Living Life Slowly on the Ecuadorian Coast

We had planned to write about our amazing trip to the Amazon next, but before we leave Ecuador we wanted to share a little more about our version of slow travel. Our experience here in Ballenita has shown us more of the pros and cons of this lifestyle than anywhere else we have lived over the past year. The pictures also provide an insight into this region; Santa Elena, La Libertad, Ballenita and Salinas.


A carpenter at work in Ballenita

We regularly receive comments that “we are living the dream” and in many respects we are. We love our current lifestyle and are so happy that we chose to make this happen. We want to continue to experience as much as we can of how life goes on in communities across the globe. This includes the good and the not so good aspects of daily life in our temporary homes.


Part of the beach front in Ballenita



A typical scene in Ballenita

What we tend to write about and photograph are the road trips and adventures that we take while we are living in a location for an extended period, so it often looks like we are on a permanent vacation.


A beautiful morning in Cascais, Portugal

However our slow travel lifestyle isn’t all beaches, stunning cities and rainforest adventures. The vast majority of our time is spent on normal everyday activities.


This array of communication towers is prominent above Ballenita


Along the main street in Ballenita

Staying in one place for a month or two at a time can be wonderful or it can be a disaster, depending on many factors. Generally optimistic by nature, we tend to focus on the positive aspects of an area and minimize the downsides. Photographs can be deceiving as we are drawn to the beautiful, quirky or different and tend to overlook the not so pleasant.


A bizarre indoor market/mall in La Libertad


A fun group of manikins in the same mall

Nowhere more than here in Ballenita, Ecuador has this been the case.  Take a look outside the concrete and barbed wire walls surrounding our cozy little home and pool and you will see a very different version of life. Muddy and dusty dirt streets, stray dogs and cats, homes with no windows and the lives of everyone exposed can leave you with a knot in your stomach at times. In fact that is one of the main reasons we have difficulty fitting into the expat lifestyle in Central and South America.


The view directly behind our casita


Salinas is a favorite expat destination

We choose our locations based on a number of factors including climate, access to services, public transportation, green space, walkability and of course cost. We typically stay at least one month or more to cut down on rental and travel costs. We prepare most of our own meals, enjoy our own company and like a fair degree of privacy.


Buses are cheap ($0.30) and regular. Taxis are also cheap and are literally everywhere


One of Anne’s favorite gluten free options was yucca bread or pan d’yuca

Once we settle into our accommodation we lead a pretty basic and normal life, based as much as possible on the local culture. We enjoy our coffee in the morning outdoors and our ideal setting is with a nice view and the sounds of nature, although the city view from our patio in Lisbon was wonderful. Breakfasts (and all our meals) are preferably outdoors as well so we have a preference towards warmer climates.


Sunrise from our apartment in Lisbon

An average day involves a good walk and/or swim, picking up groceries, some computer time for photos, writing, communications and travel research, some down time for reading and relaxing in the afternoon followed by an evening meal. These are activities and a lifestyle that is transferable most anywhere.


A typical evening meal on our front porch

We have enjoyed walking and explorations in the immediate vicinity in an urban and rural environments as both have plenty to offer. Marketplaces, beaches, interesting neighbourhoods and country roads are probably our favorites.


This vendor was having a great time selling his small conchs at the mercado in La Libertad


The scene behind the stalls at the same mercado


A local family waiting for sunset in Ballenita

While we enjoy outdoor living and warm temperatures we find that many places here in Central and South America are too hot for many activities during the day so we tend to get up early and enjoy the early morning and late afternoon hours. The birding is best early in the morning and everyone is drawn to sunsets.


A family of vermilion flycatchers kept us company every day


Enjoying a granizado pina – shaved ice with pineapple syrup at the malecon in La Libertad


Sunset over Salinas from Ballenita

In our accommodations we look for enough space to be comfortable, decent cooking facilities, an outdoor space, reasonable peace and quiet and good internet. It is sometimes hard to meet all of these criteria but we scour Airbnb, property management sites, holiday rentals like VRBO and Homeaway and for the most part we have been very pleased with what we have been able to find within our provisional budget. However many countries are outside of our price range so house sitting augments our budget and allows us to splurge every now and then.


House sitting allowed us two weeks in London

We try not to plan too much sightseeing and leave down time between our road trips and adventures. This allows time to reflect on our experiences, interact on a local level and ensures we don’t get run down. Everyone can relate to those two week vacations where you returned home more tired and stressed out than when you left.


