Day In The Life

If you’re contemplating a move to Ecuador, our Day In The Life videos provide a glimpse into what life looks like in Ecuador.

Living Among the Coffee Bushes near Boquete, Panamá

In this guest post, Warren R. Johnson shares his unique and inspiring story about living in a yurt among coffee bushes and howler monkeys high in the mountains of Panamá. Here is his story…

I lived a comfortable life in the United States, enjoying a cabin in the woods. I had a nice kitchen and good friends nearby.

Yet, in 2020, I grew concerned with the politics and cost of living and decided to look elsewhere for a new life. I took tours of Panamá and Mexico to explore going south.

I chose the Republic of Panamá because it required the shortest time to secure a Permanent Visa. Hurtling through the skies was brisk. Far from brisk was dealing with airports and QR scanning codes. I arrived intact but exhausted—I slept 11 hours the first night.

Yet, if you had told me I would be living in a yurt at 5,260 feet above sea level on a tropical mountainside among coffee bushes, I would have asked if you were crazy.

But you guessed it. I found myself in Villa Gauguin, a compound of cabins and yurts in Western Panamá. I could find no other rentals.

Living in Boquete, Panamá

I chose my new residence in Boquete as I wanted to be up in the mountains for cooler temperatures. I expected the town would be a mixture of first- and third-world existences, and I was right.

Boquete is a town of about 25,000 people, 5,000 of whom are expats. The town, nestled in a valley with mountains surrounding it, lies at the western end of the country. Agriculture is king in this region.

Villa Gaugin Yurt near Boquete Panama

After six days in a hotel, I found myself living in a yurt among coffee and vegetable plantations.

There in my place in the tropics, the clouds come in on little cat’s feet, a la Carl Sandburg. At times, I was in the clouds or above the clouds.

If a breeze blew the clouds away, I could catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and some islands beyond. I lived without a kitchen and with a three-unit, double-sided bath house next door. Replicas of Gauguin paintings covered the bath house.

Up there on the mountain, it gets cold in the evenings and mornings averaging in the 50s and 60s. I prefer the balmy 70s during the day.

Cold or not, at 9-degrees latitude above the Equator, I must always wear a hat to protect myself from the sun. “Even mad dogs and Englishmen don’t go out in the noonday heat,” said Noël Coward.

Life Among the Coffee Bushes in Panamá

Picture of a coffee plantation in Panama with a mountain and blue sky in the background.There are only two seasons—wet and dry. The coffee bushes love the wet season. I am surrounded by these bushes, and I watch their berries turn from green to red. I know then they are ready for harvesting.

Everyone raves about the geisha coffee. It is a variety of coffee bean from a tree that originates in the Gori Geisha Forest of Ethiopia. Panamanians rave that it tastes unlike any other coffee in the world. It should. It sells for about $1,300.00 a pound.

Coffee is a major economic commodity for Panamá and is rivaled only by the income the Panama Canal produces.

One day, I was out hiking among the plantations. I met a coffee grower sprucing up his property alongside the road. Between his broken English and my broken Spanish, I learned how proud he was of his coffee plants.

His fields are far below the road, spread up the mountain side. I don’t know how he traverses these steep slopes. His plants look tiny from above because they are; he has only recently planted his fields. It will take three years for these bushes to grow and produce coffee beans. His bushes will do well because the alluvial soil there is so rich.

At harvest time, large noisy trucks go up and down the road taking these beans for processing. They will first be laid out in long trays to dry in the sun. The trucks commence hauling early in the morning and continue until after dark.

Joining them are the fruit and vegetable trucks. Again, thanks to the soil and climate, there is an abundance of these foods. I am in the breadbasket of Panamá which supplies food and coffee for the rest of the country.

My Daily Rituals in Panamá

My morning begins at any hour with the sound of roosters. At the same time, the howler monkeys join the morning ritual.

Howler monkeys hide in the trees and are rarely seen. Do they have a history of being fired upon, or are they only timid? Even my native coffee grower friend said he has never seen a howler monkey.

Although they aren’t easily seen, they are heard!

At first, I thought the sound was a small whiny dog; later I heard squeaky sounds. I have come to know these monkeys, even though we’ve never met. I am always looking up in the trees hoping to see them.

