Why not Ecuador is a better question! I knew from the first visit last July that this was the place I wanted to be. Yes, the cost of living is low, but that’s far from the only reason to be here. Montanita has a reputation as a surfer’s party town with rideable waves all year, cheap hostels and drugs. All that is true, but it’s really far more than that. The town is just a wide spot in the highway that runs along the coast from Salinas to Manta. It’s dusty dry or muddy during the occasional rain. There is a bus stop, dozens of shops, bars, restaurants and laundry mats. There’s a seedy side for sure, but there is also just a really cool laid back vibe. The locals speak no English and I speak no espanol although I’m working on Duolingo. My favorite spot is Montanita Brewing Company where you can get a hard cider and watch the surfers at sunset. Things are basic and simple here. No frills. No rush. No worry.
On the practical side, it is very nice that Ecuador uses the US dollar so there is no currency issue. The biggest problem is having small change. Oh, and the ATM is sometimes out of money. There are a few places like the big grocery stores and the pharmacy that take plastic. We keep a change bag for the $2 cab fare or 50 cent bus ride to town. Buses here are really good. The ones going to Guayaquil are air conditioned and show movies. The locals are a mix of AC and no AC, but in general are nice and run frequently.
We discovered on our first trip here that Ecuador has so much to offer in terms of diverse experiences. We went to Otavalo for the market and to see the center of the earth, the Andes and mountain life. Then we went to Cuenca for a slice of Europe nestled in a scenic valley. We’ve yet to go to the Galapagos or the Amazon rain forest, but it’s all here for the intrepid explorer.
Yes, there are challenges like the tedious details of getting visas, bringing in a dog and shipping household goods, but when I wake up to the sound of crashing waves and walk out to be surrounded by butterflies in morning breeze, there’s no place I had rather be.