Since I’ve retired in Cuenca, Ecuador, it takes someone with a cow prod to get me out of bed before 9 a.m. But something that will get me up early is one of Fredy Ordonez’s hikes through the countryside of Ecuador. Today we’re hiking through the hillsides of Huacarrumi to Uzhupud, small villages which promise beautiful views of the valleys and the rivers near the town of Paute.
If you follow Ecuadorian Facebook groups like I do, you’ll see that there’s a question just about every potential expat asks at some point; which area should I live in? The simplest answer for most of us comes down to what we’re looking for.
Black and white Friesian cattle munch placidly on thick grass. They’re scattered, remarkably evenly, across a 40-mile plain rolling to the abrupt black slopes of volcanic peaks. I’m on a bus in Ecuador, and I mention the cows as a nod to my colleagues in the International Living editorial department. Last year, when I returned to the office after a trip to Thailand, someone asked me what the highlight of my trip was.
Loja was our choice for a number of reasons. It's a small city, population 200,000, and it's a cultural capital. It's a younger city with several large universities and several art and music colleges. We were looking forward to concerts and art displays and a continuous diet of events and celebrations.
Peaks recede to the horizon in all directions. Some are topped by clusters of village buildings, but more often the mountaintops are unadorned green angles fading into a bluish haze. Roads are few, and those that there are snake tortuously up and down steep switchbacks.
A friend suggested Kathy and Tim book a private jet. They balked at this at first. They feared it would cost them an arm and a leg (maybe two legs). But then they crunched the numbers...
Would you think I was crazy if on New Year's Eve I joined a group of revelers carrying an effigy…and I later burned that effigy to a crisp, while wearing red underwear, and walking in circles around the fire with my suitcase, eating a bunch of grapes?
Cuenca expat and photographer Jane Hiltbrand was captivated by the colorful Art Nouveau style façade, as well as its mysterious man on the balcony, and did more than just wonder. She went inside the China House and started photographing the polychrome brass designs on the ceilings and walls and climbed the wooden staircase to the second floor, where the mystery unraveled.
Once I moved, figuring out how to use my U.S. phone abroad was of the highest importance—since my sisters in the U.S. are likely to call the Ecuadorian embassy if they haven't heard from me about four times a day!
During the six years I’ve spent living in Ecuador, one of the key trends I’ve noticed is the rise in the number of digital nomads from North America and Europe. Some of these remote workers relocated when their careers migrated online. Others arrived here in retirement and built new incomes in blogging, freelance writing, photography, or one of dozens of other online professions.