QUESTION: Sorry Patty, the question I asked earlier should have stated that I am moving to Loja, not just Ecuador.
ANSWER: Hello again!
In that case w/ regards to the weather in Loja let me say this. I originally moved there back in Sept. 1997. At that time the average daily temperature was 70-74 F w/ occasional warmer days up to maybe 78 F. Evenings were like 58-65 F w/ occasions where it was somewhat colder i.e. rainy/windy spells. Aug./Sept. typically is the windy season & it's generally cooler.
I left in 2002 but return every summer for 2 months & am in contact w/ family & friends there several times a week so I consider myself to still be up to date on what's going on there year round weather included.
Now what I've noticed in the past 7-8 yrs. is a definite cooling trend. I'd say now the average daily temperature is more like 63-68 F w/ occasional days where it might be as low as 55 or as high as 73F. Nights are definitely cooler like 45-54F including wind chill factor. Also when it is rainy & windy naturally it is on the cooler end of the spectrum that I mentioned.
Also Loja has become rainier than it used to be. Much as it pains me to say anything negative about my beloved Loja I have to say that it has become like Ireland in that it rains way too much for my liking. The past few years it has gotten on my nerves to the point where I have taken several one week trips each summer I'm there to the neighboring town of Zamora (1 hr. away by car/bus) where it's warmer & (I find) less rainy (although when it DOES rain there it rains a lot).
That is the one great thing about the microclimates in Ecuador. Unlike the U.S. & Canada you don't have to travel a long distance to get a huge climate change. La Toma or Catamayo is a town 45 mins. - 1 hr. by car/bus from Loja & if you get sick of the weather in Loja you can go spend a day there where it is warm, almost hot & sunny almost all year round. Or you can go 30-45 mins. by car/bus in another direction to Vilcabamba or Malacatos other small towns where it is also warm & sunny almost all the time just to get away for an afternoon or overnight or weekend whatever you choose. Same thing w/ Zamora. It's only an hour away & a total climate change from Loja. Or if you are looking for cooler temps just an hour or so north of Loja is Santiago & Saraguro which are about 10 degrees cooler. So, unlike here you're not stuck with the weather.
I think I covered Loja's bugs & salons pretty well. I gave you the newspaper link to La Hora (I sent that afterward in an add on note).
Personally knowing how reasonable rents are in Loja renting a small house might be a good suggestion for you. You could get a nice UNFURNISHED house for minimum of $200. Max I'm not sure. Furnished again not sure but obviously significantly more than unfurnished. Depending upon how you feel about used furniture and how long you're planning on staying in Loja another option for you might be to purchase used furniture there. There is one place that sells it quite reasonably. The name is Cambalacha. When you're going I can describe where it's located. You figure if you're going to rent a house the furniture there would be used anyway. If you weren't comfortable w/ a used mattress you could always pick up one new. But Cambalacha has living room sets, kitchen tables & chairs, dining sets, stoves w/ & w/o ovens (common in Ecuador), refrigerators in various sizes, televisions, bedroom sets & plenty of other odds & ends like patio furniture. If you are planning on staying in Loja 2-3 years you'd probably be paying $100-$200 a month MORE for a furnished apt. & you'd have to accept whatever furniture was there. And there are a lot less furnished apts. & houses to choose from. On the other hand if you went for unfurnished the options would be limitless in terms of house vs. apt. location etc. & you could pick up the bare essentials i.e. bed, table & chairs for a pretty inexpensive price & then gradually go back & add to it, a living room set, etc. etc. Many houses & apts. have built in closets so you wouldn't need a bureau or wardrobe. But w/ buying furniture you could choose more what you wanted/liked (from the options available at Cambalacha) & they're constantly getting more stuff in so if you didn't need something immediately you could always go back & look the following week. And then if you had your own stuff if you decided you found another neighborhood you felt you'd prefer living in it would be SO much easier to find another place if you weren't looking for furnished. And then in the end when you were leaving you could always sell the stuff either back to Cambalacha or to a private party. Personally if it were me that is what I'd recommend doing. I originally started at a furnished place but then when I decided to move it was so much harder finding furnished that I bought a bed & a plastic garden style table & chair set & gradually added a living room set, refrigerator, stove w/ oven, dining set, television etc. etc. In my opinion it definitely makes it easier.
