Should I start to commute?

I have been working with a friend from Loja exploring the idea of setting up a commercial photo studio.   If I continue through with this, there are a few problems I will have to deal with, including where to live and my dog Buster.  Actually Buster is a bit of an issue that I will leave for another post.

Right now I live in the lovely little city of Zamora which is nestled into the foothills of the Andes on the edge of the Amazon basin. Except for the rain, the climate is nice.  Warm but not overly hot most days, cool, but not cold most nights.   A jacket is needed for the rain but not for the temperature.

The studio would be located in the bigger city of Loja which fills a valley higher in the Andes.  I lived there for a year.  As cities go it is OK, but it is chilly.  I like wearing sneakers and with all the concrete floors and lower temperatures, I always had cold feet.

One thought is to live in Zamora and work in Loja… a possibility.

The distance between Loja and Zamora is about 60 Klm… a small commute in many parts of the world.  It is about an hour motorcycle ride for me, and weather is good extremely enjoyable on a motorbike.  The problem is that of the hour or so ride on the bike 10- 20 minutes are going over the top of a pass where the wind comes straight at you from all directions, it is usually in the clouds with a cold rain, and low visibility.  The good thing about this road is it is in great shape, there is minimal traffic, and the drivers are respectful of others around them.

Andes Moutains

View from the road between Loja and Zamora

I have never done this drive at night… and I don’t think I want to.  The sun sets every day at 6PM so realistically The latest i can leave is 4pm…

The Bus ride is about 2 hours to Loja… a 1/2 hour shorter coming back ( uphill vs downhill) The bus is also slower because it can’t take the turns as fast as my bike or cars.  The cost of the bus is $2.40 each way.

Another option would be to live in another town near Loja that has a better climate and less elevation change.  Vilcabamba, Malacatos and Catamio come to mind…

We will see how this all plays out… and in the back of my mind are the messages I am getting from my friend Kris to come and live on a beach in Thailand…

Christmas Motorcycle trip… The Orient

For the first time in many years, I am looking forward to Christmas!!!

Usually by this time I am so sick of all the music, and advertisements coupled with the dark and cold that I feel really down and depressed, I am hating the world… Here the season seems to have snuck up on me..  It might have to do with the lack of build up ..they just lite the tree in the town square last night … 1 week before the day.

As well I have planned an interesting trip.070812-213

Andes Moutains

Andes Moutains

I will be riding my bike up the eastern ( The Orient or Amazonian) side of the mountains, then cutting across the continental divide via Banos to the coast.  It is a 12 hour trip that I will spread over 3 or 4 days.  My bike, being chinese and indian, can only really run for 2 hours ( I have been told)  before it needs to cool down.  This will a nice leisurely trip with plenty of rest stops.  I am also taking the scenic route which should be safer for someone with my experience level.

Of course my rest stops will be places that I can wander with my camera.

I will then be staying with a friend on the coast… a former english teacher who has retired to live on the beach, where she can walk her dog for miles on the sand and watch the sunsets over the pacific… her days are as busy as she wants them to be…. a nice way to live.

Since I have until the new year off, but I need to get back to take care of Buster ( letting someone else take care of him for a week or so is OK… 2 weeks… asking a lot)  my return trip will also be leisurely, but my time in the sand will be short… just a couple of days.

Merry Christmas

Buster learns a lesson

One of Buster’s most constant companion is Mancha… a three year old who hangs around Tzanka.  ( I am still not sure about who or if there is an owner or if she just adopted this place.

Mancha has gone into heat..which means a lot of male dogs hanging around.  They haven’t started fighting, yet, but my concern is that Buster may get in the middle of this. He still doesn’t understand what is going on.

The more immediate problem, as far as Buster is concerned is, a complete change in mood or character.  Manacha is no longer playful as she was, but has become sulky and grouchy. She snaps at him for things that days ago where part of play.  Buster is confused.

Mancha and Buster

Mancha and Buster

Well this was unexpected… a puppy


On Monday I was sitting on the porch outside my room when the Senora of the house came up to me, holding a pillow in front of her.

She said she had something for me…a surprise.  Sometimes she brings me some food or sweets that she has prepared too much of.

When she removed the pillow, what she had was a little round black ball of fur… a male puppy.  She said that someone gave it to her on the street..they had three and they wanted to give her all three. She only brought home one.  She said that the mother was a big dog…..

I fell in love instantly.

(Some background.  We are working together to create a place for animals outside of town, and we had discussed the fact that we would need a dog or two to watch the place)

I have named him Buster, and from what I can tell, he is a black Labrador Retriever about 7 weeks old.

This pup is creating some challenges for me.

Buster 7? weeks

Buster 7? weeks

First, he is extremely difficult to photograph… he is all black so getting definition is difficult.

Ecuadog vs Gringodog

The biggest challenge will be cultural… the difference between an Ecuadorian dog and a Gringo dog.

Ecuadorian dogs run loose, are not very well trained ( if at all) and eat what is available…usually table scraps.  The dogs on the street ( you can’t tell if they are street dogs or if they have homes) are usually wary of people, since the standard reaction to dogs here is to pick up a stone or a stick if one comes towards you or shows any interest in all towards you.  Most dogs purpose or job is to act as watchdogs, or to keep vermin under control.

I want to have a well trained, healthy, friendly dog.  This is going to require doing things locals are not used to seeing, such as walking on a lease and feeding a healthy diet.  Since Buster is going to be big, it will also be a major challenge to keep him friendly but still wary of strangers.  If he were to go bounding up to people the way I know some dogs do in Canada, he will be received with kicks, or worse.


Buster 7? weeks

Buster 7? weeks








I hope, for Buster’s sake, I am up to this training challenge.