When you think of Salinas, on the southwestern Pacific Coast of Ecuador, you picture big crowds and lots of water activity under a hot summer sun. But this is not the only side of Salinas. It is one of the most popular beach destinations for Ecuadorians and an increasing number of North American “snow birds”, but us year-round residents get to experience something wonderful—Low Season!
I recently spent a few days in the beautiful city of Loja, “cradle of art, literature, and music,” in the southern Andes of Ecuador. You know you are in a special place almost from the moment you arrive. Between the ornate castle-like structure of the City Gates, or the walking bridge displaying pipe organs, cellos, and guitars, it is clear that you are entering a city that appreciates music and culture.
Much has been written about Ecuador as one of the most ecologically diverse countries on earth, with near-perfect climates to choose from and landscapes including plains, mountains, coastal, and everything in between. For a country about the same size as Wyoming, this is impressive. Choose the weather and terrain you like best, and most likely you can find the ideal spot in Ecuador.
Tom and Becky Arbuckle first came to Ecuador on vacation in August 2013. "We fell in love with the Ecuadorian culture and people," Tom said. "We were in Salinas for a month, and decided we would have to come back and explore more of Ecuador, try to find a place where we could live the rest of our lives." They traveled up and down the coast checking places out and talking with the residents. They visited the capital, Quito, and even the cloud forests in the northwestern parts of the country before finally deciding on Playas.
What exactly does it mean to live a healthy lifestyle? There have been mountains of articles and books on the subject, infomercials abound, and ads touting the benefits of this or that food jumping out at us daily. But in the middle of all of the noise and the sometimes contradictory claims, there seems to be three things that everyone can agree are important for a healthy life; a healthy diet, regular exercise, and time spent outdoors breathing fresh air. Fortunately, we have those things in easy abundance here in Salinas, Ecuador, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
The other day my wife Rita and I were sitting in a local restaurant enjoying a $3 almuerzo (lunch special, typically a soup, small salad, rice, and meat or fish with a juice) when I overheard a new arrival behind us say with obvious glee, “I got up today and had no idea what day of the week it was!” I had to turn around and tell him, “That’s nothing. Wait until you can’t remember what month it is!” Sounds odd, but it’s true. Living in Salinas on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, there are few changes to mark the passing of time. This close to the equator the days are always 12 hours long, and the high and low temperatures only change about 10 degrees between the height of summer and the depths of winter. It’s surprisingly easy to find yourself trying to remember if it’s March or October.
Recently, I spent a few weeks with my left arm in a sling. While walking on the malecon, the brick walkway along the Pacific Ocean at our home in Salinas, Ecuador, expat friends and neighbors would stop and ask me what had happened? When I replied that I had surgery, it was surprising to me how often the next statement was “Oh really? I didn’t even know you went back to the States!”
Sometimes, life can be just the luck of the draw. That was literally true for Noemi Gonzalez and Tom Bradburn. They met in 2000 while playing poker online. Romance bloomed, and soon they were married and living in Taos, New Mexico. But the cards were still being shuffled for them. Although they loved their lives in Taos—in fact, they still keep their home there and visit from time to time—they wanted to spend their retirement someplace warm.
For many, the American Dream of owning your own home is fast becoming more of a fantasy than a dream. But more and more North Americans are finding their dreams coming true in the quiet town of Ballenita on the southwest coast of Ecuador.
It's 8 a.m. on a typical morning in my oceanfront condo in Salinas, Ecuador. My wife Rita and I have just returned from our morning exercise walk...down the malecon (boardwalk) beside the Pacific, past Chipipe beach and around a lovely old church and back. With that two-mile circuit done, we're sitting out on the balcony enjoying our coffee and fresh fruit breakfast. The sound of the waves on the sand is accented occasionally by the call of flocks of parrots as they fly by, and by the splash of pelicans diving into the surf for their first meal of the day.