Again w/ the gel nails I'm not sure. Maybe in one of the higher end salons. Loja is a pretty decent size town. Regardless of what you read on the Internet the population is between 200,000 & 250,000 including outlying areas. The net will say 150,000 but it isn't accurate.
The people in Loja are awesome. They are from la Sierra or mountainous central region so they are more reserved & less out-going than people on the coast but, once you get to know them they would do anything for you. I can't speak highly enough about the people there!
Let's see if I am missing anything specific to the Loja area amongst your questions. Ah yes floods. Okay I lived there for 5 yrs. & there was never a flood. Came back here for another 9 1/2 & still never a flood. Then several months ago for the first time in 20 yrs. there was what you would call flooding but not in the sense that people are washed away on waves of water. More like water got into ground floors of houses & apts. that were in very low lying areas.
And again there are a lot of English schools there. As a matter of fact I am certain there is at least one if not two English schools run by Canadians as well as Fine Tuned English to name but one. As I said it's a large thriving town & many of the people are very interested in learning English especially grammar, high school & college students as well as some adults.
Okay so I hope I covered everything specific to Loja here but, like I said if you think of anything else or would like more info about something or need me to elaborate on anything feel free to drop me a note & I would be glad to share whatever I can with you.
Talk to you soon Patty
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QUESTION: You are a wealth of knowledge and helpful info. I will be teaching at the Canadian House Centre in Loja for at least 6 months starting in Sept. While in Loja, I want to look around at other areas as well. La Toma & Catamayo & Zamora sound very interesting as well. I prefer warmer daytime temperatures but not the humidity. Do any of these towns have ESL schools that you know of. How are prices for homes in those towns compared to Loja. What about properties just on the edge of town.....are there many, what about properties that have an open courtyard design, is that a common style. I may be looking at multi dimensional living opportunities as well. My cousin and I may partner on some property but be close to town as I want to continue teaching English. How far is it to drive out to the coast from Loja, are there vacation rentals along the coast that you know of? Beaches that far south on the coast?
I didn't know the name of the Canadian English schools but I had heard there were 1-3 (two at least) so I suspected that was probably where you were headed. Honestly Fine Tuned English is over priced & doesn't provide what it offers in my humble opinion. Most of the teachers are Latinos &, while I love them dearly I don't feel that a born & bred Spanish speaker who has never been out of the country could do justice to English as an American or Canadian could.
English school aside - Catamayo is the proper name for the town & locally people refer to it as La Toma. It is one & the same. Prices there would be cheaper than Loja & while I am not 100% sure it is pretty doubtful that there would be an English school there. There is one in Zamora that my cousin's daughter attends. Only thing is you are finding it easy to get a job because the school you'll be teaching at is owned by foreigners. When I lived there I was bored after I closed my business & before I had my youngest son so I offered to VOLUNTEER to teach English. Now I don't have a teaching degree but my reading, writing & speaking of Spanish is a good 85-89% & I do have a college degree in Social Work so I am not an uneducated person. Regardlessly they refused me even as a volunteer. Their response was: you don't have a teaching degree, you don't have a work visa & you'd be taking the job away from a national. So getting a job at the English school in Zamora would probably be extremely difficult.
The other 2 "warm" towns are Vilcabamba & Malacatos. Vilcabamba has a very large ex Pat population. I am almost positive Malacatos doesn't have an English school. Vilcabamba never did from 1997-2005. Now w/ the big Ex Pat populationn I'd say it's more likely that they have SPANISH schools w/ all the Gringos moving there that need to learn English.
No, I'd say if you want to teach English where you're headed to the Canadian English school is your best bet. Loja although the climate is no longer ideal would have the biggest population & largest number of English schools in southern Ecuador (except for maybe Cuenca which is considerably cooler temperature wise than Loja).
The coast is a LONG drive from Loja. If you go the Sierra up through Cuenca it'd be 6-7 hrs. straight driving w/o a break. If you go on the coast road it'd be longer 8-11 hrs. depending on road conditions, flat tires etc. I'd definitely recommend via Cuenca & if you go during the day it's extremely scenic - gorgeous mountain, valley, river, paramo views. It even passes right through Cajas National Park where you can see Llamas right on the road. If & when you do drive to the coast I'd suggest leaving Loja at 9-10 a.m. Take the about 3 hr. drive to Cuenca. Stop for a rest stop in Cuenca & get lunch and stretch your legs. Then continue on to the coast. Guayaquil would be 3 + hrs. after Cuenca.
