Internet is provided by the local phone company, CNT, or through a number of providers such as, Mulitsolutiones, PuntoNet, Net Service and others. The best and most reliable service is through CNT and from to time the service may be interrupted, but within a short time the service will be reconnected, plan on a short outage of twenty to sixty minutes more or less.
Television service is provided through the telephone company, CNT, Direct TV and through a couple of local services (not reliable). CNT and Direct-TV are the most popular. CNT is the most reliable, but the selection of programming is limited. Direct-TV has more programming, but they must have been trained in the States as their service is horrific. D-TV is prepaid a month ahead through a credit card and at D-TV’s whim the service may be disconnected for no reason and it may take two weeks to have it reconnected.
The Cotacachi water system is the finest municipal water system in northern Ecuador and the water is perfectly safe to drink. From time to time the water may be shut off to make repairs or to make connections, but the water will be reconnected by 5pm.
The electricity is the same as in the US and Canada and a converters are not necessary, just plug in your charger, hair dryer etc. and you’re good to go.
Your hot water supply is provided through a Califon. It is an on demand heater and the fuel source is propane gas. To activate the Califon turn the hot water on full until you receive hot water and adjust back to the desired temperature. If the water volume through the Califon is not sufficient it will not activate the hot water unit. Please remember, be frugal with the hot water, long showers and full tubs will empty the propane tank quickly and if this happens on a weekend we will not be able to replace the propane tank until Monday or Tuesday. Your shower/bath will be ice cold.
In the Primavera II complex all the individual buildings have a common area alarms that protects the building doors including the propane storage area/courtyard. The alarm is automatically engaged at 10pm. The alarm DOES NOT shut off automatically. Please check the alarm panel before exiting the front door and the courtyard in the mornings. You will be given the alarm code when you check-in to Primavera II.
Other rental properties have alarm systems that are custom to the individual units and the specifics of each property and the alarm system will be discussed at check-in if you are a tenant in one of those properties.
: In most cases garbage collection is tended to by the care takers. Cotacachi has recycling and ALL refuse MUST separated into inorganic and organic. All organic (eatable) refuse MUST be bagged. NO EXCEPTIONS!!!
Primavera II has numerous fruit trees, limons, limes, mandarin oranges, tree tomato, peaches and avocados. There is a communal vegetable garden with a wide variety of vegetables for the pleasure of the Primavera community.
There are three conveniently located ATMs on the perimeter of San Francisco Park at Banco de Guayaquil, Banco de Pichincha and Banco Austro, which is located on Calle 10 de Agosto, “Leather Street”.
This is the preferred mode of transportation for all of us. The fare to Otavalo is 35 cents, to Ibarra the fare is 55 cents and the fare to Quito is $2.50. The buses are safe and prompt; however, keep your backpack, bags, and personal items close and within sight and zip up all zippers to be safe. You do not have to worry about physical or confrontational crime. Do not store any articles in the overhead racks or the storage compartments under the bus. Keep all your articles within view and at arm’s length.
In and around the town of Cotacachi a taxi fare is $1.25. The fare to Otavalo is $5.00 and the fare to Ibarra is $10 to $12. We have a list of taxis and vans and most speak English and are available to take you sightseeing or on longer trips such as an overnight trip to Mindo. The cost per hour for a taxi is around $8/$9 and a van around $10. Please be advised to negotiate with the driver prior to hiring him by the hour to avoid a charge per hour above the listed prices. The price for any of the services listed was compiled on August, 2015, and may be out of date.
There is one main grocery store, TIA, and a few specialty food shops. Tia is our main local supermarket. Monica’s or the Super Mercado on Leather Street carries many Expat groceries, Heinz, Hunts Campbell Soups and too many other North American favorites to mention. Prana located on Gonzales Suarez, off Leather Street, and has a wonderful selection of wines from Chile and Argentina and Xavier will find the perfect wine to fit your palate and your wallet. Prana also stocks locally made Ecuadorian cheese made to North American taste, local chocolate, olive oils, organic honey and a plethora of other items. Fresh organic vegetables are available on Tuesday mornings (arrive just after 10am.) and specialty breads are couriered from Quito on Friday. One must place their order by Wednesday for the specialty breads.
You must visit Lago Cuicocha the dormant volcanic lake and take the boat ride around the two island outcroppings and see the gas bubbles emanating from the volcano below. Don’t forget to partake in the complementary herbal, honey sweetened tea afterwards and a visit to the information center is quite illuminating. Luis tours on Leather Street across/adjacent from the bus terminal will enlighten you on the crafts of the surrounding villages, hammocks, jewelry and locally weaved cloth in the village La Clara.
Travel to another village and view furniture crafted from Papyrus; trivets, place mats and baskets at a village close to Lago San Pablo. It’s a four hour tour where you experience the time-honored crafts of the Indigenous people. The train to Salinas from Otavalo is a recreation of the trains of the 1800’s with stops to visit the Mills in Atuntaqui where 2,00 people worked raw cotton into fabric. This is an all day tour with many more stops and a wonderful lunch at “Blood Lake” (another story).
There is a large, fresh fruit, flower and vegetable market resplendent in fresh, locally grown products. Twenty-five roses are $2.50/$5.00. On Sunday morning visit the market and search the local indigenous selections as they hand carry their produce to the market, for Sunday only.
The, Saturday, outdoor market in Otavalo is reputed to be the largest outdoor market in South America. It is a virtual Tsunami of artwork of all description, crafts, jewelry, spices and fruits and vegetables. Bargaining is the name of the game and twenty percent is the discount you should request and the more you buy from the vendor the more discount you should receive. Don’t be afraid to say no and walk away if you don’t receive the price you want there are more vendors selling the same item and you can always return.
There are too many to list, but here are a few of my favorites: Trebol, La Tourista, Serendipity, Solid Rock, El Lenadore, lunch at La Mirage the five star resort in Cotacachi and Sunday lunch/brunch at Senora Marta’s Cabinas del Lago where the dining room is built over Lago San Pablo.
The altitude in Cotacachi is approximately 7,800 feet, 2,500+ meters. Everyone’s reaction or symptoms to the change in altitude is dissimilar and the amount of time to acclimate to the change is different for everyone. The symptoms include: shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, upset stomach and wiriness. Take it easy the first couple of days and hydrate frequently with water or a Gatorade type beverage and take an afternoon nap (siesta). Drinking water or a Gatorade type beverage is extremely important.