When we were considering coming to Zamora, we were a little concerned about finding a place to live. We knew it was a small town and were not sure we’d be able to find a place, particularly a furnished place, to rent for such a short time. As we were not sure how long we’d be staying, we didn’t really want to have to start buying furniture.
However, as with everything in Ecuador, there was always a solution for every problem. The people at the school had seemed very friendly and we knew we were in good hands to help us find somewhere suitable to live.
Finding somewhere to live in Zamora
When we arrived, we were met by Erika, the lady in charge of the school. Erika was extremely friendly and helpful. She spent the morning walking us around town helping us find somewhere to live. We felt guilty turning down the room she had found us – it was a single square room with a bathroom, but no kitchen or any other space, nor an outward facing window. Perhaps the perfect place for me to become withdrawn and depressed. But more importantly, it was lacking a kitchen. We had been really excited of the thought of buying amazing fresh fruit and veg from the market and preparing our own meals at home. We continued looking and in the meantime, we moved into a much nicer hotel, and, thanks to Erika and a friend owing her a favour, a much cheaper one.
When we had first accepted the job, we had originally been told we could live in a zoo. Although we were very dubious about it, we also thought it was very exciting and would fit perfectly in our whole ‘moving abroad adventure’. We were then advised against it by another teacher who told us his horror story of living there. After a few days of weighing up our other living options and considering renting unfurnished places which we would have to furnish, we decided to take a look at the zoo. For us, it was perfect. It was like living in our own little private jungle, with a furnished room, lots of outdoor space and an outdoor kitchen. It even had a ping-pong table, a snooker table and an old-school juke box…it was just missing some ping-pong bats and snooker balls and, oh, the juke-box didn’t work.
So we ended up living in a zoo, or an ecological refuge centre, as it’s officially titled. We have really been happy here at Tzanka zoo in Zamora. Apart from putting up with a few cockroaches, we have loved living amongst the macaws, monkeys, turtles and agoutis. Our favourite friend has been our sloth friend, who we named Josh, and who lives freely amongst the trees. Everyday, we sit up in the veranda overlooking the zoo, always with our binoculars and Bird of Ecuador book at hand, and watch the birds flying about in the trees around us. We have seen such a variety of birds, it’s incredible! We see hummingbirds, caciques, woodpeckers, tanagers, jungle turkeys and we’ve even had the luminous orange Cock of the Rock flying by.
Besides living amongst the wildlife, our favourite thing about the zoo is that we get to cook and eat outside every day. I feel that we won’t fully appreciate this privilege until we leave. It’s definitely not something we would ever be lucky enough to have in the not-so-warm climate of England.
Living in Zamora, Ecuador
Zamora is a very relaxed and easy town to live in. It’s a small town and so everyone knows each other…or are related in some way. Walking around the town, you will find people stopping to chat to each other on the street or friends sitting outside their shop or on the square gossiping and watching passers-by. The people here are very friendly and many have taken an interest in us and our travelling. In most cases, they are astounded and ask why we are so far away from our home and families!
Every day we go to the market to get our groceries and it’s become one of our favourite things to do! We are spoilt for choice with the variety of fruit and vegetables on offer. We eat extremely well here. Everything is fresh and of good quality. And it’s so cheap! At first, we were often charged ‘gringo prices’, but we soon learnt which stalls to go to. We now have become regulars at one particular stall, where the lady is very friendly and gives us a fair price. She also gives us things for free or throws in a few extra herbs or onions.
The market is also a great place to learn new words in Spanish, and discover that much of the food vocabulary that you learnt at GCSE Spanish doesn’t work here in Ecuador! They use frutilla, instead of fresa, arvejas, not guisantes and choclo rather than maiz. And moreover, who knew buying bananas could be so problematic?! Every time we have to explain whether we want them verde (green) or maduro, (ripe) to eat or to cook. Even then, we still get given the wrong type and end up with a maduro looking banana, which just won’t ripen. As you can tell, we have a difficult life here in Zamora…
The market is probably about as lively and busy as it can get here in Zamora. It’s a very tranquil town, particularly in the evenings and weekends. There are a couple of bars, however they can be a bit lifeless and don’t appear to be open much. If it is raining, people stay at home. When it is hot and sunny, everyone flocks to the river to swim and play…or wash themselves, their clothes or their pets, or their cars. When we do stick around in Zamora at the weekends, we go walking a lot, usually to the river or to the Podocarpus national park, both beautiful places to pass the time time.
For more information about the town and what to do in Zamora, including Tzanka zoo, Podocarpus National Park, please click here.