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Green Dreams: Our Land in Cotacachi


Cotacachi is a green valley protected by a ring of mountain peaks.   Observing the changing colors in the patchwork of farms and fields that blanket the mountainsides is one of my favorite past times. Since Ecuador has a dry season and a wet season, half the year the pastures fade from vibrant green to lesser greens, tans and browns.

If you’ve ever followed Diez de Agosto out of Cotacachi, past the main market and La Banda, just as you reach the end of Rancho Santa Fe  you find yourself at the top of a hill.  The road dips down, the town ends and suddenly you are in the country.

This is no ordinary countryside.  It shimmers with a high intensity of light that turns the fields a shimmering electric lime-green. The first time I saw it I stopped breathing and half-expected to see hobbits. 

The fields, pastures and gardens that stretched before me were and still are of the most brilliant green I’ve ever seen, like looking through a piece of green cellophane.  I swore that when I visited Ireland there was no other place on earth so vibrantly green, but this magic spot rivals the meadows and bogs of fair Erin.

And the green stays year-round.  Why?  Because the whole area is saturated with water.  It gurgles in springs, rushes along waterways, seeps from bogs, even flows through underground rivers.

Cotacachi’s water source, a spring called La Marquesa, is a mile from town and very near a blue-green bubbling spring known as La Virgen that originates in a tiny indigenous village.  The Marquesa’s rushing waters flow through a pipe to the town’s thirsty populous.  Both springs also feed deep ditches called acequias, that bring liquid life to the fields of nearby haciendas and fincas.

Green fences are made from tall, skinny sauce (sow say, a kind of willow) and lechera, a rubber tree that oozes white sticky sap.  Break off a branch of one of these trees and stick it in the water-rich ground and in a matter of weeks it will sprout and grow into a new tree.

The land is agricultural except for a ring of residential developments and a few homes.  Cows, sheep and goats eat their fill, patiently watched by elderly men or women or young children.
Theses horses used to graze on the land we bought.
So did this prize bull.

It’s a place to sink into, to rest your weary body and soul, to breathe in the fragrant air and to sleep deeply.  Is it any wonder Gary and I bought a little piece of this green to enjoy?  It’s the perfect place for us to retire in Ecuador.

La Marquesa tumbles along our northern boundary.  La Virgen embraces two other sides of the property.  Springs feed a marsh and small pond where carizo (cane) and watercress grow.

Whenever I feel disconnected from nature, surrounded by too much concrete, car fumes or noise, I can turn my thoughts to our land and I feel instantly refreshed and enlivened.  I dream green dreams and all is well in my soul.



  1. Linda, What beautiful land you have. I’m glad you got fences to keep the cows and goats out. I’m thinking seroiusly about visiting Cotacachi. It is an expensive trip but not too bad to stay with a host family and learn spanish for a week. You and your husband have a very informative website. I am disabled with Fibromyalgia and am interested in the clinic that helped you. I am 51 and I am tired of the US and I would like to take my SSDI and move somewhere beautiful where the people are friendly. I work 2 hours a day as a caregiver but once my client passes on I am really hoping to make a trip, meet some expats and learn some Spanish and of course check out the beautiful scenery.

    • The fences didn’t really help keep the cows and goats out since we don’t live on the land at present. It’s hard to keep out local farmers and herders, who bring their animals to graze without permission. Just this morning we went out to check on the construction progress on our caretaker cabin and found a brown and white heifer helping herself to a green feast.

      We are mostly cool with that but will soon be staking our claim more vehemently.

      The clinic we spoke of on our website years ago is no longer offering alternative medical treatment, but if you come to Cotacachi, we can show you where the doctor’s new clinic is. His prices are higher but still very affordable.

      If you come to Ecuador I can assure you that you will find friendly people, beautiful scenery, will meet expats and can learn some Spanish. So come on down!

  2. My wife is in Ecuador this week. We plan on going back in late November 2013 to look at the Cotacachi area. We have a 13 year old daughter. Our only concern is schooling.

  3. Mike Gossman says:

    Linda, how much land were you able to buy, and, if you don’t mind, how much did you pay? Is there internet available? I have two children who go to school online.

    • We bought 4 hectares, or ten acres, of farm land in Cotacachi about 6 years ago. The price we paid is not that important because prices have risen sharply since then.

      We bought unimproved land and have been slowly improving it for years. We’ve surveyed it, divided it in half, fenced it, put in a stone entry bridge, brick caretakers’ house, irrigation tank, planted trees and. We’ve also surveyed it into lots for re-sale.

      Yes, internet is available. We have all the municipality approvals necessary for utilities and are ready to install electricity and water in the near future.

      Land prices are varied depending upon whether you buy an urban or rural lot, raw land, developed land or acreage.

      How fortunate that your children attend school online. The educational flexibility must give your family more freedom to live wherever you choose. Are you considering Ecuador?

      BTW, there’s a very good bilingual school in Cotacachi, Las Lomas. Several expat children attend.