We made a sharp turn off a small country road into the brush and started to climb. After a brief pause to shift into four-wheel-drive, we continued climbing through fields of lemons, bananas, and finally sugar cane. The road narrowed and then disappeared as we entered a clearing at the top of the mountain.
The Land Cruiser crawled over a deep bed of discarded sugar cane stalks, and we pulled to a stop in front of an old open-sided, tin-roofed building that housed an ancient cane press powered by an antique Briggs and Stratton engine.
Just behind this enclosure we could see the tell-tale wisp of wood smoke indicating the presence of a “still” just out of sight.
An old man was back at the still, tending a wood fire under a used 55-gallon oil drum as a clear, anise-scented Mallorca sugar cane liquor dripped from the other end. We all gathered on wooden stools around the still and sampled the hot cane liquor as it dripped from the copper tubing.
This was why I came to Ecuador.
Sure, the cost of living here is low, no question, but, living in Ecuador, my wife and I enjoyed so much more than super-low costs.
When I retired abroad, I wanted to have a rich and interesting life wherever I chose to settle. I wanted to travel and explore.
In this regard, I can tell you from personal experience, you won’t beat Ecuador. It’s not only rich with adventure travel opportunities, but it’s also one of the world’s most economical places to travel.
Gasoline in Ecuador is only US$2.40 per gallon.
Hotels are inexpensive, and public transportation is available to every corner of this diverse country. I’ve explored the Andean highlands from top to bottom, from the woodcrafters of San Antonio to the leather crafters of Cotacachi, the guitar makers of San Bartolomé, and even the cane liquor stills of El Oro.
I’ve traveled from the high, snow-capped peaks in the north to the hidden Valley of Longevity in the south.
I’ve lived the wonders of the Amazon rain forest with an indigenous tribe and explored brilliant, secret beaches far from the tourist trail in the Galapagos Islands.
When you retire to Ecuador, this world will be at your doorstep. Take it from me. Retire in Ecuador, and you won’t have to settle for afternoons of playing checkers on the square.
Unless, of course, that’s the lifestyle you’re after.
In that case, I can recommend some great outdoor cafés in Cuenca…
Host for this week’s Access Ecuador Online Workshop