Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Three years.......and I'm still smiling!!

Three years ago today, I left the US to start over.   I like to say it was the first day of the rest of my life.  Vilcabamba was my first home for 14 months.   Afterwards, I lived in a small town outside of Cuenca called Paute for 15 months.   I was housesitting for a friend for 90 days while she left for the US to work and had the intention to move to Cuenca.   Sometimes things don't go as planned and I wound up staying in that very lovely town for another year.

On the first of June this past year, I moved to Cuenca.   Each place has given me so many wonderful experiences.   Vilcabamba is beautiful.   Paute was amazing in the way the locals accepted me into their fold with the patience to listen to my Tarzan spanish and eventually feeling comfortable enough to correct me.

I felt I would be "selling out" to move to Cuenca as I wanted to have a decidedly Ecuadorian experience.   Cuenca turned out to be a much larger Paute with tienda owners and neighbors who would call me by name in my Ecuadorian neighborhood.

I want to celebrate by adding some of my favorite photos from the past few years.   I could add more but everyone has to have a limit!    This has been my life here in Ecuador for three years today.   I hope you enjoy!
My first official residence in Vilcabamba

My first encounter with roadside roasted pig.
This isn't the REAL equator.   The real one was a short distance away.  I have a photo, too, but my daughter is much prettier.

Waterfall within view of the hotel in Banos.
Fun time was had by my daughter and me when we rented a dune buggy in Banos to view the waterfalls!
Otavalo market.   This is the largest in South America.

Incan ruins in Cuenca.
Bear and Amber seemingly saying goodbye to their old life.
Burning effigies in Paute.
Inside of the "new" cathedral in Cuenca which took 100 years to build.
Dancer at the Paseo del Ninos Christmas Eve 2013
Horseback riding through the rainforest
The mystical Cajas.

A beach so big a little dog seems miniscule.
Great friends!
Accidentally ran into this amazing and small hostal right on the beach.  $15 a night.
Blue-footed boobies!  Found on Isla La Plata!


  1. Amber! Amber! What about me!
    love and kisses,

  2. Lovely photos btw. And happy anniversary! Three years of too damn much fun!

  3. Whoo hoo! Your very blessed! We have almost been here four Months! Jvonna

  4. I feel very blessed to be here. It was easier for me than most. My kids had moved away and the business I had was burning me out. I'm so glad to have made this decision!

  5. Three years already?! So glad you're happy there and having a lot of fun!

  6. Hi Vickie! My name is Sarah, and thanks so much for sharing all the interesting info! I know from your blog that you love your dogs ~ I am an animal lover too and that’s why I wanted to send you this article below. The article is about a young expat in Montanita who is desperately trying to help the street dogs in Montanita, who are in such bad shape, injured in traffic, often limping around, with broken bones and gaping wounds, left to die in the streets and starving to death. There is a huge stray dog problem in Montanita, and it is getting worse by the day and he is trying really hard to get volunteers help him to do what he can. I am trying to help put the word out to all animal loving expats in Ecuador to see if we can all connect and help each other in any way we can. If you know of anyone heading to the Montanita area or anyone even thinking of visiting the area, please mention it to them –please help to spread the word - they are so desperate for any help, especially from volunteers.
    Kind Regards,

    The Stray Dogs of Montanita: Your Chance to Help Man’s Best Friend

    Anybody who has lived in or traveled through developing countries before will be familiar with the sight of stray dogs. They are so heartbreaking to see so underfed, diseased and suffering. These poor stray dogs are not properly cared for, or neutered, and are left free to roam the streets, multiplying rapidly in the process. There is never enough food to go around and the dogs often end up dying of starvation or from diseases or injuries.

    Here in Ecuador’s most famous surf town, Montanita, stray dogs are Everywhere. I’ve noticed them everyday on our way to the beach to give surf lessons, constantly swerving the truck to avoid running over the dozens of dogs lying in the middle of the road in a suicidal manner, too tired to move.

    They don’t look too healthy and although they may look rough, they really just want to be loved. Just a simple pat on the head and these dogs will collapse in joy. But at the end of the day, nobody looks after them, there is not enough food to go around, and many of them will catch diseases and suffer painful deaths. So what can we do to help alleviate some of the suffering of these innocent creatures?

    Barak Epshtein first arrived in Montanita nine months ago and set up “Café del Mar” on one of the main streets in town. Everyday Barak sees the dogs around the town and he is sick of seeing their suffering. “Nobody cares about the dogs here, nobody is doing anything to help them,” he says. But he has an idea. Barak is appealing to veterinarians from around the world to come and help - live in Montanita for a month, or longer, and work in a clinic neutering and treating the town’s stray dogs for diseases.

    His plan is in accordance with the advice of many animal rights organisations. All too often governments think purely in a short-term economic manner, ignoring the suffering of the animals and killing them in inhumane ways.

    Obviously the best way to help the dogs is by giving them homes and registering them. However in places with large stray populations, like Montanita, neutering the dogs and treating them for common diseases is a great first step.

    Barak will provide a suitable clinic for the treatment of the animals, and other people and businesses in town, such as Montanita Spanish School, will be providing the materials needed. Many others will be volunteering their time to assist with the program in other areas.

    In return, the suitable applicant will have a comfortable apartment to stay in and all food provided for their time in Montanita.

    So if you, or anybody you know, is interested in helping the dogs of Montanita, and have a background as a veterinarian and/or in neutering and caring for animals, then please email the school at this address: and we can put you in touch with Barak. Start dates and time frames are all flexible.

    Warm Regards,