A typical side street in La Libertad

In fact other than being too cold in our apartment in Lagos, Portugal, we have been very pleased with what we have had until arriving here in Ballenita. We have disturbing (on several levels) neighbours, many stray dogs and cats in very poor condition, far too much garbage littered everywhere, poor internet and a town that while very friendly isn’t all that appealing for exploring and walking. We don’t regret coming here but will be ready to leave in another couple of weeks.


Many vehicles get stuck in the clay-like mud

Is this a lifestyle for everyone – of course not! You need to be adaptable, tolerant and willing to embrace different approaches to all aspects of life. We spend all of our time together so you need to be very comfortable with your traveling partner. But the rewards are immeasurable and overall it has been a wonderful introduction to several countries and their way of life and we couldn’t be happier.


Our favorite spot in Ballenita – the malecon. We enjoyed many great suppers here.

As we move forward over the next year we expect to be based out of Portugal but won’t give up exploration, experiencing life to the fullest and travel to as much of the world as we can.


The stunning Cabo de Sao Vicente, Portugal



About Tim & Anne Hall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe, and are now living happily in the Portuguese Algarve, Portimao to be specific. We are gradually chnging the focus of our site to feature images of Portugal. Stay tuned - its a work in progress.
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14 Responses to Living Life Slowly on the Ecuadorian Coast

  1. Linda MacDonald says:

    Tim and Ann- I am so enjoying your travel blog! I appreciate your honestly and observatons of the countries and communities you visit. The photos that accompany your stories are perfect. All the best in Portugal and Europe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks Linda. If you ever slow down, you’ll have to write some of your own stories. All the best to you and Mike and we’re really sorry to have missed you this time. Perhaps we will connect in Europe or in Nova Scotia this June/July. Cheers, Tim & Anne


  2. A very thoughtful and honest post, and I know exactly what you’re talking about. You could have been writing for us. Your photos are wonderful, but that opening shot is really superb. I love the vignetting – it works perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thank you Alison. You guys would know better than most what it’s like. There are so many wonderful places throughout Latin America but not for settling down in. We’re working on our pictures and trying to capture everyday life more often. Yours are always amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your behind-the-scenes photo of the marketplace was a great analogy to your-behind-the-scenes lifestyle of slow travel as many times “living the dream” can sometimes fall somewhat short of the ideal. No matter where you are, grocery shopping,cooking, cleaning, finding an ATM, faulty Wi-Fi, laundry, etc. are all part of life and accomplishing these tasks can be a real milestone. The real joy is finding the adventure in trying out different settings and lifestyles and new ways to do routine things. I think one of the best things we learned was what was we needed and what was superfluous as well as the freedom to learn more about ourselves and each other. Travel is enriching in ways you never imagine! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      We really do enjoy finding out how to get by in a new community and as you know it can be challenging. For the most part it is great fun but sometimes you have to work at not getting frustrated with the things that don’t quite suit you. The poor internet and biting insects that have come out with all the rain are probably the ones that”bug” us most now. Enjoy the Algarve spring and say hi to Dick! Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jen Hall says:

    Always a great read, guys…can imagine you two exploring the good and the not so good…but together you are unstoppable. The perfect partner makes it work. Hugs and safe travels, as always!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Anne and Tim —– really enjoyed reading and looking at all your experiences. Be Careful and take care of each other !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. kemkem says:

    I love how you put it as far as your travel partner. It’s not a life for everyone for sure. You have to take the good with the bad and you better love spending time together..haha! I admire anyone you can travel to third world countries and not be affected by the poverty and filth etc. I have said before that l am okay with limiting that side to when l go back home to visit. I know how you feel about being glad you went, but are looking forward to leaving. Great post about daily life, the normal chores are the same everywhere..😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Kemkem. We are so fortunate that we get along so well. As you say, it could very quickly turn into a disaster if you don’t. We try very hard to keep a positive perspective but it can be very challenging when all around you people are lacking even what we consider the very basics of life. Then when we complain about “little” things like a poor internet connection it seems frivolous, so it is very hard to reconcile at times. And yes, we do enjoy the little daily chores regardless of where we are – it is part of feeling at home.


  7. Marylyn Nolan says:

    I have enjoyed reading your posts! My husband and I were recently in Portugal for a few weeks and can understand why you want to return! I hope you continue to enjoy your travels!


    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Thanks for reading or posts, we really appreciate it. We have a lot more of the world to experience and will continue, however we really found that Portugal suited us well. It was our first long term exposure to a European lifestyle and we are looking forward to more. Cheers, Tim & Anne


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