Books, books, books! Living in Ecuador without my favorite books has been a challenge. Moving to Ecuador for me meant coming with very few books. I’ve been addicted to them all my life, so addicted that I even enjoyed reading dictionaries and encyclopedias as a child.
Exploring words and their meanings was a favored summer ritual when I was growing up. But devouring these erudite tomes by myself and then attempting to incorporate new words into conversations with adults often led to puzzled, shocked or amusing looks from them.
How was I to know that mosquito isn’t pronounced MOS quit toe? Nor did I understand that certain clinical words for certain body parts was not socially acceptable in certain circles.
In the process of traveling all over the world and moving to Ecuador I gave away and sold thousands of books, many that I had treasured for decades. I even sold my collection of antique children’s books, giving the best of them to my children.
Why? Books are heavy, unwieldy and expensive to transport and I was always on the move.
Now I have an electronic library and I love my Kindle! I can curl up with a new book minutes after purchasing it. Downloading is quick and simple and I can increase the print size for my tired old eyes if I need to.
But there were no Kindles when I gave my books away. I had discovered something essential about books and knew I didn't have to hold onto them physically.
Books are living things. If they sense that you are yearning for the wisdom they contain, they will seek you out. I doubt that I am the only one who has had just the book she needed jump off a library shelf and fall at her feet!
So I trusted that the right books would come my way to enrich my new life in Ecuador when I was ready for their input. And arrive they have!
That’s how the Anastasia Ringing Cedars of Russia series came to me, all of them. And the absolutely soul-stirring Spiritual Gardening. And Making Cheese Butter and Yogurt. Now, if I can just get my hands on a goat or two...
Ditto for nearly all of these I have listed below. They have either been dumped in my lap, fallen on my head, been left on my doorstep or presented by friends.
Who cares if they were given to me just because they were too much bother for the owners to take home with them. I don’t care. It’s the thought that counts and the content of the book that matters.
I love the constant reminders of the endless ways by which we can create what we want once we let go of thinking in conventional ways. I’m so glad my book mojo is working prolifically in Ecuador.
Pro-Ecuador also has several e-books to enhance your understanding about life in Ecuador. One of them, “Moving to Ecuador: 20 Important Questions Answered,” may be calling to you.
It’s a compilation of information based on our own experiences, research and observations while living in Ecuador. We've been in Ecuador long enough to learn what not to do and I've set it all down on paper so you can learn from our mistakes.
Save time and money and more than a little aggravation by finding out beforehand what you should bring with you, what health precautions to take, creative ways to find work, and how to open a bank account, plus much more.
Ray Flett’s 303-page e-book, “Saving Retirement and Other Adventures,” is the real-life story of a Canadian attorney who lost much of his retirement and decided that moving to Ecuador was the answer to his retirement woes. He shares his struggles, insight and triumphant outcome with our readers in this delightful first-hand account.
If you happen to take me up on my recommendations below, I hope these books bring joy and knowledge to you, too, as you engage in the healthy, natural and organic pursuits they offer. Doesn’t matter if you are living in Ecuador or in Timbuktu.
Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate, by Wendy Johnson, truly is a masterwork. The author/ gardener / meditator / steward graciously shares her 3-decade-long communion with a piece of land shaped like a dragon in northern California that swirls from wind-swept hills down to the Pacific Ocean.
This book has become my latest bible. I can seldom take it in hand and read a section without crying in joy and recognition at the depth of wisdom recorded in these pages. This is a text I will savor for years to come, an ageless collection of gardening wisdom and hard-won experiential learning, a pantheon to the wiles and winsomeness of the Earth Mother who in her various aspects can nurture, tease, trick or devastate.
By slowing her pace of living, embracing the natural world, and surrendering to Mother Earth on hands and knees as servant, guardian and partner, Johnson brings the entity that is our home planet into a new relationship with humanity. As I turn these pages each day and imbibe the enchanting experiences shared there, I am awestruck at the masterful way with which Johnson teaches through her day-to-day encounters with her garden and its myriad inhabitants, both seen and unseen. Her style is intensely personal, poetic, practical, earthy, wise and full of anecdotes that will pull at your heart strings.
For any gardener and earth lover who wants a deeper connection with nature than that of simply digging, planting and reaping, this book is a must and a treasure to cherish.
Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, newly revised and updated. Just as the front cover says, this book is the indispensable green resource for every gardener. Many, many years have come and gone since I first watched my father eagerly turn the pages of his monthly Organic Gardening magazine. He’d lose himself in it more assuredly than any guy reading Playboy, absorbed in fascinating articles about grafting, composting and nematodes.
As knowledgeable as he was about gardening, he would be amazed at the latest improvements in growing techniques, soil care and new ways of dealing with critters that creep, crawl, bite, burrow or fly.
No matter which part of the United States you live in, you’ll find ways to create a healthy, organic garden, orchard or landscape and grow luxuriant, delicious, healthy fruit, berries, vegetables and flowers, too. It covers water gardens, landscaping with stone, communal gardening and edible landscaping. Much of the practical, common-sense information is adaptable to any country.
There’s extensive information about over 200 plants. You’ll be able to find answers to most any difficulty that gardeners have when it comes to dealing with temperature, disease, pruning, propagation, watering and planting.
So order this book, curl up in a chair, hammock or garden corner and dream dreams of your own garden, whether that means creating one anew or improving an existing one.
Spiritual Gardening, Creating Sacred Space Outdoors, by Peg Streep, with photography mostly by John Glover, is a meditation to the world of gardens of many different kinds. Stunning and evocative photographs capture the essence of what the author has labeled the Zen garden, healing garden, Gaia garden, Celtic garden and many others.
Inspirational and illuminating, this book will expand your awareness of garden space as sacred space, not only a sanctuary for plants, flowers and trees, but a place where one’s soul can grow as well.
From the book, a quote about gardening by Countess von Arnim: "It is not graceful and it makes one hot, but it is a blessed sort of work, and if Eve had had a spade in Paradise, and known what to do with it, we should not have had all that sad business of the apple."
Gaia’s Garden, a Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway. In case you don’t know what a garden guild, food forest, chicken tractor or habitat nook is and want to learn, this is the book for you. This is the second edition of the book that stirred North American gardeners with regard to the abundant possibilities inherent in permaculture.
This edition has a chapter on urban permaculture for limited spaces. Using the principles of permaculture increases the abundance, beautiful and diversity of your garden.
Sharon Astyk, author of Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front, calls it "the best permaculture book ever written." It’s also been lauded as, "a fusion of the practical and the visionary, using natural intelligence of Earth’s symbiotic communities to strength and sustain ecosystems in which humans are a partner, not a competitor."
The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, by Masanobu Fukuoka (Author, Afterword), Larry Korn (Translator), Wendell Berry (Preface), Frances Moore Lappe (Introduction)
In Wendell Berry’s preface to this book, he writes that this book "is valuable to us because it is at once practical and philosophical. It is an inspiring, necessary book about agriculture because it is not just about agriculture."
Fukuoka was scientifically educated but rejected agribusiness and traditional agricultural practices. Instead he believed that following natural law provided the best kind of cultivation. His "do-nothing" approach includes plain old commonsense, very little effort and sustainability.
The Road Back to Nature: Regaining the Paradise Lost, by Masanobu Fukuoka and Frederic P. Metreaud. Another great book about nature farming and sustainable, effortless agriculture. Why make it hard?
Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy, by Masanobu Fukuoka. I haven’t read Masanobu Fukuoka’s books but my son Scott is a rabid disciple of Fukuoka and advocate of nature farming. It’s hard to believe that we humans insist we have superior agricultural knowledge to Mother Nature herself.
The price we pay for this arrogance is ill health, poisoning of our air, land and bodies and having to do a hell of a lot of work dousing the land with chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides and additives as we compact the soil negatively with huge, expensive machines. Whew!
Isn’t it time to call it quits and take a nap? Rest in a hammock as we let nature once again handle her domain quite sufficiently, thank you very much. I like the idea of nature farming because it’s so effortless. It’s like my meditation. There’s nothing much to do except allow and accept what is.
In a book review of this book, a reviewer wrote: Every now and then there are gifted individuals who come along who see and understand with new eyes and have a thorough understanding of their subject, not only in its own right, but in the context of how that topic fits into the whole. Fukuoka is such an individual and his understanding and practice of farming is genius and he explains how using his methods will make your farm easy to run, out-produce typical American farming methods without the need for chemicals that have been destroying the soil and poisoning our water and poisoning the farmer as well. His methods are incredibly simple, require no special machinery, no big equipment mortgages, are applicable to all size farms and produce results. Not only that, his methods improve the soil and he has simple ideas on how to bring back areas that we have turned into desert due to bad farming practices and animal grazing. I wish his writing would spread to the whole farming community as I suspect his books have not been noticed. His books are priceless and a real gift to food production.
