Figuring Out Money, Meals, Apartment Rentals in Ecuador

Hole in the Wall Restaurants

Figuring Out Money, Meals, Apartment Rentals

Learning Manners 

I had an attack of shyness today and could hardly function, not wanting to speak Spanish or go in any restaurant and not knowing what to do with myself!  I went for a long walk, got my shoes polished by a small boy for .10, found the House of Culture after much searching, going around the building several times before finding the entrance.

After having a guide yesterday to do all my talking and make my decisions, and drive me and totally take care of me, it sure took no time at all to devolve into a helpless baby!

I walked up to two businessmen and asked them where to find the entrance to the museum.  They laughed, extended a handshake, said hello, asked me how I was.  Point taken. My approach was rude!  So I laughed, shook his hand, said hello,  asked after his health and then politely but incoherently asked for help finding the entrance.  Apparently today I have little Spanish!  Yesterday I gave a whole intro to El Meditacion Transcendental in Spanish!  I didn’t know I could do that.  Thank God for cognates:  physiology = phisiologia!    Culture = cultura      One can always say the English word with a Spanish accent and see if it is recognizable.

Pre Hispanic Sculptures    The House of Culture was interesting, with pre-Hispanic sculptures and post Hispanic Catholic Paintings.  The sculptures were enchanting, much as I’ve seen in Mexico, but where many of those are intense and cruel looking, here I was struck by how sweet the expressions are.  I forgot my camera today (as I said, not very functional) but here is an example.  The Catholic paintings also had a sweetness not found in Spain and Portugal.  So I meditated on the sweetness of the Ecuadorians as I walked along, thinking about how they all good naturedly say there is hot water when there isn’t, or say there are no mosquitos when there are, or give the wrong directions if they don’t know the correct ones.  I truly think it may come from a calm, unruffled nature, and general enjoyment of life.  Compared to Americans they don’t seem worried or angry about anything.


Lunch for $1.80 Then I was hungry, so walked for blocks and blocks feeling shy about going into a restaurant. Of course   there are American style offerings such as Kentucky fried chicken, Subway and McDonalds, and more elegant American style sandwich shops with American prices (almost!  - $7.00 a meal), but finally I did what I wanted to do and went into one of the hole-in-the-wall Ecuadorian restaurants.  You say to the man who greets you “I would like to have lunch,” he seats you at a table –there are usually no more than six tables- and he brings a huge bowl of delicious home made soup.  Mine today was chicken with vegetables and even greens.  After the soup he brings a plate of salad, rice and roasted chicken, with a glass of fresh squeezed juice–most often it is the tree tomato which looks like a lemon shaped persimmon and tastes like a cross between orange and peach.   After the main course he brings you dessert–today it was a bowl of vanilla pudding.  All that costs $1.80!

Of course, it’s way too much to eat so I leave at least 1/2 of everything, hoping they won’t think its a comment on their food.  Unfortunately all of these wonderful little restaurants have TVs.  You also have to carefully read the sign outside to try and figure out what they are serving that day; many of the entrees are unknown to me so there is definitely an element of adventure, as I’d really rather not eat pork, beef and sheep, and guinea pig, a national specialty,  is not something I feel ready for.

After my meal I was really grateful to find a KFC!  Their big attraction for me is the public bathrooms!

Where will I live?   I’ve never gone to a foreign country planning to find an apartment!  Its really a temptation to keep travelling as travelling is fun, I know how to do it, and Ecuador is so outrageously beautiful.  I’d like to go over to the town in the rain forest where everyone says there are so many different kinds of birds!  Or along the Avenue of Volcanoes, down the center of Ecuador, and to see Cuenca, which they consider the cultural jewel of Ecuador, and then and then and then there’s the Galapagos!

It’s not that easy to find a furnished apartment for six months, as it wouldn’t be in the USA either.  In Ibarra yesterday I found a plethora of 2 and 3 bedroom unfurnished apartments that cost $150 to $175 a month!!!  But!!! There are no used furniture stores here, as Ecuadorians hang on to their furniture and don’t throw things away as norteAmericanos do.  Also much of their furniture is hand made by artisans, which is both cheap and beautiful.  If I were going to stay here year around, renting an unfurnished apartment would probably cost about $3000-to $5000 at the outset and then would be very cheap for ever after.  Unfurnished here means no light fixtures, no appliances like stove and refrigerator, as well as no place to sleep.

Furnished apartments that rent by the month are only found in tourist areas of high population, and cost from $500 to $1000 for the same 2 to 3 bedroom place.  Of course I don’t need 2 or 3 bedrooms, and I don’t want to live in a big city because I came here to commune with the mountains, rivers, and clouds.  It may turn out that I will be renting a room in someone’s house during my whole trip, or staying in hostals.  Right now it seems very challenging!

I’m going to Otavalo on Sunday, to stay in an hostal.  The strategy will be to walk the streets watching for rental signs on the buildings, and to ask everywhere if anyone knows of anything!  Otavalo is considered by the Ecuadorians to be a very commercial town; they don’t seem to like it much.  But the largest indigenous market is there, and that’s a type of commerce I find very attractive.  The town is high in the mountains and has great weather year around.  Otavalo does not have much of a presence on the internet and has no newspaper, so the usual strategies don’t work for finding rentals.  I hope I get over feeling shy!

2 comments to Figuring Out Money, Meals, Apartment Rentals in Ecuador

  • Debs

    Dear Karla, Thank you so much for including me in your email. I am up in the middle of the night. I celebrated Jewish New Year (I’m not officially Jewish, just tight with my money…. OK bad joke) by having dinner and chocolate gluten free cookies and de-cafe coffee at Judy Bar-Shimon’s. The up-shot is I am incredibly tired, but I’m unable to sleep.

    Therefore you have me at a disadvantage, too tired to type, just able to read and brain dead to make comprehensive conversation about your wonderful writing. However I can say I really enjoyed it all, I will follow your adventures, and wish I was also on the road. Also to say I’m thinking about doing this in a year or two, you are my inspiration! I just ‘unfriended’ a ton of people on FB in the hopes of keeps my newsfeed simple, but I must remember to upgrade your friend status with me so I don’t miss your posts, although I guess the ‘blog’ is different. Hang in there, I’m sure there will be many minutes and hours when you wonder why you are there, but you are good at this! Back to closing down and staring into the dark! love Debs

    • Admin

      Nice joke. I laughed. Since I always consider it a big compliment to be included in Jewish culture. I do know why I’m here, just not sure how to accomplish it. Yet I have wonderful support of nature most times and all it takes is persistence. I’ve never done a blog before and am disciplining myself to take pictures and write every day. I don’t know if what I write is of interest to anyone! But in Spain I should have done it so now I will.

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