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Living in Cotacachi in 2014

If you are going to Ecuador you should know Spanish.  This is the last week to enroll in the July Super Shinking + Spanish course.  See details of the 2 4 1 offer below

First, here is part two of the series about living in Cotacachi by Steve Marchant.

Although there most definitely have been changes in Cotacachi due to the expat influx, they most significant are not readily discernible. To get a better handle on those subtle changes I decided to ask some questions to one of the very first retiree expats who arrived in Cotacachi in late 2006/ early 2007. She and her husband had an early setback but on the whole have a very positive attitude and feeling about Cotacachi. You can see the interview below.

I also asked many local folk for their views. There is a strong concurrence in viewpoints along the following lines; the expat arrivals main negative affect has been rising property prices and the main positive effect has been increased employment. A lesser benefit has been some cultural exchange, especially access to English tuition but also some aid to local communities. When I asked questions I also asked about more general change and the principal changes mentioned were better roads and also new buildings. In the last 7 years Cotacachi now has a large new high school and also a courthouse.

cotacachi

New Cotacachi courthouse

Below the interview with Julie W.

Q: How many years have you lived in Cotacachi?

A: We’re in to our 7th year now.

Q: What attracted you to Cotacachi in the first place?

We loved the “village concept” where we could walk to town where the locals greet one another.  We liked the small town atmosphere of less traffic, less pollution and a quiet and peaceful life.

cotacachi

Schoolboy walking home through the well-kept main town square.

Q: Remembering that initial attraction, did you feel a honeymoon period when you first came?

A: Yes and no.  In many ways, we still feel like we are in the honeymoon period.  We truly love our life here.  And despite those things that are not nearly as efficient as in the States, we have not found it a problem to adjust.

Of course when you live somewhere for awhile, everyday life begins to happen.  Ecuador is a different and beautiful culture, but it has its challenges also.  People cannot come here and expect everything to be like it is in the States or Canada or wherever they are from.  You need to be realistic about life in a foreign country, especially in a developing nation.  If you are not comfortable in the country, then it is best not to move there.

Burglaries have increased in Cotacachi with the increase in the expat population.  The first three years we were here, you didn’t hear of any burglaries as you do now.  We have also been broken into, so we have found that you do have to secure your property and that is just part of living here.  So we just take the steps necessary to resolve that challenge.

Q: Cotacachi has changed in some ways since 2006/7 – what changes have you observed?

A: Well, for one thing, the increase of the expat community has caused prices for property to increase, in some cases 3 times as much. This is a bit problematic for the locals and the culture in general as the prices that look so good to expats are often unaffordable for the average Ecuadorian, particularly here in Cotacachi.

cotacachi

Italian restaurant started in Cotacachi by expat entrepreneur.

A: And of course you see more businesses that expats have started, particularly restaurants and “hang out” places.  But also laundry mats, yoga classes, movie theater, etc., and other kinds of things the expats are used to but were not here before.
A bigger expat population does increase the opportunities for friendships from your own culture and with those who speak your language.  And it also, in some cases, reduces the need to learn Spanish or to interact with the locals.  But we’re not sure that is necessarily a positive thing, but it is a change.  We think it is important to have Ecuadorian friends and become a good neighbor, not just be some strangers who are living in their separate communities and do not feel part of the Cotacachi community.

Also, we notice that some of the locals are not quite as friendly as they were when we first arrived.  This could possibly be because they are more used to expats and we are not such a novelty anymore.  And another contributing factor might be that some expats have not integrated that well and have stood out as not being respectful or too impatient or demanding with the people and the culture.

There is also an increased police presence in the last 6 years, with a new police station built just last year.  In the past there were just a handful of officers for the entire Cotacachi canton. [County]

cotacachi

Relaxed policeman on Cotacachi corner

Q: How have those changes worked for you? For example, the fact that there are more retirees in Cotacachi now … is that a good thing as far as you are concerned?

Other than the inflated value of properties and building costs, we don’t really see the increase in expats here as good or bad.  Much depends on the people that arrive here and how they interact within the community.  Fortunately, in general, the expats have integrated into the Ecuadorian lifestyle–meaning, that the town has not become a Westernized town.  It still feels like the same Cotacachi that we moved into  6 years ago with the dozens of leather shops, numerous bakeries, small fruit and vegetable shops and local restaurants that frequently go in and out of business.  Even with the increased expats businesses, etc., you don’t walk through the town and feel like you are in some Western resort with all the fancy high-end shops, etc.

cotacachi

Local expat restaurant and hangout employing local indigenous ladies.

Q:Are you enjoying your experience of living in Cotacachi?

Yes, we love living here and love Cotacachi and the people here.  We travel a bit, and every time we return home, we are so grateful for the beauty, clean air, and the magnificent mountains that surround us.

Q: What hopes and expectations do you have for how Cotacachi is going to be in the next couple of years and also how your li(fe)ves in Cotacachi will be?

