A Mimi on the Move: Ecuador

Pam and Woody Johnson hiking in the Andes.

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of the series of stories chronicling Pam and Woody Johnson’s yearlong journey to countries around the world. You can find the rest of Pam’s stories on www.jcnewsandneighbor.com.

By Pam Johnson

Las montañas de verde
El cielo, azul
Las flores y los pájaros
Hacen arcoírises vivos
Los colores de Ecuador
En todo el país
Siempre bonitos
Pintado por Dios
Yes, always beautiful
Painted by God

For our final country on our around-the-world trip, we visited Ecuador, South America, and its vibrant beauty far exceeded my expectations.

We spent the month in Malacatos, a small town in the Andes Mountains near Loja in the south of the country. What a breathtaking location: mountains, jungles, farmland, rivers, and quaint villages scattered throughout. And so much green splattered with an abundance of colors: tropical fruit, an impressive variety of flowers, and blue and yellow and multi-colored birds.

Our original plan was to visit Chile, but through several interactions with others – a friend highly encouraging us to consider Ecuador; meeting a woman on an airplane who lives in Ecuador inviting us to visit; a friend moving to Ecuador and enticing us with her view – we felt God directing us to Ecuador.

My friend Brittany moved there over a year ago. After seeing her stunning photos and deciding to visit, we asked her if she knew of any volunteer opportunities in the area. Not long after, she met Gloria, a missionary who is in the process of opening an orphanage. Gloria just so happened to be looking for a couple to come help her out with several projects, and BINGO! We knew what we were meant to do.

It was a wonderful month of taking care of chickens, doing administrative tasks, running errands, playing with the three orphanage dogs, and getting the facility ready for inspections. We lived in a cute little casita on the property, very convenient to helping Gloria.

Besides volunteer work, we explored the area – to Loja (for church and shopping), Vilcabamba (known for its citizens’ longevity), San Pedro (to visit Brittany and her family), and Zamora (the Amazon Rainforest). We also visited our friend Jorge’s dragon fruit farm and hiked in the surrounding Andes Mountains (at 10,000 feet, I started feeling the effects of that altitude!).

Can you spot the donkeys loaded down with sugar cane? The animals are a great help when it comes time to harvest the crop. Photo by Pam Johnson

As with everywhere during our travels across the world, we relied on public transportation: lots of buses and taxis (which mostly are 4-wheel drive trucks, since the roads are so rough). Because Malacatos is not a tourist area, very few people spoke English, and I was forced to use my limited Spanish to communicate with the drivers, shop keepers and restaurant employees. Everyone was very kind and very patient.

Notable mentions about Ecuador:

  1. The food is a scrumptious array of fruit, vegetables, seafood, and meats (mainly chicken and pork). And—of course—rice (which has been the #1 consistent dish all over the world).
  2. The Ecuadorians love to party…we’d often hear music and fireworks throughout the valley till late into the night.
  3. The pace is indeed laid back and slow and peaceful. So what if things start an hour late?

And now our around-the-world journey has come to an end. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be back in the good ol’ USA.

If you’d like to hear more about our travel adventures and see more photos, please visit my blog site at pamtheeditor.wixsite.com/amimionthemove and follow me on Instagram and TikTok: @amimionthemove.

And if you have a heart for orphans and want to help Gloria with her orphanage, you can donate at mapglobal.givingfuel.com/sarshalom. If you’re interested in a short- or long-term missions opportunity or just want more information, contact me at amimionthemove@gmail.com

A scenic view of Malacatos, Ecuator. Photo by Pam Johnson

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