It has been almost three months that Dave and I have moved to Ecuador. A land that we had never visited before.
A sense of normal is settling in and now I’m finding that things that once fascinated me that I couldn’t believe I was seeing are very common place to me. This is a beautiful place to live and extremely affordable especially for ocean front living! At the same time, this is not the US and it is not a resort in Mexico. There are things that are common place here that I’ve never seen back home and I’m sure there are many more experiences yet to come. I wanted to write about a few things we’ve experienced so far.
There are many stray dogs here in Crucita. Recently a spay clinic was set up to spay any female dogs for free which is wonderful, but certainly not the final resolution to the stray problem. The dogs are full of tics and mites and mange. All are looking for food and for the most part are quite non aggressive unless they belong to a territory such as some of the beach dogs. They don’t want any other animals (like our two small dogs) in their territory and send off warnings to stay away. But the street dogs are simply walking along looking for a morsel. Some are too tired to run, so they walk sluggishly or lay on the side of the street napping. Yesterday it warmed my heart to see a worker at a restaurant slip out the side door and feed (and even pet) one of the strays with food that would be tossed out. We gave him a thumbs up when we saw that. Understandably though, the restaurants don’t want to feed the strays or they will be hanging around begging for food and disturbing the customers.
We also see pigs tied to trees getting ready to become food to feed the family. It was told us that each family is allowed by law to have one pig on their property at a time. One day I heard some squealing happening and I imagine that was “the day” the family got their food. Today we saw two goats trotting through Las Aranales. I’m sure they have a place they below, but they were on their own today.
At the end of our street we saw chickens being plucked by two woman. Chicks can be purchased quite inexpensively here to be raised as food for families. So it’s not uncommon for families to have them in a small yard in the back of the house right in town. The chickens do taste quite wonderful here and of course there are always fresh eggs.
The streets here are mainly dirt although there are a few block or paved streets. The main street in Los Aranales(which is named calle Diciembre 25th) is paved, but filled with potholes. The tuk tuks (or motor taxis) know right where the bumps are as they maneuver all over the rode to create the least uncomfortable ride for their customers. Rides cost 50 cents per person pretty much wherever you want to go in the area. Although vehicles mainly stay to the right, there are no real lanes here. Passing other vehicles is common place and you hear a lot of people blowing their horns. This is done out of courtesy as they pass someone rather than impatience or anger like in the states. Most of the roads do not have sidewalks and you need to walk in the dust and dirt to avoid traffic. Buses and motorcycles whiz by within inches of hitting you it seems! Often you will see families on a motorcycle, with the baby in the front. The driver is required to wear a helmet by law, but no one else is including the kids.
This is the time of year I am told it gets quite warm and I’ve definitely felt a change in the humidity level. It does no good to take a shower if you are walking any distance as you will soon be filled with salt, sweat and dust. My hair is no longer a cute sassy cut (or at least I thought so) with highlights, but rather tied up or put back with a headband or hat to stay out of my face and keep cool. My hair constantly feels dirty mostly because of the salt in the air. Should I keep it really short? That is a serious consideration right now.
There are no grocery stores in Crucita, but rather tiendas which are tiny family stores that typically you do not go in, but instead tell the owner what you want and they pass it to you through the bars. Not all tiendas have the same things and may have one item one week, but not have it again for a long time. Tiendas are for purchasing mostly dried goods such as chips, bread, laudrey soap etc. Or at least that is what we mainly purchase there. The normal grocery store where you shop with a shopping cart, they play music and there is air conditioning is about 45 minutes away from here. Since we do not have a vehicle, we typically take the public bus in and it will take about one hour twenty minutes to an hour and a half to get there ($1.50 each). Then you need to get back, so if you have ice cream or other frozen items it’s best to hire a taxi for $12.
It’s possible to get by without having to go to the large grocery store, as you can get what you need here for the most part. Chickens are sold on the side of the road hanging up with the vendors waving away flies. The market here has all sort of fruits, vegetables and meat. Again, the meat is not what you are used to seeing as it is unrefrigerated and hanging by hooks in the market. Typically I see the carcass of the animal with the fur on it hanging along side. I’m not sure if that is there as an advertisement to what type of animal it is or if people will buy them. They will chop the meat up with machetes over blocks of wood. No plastic gloves are used to put your meat in the bag and money is collected from the same individual.
Sometimes power outages are frequent. Knock on wood, we have had very few of them over the past couple weeks, but prior to that it seemed every couple days the power would go out. When that happens, there is no internet connection either. At times the power can go out for quite awhile such as 12 hours or so. Most of the time, it is a short period of time…but when it goes out, you never know when it will go back on. We were without internet recently for 3 days. During that time, we cannot use the water either because the water pump is electric. So we have water set aside for times like this just to take a sponge bath if needed. Our drinking water is never from the faucet anyway, so drinking water is always available even during power outages.
So there you have it folks. This is our new reality that I wanted to share. We do not live an American lifestyle for the most part (although some folks here choose to do this). In writing this, I wanted to paint a real picture of life here so that people back home do not assume we are living a resort style beach bum life. Or anyone who wants to visit, knows what they are visiting! We love it here but it is different than what some might think.