Since my last post in December we have moved to Vilcabamba and have had the opportunity to explore a few other parts of Ecuador. I hope to bring readers up to speed with both of these in this blog post.
Life in Vilcabamba
We made the move to Vilcabamba (southern Ecuador) on Jan 14th. The move went very well and we are pleased with our new apartment. Although friends and neighbours have told us we haven't hit the best weather yet - we love Vilcabamba. The air is clean and the weather is always warm and pleasant. Our landlords Bruce and Jenice have become friends and they have introduced us to many other new friends. We are thankful for the warmth and the openness of the people here.
Our apartment is a beautiful and modern three bedroom, two bath home, fully furnished, secure and all inclusive for less than we paid in Cuenca. Many here are choosing to build homes, but for now we are very happy with our accommodation. Java has adjusted well and now knows more people in town than we do.
As I said in my last post, Vilcabamba is not for everyone. This is a small town with lots of cafes and restaurants but it does not have the amenities of Cuenca. Loja is about 45 minutes away and is a significant city that has almost anything we might be looking for. We have replaced the car alarms and fireworks of Cuenca with the many boisterous roosters and clip-clopping horses and burros of Vilcabamba.
Many people told us that Vilcabamba is full of hippies and poets. One of our friends called Vilcabamba an "open-air asylum". Some of that is true. We find the community very eclectic and interesting with people from many countries, different languages, and different motivations for being here. People here tend to be "out of the box thinkers". We are appreciating the diversity of age groups, financial means, walks of life and the differences in thinking about life's-journey. Weekends bring many people from Loja to relax and enjoy life in the Valley of Longevity.
There are a few things people might find disconcerting. There are relatively frequent power and water outages. There is quite a bit of new construction going on in town and on the Pan American Highway. This activity brings with it some extra noise during the daytime. Horses frequently trot up and down the streets - for us it adds to the charm.
Travelling in Ecuador
We were joined by two of our boys and one fiancee over the Christmas and New Year period. We lured them to Ecuador with the promise of beautiful and warm sandy beaches. Ecuador delivered!! We stayed in the Montanita and Olon area in a rental house and were happy with our choice.
We visited and played on five different beaches: Montanita, Olon, Ayampe, Puerto Lopez and Los Frailes. Each of the beaches are unique and offer different types of fun. After Connie Pamba's rave reviews we couldn't miss Los Frailes. It is simply an exquisite and tranquil beach. Jennie and I liked it the best. The kid's (young adults), favoured the action and surfing available in Montanita.
New Year's Eve in Montanita was quite the exciting and somwhat anxiety provoking event. Like other parts of Ecuador the papier mache figures are ubiquitous as are the fireworks. The twist in Montanita is that a parade to the beach by everyone launches the burning of the effigies in bonfires while somewhat inebriated younger people leap over the flames amidst the booming fireworks. Quite a show!
I got the chance to pursue my passion for bird photography right from the sight of our rental property. I will only include one photo here (to spare you), of a Green Honeycreeper.
It was so terrific to spend time with three of our adult children. Ecuador just made it that much better!
In the interest of keeping this post to a reasonable size I am going to conclude it here and pick up in Part Two with our trip to Northern Ecuador with my parents and some of their friends from near Morrisburg, Ontario.