Option 3: Otavalo/Cotacachi

Otavalo was not originally high on our list, simply because we thought we wanted to try on a different climate all together from what we’d known before high in the Colorado Rockies. That was silly. We are mountain people. And Otavalo’s countryside was a balm to our senses from the word go. I’ve included Cotacachi in this option because they are next door neighbors to each other and both communities somewhat bleed into the other. For example, they both host strong, and dare we say- prosperous, indigenous communities that still hold to their native dress and customs. In Otavalo, they are famous for their amazing textile work that is displayed every day in “Plaza de Poncho” but really on point during the Saturday market – an event that draws people from all over South America and the world.  Cotacachi is smaller than Otavalo, its indigenous known for their leather works as opposed to textiles. It also has  more of an expat community that could make our short stay for language learning easier, in that a network is already established for finding rentals, putting the boys in school, and taking language courses ourselves. Not only does this high Andean countryside suit our sensibilities tremendously, but Otavalo’s people are by far the friendliest we’ve met in all of Ecuador. Its streets are cleaner and its traffic is borderline easy. Cotacachi boasts the same, save the traffic- Cotacachi’s traffic is even calmer and peppered with the occasional horse or family herding sheep.  These two towns are about an 8 minute and $5 taxi ride apart or 20min. and .25 on the bus. So, they are billed here as a shared option.

Otavalo’s Main Square:

The other mothers at Otavalo’s Playground:

View over Otavalo from rooftop of our hotel.

Cotacachi Main Square

Cotacachi street:

indigenous Couple in Cotacachi’s main square on a Sunday morning:

Pros:  Beautiful countryside, friendly people, peaceful pace, just 2 hours from Quito’s international airport, good school for the boys, resources for finding a home and setting up a life.

Cons: Only things that are standard Ecuador (and I suspect standard for all developing countries anywhere). Trash, glass shards sticking up from people’s concrete fences, dangerous taxi drivers, stray dogs everywhere…

Categories: From Jamie | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Option 3: Otavalo/Cotacachi

  1. YaYa

    looks like a great place to learn Spanish and get your South American legs under ya

  2. Poppy

    They both seem terrific…I’m kind of leaning towards Coatacachi; it’s such a cool name. But then so is Otavalo!? Looks like your narrowing it down wonderfully, you all look great. d

  3. Paula

    I am so loving hearing of these different towns and being able to cast a vote – this place is beautiful – where else could you have palm trees and mountains???? How many more options? I so envy you…

  4. Desse

    A definite ‘thumbs up’ for Otavalo. Their textile market looks fabulous…(looked them up on the web) Also their music seems to be famous. Thought that would appeal to you. Don’t know why it is so unique…There seems to be a lot to do in this area…

    Always look forward to your next post. Love, Desse

  5. Hilda

    Love reading your posts about your adventura Do you have any books that you read or websites you could recommend for research while you were planning your adventua We plan to go to Ecuador next year Would appreciate any useful info TKS

    • Hi Hilda,

      Yes, we read The Family Sabbatical Handbook, which for doing what we are doing was really helpful in getting started. We also mined the internet for blogs and information of other families doing something similar. Let me pull together some of those sites and I’ll send them on to you.

      Best of luck!

  6. Chris Thompson

    Bo & Jamie,

    Chris Thompson writing you from Shanghai China. Wow you guys are living the Dream. Everyday you get to set your own schedule/agenda. Go where you want, when you want, for as long as you want. Great idea taking the boys while they are young enough to go along with what you say vs. waiting until they were in the teenage years. My daughter Alexis is 13 now and I’m pretty sure that if we tried this trip one of us would not make it back alive.

    I can’t wait to catch with you guys realtime when the adventure is over and I can buy you guys a Cerveza or Tequila to tell me some stories.

    Quick update on us, we will be moving from Shanghai to Zurich in July so if you ever had the urge to ski the CH Alps this may be a good time to pursue that urge. We will rent a chalet in either Davos or St. Moritz and plan to ski every weekend. CB is still dear to us, but our professional journey seems to have delayed our plans for vacation home.

    Best Regards,
    Chris, Susan, Alexis

  7. Hi Chris, Bo here. It’s great to hear from you! From Detroit to Shanghai to Zurich…sounds like you need to start a blog. In many ways what you’re doing with your family, seems like what we’re doing with ours which boils down to trying to make a life in a big and often unfamiliar world. You and Susan are just adding the huge challenge of trying to work at the same time! Speaking of working, yes, we’re living a dream for sure. Jamie and I were just talking about the blessings and challenges of being able to set your own agenda without any of the normal social constraints and structures (friends, work, gyms, church, local cafe). The details are for another blog post or conversation over a beer! All the best to you, Bo

    • Chris Thompson

      Bo, Thanks for the reply. You guys are living life vs going through the motions. Most people don’t have the confidence to start down an unfamiliar path let alone grab a machete and create their own path in the woods.

      It take a lot of confidence to leave your social safety net. Better be careful once you flex your wings, get the smell of exotics in the wind, and surprise yourself with your own grit and resilience going back home becomes tougher and tougher. To be honest I stopped going back to where I grew up because most of my friends are doing the same things they were doing when I lived there 20 years ago and they don’t know anymore about the world than what CNN or the newspaper says. There is a vast world to see, taste, smell, and feel so why waste your time doing the same thing over and over again like a rat in a cage. Enough philosophizing. I look forward to hearing about the unfolding adventures and exploits of the Clan Stambaugh.

      • Well said Chris! Also, I meant to thank you for the book recommendations. I have thoroughly enjoyed 1491 and 1493! Amazing insights.

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