Ecuador – what will I miss?
No question that is is an emotional and difficult time for me. I spent many months researching Ecuador as much as I could before making the decision to both start a business about Ecuador and to live out my life here. Giving up on that dream is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I am consumed by regrets.
Admittedly most of my experience has been with Cotacachi, where I have lived since the beginning of February of this year. People have asked what I like about Cotacachi and what I don’t like. The simple answer is that there is little I don’t like about Cotacachi and a whole lot I do.
The first and most enjoyable thing about Cotacachi is the people. My only comparable experience with the people of a Latin American country is my almost two years in Panama, an experience I would just as soon forget. I took great exception when someone who recently compared Boquete, Panama with Cotacachi. Life in Boquete could never touch my experience here by any stretch of the imagination. I won’t use this post to rundown Boquete or Panama in general, but on a scale of one to ten life in Boquete barely rates a one with Cotacachi getting a ten in my opinion.
My first day in Cotacachi was spent at Rio Intag, enjoying their delightful coffee and meeting a number of Expats, the first of which was Robin. Due to my somewhat frightening story about my near death experience with carbon monoxide poisoning before coming to Cotacachi I apparently arrived with some notoriety. Almost everyone I met greeted me like a long lost friend and knew me instantly. Not sure that was the best introduction to folks here but I certainly felt welcome. Robin was incredibly helpful and gave me good suggestions as to how I would find a place to live here, for which I again thank her for.
The three apartments that I intended to check out where all rented the same day, so I spent my first three weeks at Hostel Kimbala, looking for an apartment every day. Peter and Mauro greeted me warmly the first day and made my stay there very enjoyable. Peter, an excellent chef, would often make me dinner long after the restaurant had closed. When I was lucky enough to find my current apartment they found me a friend to help me move at an absurd price. Not a day goes by that I do not walk by the hostel and don’t get a warm hello from both of them.
The same is true about every local person, young and old, that I come in contact with here in Cotacachi. Many people have compared life here with that of the fifties in Canada or the US. In all honesty I don’t ever remember the people in Canada back in the fifties being so friendly. My first pleasant surprise was walking down the street and having everyone, from the smallest children to indigenous women never fail to give you a buenos dias or buenos tardes as they passed. More often young children would give you a perfect hello or even a hi in English.
Speaking of young children the next thing you notice about school age children is the immaculate grooming and their finely tailored school uniforms, every one unique to the school they attend. Given the relatively low income levels here, it must be very difficult for parents to afford these uniforms, but no one goes without. And these are no drab, plain, utilitarian type outfits. Skirts, blazers, slacks are all in colors unique to their schools and no two outfits are alike. The other thing I noticed right away is that there are no McDonald’s generated little fatties. All the children appear to be in the pink of health. Few wear glasses, although this might be because they can’t afford them and the kids are all very active. I live next to a school yard and the kids are all out there playing soccer at seven in the morning. School normally ends around one o’clock and there are hundreds of kids making their way home shortly after.