Another ritual I observe several times a week is going down the mountain to get groceries and run errands. Small, white buses serve the outlying areas such as mine. There is usually an attendant who opens and closes the door and collects the fare at the end of the ride.

These buses seat a dozen people. But, since the driver is trying to earn the best living he can, he packs the bus as full as possible. The attendant jams two people into one seat and even adds a box in the aisle for someone to sit on. Panamanians have little sense of personal space and are willing to sit cheek by jowl.

One day, an indigenous woman squeezed in next to me with two children on her lap and began breast feeding the younger one.

Riding the Buses in the Mountains of Panamá

Beside overcrowding, having to wait for buses is the biggest nuisance.

They do not observe a schedule, so I’m not sure when they are going to arrive. I have waited between two and 50 minutes. Despite these problems, I actually enjoy riding the buses.

Since my bus line serves the coffee and vegetable workers, I am usually the only white person on the bus. As I live in the only white community on the bus line, when I return, they never have to ask me where I want to get off. Once, I did tell a new attendant where I wanted to go and he gave me a look telling me it was obvious.

Some guy in front of me whipped his head around so fast I thought he might break his neck. He stared at me for a moment and turned back. To this day, I wonder what he was thinking. Did he not know or expect there would be a white guy on the bus? Did he wonder why I was riding this bus?

Other people in my community either drive a car or take a taxi, but I’m all for the adventure of mixing with the locals.

Leaving the Mountain

Living up a mountainside in a yurt among coffee bushes and howler monkeys seems like a bad dream. However, it was a marvelous experience.

I was there for three months until this compound was put up for sale and we residents had to leave. I moved down the mountain into town, leaving the mountain behind. I don’t expect to replicate that experience again anytime soon.

You can check out more of my works in whole or in part at Clippings.me/warren-r-johnson and TravelSketches.info.

La Libertad Ecuador Malecón, Mercado and More

We went to La Libertad Ecuador to take care of some banking tasks and while we were there, we took a walk on the Malecón, stopped by a mercado, and went shopping for groceries at Mi Comisariato in Ballenita.

Watch Our Video About La Libertad Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Tiny Ecuador Beach Town of Las Núñez Ecuador + Penthouse AirBnB Tour (Mavic Mini Drone)

Join us as we share a drone and walking tour of Las Núñez, a tiny little beach town on Ecuador’s south central coast.

If you would like to stay in Roy and Mary Ann’s beautiful penthouse AirBnB, click this link to get a discount off your first stay in ANY AirBnB, and we’ll get credit toward a future stay so it’s a win-win!

Here’s a link to the AirBnB featured in this video: Penthouse view from the hill at Las Nunez Ecuador.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About a Tiny Ecuador Beach Town of Las Núñez Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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How We Got Pickpocketed on a Short Bus Ride in Ecuador!

We’ve talked about it often but it never happened to us, until now. We were taking a short 50 cent bus ride from Olón to Montañita Ecuador when our pocket got picked and we lost an iPhone 6 worth several hundred dollars.

We made a mistake. Simple as that. We walked up to the taxi stop to catch a cab from Olón to Montañita, but there were no taxis. Instead, a bus came along and it was hot so we decided to hop on. What we didn’t realize was the bus was completely full! Standing room only!

Since we had it in our heads that we were taking a cab, we weren’t mentally or physically prepared for a jam packed bus so we hadn’t secured our valuables. If this happens again, we will turn around and get back off the bus to avoid being swarmed and pickpocketed.

Besides, my balance is horrible due to the nerve damage caused by my spinal injury so it’s unsafe for me to ride standing up on a speedy, jerky bus. We were both holding on for dear life with both hands, leaving my pockets and Amelia’s bag exposed and easy to access.

We only took our eye off the ball for a minute, but that’s all it took for a skilled pickpocket to steal our old iPhone. We won’t make that mistake again.

Here’s some more information on the Red-masked Parakeet that we saw in the video.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About How We Got Pickpocketed on a Short Bus Ride in Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Sunday in Olón Ecuador: Mercados, Walk Around Town + Sunset Beach Walk w/ Mini (2020)

This is our first day in the life video from our new pueblito on the coast of Ecuador. We took Daisy for a morning walk on the beach before heading up to the mercaditos just a few blocks from our condo here in Olón Ecuador.

