The day we had been planning for so long had finally arrived. We made it to our new hometown, Cotacachi. Cotacachi is a small town with less than 9,000 people. There is a small community of retired Americans that live in different parts of town. The center of town, which is several blocks, has many small “stores,” where local people sell small goods, things they’ve grown or made. Cotacachi is know for its leather goods, many shops sell hats, belts, coats, shoes, bags and pretty much anything else you can make out of leather. Other shops in town are small resturants. Everything is homemade, so you can find some delicious food.
The people are very kind, and almost everyone will greet you as you walk down the road. About mid-day the kids get released from school to walk home for lunch and rest. It’s neat to see all the kids flood the streets in their school uniforms. At the same time, ice cream and crushed ice street vendors hit the road. A ice cream cone with a fruit sauce drizzled on it is $.25.- so good too. (I get hungry writing this blog😜)
Our friends that picked us up from the airport drive us the 2-hour long trip to Cotacachi. The drive is not for the faint of heart. From Quito to Cotacachi is mostly windy narrow roads through the mountains. Many roads are right on the edge of a large drop-off, ussually there is no guardrail. Plus the roads are heavily traveled by buses that travel between the towns. Fare is cheap, more on that later.
Considering these facts, you would think great caution would be taken while driving, nope! Enjoy rollercoasters? Many drivers pass buses on an uphill blind curve, some will come from behind and pass several cars at once and still others will make moves that would impress a NASCAR driver. Last year, Connor and I had to keep motion sickness pills with us, not really bothering us this time.
Once we arrived in Cotacachi our friends took us to the condo we will be renting for the first month. An American couple own the place and advertised it online, that’s how we found it. During the first month there, we will look around for something more affordable. The locals that rent houses or apartments don’t really advertise, you just have to look for a note in a window or posted on a door. Your feet really need to be on the ground to find a place like that.
Here’s the view just in front of our condo.
Yes that is a volcano in the background. There are 2 volcanoes near Cotacachi. One is toward the south (the one pictured above) and another is to the north of town. Both appear to be about an equal distance away. The locals call them the mother and father volcanoes, actual names: Cotacachi Volcano (dormant) and the other is Imbabura Volcano. Imbabura is the name of the province we are in.
Here’s a closer look at the one picuted above, to the south of us- Imbabura Volcano.
Now that we were in our (temporary) place, it was nice to unpack, for most of the last 6 weeks we have been living out of our suitcases. However, we were worried about getting altitude sickness so we tried to limit how much we did for the first 2 days. We of course needed some groceries, thankfully the property manager was kind enough to take us into town so we could grab a couple things. Afterward we taxi-ed home and did pretty much nothing for 2 days.
We dodged the bullet and did not get altitude sickness this time. However, I did have a mild headache pretty much 24/7 for the first week we were here, but then it was gone and hasn’t returned.
Our first meeting here was the public meeting which is currently held Saturday night at 6:30pm. It was so great seeing the friends we had made over a year ago when we visited. A few have moved away but the congregation has grown a lot. The hall was completely full, about 100 in attendance. The congregation has 5 elders and many pioneers- I’ll get harder numbers later.
Just like last time, we were warmly greeted with hugs and kisses. The friends made a real effort to make us feel welcomed. We’re looking forward to getting to know them all and working with them in the ministry.
The day after the meeting, we went to a little kid party that one of the families threw at their house. The kids got to play a bunch of different games like, wheelbarrow race, potato sack race, 500, and even piñata. The family throwing the party make and sell cupcakes as a family business, so of course we got some amazingly yummy cupcakes.
The cupcake business allows most of the family to pioneer. The mother and father have 2 older sons and 2 younger sons. The older sons pioneer and the oldest is married and serves a few days a week at a nearby RTO. The father is an elder, he is the Watchtower conductor. Melanie has stayed in contact with the Mom since we left and they have grown really close. They are a wonderful family, and it was an entertaining evening!
One of the challenges of living here is finding the right places to buy what you need. In Cotacachi there isn’t one large grocery store where you can get everything you need, so we’ve been exploring different little shops to find stuff for the best prices. Some stuff, you have to get in another town. Fruit and vegetables are sold locally everywhere and are amazingly fresh.
Pineapples, strawberries, apples, mangos, bananas, and so much more. They are so sweet and fresh! It’s the best. We can fill a plastic grocery bag full of fruit for about $4.00.
On one such shopping journey during our first week in a nearby town we came across a pizza place that some friends had brought us to the last time we were here. The pizza is really good, but the best part is a pepper sauce/salsa that you pour on top. It’s sweet and little spicy, really makes for an amazing slice! Take a look at Logan and see how he’s grown in one year.
During this first week, while the boys were keeping up with school work, Mel began to fill out applications for jobs online. The months leading up to the move, Mel completed some training to teach English online, she received a specific certificate to allow her to do so. So now she began applying with companies that mainly offer English lessons to Asian children. Another possible job is transcription. The work entails listening to an audio file, usually from a corporate business meeting, and typing up what was said.
We are confident that the right employment will come up for Mel and I. Jehovah has helped us and blessed us all along, and we know he will continue to do so.
So, our first week was a success. We are anxious to get started in the ministry next week. It will be a challenge, using a new language in the ministry, but we are excited for the experiences we are sure to have.