Cecil Bothwell writes in another review, "Doing nothing, being nothing, becoming nothing is the goal of Fukuoka's farming method, an approach to agriculture which he has pursued for over forty years with resounding success. With no tillage, no fertilizer, no weeding and no pesticides he consistently produces rice, barley, fruit and vegetable crops that equal or exceed the yield per acre of neighboring farmers who embrace modern scientific agriculture. The basis of his philosophy is that nature grows plants just fine without our interference so that the most practical approach is to get out of the way." Enough said.
Introduction to Permaculture and its companion, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, both written by Bill Mollison, continually receive rave reviews-great books, wonderful, everybody should read, breath-taking in scope. Permaculture is becoming more than just a word sustainable gardeners toss around.
Nukanchi Jampita Yuyarishpa Recordando Nuestra Medicino is a book about Ecuador medicinal plants that grow in the Cotacachi area. It was compiled in 2006 by Hayley Gallaher and Magdalena Fueres and is a publication of UNORCAC, the union of campesino organizations of Cotacachi indigenous and the central committee of UNORCAC women.
Along with color photos of the medicinal plants, the book lists common and scientific names, classification, where it’s found and its height. The final section lists illnesses that these plants heal, long known by indigenous ancestors and kept alive throughout the generations.
Our own Blanca Bonilla was a contributor to the medicinal wisdom collected in the book. With her help and indigenous wisdom, I am discovering first-hand how to identify and use the medicinal plants and herbs in our area.
You'll have to search out a copy of this book in the Cotacachi area.
Making Plant Medicine, by Richo Cech, an herbal reference book preferred by many, including homemakers, herbal labs and schools all over the world. It explains ways to make simple teas, tinctures as good as any bought in a health food store, a glossary of herbs and their medicinal uses, dosages and results.
The healing arts that the author shares are a natural part of his way of life and the life of his family. Cech says, "Welcome to this practical formulary. I hope you prop this book up at the back of the counter and that it is soon stained with the happy splatter of utilization."
He also offers this blessing: "May your medicine be of the garden and may it be of benefit to all."
Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies, Natural Health, Beauty & Home-Care Secrets, by Jude C. Williams, M.H. Want to quickly get over a cold, rejuvenate your skin, calm your nerves or create an herbal love bath? Then this is the book for you. Practically anything you need around the house can be made from a recipe found in these pages-pet medicine, natural bug repellents, furniture polish.
If your hair is thinning, try cayenne pepper preparation. Need a new deodorant? Make your own. There are over 800 amazing recipes waiting for you to sample. Self-empowerment and greater authority over your own health, beauty and inner peace awaits.
Making Cheese, Butter & Yogurt by Ricki Carroll, A Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-283. Ricki Carroll learned how to make cheese in England and she has been providing home cheese makers to the public since 1978. If you are ready for a delicious new hobby or kitchen art, Ricki’s book will teach you all you need to know to make wonderful, artisanal cheeses at home. Be the envy of your gourmet friends when you serve them fromage blanc, ricotta, feta and creme fraiche.
You can master the craft of cheese-making easily and quickly following her simple directions. This small book is considered a classic text.
Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses is another great book written by Ricki Carroll.
For almost 40 years, Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletins have assisted readers in the mastery of many country living skills. Their instructions are clear, concise and easy to understand. You can choose from over 170 titles. These little booklets are extremely popular and reflect the increasing desire of people everywhere to gain greater independence in their lives.
Check out these other titles, all of which sell for less than $4.00:
Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by the Gardeners and Farmers of Centre Terre Vivante and Deborah Madison. For those who are extra-conscientious about their family’s health, here’s a very special book that reveals little-known French techniques for the preservation and storage of food. These techniques result in the maximum preservation of both nutrition and flavor.
Not only are these methods less expensive and more energy efficient, they produce foods that are alive instead of dead from freezing or overheated during the canning process. In the book’s foreword are these words: "The business of food science is in conflict with the poetry of human nourishment." This book is about human nourishment.
