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Contrast of Cultures

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Sometimes, in the routine of day to day life here, you can forget that you are in a foreign country. Other times, it becomes apparent that we are living in a very different culture. This morning, I made the two mile walk into town to the Sunday market through the indigenous community of El Batan. As this is a long holiday weekend commemorating the "Day of the Dead", the music and celebrations had continued throughout the night. My excursion into town this morning was like passing through the aftermath of a war zone. Men were passed out and laying on the side of the road.

Exploration

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We're always discovering something new here. Angela and I live in a development called Jahua Pacha about 2 miles outside of Cotacachi. The development is surrounded by small indigenous communities and vast areas of open space. This past weekend, we decided to explore one of the trails leading further into the mountains from our home. We initially had no intention of going as far as we did, but curiosity's hand kept pushing us forward to see what was over the next hill or around the upcoming bend.

Unrest

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The political events of the past few days have made headlines around the world.  Concerned about a new law that would limit their benefits, the police went on strike.  President Correa was attacked in Quito and fled to a nearby hospital.  A state of emergency was declared.  Surrounded by hostile demonstrators and virtually sequestered in the hospital for the entire day, Correa was finally freed when government troops stormed the building.  The events were broadcast throughout the day, and many shops were closed as everyone was glued to the local television. 

Mindo Trip

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After our recent trip to Mindo, a town in the Ecuadorian cloud forest, I made a video about the town that can be viewed below.

Colombia Trip

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A while back, my wife and I had the opportunity to take a day trip north into Colombia.  Passing through the border in our friend’s car was a breeze without even being stopped for a passport check.  Our destination was the Sanctuary of Las Lajas, a cathedral built on the site where an apparition of the Virgin Mary was claimed to be seen in the 1700’s.  It is constructed deep into a valley and is quite an architectural feat.  After spending the morning exploring the church and the grounds, we headed back to Ecuador, crossing the border into the city of Tulcan.

Bureaucracy

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Simple things in Ecuador take a long time. Bob, who bought our first apartment at Primavera II, and I have been working to change the name on the water bill. First, we went to the municipality. There we were told to go to the water plant for instructions. At the water plant, we were given a list of documents that we needed to get from the municipality. We returned to the municipality for the required documents. From there, it was back to the water plant where the papers were stamped. We were then sent back to the municipality to pay $10 to make the change.

President Correa

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I'm sometimes asked about my opinion of Ecuadorian President Correa who has been portrayed in the U.S. press as a socialist and close ally of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Without getting into a discussion on politics, I can say from an expat's point of view that, at this time, Correa's policies do not seem to have much impact on our lives. On occasion, as was the case recently in a dispute with the government over water rights, the indigenous people will block the roadways throughout the country in protest.

What We Miss (and Don't Miss)

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Cotacachi is a small town and doesn't have all of the conveniences that we were used to back in the States. As much as we feel that we have gained by moving overseas, there are a few things that we miss.

Produce Market

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One of the great things about living in Ecuador is the abundance of produce. While there are several places where it is available, the large market is next to the bus station. Seven days a week, it is open and filled with almost every conceivable kind of fruit or vegetable, including some that I still haven't been able to identify. Sunday is the big market day when we stock up blackberries, blueberries, potatoes, oranges, onions, broccoli and other items for a fraction of what we would have paid back home. I am rarely without a stock of large avocados, which cost about 30 cents each.

Jahua Pacha

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After we had lived in Primavera II for about 6 months, we had the opportunity to purchase a townhouse in a new development called Jahua Pacha, about 2 miles outside of town. The word Jahua Pacha in Quichwa, the language of the indigenous people, means “heaven” and the townhouses are in a truly spectacular location. Built on the mountain side, there are amazing views of both Cotacachi and Imbabura volcanos. We bought the property 4 months before its scheduled completion and were able to move in at the end of February, 2010.

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