We just expect living here to get better and better.  The northern influence also has its benefits to the Ecuadorians as does the Ecuadorian lifestyle has for us Westerners.  We see how more workers tend to come to work on time now, how people are more likely to show up when they say they will, and just a little more respectful of time than when we first arrived.

People here work to live rather than live to work.  So you see a lot more happy people even if they do not have all the material luxuries that we think we need to be happy.  Family is important and it is so wonderful to see families spending time together on weekends and genuinely enjoying each other.  And, of course, they love parties and celebrations.

When we originally made the decision to move to Ecuador, some of our friends in the States were very concerned saying that it was a big move, and what if we didn’t like it?  And we answered, “We’ll do something else.”  But that is not the case.  We never had any doubts then nor do we now.

Thank you so much for your time and thoughts Julie.

Steve

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See examples of the words you already know below.

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This is just one of seventeen Spanish lessons in the course.

The next lesson teaches how to pronounce each of the nouns.

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During the course you learn 4005 Spanish words that you already know .  

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Here are more testimonials from previous Super Spanish Courses.

Maggie wrote: It didn’t really seem possible that we would be speaking and understanding Spanish in only 3 days but the course made it happen in a very supportive learning environment.  I would highly recommend this course for anyone wishing to learn “practical Spanish”.  The teaching methods, use of relaxation, the use of native Spanish speakers for pronunciation and the teachers themselves who were approachable and helpful and always positive made this a very valuable class.

This course improved my self confidence in my ability to learn and retain a language.  It was presented with genuine enthusiasm, great energy and the style of learning is very effective. Gracias!  It was a great experience.

Nadine wrote: “Just spent the last 3 days in the most wonderful learning environment learning Spanish.  What an amazing learning experience!!  First day out of class and I could not stop thinking in Spanish WOW!!  I am amazed by how much I learned, retained and how much more is showing up now that I am out of class.  And the best part is THERE WAS NO STUDYING!! Indeed this is Super Thinking!!!  I would highly recommend this to anyone that has ever had a desire to learn another language or learn anything in record time.

And a few days after that ….  As I went through my day, just hanging out with my son, I could see myself starting to think in Spanish.  At first I thought it was amusing but as it continued and increased I thought “My goodness this is really remarkable amazing” It was really an effortless unfolding.  I wasn’t at any point “trying” to think in Spanish, just words I knew would fly across the screen in my mind.  And then this afternoon, my son cuddled up on the couch to watch some cartoons on his ipad and was watching Peppa Pig in Spanish…hmm coincidence?  I think not, I’m radiating Spanish so much that my son is being influenced!  Thanks a million again.  This weekend the best learning experience of my life!!

If you have ever had a desire to learn Spanish this is the way to do it!  By the end of the first day I had more confidence and more practical ability than I had from any previous courses I had taken.  It was fun and relaxed and full of laughter.  You will leave this class excited to use what you have learned.  Rather than leaving overwhelmed with how much you have yet to learn and master, you are equipped with the knowledge and know how to go out and communicate as well as the excitement to do it!”

Gary noted:  “The whole approach is positive and conducive to learning at a level that benefits ALL participants.  It is not intimidating and does not set up a pass/fail atmosphere.  The presenters are terrific and the results unbelievable.  It was relaxed, informal, friendly and effective.”

Twila said:  “This class provided a very refreshing and relaxed way of learning.  The atmosphere felt very safe to say the words you were practicing.  I learned a lot in a way that will make it easy to apply.  Starting with conversation is way more fun.  How quickly you can learn!  It was a great group, great instructors and great stories.

The atmosphere in the classroom was so relaxed that learning Spanish felt like a breeze and not like a painful task.  The relaxation exercises are really conducive to language learning.  We learned A LOT in a short time and it was fun and the environment was non-threatening.”

Brigitte sent this:  “Buenos Dias, Suzanne. su clase de espanol es excelente! Muchas Gracias!  
I have already done what you suggested and went into the program listening to the music and going over the lessons.  I know: Repetition……reinforcement…..thinking in the new language….it’s all part of it.  I loved your course and will certainly recommend it to friends.  Who knows….I might feel the urge and have the opportunity to repeat it at your beautiful place in Puerto Aventuras…..Quien sabe? Hasta otro dia y saludos a su familia.”

Marie wrote:  “I would highly recommend this course.  The amount covered in 3 days is amazing!  All with no stress.  The correlation lessons and pronunciation practice has greatly reduced my anxiety to go out and use my Spanish.  I really enjoyed the whole process and thank you for the take away tools.”

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Gary

Here is the English translation of a few of the many Spanish words you now know and will never forget.  How long would it have taken you to memorize them?  How soon would you forget?

“Most words in English that end in ION are almost identical, just pronounced differently.  For example, action is accion, education-educacion, manipulation- manipulacion, etc.”

Some more of these words:  Combination, Attrition, Education, Vacation, Petition, Lotion, Motion, Construction, Abduction, Pronunciation, Concentration and a ton of others!

Learn Spanish online $79

(1) www.telegraph.co.uk Benefits-of-bilingualism.html