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A Cotacachi Christmas - The Way it was Before Shopping Took over the Holidays.

Christmas in North America has come to be associated with stress and overconsumption. Turn on the television or visit any shopping center and you will be bombarded with promotions designed to get you to spend, spend, and spend some more. Only after the savings have been depleted and credit cards tapped out does the madness end.

Ecuador has not completely escaped the commercialization of Christmas. Visit a shopping mall in Quito or Ibarra and you will still see the familiar displays touting holiday savings. However, the small town of Cotacachi has so far managed to escape the era of holiday excess.

Sights & Sounds of Cotacachi, Ecuador

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Sights and sounds on a typical day in Cotacachi, Ecuador

 

Ticket to Ecuador

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In an era of low interest rates, it is hard to find a place to park your money and get anything in return.  However, for those looking for an alternative to buying an airline ticket to Ecuador, there may be a solution. 

Nostalgia

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My wife and I recently came across an old videotape of our first visit to Cotacachi in 2008 that caused us to reflect on all the changes that have occurred over the past few years.  In those days, Cotacachi was a sleepy, small town with only a handful of expats living there full time.  Buses would drop off tourists for a day of shopping on “Leather Street,” but the town still had the feeling of being an undiscovered destination.  The expat housing developments of Primavera II, San Miguel, and Jahua Pacha were still getting off the ground.

New digital currency

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Ecuador recently announced that they plan to create their own digital currency that can be used for transactions within Ecuador. The new currency will be backed by the Ecuadorian Central Bank, and it is thought that it will stimulate the economy and be helpful to consumers who do not have bank accounts or credit cards. Ecuador switched from the Sucre to the U.S. Dollar in the year 2000 after their own currency collapsed. There have long been rumblings that President Correa would like to return to having their own national currency again.

HOA's

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Those who own real estate and have experience with homeowners' associations in the States know that they often come with their share of headaches. Collecting dues and making sometimes controversial financial decisions can create contention or even downright hostility among the members.  As many expats live in gated communities in Ecuador, HOA's are a fact of life for many living here.
 

Live in or Outside of Town?

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Cotacachi is a small town.  That makes it very easy to get anywhere easily on foot.  Unless you are carrying things, it is usually not necessary to ever take a taxi in town.  Just be sure to plan on plenty of time for stopping and visiting with friends along the way.  While there are some housing developments located in town such as Primavera I and Primavera II, many of the expat gated communities are found outside of town.  Is it better to live in or outside of town?

The Food Just Tastes Different

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The food just tastes different in Ecuador.  I can't tell you exactly how, just that it is better.  I don't know if it is what the chickens are fed that make the eggs better or if it is the open spaces that allow the cattle to produce better milk.  The cheese and the butter are far and away better tasting than that found in the States.  Even the garlic has a stronger taste and smell.

New Quito Airport

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The new airport in Quito that opened in early 2013 has made the trip to Cotacachi a bit easier.  Upon arrival, usually late at night, it is no longer necessary to pass through the streets of Quito to make your way north.  With a good driver and light traffic, it is possible to get to Cotacachi within 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Of course, that depends greatly upon how many slow moving trucks you encounter along the way on the mostly two lane mountain highway.

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