Within these pages is the joyful compendium of 250 French recipes translated into English, mostly never-before published, from readers of Les Quatre Saisons du Jardinage, a French organic gardening magazine. These favorite, often "secret" recipes are a gift of love. There’s a recipe for blueberries in honey, perfect for the berries I buy in the Cotacachi produce market.
The Herbal Body Book: A Natural Approach to Healthier Hair, Skin and Nails, by Stephanie Tourles. Pamper yourself with healthy, quick and easy personal care products that you can make yourself. What better way to guarantee that what you put on your skin and the skin of your loved ones is pure, natural and free from toxic additives. Why pay a fortune for costly creams and salves that don’t fulfill their promised rejuvenation and may even cause you allergic reactions?
There are over 100 recipes with step-by-step directions for turning common ingredients such as fruits, grains and herbs into great products that will leave you feeling clean, supple and gorgeous. You can whip up your own herbal toothpaste, moisturizers, facial scrubs, even lip balms, plus soaps and shampoos, all for a fraction of the store-bought varieties.
The Little Book of Aromatherapy, by Kathi Keville. Another little treasure of a book if you are ready to take charge of your health and well-being and look great in the process. Kathi has the essential oil answer for all kinds of problems from repelling fleas on your pets, making medicinal remedies, dealing with carpal tunnel and making baby products.
Using essential oils to handle issues of depression, anxiety, grief, insomnia and poor memory, this is a wonderfully fragrant way to feel better. There are 50+ formulas in her book.
The Barefoot Architect, a Handbook for Green Building, by Johan van Lengen. This is the international best-selling handbook for green building in the 21st century. If you are concerned about the environment and your impact upon it, this is the book to study and bring to Ecuador so you can consult it during your building process.
This book will ease your conscience and present innovative ways by which you can construct a building to live or work in that is natural and also beautiful.
You’ll find such concepts discussed as bio-architecture, solar hearing, hydro-electricity, natural cooling, water purification, cisterns and composting toilets. With simple, easy-to-understand drawings, this book includes everything you need to know about designing, siting and building a natural home.
Bring this book to Ecuador when you come if you are serious about green construction.
Adobe and Rammed Earth Buildings, Paul Graham McHenry, Jr. This is the classic book on adobe and rammed earth construction. It was written to present the more scientific and technological aspects of building with earth, the oldest building material known to man. Earth construction is still the most often used method of building in the world.
This is a how-to book with details about composing, making, storing, drying and constructing. There are fascinating photographs of earth buildings from all over the world- Egypt, South and North America, Mexico, the Middle East and Africa. Great information about vaults and domes.
You’ll also find valuable information on earthquake resistant practices, restoration, roofs and heating systems. A very accurate and complete source for adobe and rammed earth building.
Adobe: Build It Yourself, by Paul Graham McHenry. The best do-it-yourself book on every element of adobe construction. It runs the gamut from ancient to modern construction and includes energy efficiency and problems that can arise when utilizing this type of building method.
The small adobe house, Agnesa Reeve, with photos by Robert Reck. The author states that... "once you’ve lived sheltered by adobe walls, you won’t want anything else." First having experienced the warmth, charm and coziness of an adobe house in a casita in Guatemala, I can vouch for the author’s sentiments.
Adobe keeps you warm on cold nights and cool on the hottest days because of its built-in insulative qualities. No rattling, shaking or wind whistling in these solid structures. The thick walls also reduce noise penetration from outside.
An adobe house can be a work of art, a home filled with simple grace and natural elegance. One peek into this adorable little book will have you longing for the curves and nooks and niches you can incorporate into such a dwelling and dreaming of toasting your feet in front of your sinuous adobe fireplace.
Small Strawbale: Natural Homes, Projects and Designs, by Bill Steen, Athena Swentzell Steen and Wayne J. Bingham. Yet another fine book by Bill and Athena, co-authors of Built By Hand and The Straw Bale House. I love all their books and spend hours paging through them and dreaming of the adobe house I will build some day soon.
A book for those who want to build and live in a small, affordable space without sacrificing beauty, utility or good design. Full of wonderful meditation huts, tiny cottages, simple studios and quirky innovations such as lintels made from yucca stalks, truth windows, arches, niches, altars and hand-applied decorations, this wonderful book celebrates the art of living small, well and creatively.
