Nestled in a beautiful valley high in the Andean Highlands is Cotacachi. A small town that is known for it’s leather work. Wandering down the narrow streets you can peek into the workshops where people sit at machines creating wonderful leather clothing and accessories. True artisans.
The Ecuadorians are a proud people. They dress as elegantly as they can with what they can afford. The men sport felt top hats and the women some sort of head attire, even if it is just a piece of folded clothe on their heads. They are happy and content with what they have and their way of life. When they are building a house or a business the rebar is put in at the corners. If they only have the money to build one story that is what they do. When they can afford it, they build up another story. It is a pay as you go country and there are no mortgages, and credit cards are very hard to come by. Most people would not even dream of getting a credit card. What a different way of life from what we live in North America.
The church stands in a plaza and is an icon of the town. Standing tall, I figured I would never get lost if I kept it in sight as I was making my way back to my hotel which was in the adjacent street. Wrong !! I had wandered off alone to explore the town and take photos of the leather district. For some reason because of the lie of the land the church was not in sight and I got well and truly lost. With very little command of Spanish it was difficult to ask for directions back to the hotel, until I met a US expat who gave me good directions and all was well.
Even the school children are well dressed. Some in school uniforms and some dressed in more traditional long skirts. With western ways creeping in, I wonder just how many years the old traditions of dress will continue. It was not uncommon to see toddlers dressed in jeans and sweaters.
Notice the beautiful tiles and patterns on the sidewalks.
Children go to work with their parents…it is their home away from home. When I was there maybe six or seven years ago we bought a bunch of bananas for 25 cents. Bananas are grown on the coast where it is hot, not in the valley where it is spring-like all the year round. No need to heat or cool your homes. Helps for frugal living. Some of the elderly locals seem to feel the cold and can be seen wearing woollen gloves to keep their hands warm.
This was the entrance to our small hotel. Beautiful outdoor courtyards where you could eat meals. Attractive tiling and decorative plants everywhere. The hotel was owned by an American lady, but was run by local staff. As our bus pulled away to leave they all stood outside waving us good bye.
I loved the signs on the bathroom doors. I just had to take a picture of them.
Beautiful and abundant organic roses are grown here quite cheaply and are used in profusion to decorate. They spoke to my soul, and to my nose which seemed to be constantly pulled towards the smell of their fragrance.
The indoor dining room was decorated with local art depicting the area. the volcanos, the houses and church and the locals in their attire.
The meals were out of this world. Fruit juices every morning made just before we drank them. Everyday a different variety of fruit and all organic. Food was also inexpensive.
This was one of the lovely table decorations. I believe the fruit around the edge of the dish was tree tomatoes. The skin is hard and brittle when it shatters.
One night we celebrated a birthday. We were serenaded. The Ecuadorians love their music and singing.
While we were there we had a crash course in Spanish in the very old building next door. On the balcony was an ancient printing press. My friend Ralph was fascinated and knew how they worked as he had used one before.
You never knew who you were going to bump into on the street. Here are two very friendly US expats who had been to the market to buy eggs and fruit and a big basketful of vegetables and herbs. They ran little bistro businesses to keep them occupied while still enjoying themselves visiting with their regular customers. It is a slow pace of life here.
Around another corner outside a drugstore was a clown entertaining the children. he got them all to wave to us with enthusiasm.
I love Ecuador; the people, the climate, the good organic food and the landscape. I think if it was not for us having family here in Canada, we might well be living in Ecuador. It certainly gives you a good bang for your buck, and a good quality way of life.