I’m writing this postcard from a veranda overlooking the Caribbean Sea on a nearly forgotten tropical island—Isla de Providencia in Colombia. The ocean is showing off several shades of blue and a slight breeze teases the palms.
The piña colada at my side completes the picture. But as my family’s annual vacation draws to a close I’m actually a bit anxious to return home to Cotacachi, Ecuador. Most of you are probably wondering why I would be in any rush to leave this little slice of paradise, but I can sum it up in just a few words: Ecuador has spoiled me.
Don’t get me wrong, this last week has given me a chance to recharge my batteries and shown me magnificent beauty that I’ve only dreamed about. But it’s also shown me just how good I have it in Ecuador.
For example I’m shocked at how quickly money is leaving my pocket here. Vacations always tend to use a fair amount of funds when you add up the cost of airfare, car rentals, lodging, and activities, but it’s the cost of everyday staples that have me in an uproar. One bottle of water in Ecuador runs me 30 cents while here it is $1.50. I’ve salivated over the coconut-infused seafood choices offered this week, but I was nearly outraged to find that just one lunch would cost me more than seven dollars. I would have to search pretty hard to find an almuerzo in Ecuador that would cost half of that.
It’s not just food and drink that’s stretching my budget either. It appears that I’m spending a bit more on getting from point A to point B as well. In Cotacachi, $1 will buy me a cab ride anywhere in town. On this little island comparable transportation runs $5 or more.
Realistically I know that if I was still living in the U.S. I wouldn’t think twice about the prices being charged here. Actually, I might even find this place to be a good deal. But after spending a couple of years in Ecuador’s highlands I’ve become quite accustomed to the value I get for my cash.
That’s not the only thing I’ve gotten used to either. Cotacachi’s idyllic weather has kept me happy too.
My vacation time has been spent with the air conditioner running on high and I’m reminded of how lovely it is to require neither heating nor air conditioning back home. The climate in our little mountain town doesn’t vary by a whole lot and is quite comfortable by my standards. A fringe benefit of perfect weather is that my utility bills stay quite low not to mention my environmental impact.
While I enjoy seeing what the rest of the world has to offer I can’t imagine a better place than Ecuador for my home base. The amazingly low cost of living allows me to save money for future travels, the climate allows me to forgo a winter wardrobe, and the local people have quickly become good friends and honorary family members. In other words, Ecuador has become home.