18 December 2013

Our Favorite Things About Ecuador (So Far)


Hello dear readers!!

Oh man, I've missed this blog.  I've been very anxious to connect with you all here again.

We've been on such an adventure and we'd love to fill you in.

For starters, I thought I'd share with you what we're loving about Ecuador...

1.  The scenery!  The Andes Mountains.  The Amazon jungle.  Cloud forests.  Farmland. We have been in awe.  And we haven't even been to the coast or to the Galapagos yet or to many of the famous lakes and volcanoes.  It's crazy how much diversity there is in this small country.  I love it that you can experience so many different landscapes and adventures in such a short time.  And, of course, my Utah husband has just loooooved being near mountains.   :)




2.  The cost of living.  Many things are quite shockingly inexpensive there.  (Now, we're New Yorkers, so just about anything will seem cheap to us.)  But...here's a sampling of what we were paying for things down there:
Three course lunch:  $2.50.
[This is for the "lunch menu of the day" at pretty much any restaurant.  This almost always includes a huge bowl of soup; a plate of chicken/beef; vegetables; rice; plantains; dessert (usually fruit); and a fresh fruit juice.  Everyday we just laugh and can't believe it is so, so cheap, and yet still so tasty.] 
Bus Fare:  25 cents.  (Or $1 per hour if you are going cross-country.)   
Taxis:  $1-$2.50 
Rent:  Possibly $150-$400/month.
[We visited an American couple we met at church.  They live in a nice 4 bedroom house and pay $280/month.  This is not uncommon. We met another woman our age who just rented a 4 bedroom home - again, $280/month.  Others told us you could even find a cheaper place. Unreal.] 
Movie Theater:  $4.80
[Most of the theaters play some current movies in English.  We saw The Hunger Games!] 
15 oranges or 6 avocados or 20 bananas:  $1 
Double Decker Bus Tour:  $5 
Bottle of Water:  30 cents
 
(Here's part of a typical lunch.)

(Or this one.  Basically every meal includes some avocado! :)


(Coins go so far in Ecuador that I had to get a leather coin purse to celebrate.  This is from Cotacachi, the leather making town of Ecuador.)

(I am such a dork when it comes to double decker bus rides.  I love them!  It was fun to pay $5 for one instead of $50.  Though in Ecuador, we had to watch our heads because we were taller than everybody else and we had to watch our for electrical wires overhead.  :)

3.  The weather.  You would think that a lot of Ecuador would be freezing due to the high altitude in the Andes, but because it's right on the equator, it's actually gorgeous year round. They call it "eternal spring" weather.  Can you imagine?  Flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs harvest year round.  Heating and cooling in homes is non-existent because it's not needed. Now, spring weather usually means it is still a little cool in the mornings and evenings.  So I usually wore long sleeves and a very light jacket.  (Danny was fine without a jacket).  Then as the day warmed up around 10 am, it felt sooo warm and sunny that I was shedding my jacket and wearing sunscreen and sunglasses.  Sometimes there was rain in the afternoons, but it was a good excuse to stop for some tea or run for cover under a veranda.  And yes, sometimes when you're stuck somewhere together for a bit, it leads to good things.... ;)
(Here we got caught in the rain so we ran under a veranda for a few minutes. No complaints there. :)

(And on this day, when it started to rain we dashed in a cafe for some apple tea.  I kind of like being forced to slow things down a little a bit.  Side note: I need to get a portable rain jacket.  Does anyone have a suggestion?  I've actually never owned one!)

4.  The culture.  We are blown away by the culture there.  Ecuador seems to be extremely rare in that a HUGE amount of the people are indigenous (a term they use for the descendants of the people who inhabited the area before the Europeans arrived.)  They still hold fast to old traditions of dress, farming, and artisanal craftsmanship.  Tons of women (and some men) still dress daily in the traditional clothing. We're not talking just a few people in remote villages...this is 25% of the population of the country!!  You see the indigenous everyday - in cities, in small towns, in markets, on the buses, in malls, on their farms.  Their clothing is different depending on which area of the country you are in.  I just LOVED traveling to a new area and seeing a new set of skirts, colors, jewelry, embroidered blouses, shoes, hair styles, and hats.  Also, we got to talk with several indigenous who are Quichua.  There are actually 20 congregations of Quichua Mormons in the Otavalo area.  They were some of the kindest people we've ever met.

(The indigenous women carry their babies on their backs until they are 3!  It was quite a sight to see these babies bundled everywhere we went.  If the baby is sleeping, they will turn the cloth into a cradle so the baby can lay horizontally across their back.  And oh my, the best thing ever was seeing those little feet hanging out and bouncing up and down as the mom walked.  :)


(see those little feet?  :)




More posts to come!

And just a note to all of you - we hope your lives have been the best they can be.  I've been reminded again and again (& again) that life does not always turn out the way we want.  Oh, that can be hard to face.  But one thing I know for sure -  it is still possible to have a good and meaningful life.  I love that message with all my heart and I hope together we can always try to make that happen.  I'm rooting for us all.

With Love,

Mara

P.S.  We just got back to New York last night and we are sooo happy to be in our little home. Things we missed:  our sheets, our mattress, our shower head, Danny's cooking, our friends (!), the first weeks of Christmas in New York, and Trader Joe's.  Oh my, how spoiled rotten we are.

13 comments:

  1. So glad you're home safe and sound and well. Also thanks for sharing a tiny bit of Ecuador with us. Learning about others makes my heart feel full and life seem rich, you know?

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  2. Oh my, you've got my husband and I thinking we need to move to a more tropical climate now! :) We live in Boston so cost of living isn't too far off what it is in NY (at least not the area of Boston we live in) and those prices you outlined were UNBELIEVABLE! Crazy inexpensive! Very beautiful country - thanks for sharing. Have a very Merry Christmas!

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  3. Glad to read your post. Curious---did you have any trouble adjusting to the high altitude? Are you still planning on moving out of the country?

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  4. I love this! Thank you for sharing. I spent 10 months of my mission in Banos and 4 months in Otavalo so this is really fun and familiar to read. Welcome back! (ps--I love Park Slope, too, and can imagine how nice it feels to be home.)

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  5. You had me at "15 oranges or 6 avocados or 20 bananas: $1" Dang yo.

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  6. Coins! My favorite part of traveling to countries where they are still "valuable" and can get you something. Have you ever thought about the Philippines? Kind, wonderful people, the Church has a strong presence, and the country is literally a tropical paradise. Also a similar remarkably inexpensive cost of living to what you described. Keep us updated!

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  7. You make me want to go there! What city are you staying in?

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  8. Thanks for sharing with us. It is wonderful knowing you've been able to experience such a wonderful new culture. Funny, we've traveled many countries as well and it always seems as if Americans are doing more "existing" instead of "living." We all need to slow down and value what's before us.

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  9. The weather!! You're making me want to move!

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  10. Thanks for this! I served my mission to Peru. Lots of similarities. Happy New Year!

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  11. Someday i'll go there!!! http://helorigrahasarana.blogspot.com

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  12. Wow this is so interesting learning about what it would be like to live in Ecuador. The pictures are lovely...and all the bright colors...I love it! Looking forward to following along on this new adventure. SO exciting!

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  13. Love your list! We just got back. Here's my post about the people- there is no way to capture the warmth and tradition that is there in a photograph! http://www.notquitewonderwoman.com/ecuador-10-the-people/

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