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Published: November 28th 2018
Tortuga at our campground in Vilcabamba
Our trusty home for a year now...good old Tortuga!
One whole year in Tortuga...it hardly seems possible! Admittedly we have only travelled through 4 countries during this whole year, and one of those was the US, but that's not the point! Moving so slowly has allowed us to get to know certain places really well, and evaluate their livability potential, instead of having to rush through them to stay on a faster and more distance-consuming schedule. When we left Colorado last November we really didn't know what to expect. Would we survive Mexico, despite all the frightening security warnings? (absolutely!) How would it feel driving a relatively large vehicle through a bunch of developing countries? (ask Ken!) Would we really go through the hassle and expense of shipping Tortuga all the way down to South America? (yes!) And, most importantly, would we enjoy this trip and find a place to call home? (definitely and, we think, yes!). We were quite nervous about embarking on this adventure, but looking back on the last year it's been a fantastic trip and we've not only visited some great places, but have made some friends for life along the way and have been constantly welcomed by locals wherever we've set foot.
currently back in the States spending time around Thanksgiving with his family, while Tortuga and I are tucked away at a lovely little campground in Vilcabamba overlooking the mountains. After finishing the housesit here we decided to stay for a few days longer, and then it made perfect sense for me to stay on for the next few weeks as we now have some friends here, including the homeowners of the house we looked after. Vilcabamba is a fascinating little town, and quite different from anywhere else we've been in Ecuador. It is home to a great number of American and European expats, many of whom are of the hippy persuasion, and you can't go far without hearing a conversation about crystal healing, toxic metals, energy fields or structured water (don't even ask!). It's a bit surreal, but the number of foreigners here has brought a lot of great (and organic) food to the cafes and restaurants that you would never normally find in such a small town (population of about 1500). There is even a French bakery run by a guy from Montpellier, serving authentic baguettes and pains au chocolat! The locals seem to have accepted this influx of
eccentric expats quite equitably, and there is a nice atmosphere of tolerance and kindness here. The surrounding countryside is really lovely, and we've enjoyed many scenic hikes in the area, some with Roxy while we were housesitting, and a few longer ones since we moved back into Tortuga. The climate is hot, occasionally too hot, but it always cools down at night so that sleeping is comfortable.
It was definitely an adjustment moving out of the beautiful house on the mountain back into Tortuga, and funnily enough we have a perfect view of it now from the campground! Happily we've been able to meet up with the lovely homeowners a few times since, and spend more time with little Roxy, who we really grew to love during the housesit. We've also enjoyed meeting more travelers, including Jen, a physician's assistant from Alaska, who is in the middle of a mountain bike tour of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, but currently waiting in Vilcabamba for her husband to return from a work assignment in Alaska before they get back on the bikes heading north. We have also enjoyed befriending Kimberly, a very talented chef from Seattle, who has settled in
Hiking to the Palto waterfall with Jen
It was really, really hot on this day!
Vilcabamba and has been dazzling the local population with 6-course fine dining experiences, which I for one have immensely enjoyed attending!
So from here we are thinking that we will probably head back to Cuenca once Ken returns to Ecuador in a few days' time, and spend December there before shipping Tortuga back to the States sometime in the New Year. The objective of our trip was to find a place to call home, and we're pretty excited about giving it a go in Ecuador, so next year we will start to put things in motion for that to happen, as well as trying to make a trip back to England to see family and friends (it will have been 5 years since my last trip back!). We're also toying with the idea of some cycle touring in the UK, France and Switzerland to celebrate Ken's 50th next summer, but will have to see if we can tie all that in with obtaining residency in Ecuador! If all goes well, we hope to be able to return more permanently to Ecuador around September time. As always though, our plans could completely change, so don't read too much into this
Anyway, as we haven't moved much since our last blog entry there's not much more to write about this time. But I'll leave you with a few more photos from the past month, and no doubt we will post a couple more blogs before the year is up. Until then, thanks for following our harebrained trip!
~ Fi and Ken
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