After leaving Quito, we took a 2 hour car ride to Cotacachi. This is a small town nestled in between two beautiful mountains. The town enjoys a pretty main square, plenty of dining options, in and out of town living and not much else.
Prices dropped dramatically,about half, from Quito. Lunch was now $3.50 and dinner $5-6. Wine is expensive - as much as an entree. Our room rate dropped considerably as well.
We stayed at the Land Of The Sun Inn, US phone 336.792.4767. Besides ourselves, the hotel was full with guests attending the Morya Ecuador Discovery real estate tours. Among them were the Mattoxes, who we made fast friends with. Rhonda is a hairdresser and Rick is a character, both an absolute delight from AL.
The hotel itself was comfortable and the staff impeccable. Our room was in no way as roomy as depicted (rooms definitely vary) and anything happening in the hotel was heard. They provided room heaters since Ecuadorians do not typically have temperature control in their buildings. Oh, and the church only rings the bells about 40 or 50 times (Rick says 100) each morning, sometimes as early at 5:45 am! We would return here in a heart beat.
Our new friend, Rhonda, didn't care so much for the food. I can empathize - Ecuadorian food is somewhat bland and often served with multiple starches such as rice, potatoes and plantains. They do serve a type of salsa (salsa di aji) that adds spice and flavor. The "locro" was consistently tasty. We appreciated the reasonable portions. During this trip, Doug and I ate our own entrees for the first time in years.
Along with La Turista, we also dined at the Inn ( lunch and dinner, with more than our fair share of coffee breaks), Serendipity (expat owned), Solid Rock (fabulous tacos), La Mirage (cocktails in the garden) and El Lenador (great meat!). We were pleased with all our dishes. You won't find better tasting avocados. We regret not getting to D'Anitas or Bocaditas.
We spent one day touring with the agent for Adobe Made. Despite the quality product of Adobe Made, we found the San Miguel development most to our liking. Within the development, we were lucky to tour one on the homes featured on House Hunters International. It was a stunner and we wouldn't mind having our own abode in the neighborhood. Our agent, Carolina Denapoli, was a pleasure to work with...firstname.lastname@example.org .
We were having computer problems since we had arrived in Ecuador. Mauricio, a former Land Of The Sun employee, was able to arrange for it to be fixed on a Sunday for $10. email@example.com.
Cotacachi was exactly as depicted: clean, safe, affordable and walkable. Housing developed for expats have all the features of home with prices on the high end (likely too pricey for Ecuadorians). We would be interested in touring in town residences to see how the real estate market compares. Besides Carolina, Lee and Peggy Carper are a great resource for rentals, home purchases and real estate investments (a message can be left for them at the Inn). The expat community appears to be close knit. Cotacachi is a short bus ride away from Otavalo and Ibarra, where you will have to go for any kind of shopping, recreation and night life.
Cotacachi convinced us that a life in South America was possible. Practically anyone with a pension or Social Security could live comfortably there. The air is pure, the streets are clean, the people are friendly, the surroundings are spectacular and the atmosphere is peaceful. Now, on to Cuenca.