Getting back to the beach situation. There is a very popular beach inland from Guayaquil (the major port city w/ the international airport) called Salinas. It's about a 3 hr. drive from Guayaquil. Or you could go south of Guayaquil - down towards Machala. Just to warn you many places on the coast I myself personally feel are dangerous. I am originally from Boston, MA so I'm not a country bumpkin. I am accustomed to the dangers of the city but I generally avoid the coast like the black plague. When in Ecuador if I feel like sun & water I'd go to La Toma or Vilcabamba or Malacatos or Zamora where the weather is nice & they have beautiful pools. Even infinity pools if you look around. There are also gorgeous rivers w/ white water rafting etc. I generally spend as little time as possible on the coast even though the beaches in Ecuador are beautiful. There is another beachfront resort town called Montanitas. It I believe is slightly north of Salinas. The coast towns go all the way up to Esmeraldas in the exteme north of the coast. In between there is Manta, Manabi& Puerto Bolivar is somewhere between Guayquil & Esmeraldas too. Some people are okay w/ the coast but I for one am not a proponent. What I like about Ecuador is the peace & tranquility and I find the coast to be neither. In fact 2 yrs. ago by sister-in-law told me flat out that there was no way she'd let me get in a taxi there because they were kidnapping passengers & holding them for ransom. Me if I want to be car jacked etc. I'd just stay in Boston. Loja & the Sierra on the other hand is nothing like that. So, it's up to you. Go around & check out different places. See what & where you like.
You could probably find a little house out on the edge of town but definitely not furnished & probably on the rustic side. By rustic I mean many Ecuadorians (& other Latin countries too) have a building style where instead of building one apartment where all the rooms connect they'll build the rooms in a row so you come out of one room, take a few steps & go into another. So outside of town that is a little more prevalent but not written in stone either.
Some, a good amount of the houses have a central patio/courtyard area. The old colonial places (in downtown) have the old Spanish style courtyards some complete w/ fountains. The regular houses would have more of a central "patio" type area with the rooms going around it. Some would be connected by interior doors others not.
I would say your best bet would be to come, look around, see what you can find & choose what you like. Then you could debate furnished vs. unfurnished, on the edge of town vs. downtown. I myself wouldn't like to live in downtown. Oh you know where is out of downtown but has Spanish Colonial architecture w/ the central courtyards is an area of Loja called El Valle. It is only like 5 + mins. by car from downtown & walking distance if you're a walker. I COULD be mistaken but I THINK the (one of the) Canadian English schools is in la Ciudadela de Zamora or Zamora Huayco. These are barrios in Loja. Actually both are very nice areas to live too. Zamora Huayco has a river & park running through it.
There are vacation rentals on the coast & at the beach. I don't know any personally but they have a high volume of Ecuadorian & foreign visitors so there is everything from apts. to condos to hotels to cabanas on the beach. I've known of many people who have gone there & stayed for a vacation.
In my opinion Vilcabamba, Malacatos, La Toma & Zamora are not humid. I've heard others say they found Zamora humid but I haven't. And I do mind the heat. If it is a very hot day you might want to go in the shade but not like you're sweating & uncomfortable and want or need air conditioning. In fact you need a light blanket in Zamora at night. I've never slept in any of the other places but same goes. A very hot sunny day the most you'll need is shade. Direct sunlight would be the worst of the heat. Most of these places there is a breeze because the Sierra is mountains, valleys & rivers thus breezes are plentiful. Guayaquil on the other hand & many other towns on the coast I find stifling hot. I don't know if I'd use the word humid but you DO need air conditioning & the heat there keeps me awake & kills me appetitite so I'd say the coast is VERY hot.
Price wise La Toma is cheaper than Loja as is Malacatos & Zamora. Vilcabamba used to be cheaper than Loja but now w/ all the Gringos I hear it's super expensive. Once the big influx of Gringos came I stopped going. It made me sad to see it turned from a 500 yr. old settlement of some of the oldest living people (Vilcabamba is referred to as the Valley of Longevity) to be having gated communities & condos. It just bummed me out so I haven't been back since 2009.
Well I think I've covered anything. If I've left anything out answer wise let me know. And, if you think of anything else just ask away. That's why we're here. Anything I can do to help. Talk to you soon Patty