Oh no… Only 7 days left in Ecuador. How could this month have flown past so quickly?! We don’t feel ready to leave yet.
Gary and I are eager to return to our comfy bed, our dog and cat, garden, neighborhood, and friends. We are eager to return to a city where burglary is less of an issue… although my hometown has experienced more burglaries in recent years and our house was robbed, our neighbor’s car was burglarized and friends in other towns have been robbed. hmmm… maybe it’s no more dangerous here.
On the other hand, we are sorrowful to leave this relaxed, interesting lifestyle among friendly people in this tranquil landscape. I shudder to contemplate the amount of work that’s backlogged in my business during our month here. Remembering how strongly we felt the absence of uncomfortable ‘buzzing” vibration in the atmosphere when we first arrived, I’m reluctant to return to that nebulous buzzing sensation again. My whole body relaxed tangibly, over this month without it.
I’ll miss the community interactions, here in Cotacachi. In the US, our neighborhood has narrow roads and no sidewalks, so we drive everywhere. This morning I walked to the Mercado where the owner knows us. In Spanish, I asked her a question and she remembered the product I buy. I asked if she’d seen my husband; she said he’d left and pointed to a shop across the street. I found Gary. We waved to our Spanish teacher as she drove past. Gary chatted with a friend on the sidewalk. I drank hot chocolate in a cafe while emailing. The cafe owner had brought us a bag of eggs from her chickens. I bought the eggs and gave her some roses for the cafe. In this town, poverty is intense; friendliness and cooperation go a long way.
And the poverty is definitely intense and visible. It can be difficult for visitors to face. Seeing grandparents begging barefoot on the sidewalk is hard on the heart. Savvy street dogs with wagging tails and protruding ribs are hard to see, though many get adopted by expats. Affordability can be an issue for “gringos”, who move here for the low prices. They exclaim loudly about how cheap things are. Hearing that, the locals to raise their prices, just for expats. Real estate is also a big problem. Because of expats proclaiming the prices to be cheap, the sellers raise house prices so that many cost the same as they would in the US. The houses then sit on the market, not selling. Locals have trouble affording houses. Everyone loses. Fortunately, renting is still a good bargain.
An expat couple invited Gary to do a greenhouse consultation for their hydroponic greenhouse. They built their dream home here, on a quarter acre within a walled expat community. It’s a brick house, square with a glass-ceiling atrium in the center. They told us about needing to be present every day during construction. They said “Unlike, in the US, you can’t just hand the plans to a builder and expect the work to be done well. Its customary in Ecuador to cut costs and improvise techniques.” In order for the house to be built according to the blueprint, they had to oversee the work daily. The result of their diligence is a gorgeous earthquake-proof home, with a lovely organic orchard and views. I took some great photos there.
Those who consider retiring in Ecuador can make a real success of it if they keep their eyes open and understand the cultural differences. If you expect it to be like the country you grew up in, you’ll be disappointed. If you accept that it’s a whole different culture, it’s easier to assimilate. The tradeoffs may be a hardship for some people. For the others, trading convenience and luxury may be a small price to pay for being able to leave the rat race and live a life of peaceful simplicity in a genuine community.