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Life in the U.S. Versus Life in Ecuador

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Sometimes, getting a little distance helps to see things more clearly. Such was the case with our recent visit back to the United States. After living in a developing country, it’s impossible not to appreciate the efficiency of the “First World.” Browsing the huge variety of products (Which end of the cereal aisle do I start on?), paying for the purchase with nothing more than a swipe of the credit card, and having our own car awaiting us was a refreshing change. Walking the trails in our favorite parks and reading the latest novels in English at the local library are great advantages to being back in the States.

All this comfort and efficiency comes with a trade-off, however. The frenetic pace of life for the majority of Americans struggling to make ends meet in a deteriorating economy was a reminder of why we had decided three years ago to leave all of that behind. The stress was evident on the faces of the drivers stuck in a traffic jam, rushing to get home from work as quickly as possible, so that they could enjoy those few precious hours of relaxation before getting up and doing it all again the next day. My wife and I both knew that life well as we had lived it ourselves for many years.

As our visit to the U.S. winds down, we have begun to look forward to our return to Ecuador. It is not that living in Cotacachi is a utopia where all is right with the world. Rather it is a place where we feel that we have control over the pace of our lives and can appreciate each moment more fully. For us, having less efficiency and convenience, but also less anxiety, is worth the trade-off. So what if the power or water goes off occasionally. We are not in a hurry anyway. Ecuador is the land of slow living and no fixed deadlines. Each person has to decide for themselves whether life in the slow lane is for them. My hope is that each issue of this newsletter will help you decide whether Cotacachi is right for you.


A very well written account of returning to America from Ecuador and I can relate, having had that experience many times. Ernest Hemingway probably had it right with a home in different places. Live long enough on the ocean and after awhile you forget to look. It is the nature of us human beings. One thing is for sure, the quality of life in America has fallen far below what is was in the 50's and 60's where the stress of life takes most of the energy. Last winter in Columbia-----maybe it was Ecuador traffic was stopped by a truck that had turned over. People got off the bus, looked and talked, laughed at small things and waited. There was no stress and we all knew at some point we would move on. One has to measure the value of that as opposed to the advantages there are in America. Even on the small island on which we live-----it is still America.

gin arnold

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Thanks for your comments, Gin. I couldn't agree more.

I feel better on a gluten-free diet, and am wondering if there are whole/organic food stores in or near Cotacachi where I could purchase things for cooking/baking, like white rice flour, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, bean and lentil flours, tapioca flour, corn flour, cornmeal, etc..



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