Home in Cotacachi

My New Home

Moving in today!  I have a living room, dining room, two bedrooms, bath and kitchen—really big space for one person, but I grabbed it because the price was good.   $270 a month including everything, internet, electricity, water and gas, laundry facilities.  Well, I’m joking about the laundry facilities, though most Ecuadorians wouldn’t notice.  They consist of a large cement sink on the roof terrace, and clothes lines.  You get a beautiful 360 degree view of volcanoes Cotacachi and Imbabura and mountains and clouds while you hang your hand scrubbed laundry.   Or, I’m told there’s a gringo who comes round to collect and deliver.  Either seems okay to me. my apartment in cotacahi 002

This is a terrible pic of view from living room. Too bad about the wires! And flash!

The trash truck is passing, with its loud music.  Today it is a children’s song, probably  from an American cartoon, translated.  You put out wet garbage in small bags on  Mon, Weds, and Fri.  And dry trash on the other days.  Yes, garbage collection every  day.  This place is very clean, unlike Mexico, India, and Spain.  I don’t know where it  goes or how they process it, but it’s a good sign it is separated.  Also there are  recycling bins in the large grocery stores.

Produce is all local and very fresh.  I don’t know if they use pesticides.  I aspire to get  to know some of the Huichols….They don’t refrigerate the eggs…because they were  collected that day!

My furniture consists of a complete bedroom set, and the other bedroom is my apartment in cotacahi 003 completely empty.  I guess anyone who comes to visit will have to provide the bed!   I  have one spoon, fork, knife, pan, dish and glass!  New refrigerator and stove.    Everything works on propane.  The propane truck also has loud music and passes  daily.  I’m told I can tip the driver to bring my tanks up and attach them.  Something    new to learn!  I’ll have a propane tank on the roof for my hot water and another in the  kitchen for the stove.    I also have one sad old couch, and a complete mahogany  dining room set.  Definitely I’ll have enough space to do asanas, write and do art  projects.  For now art projects will be watercolors, though I suspect I will like thicker  paint..but have to find a craft store first.


In a population of 8,000, this town is about 60% Huichol Indians who dress in  traditional costumes, whether because they like it or because it brings in tourists, I don’t know yet.  Babies seem to be part of the costume, since every beautiful young woman has one attached by blanket.  They are small people, smaller than me most of the time, or just my size.  I’ve read that Cotacachi has a World Heritage award for being 100% illiteracy free.  I wonder if the survey included  the very old toothless and tiny women who sit on the street?  In any case the indigenous population is very busy conducting commerce, seems to own all the shops and some of the hostals, brings in all the chickens, fish, other meat, and all the fresh produce, makes craft products to sell and looks generally very healthy, and happy as well as really beautiful.   I see few men.  I wonder if they work outside of town, have left for Quito, or what?001

20% of the population are expats, from Germay, Scandinavia, Canada and the US.  They live in new-built condos and houses on the outskirts of town in gated communities.  Most speak only a few phrases of Spanish.  They have brought their dogs and shipped their possessions.  They meet at cafes and restaurants and have a busy social life I don’t really know about yet, as I’ve been sick with a cold since I got here.

The rest of the population is a combination of Mestizos, Blacks, and Colonials.  This is the population in which I would be most likely to find friends if I want to speak Spanish.

There is one main tourist strip, all leather shops, beautiful and contemporary work whose prices I have not yet gauged.   Cotacachi is the leather town, as Atuntaque (very near) is the textile town, and other towns make silver, or hats or baskets.  I think textiles would have suited me better than leather, or maybe ceramics—I think there is a ceramic town, but I am overall very happy with it here.  There are many of the things I love and prize about South America.  Like old churches,   plazas, murals, fruit stands.  These are not very good pictures.  I’ll try to do better!

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