Catamayo, Ecuador


Catamayo, Ecuador, is a city in the southcentral part of Ecuador. It is between the larger Eastern Range and the smaller Sub-Andean Belt where it sits in the Catamayo Valley. East of the mountains is the Amazon Basin.

This was my second visit to Catamayo. When I entered the country the immigrations officer who stamped my passport gave me only 22 days. He said if I need the 90-day extension I will have to go to Loja (the closest Immigrations off) and get it there. I thought this was unusual becuase my second entry of the year into Peru they automatically gave me 90 days, ignoring the 21 days left from my first visit. And, when I was passing through Argentina six times in a matter of a few months, they never said anything to me about time limits, and they don't stamp passports, so I had no idea how much time I was given to visit (their Immigrations uses electronic entries only). My first visit to Catamayo was in early January. About my previous visit, I wrote that I liked this town and would put it at the top of my top 10 list, and it is still there. For the time being. There is one more town on my list to visit - Puyo, Ecuador. Puyo, according to Google Maps, is a 10-hour drive, so by bus it will probably be 12 hours. So, I'm going to split that by spening a night in a pueblo about midway between the two. I hate bus rides longer six hours.

The climate data that I found on two websites (and I use in my blogs) - and, is based on historical data that is quite old, so I believe it is on the cool side of correct for today's world. For example, right now as I am writing this (about 4pm) it is 31° C (87.8° F) which is way out of line with the historical data, which shows 25° C (77° F). This is possibly an effect of global warming. I noticed the higher-than-normal temps when I was in the previous towns alongside the mountains in Peru, as well. This has been the case throughout South America during my trip. So, looking at the data I see, for August, an average high of 23.5° C, and on the average high is 24.5° C, but looking at the real data for this month on I see an average of 28.5° C. And this holds true for all of the months. The night temperature history is much more the same as the current night temperatures.

That brings me to this conumdrum: In choosing a town to be my new home town, do I consider the climate right now, or what the climate might be in, say, five/ten years? If I consider the climate right now, all of these towns in Peru and Ecuador, as well as Colombia, (the lower-elevation towns, not the mountain towns), are too hot. In a few years they'll probably be even hotter. Therefore, I should consider towns that are a little on the cool side right now, so that in five years, 10 years, the higher temp will not be excessive (as it will be in these towns that are hot right now). Now, my last comment about Catamayo—there is not even one good, proper coffee shop here. Oh, there are a few shops that sell coffee but they use an espresso machine to make coffee! Seriously, that is not right! An espresso machine makes espresso. Yes, some have adjustments so they can brew coffee, but it is never as good as proper drip/filtered/ground coffee from any of the various drip/press/etc types of coffee makers. So, that one point is a big negative for me.

So, looking at my top 10 list, there are two towns that qualify—Encarnación, Paraguay, and Formosa, Argentina. They are the biggest towns on my list but I like both of them. And, they are something these other towns are not - cyclist/runner friendly. For a road cyclist, as I am, the roads of Ecuador and Peru are not built for cyclists, many have no shoulder, or a very minimal gravel shoulder, so they can be dangerous, for two reasons: the gravel and edge of the pavement, and the motor traffic that is not cyclist friendly in any way. In Colombia, also, most roads do not have paved shoulders, but it appeared to me that the people driving at least showed some respect for cyclists, most of the time. Here in Ecuador and Peru, I saw very few road cyclists, and for that matter, few mountain cyclists, as well.

My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people.  And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temperature specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.

My Top 10 list has these towns on it:

  • Moyobamba, Perú
  • Puyo, Ecuador
  • Catamayo, Ecuador
  • Encarnación, Paraguay
  • Formosa, Argentina

During my travels in Ecuador I visited 32 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 38; in Chile, only five; and in Argentina, I visited 16. In Uruguay, I visited five, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay I have visited 26. That's 125 towns/cities outside of 77 I visited in Colombia while living there for 9 1/2 years.

Next up: Loja, Ecuador.