Friday, September 11, 2020

Another Month, Another Move, and An Anniversary

 It has now been over two months since I officially moved to Ecuador. As always, time is flying by! I am really enjoying life on the coast and, particularly, that I never feel cold. The weather continues to be mild, which also means overcast the majority of the time. But other than missing occasionally seeing the sun, I am happy to be here.

In Olón; my first sunset in an entire month!

After being closed for almost six months months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has gradually been reopening the beaches to the public. As I mentioned in my last post, other than the lack of tourists, you almost wouldn’t know that there was a public health crisis based on observations of local behavior where I’ve been living in Montañita.

Fishermen transporting their boat across the beach in Montañita.

Most of the beaches in Santa Elena province reopened, with restrictions, on August 25. Many more throughout the country, including the popular malecon in Salinas, opened on September 1. The nationwide “estado de excepción,” which was instituted on March 16, officially ends in two days, signifying that there will no longer be curfews or the prohibition of public or private gatherings; however local authorities can regulate transit (like which cars can circulate on specific days), the consumption of alcohol in public venues like restaurants and bars, and opening hours for beaches. Basically the government says that it is now up to individuals to act responsibly to help prevent further spread of the virus.

A dog's view of the beach at Montañita.

During the past month I have gone on a couple of day trips to explore some nearby coastal areas. On August 15, I joined a couple of friends (one of whom owns a car) on an excursion to Salinas, 70 km and 1.5 hours south. They were scouting surfing spots; I went along to enjoy the scenery. At the time, all the beaches in that area were still officially closed, so we spent most of the day riding around, talking about how life has changed this year. Like many people in Montañita, my friend’s business is almost 100% based on tourism. He is more fortunate than others in that he had saved enough money to survive the past few months without a steady income.

The beach at Punta Carnero near Salinas.

On August 28, I took a local bus 46 km and one hour north to Puerto Lopez. I had previously visited the town, famous for whale-watching tours, in early September last year. Since I’ve been observing lots of whales over the past month while walking on the beach, I decided not to spend the money on a boat tour and, instead, enjoyed watching the fishermen at the bustling seafood market and ate a delicious freshly-made ceviche for lunch. I then backtracked to Rio Chico, a secluded beach that is accessible via a 20-minute walk from the main road. I spent the rest of the afternoon there enjoying the solitude and watching the surfers who come for the best waves during low tide.

beach Ecuador playa coast surfers waves
A stretch of the mostly deserted beach in Rio Chico.

After one full month of living in Montañita, I moved a few kilometers north to the even smaller town of Olón last Saturday. Since I was nearby, I had the opportunity to come to Olón a couple of times in August to scout out potential accommodations. After looking at several different properties, I settled on a beautiful one-bedroom apartment just steps from the beach. It is much cleaner and quieter here, and I am thoroughly pleased with my decision to relocate. I have committed to staying here until mid-October and am currently researching options to return to Galápagos.

Home sweet home (and outdoor office) in Olóncito.

In other travel-related news, today is the anniversary of my departure from the U.S. on my life-changing Latin America adventure. This recent blog post provides a summary of everything that has happened in the past two years.

UNESCO ruins Aztec history culture pyramid
At Teotihuacan in Mexico on September 14, 2018.

As always, I am thankful for every day of health, happiness, and the ability to travel and live in this beautiful country! I continue to post daily updates and photos on my social media pages so be sure you’re following me on Facebook and Instagram if you want to see what life is like for this expat in Ecuador.