If the earth truly had corners, you could say that Vilcabamba, Ecuador, landed in one of the farthest. It has a distinct aura all its own. The place itself is a bit like something out of a Tolkien-meets-Thoreau text.
Six years ago, the consensus among my friends and family was that I had lost my mind. For them, trying to understand why my husband David and I, would move our two young sons from a rural spot in the Rocky Mountains to a small country in South America, was beyond their comprehension.
If you’re like most retirees, you dream of spending your golden years in a peaceful and relaxing place with a beautiful setting. No more days spent rushing to the office or battling gridlocked traffic.
As a child, I dreamed of living on a farm. I wasn’t much interested in tractors and combine harvesters, but the thought of a life that revolved around animals thrilled me. Alas, my parents both grew up on farms in the Midwest and had no interest in running one of their own.
When people hear that I live in Ecuador, they often assume that I've given up many of the comforts I had back home. I've actually been asked if I can watch television, if I have internet service in my house, or even if there are international airports here.
Ecuador is packed full of beauty, and it comes in many different forms. I've walked along golden beaches awash with turquoise waves. I've explored cloud forests under a lush canopy of broad-leaved trees.
"I love walking along the Tomebamba River," says Janda Grove. "I think it's one of the nicest things about Cuenca." Boasting romantic 18th-century architecture, and a rich artistic and cultural tradition, the colonial city of Cuenca is set high in Ecuador's Andes Mountains.
Each time I visit Quito, I get to explore new and interesting areas, hear of fabulous events taking place, and meet more wonderful people. Among Quito’s 2-million-plus populace is a large community of international folks enjoying the affordable life and big-city buzz. You’ll find them pretty spread out, as there are neighborhoods and lifestyles to suit most tastes. But they’re all making the most of what Quito offers…which is a lot. Here’s some of my favorite things to do…
Ten years ago while stationed as a volunteer nurse in Archidona, a small community not far from Tena in Ecuador’s jungled east, Michelle Klein found the accommodations to be lacking. “I rented a room for $50 a month. But there were up to nine people at times competing for the bathroom, the shower didn’t have hot water, and the windows didn’t have screens. It was dark. And there really wasn’t any other good place to stay,” she says. It was easy to spot the gap in the market.
When my husband David and I decided to move to Ecuador, we had a very long list of reasons why we felt the move would be the right choice for our family. Moderate weather, low living expenses, and exposure to a different culture were right up at the top. But one of the things we most looked forward to was the chance to run our own business. The economic conditions and miles of red tape back home convinced us that being self-employed in the U.S. was not the wisest choice.