Ecuador – Reinventing the Third World


This essay, which may or may not be followed by others, has no real direction nor intention. I changed its main topic 3 times while writing it not to mention how many times I changed the title. It is kind of loosely related to Vilcabamba in the Loja province of Ecuador where I live but certainly not limited to it.  Some may find it funny some may not, it has different layers. It might even be thought provoking I am not sure. I enjoyed writing it. Life is good. Have fun.

It all started with one simple question: Do I live in the third world? Of course, Ecuador is part of the third world. This led me to the question: “How many worlds are there and where is the second world anyway, and what about the 4th world?” and so on…

Below are my findings.

1 .. 2 .. 3

We all know what “first world” means and where the so-called “first world” is on the map. A conglomerate of rich countries where civilized people live and where freedom and democracy abound in their native, raw, pristine and uncompromising states, something to do with “a way of life” they say, something that cannot be taken away from them no matter what. In fact, people are so free in the first world that they can choose between diet coke and diet pepsi knowing exactly what the difference is and why they choose one over the other. That is a kind of freedom that the other worlds simply neither have nor could comprehend.

The rest of the world is called the “third world” or “developing world“, the latter seeming to indicate that the countries belonging to the third world are in a process called “development” and it is just a matter of time for them to also find the holy grail of civilization and diet coke choosing, just be patient. To help these poor bastards become “developed”, there is the generous help from the World Bank and the IMF and similar entities that no doubt speed up the process. All good then.

One question remains: what and where is the “second world” ? I have asked that question to many people but I do not get a straight answer other than that look on the face seeming to say either “what a silly question” or “I never thought of it that way” or whatever. The answer is simple though. Plain and simply stated, the second world are the communists, stupid. But I am ahead of myself.

Before saying anything too assertive, let’s ask Mr. Google. The answer is shown below:

where and what is the second world

The good news is that there is such a thing as “the second world” after all. The bad news is that I don’t live in it.  I live in the red bits (really bad) , not in the green bits (really good) and not in the yellow bits (more or less good, it depends).

Here is a closer look at the map

As you can see on the map, we in Ecuador share our fate with the rest of South America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia and believe it or not : Greenland !! Russia is better off because it is only “second” and  not “third”.

It is worth mentioning here that, had the above map not been grossly distorted to make the northern hemisphere much bigger than it really is compared to the southern hemisphere, the green color would virtually disappear and the world would appear almost entirely red !

Also, for those wondering, the “axis of evil” is a different boundary line and is located in the red bits but with a tendency today of stretching towards the yellow bits because of all the bad things that the Russians do.

The green parts are the good guys, that is why they are green. There is no evil there. There in these green bits of the map, lie the birthplaces of ecology, nature protection laws, recycling, solar panels and electric cars and generally speaking places like the USA that aim at reversing centuries of out of control pollution by the Aztecs and the native North Americans, shame on them. More reasons to paint these countries in green.

On the same page, one line below the Goggle official answer, Wikipedia, this other bastion of truth, tells us  that, I quote:

“The three-world theory has been criticized as crude and relatively outdated for its nominal ordering (1; 2; 3) and sociologists have instead used the words “developed”, “developing”, and “underdeveloped” as replacement terms for global stratification (which in turn have been criticized as displaying a colonialist mindset) [2] —nevertheless, the three-world theory is still popular in contemporary literature and media. This might also cause semantic variation of the term between describing a region’s political entities and its people.[3]”

Crude? Outdated? Maybe a little. A colonialist mindset? No kidding !

Anyway, I was hoping, starting this article, that I could make a case to explain that I live in something better than the third world but I don’t, not even the second world, sighs.

Why is it then that I feel somehow that my life in Ecuador is richer than any life I could experience in the first world? Maybe there is a fourth world somewhere that transcend these old fashioned definitions and ignores the political boundary lines.


Maybe I live in the 4th world then. What would that mean? How would we define what the 4th world is? Before we get carried away with our own definitions of things, let’s once again ask Mr. Google, answer below:

According to Google topmost answer to this essential question we see that the 4th world would be an “extension” of the 3 world model (no kidding !) and, I quote, “a sub-population socially excluded from global society“.  That sounds closer to what I feel.

Did you know that there is a site called “Investopedia“? This is what they have to say about the 4th world:

I did open their link and read that:

Fourth world nations can consist of those excluded from mainstream society. For example, the Aborginal tribes in South America or Australia are entirely self sufficient, but they do not participate in the global economy. From a global standpoint, these tribes are considered to be fourth world nations, but they are able to function free from any assistance from others. Fourth world nations do not contribute or consume anything on the global scale, and are unaffected by any global events.” [Emphasis is mine].

Not sure that they are “unaffected by global events” when someone kicks them out of their land and dumps them into reserves as happened to the Aborigines of Australia but the rest of the sentence is about right and could be read in a positive way, as in, these people are an example that we would actually like to follow, as oppose to let’s exterminate them. However.

The 4th world is the the most underdeveloped regions in the world, worse than the 3rd world. Is this where we are heading in Ecuador? Some believe so.

While I was in the world of “pedias’ I looked up (English) and (Spanish) and am happy to report here that these domains are available for purchase. Maybe someone could start a encyclopedia of all the stupid things humans have done and said and do and say? Or is that already done in the Guiness book?

5 and 6

Let’s take a quantum leap and look beyond these petty categories created along the lines of wealth and poverty or political systems. Let’s look at what could possibly be the 5th the 6th and why not the 7th world, shall we?

With the 5th world we definitely enter the realm of fiction and mythology although the definition below seem to apply to the daily reality of a place like Vilcabamba with its “bizarre life forms” today in 2018 .

According to

The Sixth World is beyond all mortal comprehension. Mortals say that the Fifth World is where The Metaverse starts getting freaky, but eventually the 5th can make sense to a mortal, so they more accurately say that it begins with the 6th world. There is no translation for their language, because it predates actual language and is impossible to actually make sense, unless you’re one1 of them.

You may wish to read the text a few more times to fully absorb its richness but the picture below may also help you.

If one looks at the picture above with attention, it may very well look to one like Vilcabamba especially during a San Pedro or Ayahuaska ceremony or after spending too much time at Charlito’s restaurant.

This my friends is the 6th world like no language could ever describe it.

This is where I live or maybe not. It’s complicated.

Welcome to Vilcabamba.

To be continued…. maybe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *