Friday, Feb 17, 2017

Let’s Move to Olon Ecuador

Heidi and I left our place in Cuenca Saturday morning, got on a bus to Guayaquil, and then on another one to Olon. It was probably the easiest trip on the buses we have done. No issues, no problems, no worries. It was actually a nice travel day.

We arrived in Olon a little before dark. We are staying at the Terrance Inn, owned by a super friendly guy named Bobby. The three story white hotel is in the center of town, but from the roof top there is a good view of the ocean. It is hot and humid here, but the ocean breeze keeps any discomfort at bay.

The roof top is also the place to watch the Ecuadorian political campaigns roll into town, wave their candidates flag, and share his campaign promises over a loud speaker attached to a pickup truck. Here, campaigning can only begin 60 days before election day. Such a difference than in US political campaigns, where campaigning begins not just months, but years before the election.

We are on a mission

Ocean views aren’t why we are here though. This is a work trip for me and Heidi to find a place to live. We are supposed to be out of our place in Cuenca by March 4th, so we have a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it in.

street food olon ecuador

Street side grillin’

That won’t begin until tomorrow though. Right now we need to find something for dinner. Bobby recommended we try Leila’s, which is an open air restaurant, cooking chicken and pork chops on a wood fire grill. It’s only a block away so we decided try it.

Our search for the perfect place

Over the course of this week we have met with realtors, and property owners, and people “who know people” who can assist us in locating rentals in the area. We are looking for a 3 bed/2 bath, furnished, ocean view, close to the beach place for around a $1000 per month. That is a tall order for this area, especially with our own set of “standards” in play.

We have followed up on every lead and opportunity we came across and nothing fell into the “it’s perfect” box for all categories. The reality of it is that we are probably looking at getting into something that is pretty good, and then continue to watch for that “just perfect place”.

Olon is a great town

olon ecuador

Kids love foosball

It does feel great to be back on the ocean! It feels good to be in Olon too. The people here are friendly, both gringos and locals. It has that easy breezy feel I came to love living in Bahia.

Carnival starts in 10 days here and vendors are already showing up in town and placing their carnival rides and attractions around the main square.

carnival rides in olon ecuador

Carnival ride!

Heidi and I have learned to manage the bus and the taxi transportation along the Spondylus highway running southward past Montanita and up towards Puerto Lopez to the north. This has been one of our concerns about possibly living outside the town of Olon: how easy is it to get here, and back, if we don’t live in town?

It definitely requires more time, either waiting for a bus or taxi to drive by, or more planning. In the evenings, after the buses stop, having phone numbers of taxi drivers we can call will be essential. After dark most of the taxis are in Montanita and not a lot are found in Olon, and essentially none are further north.

Great people in Olon

great people in olon

Meeting some great people in Olon

In the course of looking for, and looking at, rental properties, we have met a lot of nice people. It is a friendly group here, and they were quick to invite us to dinners and events around town with them. Because of how small these coastal towns are, this seems to be the way of things. It happened in Bahia and it it is happening here in Olon.

We are already running into the same people as we walk around Olon and Montanita. We don’t always know who they are but we see them every day…somewhere. This place is pretty small in all actuality, and one of the reasons I enjoy living on the coast.

We went to dinner in Montanita on Tuesday night with a group of expats we met. There is a restaurant, El Taino de Sky, that will cook ribs for you if you have advanced reservations with them. Heidi and I lucked out and got invited on this particular outing with this group.

When our dinners arrived the rib meat just fell off the bone. It was so good. It was also fun getting to know new people and finding out how, why, when, and where they landed in Ecuador. We each have our stories and reasons for being here.

After dinner we went to Papillon’s in Montanita to have drinks.  Just outside this restaurant-bar a group of street musicians were drumming and dancing for the gathering crowd. At night there seems to always be something happening here.

Montanita is a town filled with surfers, back backers, wanderers, and even the occasional old-ass expats…like yours truly. In addition to its great surfing, Montanita is a loud and wild party destination along the Ecuadorian coast. It is less than a 10 minute drive from Olon, and the two towns couldn’t be more different in energy and activity.

Another reason I like living in Olon, close enough to the chaos, but far enough away to get a good nights sleep. Like I said…old-ass expat. 😉

After five days of looking for places to live in and around Olon, we have seen everything fitting our criteria that is currently available. There isn’t a lot to choose from, and nothing is perfect, but we have to make a decision.

Many food options around Olon Ecuador
new friends in olon

Roy and Mary Anne

Before that decision needs to be made though, Heidi and I were invited out to dinner with Roy and Mary Anne, a great couple we met here, and their friend Mark, who we have also met and been able to get to know. Tonight’s place for dinner is about 5-10 miles north of Olon called Rinconada.

The restaurant is in a small fishing community (like only 10 homes total) that sits on a hillside overlooking the ocean. Comatillo (a white fish), camarón (shrimp), langostino (giant prawn), and langosta (lobster) are the choices available on the menu. The food was excellent and simple.

The government paid for a nicely built walkway that goes from the houses and main area along the top of the hill to the fishing boats in the small cove at the sea’s edge. We checked out the view before dinner, and it was better than any appetizer.

Our friend Mark at the overlook at Rinconada

Fishing village

After we finished eating it was dark, and we returned to the walkway and sat on the benches overlooking the cove. The fisherman had brought in their boats, and many were inspecting and fixing their nets before they head out to sea again in the morning. It was a relaxing scene to enjoy.

Fishing boats beached for the night

Small boys were helping their dads, and others were just running and playing in between the wooden boats. From my vantage point on the hill, these boats all lined in a row reminded me of tub-like toy boats I used to play with in the bath.

Boys of the fishing village

I watched a boy, about 10 years old, grabbing things from the surf as it broke on the heavily pebbled beach just a foot in front of the beached fishing boats. When he walked up the steps by me he was carrying four large prawns and a Linguado (white fish). I am pretty sure he caught these by hand.

I asked if I could take his picture and he just beamed.

“Big kids” with the little kids

Later 3 small boys came by us, and the smallest one was holding and sometimes chewing on, a balloon. Heidi asked what he had. He showed her and then wanted her to blow it up for him. Heidi was a good sport and blew it up. The boy then took it from her, set the balloon on the ground, and jumped on it. Pop! He just laughed and laughed. Life is simple here.

Back to Olon

Benito’s panadería

On our way home we all stopped at what is considered to be the best bakery along the coast, Benito’s. This bakery is located in a another small community, la Entrada. This community sits on each side of the Spondylus highway, basically a stone’s throw from the beach.

The chocolate cake and oreo cookie cheese cake was a nice treat to enjoy together as we talked in the Ecuadorian night. The ocean breeze gently blew along the Spondylus keeping us cool.

Benito’s along the Spondylus

We plan on heading back to Cuenca on Monday. By then we will know where we will be and what we will be doing, at least for the next little while. We will return to Olon Ecuador in less than two weeks. It’s been a good trip.

todd and heidi in olon

Making our way back to the coast