By David Oriard
When my wife and I arrived in Puerto Cayo on March 7, 2020, little did we realize what was in store for us.
We had anticipated a relaxing oceanside lifestyle with sunset walks on the beach and lots of friends.
That’s how it all began, at least. That first day we went to Rick & V’s restaurant for dinner (I remember I ate one of Rick Piegsa’s delicious stir-fry meals). A few days later we enjoyed one of Puerto Cayo’s traditional trivia nights.
Then COVID-19 hit the fan.
On March 17, the day then-president Lenin Moreno implemented his plan to slow the spread of COVID, Alane and I had planned to take a bus to Manta and do some shopping. We waited a long time for that bus before an Ecuadorian driver finally stopped and exclaimed, “No bus! No bus!”
We walked back home, got on the internet and saw what was happening. The country was essentially shut down and the COVID lockdown would be the first real challenge to our marriage, which was in just its second year.
No problem, we were about to ace the test.
In the coming weeks we enjoyed our meals (which included plenty of fresh shrimp) while sitting on our front deck, enjoying the warm weather and wonderful ocean views. There was plenty of Scrabble, a little gin rummy, and the occasional game of cribbage. The lockdown seemed to be a minor inconvenience. After all, it was supposed to end in a few weeks. Our container with all of our furniture and the rest of our belongings would soon arrive in Guayaquil and we would resume the exploration of our adopted country.
The container arrived, the lockdown didn’t end, and we were stuck at our house for nearly four more months, enjoying our meals (which included plenty of fresh shrimp) while sitting on our front deck, enjoying the warm weather, and wonderful ocean views. There was plenty of Scrabble, a little gin rummy, and the occasional game of cribbage.
After five months of seclusion in which we mostly stayed home, our bond as a married couple was stronger than ever. For the most part, we managed on our own but there were several people who helped us find our way – from translation services to use of a car for shopping to a private anniversary dinner.
By the time we finally got our container out of the clutches of the shipper (paying $100 per day demurrage that was not mentioned in any contract we signed), the country was opening up and we were beginning to make friends among the expats in Puerto Cayo, Las Palmas, and Mirador San Jose.
During the pandemic, Alane developed the idea of Ecuadorable ExpoArte, and with the help of Cayetano Canarte to get the project launched, her shows have brought numerous artisans to Puerto Cayo to display their amazing works of art. Recently, we have been working with a group of expats and local leaders on a project to improve traffic safety and visibility at the redondel in Puerto Cayo.
Throughout the two and a half years we have lived in Ecuador we have experienced numerous highs and a fair share of lows. Through it all, our love has flourished and we know we have made the best choice to live our lives together in a quaint little town in a beautiful country that we now call home.