We also walked back over to an artisanal bakery across the street from the mercaditos, but it has been closed for the past week. The guy at the traditional Ecuadorian bakery next door told us the owner has been really sick. Hopefully they feel better soon!

Since we can’t drink the tap water here, we also shared how we wash our fruits and veggies before wrapping up the video with a sunset walk along the beach. We’re not sure what the yellow flowering trees are called. If someone knows, please let us know in the comments.

Here are the Instagram accounts for the two people we met on our walk around Olón: Garrett Galvan and Nina Ragusa. We also featured them in this video: Amazing Tips for Living & Working Abroad from Garrett Galvan & Where In The World Is Nina!

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About A Day in Olón, Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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The Universe Taught Us a Lesson on our Move from Cuenca to Olón Ecuador (2020)

Our move to Olón from Cuenca Ecuador is complete! We’re now officially beach dwellers!

For the most part, the move was very smooth, but the Universe had one major test waiting for us upon our arrival that was a reminder to embrace our tranquilo, let go of the outcome and trust that everything will work out alright in the end.

We’ve been posting updates, photos and videos (including drone videos!) to our Instagram and Facebook accounts since we’ve been here so be sure to go check those out and remember to follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

If you would like us to connect you with Edwin (our driver), Deb Anderson (our real estate agent in Olón) or Gabby (our translator), drop us a note through our contact form.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Over the Desert and through the Jungle from Cuenca to Machala Ecuador to Apply for my Visa

We’re working with Maite Duran from GringoVisas to get our Permanent Residency Visa for Ecuador. She prefers going to the government office in Machala to file the visa applications so we made the trek from Cuenca to Machala Ecuador on Thursday to file our paperwork.

After a short break at the Ruta 59 Rest Area for some drinks and fruit (about half way between Cuenca and Machala), we descended down out of lush green farmland into an arid landscape devoid of nearly all vegetation.

When most people think of Ecuador, they picture jungles and the majestic Andes Mountain Range; they don’t often picture a desert. However, a desert is exactly what we drove through on the second half of our journey just past Yunguilla Valley.

Despite it being desert, there has been a lot of rain over the past year causing several landslides. We spent 10 to 15 minutes waiting for one of the landslides to be repaired and a scary couple minutes driving along the edge of a cliff once traffic started moving again.

After exiting the tunnel on the south side of the desert near the hydro dam shown in the video, we were greeted by more lush greenery and eventually descended into the jungle full of banana trees.

Once we exited the jungle and reached the plains, it took another 30 minutes or so to get to Machala, which is a port city with about 250,000 people (somewhat smaller than Cuenca).

The entire trip took about 3.5 hours in each direction, and we spent about 3 hours waiting for our applications to get submitted.

We love living in Ecuador and we’re very excited that we filed my permanent residency visa paperwork. I should (hopefully) receive the approval and the official visa in 3 to 4 weeks. Then they’ll file Amelia’s Dependent Visa application and she’ll receive her’s in another 3 to 4 weeks after that. We’ll keep you updated on the progress!

If you need help with your Ecuador residency visa, contact Maite at GringoVisas.com or another visa agent. That’s above our pay grade.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About Our Visa Application in Machala Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Laugh along w/ us as we celebrate New Years Eve in Cuenca Ecuador

We had such an AMAZING New Year’s Eve with our friends here in Cuenca Ecuador! The India crew was reunited with Paul, Patrick, Abin, Chinnu, Amelia and JP. Chinnu’s nephew Francis also made a brief appearance in the video. We celebrated the 2020 New Year by burning monigotes and partying with all our neighbors in Parque El Vergel.

Last year, the monigotes were sold by the stadium near Supermaxi El Vergel, but this year they were sold on Avenida 1 de Mayo near Tres Puentes. Chinnu’s small monigote cost $3 + $2 for the mask. Our large monigote cost $5 + $2 for the mask. The large fancy monigotes made to look like popular figures cost only $15.

The store where Amelia and Chinnu bought their tiaras is called Duquesa Bisutería Fina. It’s located east of Solano on Avenida 27 de Febrero. They have all sorts of cool costume jewelry. Amelia’s tiara cost $12.80 and Chinuu’s was $14.

