Adventures and More in Loja: What is the Next Chapter?
While it is not for everyone, I really enjoying landing in a place I have never visited, don’t know anyone, and have no idea what will happen. Hey, I survived moving to Watrous when I was 14, so all relocations since then have been relatively easy.
And the “Here I am, bring on the adventures,” is a theory that served me well when I arrived in Loja, a small city in the south of Ecuador.
Perched 2,060 m up in the Andes, the city was founded in 1571 by the Spaniards who wanted a base to explore the Amazon. When I visited the Puerta de la Ciudad, I gasped softly. How the hell did they manage to do it?
There is also a gallery with revolving exhibits at the Puerta.
The city itself is really a big small town.
The traffic is reasonable. And there are very few motorcycles, which is a refreshing change from Medellin where they swarm like hornets and take aim at anyone foolish enough to try to cross the street in front of them. And bike lanes. I might buy one to get around, although almost everything I want is within walking distance.
Loja is also home to the two oldest professional universities in the country, as well as a new polytechnic.
This city is also the cultural capital of Ecuador with even more music, art, and poetry than Quito, the capital.
Finding an apartment
On my way to get the zipper on my boot fixed I noticed a “for rent” sign for a student apartment. Hey, I quality as I am studying Spanish.
I indicated interest and met the owner the next day. Don Hector wanted $210USD per month – which included utilities. No contract, no deposit, no agents. It was rented on a hand-shake. So refreshing and a welcome break from overwhelming bureaucracy.
The area of Lourdes where I live is an historical area with café, shops, bars, and restaurants. It is also pedestrian-only.
And please note that I had to do it all the initial work in Spanish. There are only a couple of dozen native English speakers scattered around in the city – none of whom I have met – so Spanish is essential. Bumbling that mine may be, I can make myself understood most of the time.
Buying a bed at Mercado Majorista proved to be a bit of a challenge. Most beds come with garishly caved wooden headboards that are enough to give one nightmares.
Finding a mattress with a matching base? What a quaint idea. I finally settled on a mattress. I will get a base built from pallets if Andrew Collins sends me the plans he used to make one for himself and the Nurse in Phnom Penh.
I also found some cotton sheets. A long way from the 400-thread Egyptian ones I used to enjoy in Surry Hills, but times and places have changed and I adapt accordingly.
Darwin – born and bred in Loja, but who live in London for 12 years and speaks impeccable English – helped me with shopping and delivering the goods in the back of his truck. Without him, it may have taken me almost forever to buy a gas stove and have the attachments – from another store – hooked up for the propane bottle.
Being a minimalist, I enjoy my “camping” lifestyle. Darwin suggested that I buy a sofa to brighten up the living room. Why? I would never use it as my office chair and bed occupy all my available time.
The neighbours view me as a bit of a curiosity. Fair enough as there aren’t any other foreigners on the block. My apartment is on the ground floor. As people walk by I look out the window, wave, and say “hola.”
Angelo Agusto – the 12-year old son the of shoemaker next door—is a touch “special” and his hobby is peeking in the front window to see if I will wave. Yo, smiling and flapping my hand in the air doesn’t take much.
Living in Loja
When I rented the apartment, I visited it three times and it was quiet. Then I moved in and all hell broke loose. The place goes from tomb-quiet to a zoo of televisions, radios, and screaming kids in about 30 seconds flat. Then it will go silent again.
Hey, this is South America and there is no way I am going to win that battle, so between earplugs and headphones I’m coping. Sort of.
Looking for work
What is happening with the world economy? The Canadian dollar now costs $1.33 for one USD. And the USD is the currency of Ecuador, as it doesn’t print its own money. Translated, that means “expensive.”
So, I’m looking for on-line work that pays in USD. Teaching English to Chinese students has become the new waitress job. People foolishly assume it doesn’t require any skills as long as you are a native speaker.
No, no, no. And to make it worse the Chinglish materials that are supplied are unedited by a native speaker and littered with mistakes. Consequently, the plethora of English schools that have mushroomed in the Middle Kingdom are constantly advertising for teachers. Many are dodgy.
At this point I can still afford to be picky and look for jobs teaching business English, writing, and editing for another week or so. The thought of hello-my-name-is lessons with a 4-year old is like running fingernails down a blackboard. But we do what we have to do if we have to do it.
Planning the next chapter
As usual, I don’t really have a “plan” as such. But things will happen as they always do. The vague idea is that I will get a 90-day extension on my tourist visa. Then I can slip across the border to Peru for a couple of weeks in December until it is 2019.
Once the new year arrives I can stay in Ecuador for another 180 days. Ah, the contradictions of a woman who has three passports and no long-term country.
Photos from life in Loja
Checking the Ecuador Experience Links
Country report – https://internationalliving.com/countries/ecuador/loja-ecuador/
Visa information – http://www.ecuador-travel-guide.org/general/VISASs.htm#Stays
TAME Airlines – https://bookings.sita.aero/itd/itd/eq/Air
YouTube tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU1rJWTlkWw
Traffic – https://www.numbeo.com/traffic/compare_cities.jsp?country1=Colombia&country2=Ecuador&city1=Medellin&city2=Loja&tracking=getDispatchComparison