nice beaches. I have probably left out many places but that is for others to go and search out themselves. Gotta keep those places not known!! In Quito, one of my favorite places to hang out at is Cafe Mosaico. You can hang with the owner himself and enjoy one of the most amazing views in the world , looking down on the centro historico. many people know about it but you can still go there when there are not so many people there,  and just be at peace for a few hours.

5.Funniest moment from travelling here?

I have had many funny moments one of them was when my parents came and visited. We were out at Puerto Lopez and coming back from la Isla de Plata. The buses were not coming by for a while and there were no taxis so we hitched in the back of a little pick up truck. We went some 15 kilometers back to our hotel in that truck. It was pouring rain, we had to go over speed bumps and we were being passed left and right by semi trucks. The coolest part was that the owner had strapped into the bed one of those plastic chord strung chairs like they used to have as lawn chairs., At first glimpse it looked tacky and ghetto but my Dad had a smooth ride sitting in that chair, I had taken many a pickup truck ride in LatinAmerica so it was nothing big to me, but my family sure remembers that fondly!classic!! Another funny aspect of traveling in Ecuador is the complete domination of the in trip movies that Jean Claude Van Damme exercises. The guy is everywhere at all times on every trans provincial bus in Ecuador. He is enjoying a third career on the tv sets in every bus. Talk about comeback actor of the decade!

6. What’s left on your bucketlist and what’s one thing that you’ve crossed off it recently?

The bucketlist is kinda long still, yet i would say an around the world trip would be up near the top, i will write a book about travel and my experiences  very soon, I want to learn to play the bagpipes and the banjo too. Thats the cool thing about bucket lists the more variety there is the more incredible the journey will be.One thing i did cross off it in Ecuador was climbing to the top of Cotopaxi, that was awesome and then just a month and a half ago I got to get on stage with one of my favorite music talents of all time, Sammy Hagar. That was cool too, check!

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One Response to “Passion and Prose-Lee O’brian”
  1. ursula says:

    This is only the surface with the lovely Lee, there is so much more to this man x

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