COASTAL, ON-LINE ISSUE 03
By Mark Bradbury.
Photos: Courtesy of Mark Bradbury
These are my observations just after I arrived in Olon:
Wednesday, November 18, 2015.
It's been almost three weeks since I landed here in Ecuador, and so far, things are going well. I had some early culture shock, having never visited this country before, but I got over it quickly. I think it's necessary for people interested in living in a new country to accept the way things are. If you think you're going to change the way they have lived for centuries, you should probably just keep your bags packed and return home.
That being said, I was shocked by some of the things I saw on my way to my new home in Olon. When you look at the travel brochures or the travel magazines, they do a terrific job of showing you the best of the beautiful places. They show the tropical beaches (which are truly spectacular), the natural scenery (again, nice), and the highlights of the towns and cities. They don't show you the Third World poverty that is the norm for most countries in which I've ventured prior to coming to Ecuador, and this nation is no different.
There's a couple from Florida here at my hotel that has been visiting for the past week. After two days here, the lady made the statement (often heard from travelers), "This is a nice place, with a gorgeous beach, but I would never live here." She's basically not willing to give up the comforts of an American-style retirement in Florida. The difference for me is that I'm willing to look past the poverty that surrounds us here and accept the fact that the locals here are happy, well-fed and enjoy their lives despite not having the material things we've all struggled to get our whole lives. The natural, rugged beauty of the coastal areas and the beaches here are balms to my soul. I made the choice to leave the States to live a more laid-back lifestyle. The natives call it “tranquilo”—pretty much the same word.
The dichotomy of the coastal zone is everywhere. Walking down the streets around my little town, you'll see homes that are as rustic as it gets, and others that are finished nicely, side by side. Nobody seems to care if their neighbors are living in a shack; they all like and respect each other. Their kids play in the park together, or they play soccer in the streets, and I haven't seen a game console since I've been here. The middle-class families from Guayaquil come here on weekends and play on the beaches all day long. This is definitely a good area to raise a family, even if some of the parents struggle to feed and clothe their young ones.
Homes, and compounds, like the ones shown here, are some of the newer additions to the beachside. A local friend told me recently that almost all of the oceanfront land has been bought up here, and construction of condos and gated communities are either underway or soon to be.
Eventually, some of the money spent by these new property owners will trickle down to the locals here, but I doubt that their way of life will change that much. Things along Ecuador's Coastal Zone have been the same for centuries in some towns, continuing the uninterrupted cycle of life evident here since the ancient Valdivean culture built their homes and temples here.
- CITIZEN JOURNALISM – My Observations of Living in Olon - December 23, 2020
- CITIZEN JOURNALISM – La Cultura de la Bahia de Manabi - December 21, 2020
- CITIZEN JOURNALISM – RESCUE ON THE BEACH - October 21, 2020