Watch Our Video About New Year’s Eve in Cuenca Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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Ecuador Holiday Traditions: Pase del Nino Viajero Christmas Eve Parade Cuenca Ecuador

Feliz Navidad!!! We ventured down to El Centro in Cuenca Ecuador yesterday to watch the annual Christmas Eve Pase del Niño Viajero Parade (Passing of the Traveling Child). We had so much fun watching the dancing and seeing the colors!

In this video, we’ll talk about some of the traditions that you see in the parade, like the cars and horses covered in candy and sweets, and the dancing around the maypole or Baile de Cintas.

And a big thank you to Marcia Torres Guerra, one of our amazing patrons on Patreon who sent us an amazing gift via her sister Maria Lorena from MLT Art! If you would like an awesome gift or heirloom quality art for your home, you can get almost any image carved into wood and hand-painted. ¡Es increíble!

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Watch Our Video About Ecuador’s Holiday Traditions

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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The Art Behind Us from Cuenca Artist P. Maldonado

We’ve had a lot of comments about the art behind us in our new indoor filming location. This is the story about how we found it on a rainy day in Cuenca Ecuador. You’ll also get to see the Cuenca Artist P. Maldonado who created it.

Since it was a rainy day, we had to leave Lumi at home and film with my iPhone so the video and audio quality is not up to our usual standards. However, it did make for a nice Cloverfield style immersive experience. Several of our early videos were filmed in this style before we got Lumi. If you like this format, let us know and we may do more videos like this.

Musart Home Decor

Musart Cuenca Ecuador

Musart was the first store we visited on our search for background art. We like that store because it has a variety of different ethnic art. Everything from African Tribal to American Country.

I said in the video that I would share a link to their information, but they’re nowhere to be found on the Internet. That’s pretty common here. Most businesses at least have a Facebook page, but very few have a website. And some have neither.

They’re located under JungleGym Fitness on Calle Larga. Here’s a map to their location.

Centro Municipal Artesanal

Our next stop was at el Centro Municipal Artesanal, which is a very nice artist market located by San Francisco Plaza. This artesanal mercado has lots of different stores with a variety of different types of artwork, clothes, hats, jewelry, etc. They also don’t appear to have a website or Facebook page.

This is where we found our new background artwork. Cuenca artist P. Maldonado specializes in painting Ecuadorian city scenes and cultural depictions. He’s located on the second floor near the back.

Café Libre Cuenca

We haven’t featured Café Libre since our Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac Dinner. Paul closed the restaurant for a month to remodel while we were in India and I haven’t been back since before then. Amelia went there without me for lunch with some friends. Not sure I can forgive her for that!

As always, the food was amazing!

Supermercado Patricia

Supermercado Patricia Cuenca Tools

Amelia wouldn’t let me use a rock to hammer in the nails for our new paintings so we went to SuperMercado Patricia para un martillo (for a hammer) y algunos clavos (and some nails). We showed more of SuperMercado Patricia in this video: Vilcabamba to Cuenca Transportation Options + More Vilca Observations (Episode 123)

Our New Indoor Filming Location

Amelia And JP Background Art

This is the winter rainy season in Cuenca so we can’t rely on the weather to cooperate when we need to record a video.

A few weeks ago, we were running out of time to film a courtyard chat, but it had been cloudy, cold and rainy for over a week so we couldn’t get it done. After I had a mild freakout, Amelia came up with the idea to use our loft as an indoor filming location.

We had discussed this before, but the acoustics are horrible inside our house. We have tile floors throughout and very little in the way of sound dampening so the echo is horrible.

The key to making this location work was Amelia’s idea to pull the old mattress out of the guest room and put it behind the table we use for the camera stand. It worked perfectly! Now we can film when it’s too sunny, windy, rainy, cold or dark to film outside! Stress relieved!

Let us know what you think about our new indoor filming location and our new background artwork in the comments below.

Watch Our Video About The Artist Artist P. Maldonado in Cuenca, Ecuador

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING WE GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH OUR LINKS. THERE IS NO COST TO YOU AND SOMETIMES YOU'LL EVEN GET A DISCOUNT BY USING OUR LINK. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

 

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PLUS, there are several other free perks in our Live Abroad Toolkit we think you'll enjoy!