From our home in Cotacachi, we caught the bus over the hill and down to the Pan-American Highway. Cost: 20 cents each.
From the “Pana,” as the highway is commonly called here, we flagged down the bus coming from Ibarra and continuing on to Quito. Cost: $2 each.
On the bus, we had comfortable reclining seats from which we watched a movie during the two-hour trip. (Yes, the movie was in Spanish but it wasn’t too hard to figure out what was going on…it was a horror film.)
At the halfway point somewhere near Cayambe, vendors boarded the bus to sell chips, ice cream, beverages, pieces of chicken, cough drops, some pirated movies… I forked over 50 cents for a bottle of water, a 15-cent mark-up from what I pay at the local tienda in Cotacachi, but hey…I was a captive audience on the bus. And it was delivered straight to my hand, after all…
Once in Quito, we took a taxi across town from the Terminal Norte (north terminal) to our hotel. At $5, this was the most expensive part of our journey. All told, for $10 the two of us were safely transported from our home in Cotacachi to our comfy room at the Hotel Quito.
Beginning to understand why we don’t have a car here? With gasoline, vehicle taxes and insurance costs going up at home in the States, we’re car-free and carefree in Ecuador.
The bus from Cotacachi to the market town of Otavalo, about 25 minutes away, costs 25 cents. From Cotacachi to Ibarra where we visit the dentist or the Supermaxi supermarket, we pay 45 cents. (And if you have a resident visa and are over 60, you’ll pay half price!)
Sometimes, of course, we wish we had a vehicle to go exploring some of the country’s colorful out-of-the-way communities. But we can always rent a car. Even better, we can hire a driver for $10/hour or less…car and gas included!
Last summer we rented a van and driver to take us and friends on a day trip. Leaving Cotacachi in the morning, we first stopped at the village of Peguche to visit with textile weavers and musical instrument makers.
We stretched our legs with a hike to the nearby waterfall and then poked around the nearby shaman village of Illuman. Skirting Mt. Imbabura and puttering around the east side of Otavalo, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Lake San Pablo.
After a quick stop at the fiestas of San Juan for some freshly pulled taffy we headed back to Cotacachi, arriving just before dark. Total cost for the driver and van: $60.
We figure the money saved by forgoing the costs of vehicle ownership goes a long way toward funding our daily living costs here in Ecuador. In the States, it’s common to spend at least $1,000 per month on car payments, maintenance, insurance and gasoline. We can live quite well on that amount alone here in Ecuador.
And the headaches of vehicle ownership? It goes without saying that those, too, are thankfully a thing of the past.
Editor’s note: In the current issue of International Living magazine, Suzan shares a Quito Valley exclusive…where she found Ecuador’s Garden of Eden. Subscribe now and get instant access to the May issue.