What’s So Great About Ecuador

People ask me all the time what it is that I love about Ecuador and I rarely have a good answer. Not because it’s difficult to come up with an answer but rather there is so much to love that I never know where to start.

Sometimes I fall back on the standard lines about the low cost of living, great climate, and close proximity to the U.S. Every one of those traits makes Ecuador appealing, but those are just bonuses, not what I’ve come to love.

I love that I can hop on my bicycle and in two minutes be at a small organic farm. Set at the end of a quiet road in the village where I live, this farm is run by a co-op of native Kichwa peoples. For less than $2 I can go home with three varieties of fresh, crisp lettuce, Swiss chard, basil, and a zucchini. All the while I’m supporting my neighbors, making friends, and providing comic relief with my less than perfect Spanish.

I love that I can take my two pups for a walk down the cow trails that border the small stream near my house. If I’m lucky, there will be horses grazing in the adjacent pasture providing perfect contrast to the sun rising high over Mount Imbabura. The gurgle of water and an occasional soft neigh are the only sounds to distract me from my morning thoughts and most any problem can be worked out in a setting such as this.

I love that on any given day I can while away my time wandering through the huge craft market in nearby Otavalo. Or for a few dollars I can ride a bus up to Chachimbiro hot springs and soak in the steamy mineral waters. If I’m feeling ambitious, a few hours will get me to the toasty sands of the Pacific coast—or the lush forests of the Amazon Basin. But whatever I choose, I know that I’ll be experiencing something most of my friends back home will never know.

I love that little mom-n-pop stores are still the norm here, not the exception. Sure one-stop shopping is convenient, but I never struck up a friendship with the random Home Depot clerk or shared cookies with the stock-boy at Target. Shopping in Ecuador often means developing relationships and feeling good about buying from individuals instead of corporate monstrosities. I also have the chance to forgo purchasing mass-made items from China and instead I get my hands on unique handcrafted goods.

There are many reasons to come to Ecuador…and by digging a little deeper I’ve found far more excuses to stay.

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