The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources by Joseph F. Kennedy, Michael G. Smith and Catherine Wanek, Editors. The hobbity house on the book’s cover is one of my favorites: assymetrical, quaint and covered with flowers and plants, you expect to see Frodo bursting out the front door on his way to a magical adventure.
This book is for both the left and right brain because it is full of building techniques well-known by the 50 contributors who all have hands-on experience with natural, alternative construction. Leaders in the field of innovative and creative, ecological approaches to building share their know-how.
Not only are adobe and cob constructions found in these pages, but more unusual methods such as bamboo, compressed earth blocks, cordwood masonry, earthbags and earthships. Even earth floors are highlighted for those who want to go natural all the way.
Even more knowledge is included with resource listings, articles on the economics, sustainability and social justice inherent in this kind of construction, plus discussions of design and planning issues. There are lengthy sections on natural materials and how to use them. This is a very comprehensive compilation of wisdom.
Wabi Sabi Style by James and Sandra Crowley. My kind of book. All my life I’ve loved the quest for uncovering treasures that have been discarded by those who don’t appreciate their beauty and worth. Whether it’s bidding at an auction on a box of old clothes that contains a fine piece of hand-made lace or restoring an old mandolin I found at a garage sale, I am always on the lookout.
In Cotacachi I found a whole pile of old wooden colonial benches stacked high in an abandoned house. After persuading the owner to sell his old junk, I sanded, stained and polished the two I bought, made cushions and moved my antique treasures into our apartment.
Wabi sabi is all about the art of elevating simple, rustic objects to objets de art. The Japanese design elements of wabi sabi are a perfect complement for natural, alternative housing such as adobe, rammed earth, cob and brick or any other style of building for that matter.
Wabi sabi is a warm and unpretentious, timeless style that showcases the antiquity, linear shape, texture and essence of ordinary objects. It seeks to bring indoors into our homes a sense of the world of nature.
The Japanese pursuit of beauty will be made clearer when you see the exquisite photographs in this book and read the text. The concept of beauty as seen through Japanese eyes is very different from the Western sense.
It is more an experiential using antiques, used, worn and aged pieces in a way that makes them special and honors the qualities they have that we might prefer to resign to the garbage heap. Wabi sabi is Shabby Chic without the chipped paint.
Feng Shui--Arrange, Decorate and Accessorize Your Home to Promote Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Simon Brown. The 4000-year-old art of Feng Shui is now part of mainstream North America as Westerners embrace the concept that the energy of a home can be consciously arranged to promote better health and well-being in its human inhabitants. The complicated theory and practice of Feng Shui takes years to thoroughly learn, understand and implement.
Brown makes the whole process simple and easy to use. He calls Feng Shui, "a Shiatsu massage for your whole being."
I use Feng Shui in Ecuador to bring a greater sense of place and harmony to my new surroundings. Living in a foreign country one naturally can feel like a fish out of water for a time. Feng Shui shortens that feeling and brings order to a new location.
The benefits of Feng Shui include better sleep, improved family relationships, better sex, more relaxation and greater wealth and recognition. A good, basic book for quickly putting this Oriental art into practice in your own home or business.
Reconnecting with Our Indigenous Heart, Reconectandonos con el Corazon de los Andes, Alverto Taxo and Helen Slomovits. Helen went on one of our Ecuador tours and graciously arranged for us to meet her teacher, Don Alverto Taxo. He and his family visited our land outside Cotacachi and he gave us advice on how to cleanse the land in preparation for our living there.
He is a master Iachak of the Atis (Kichwa) people who live in the Cotopaxi region of northern Ecuador. The Shamanic Council of South America has bestowed upon him the highest honor possible, that of Master Iachak. Iachak, or yachak, means healer.
Read this illuminating book for Don Alverto’s eloquent explanation of the legend and prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor. According to Don Alverto, we are now living in the time during which the prophecy will be fulfilled. It is up to each one of us to recognize this fact and answer the call.
Order a copy of this book at www.ushai.com. The book comes with 4 CDs: Don Alverto’s original recording in Kichwa/Spanish, a recording in English, and his song prayers and drumming for journeying, meditation and connecting to the elements.
The Ringing Cedars of Russia series, by Vladimir Megre, as given to him by Anastasia, a Russian mystic and recluse living in the Siberian forests. Megre has faithfully recorded her words and published them in a series of 9 books.
They tell her story and the story of mankind. They also instruct in an age-old plan for living well and co-creatively with Mother Earth, passed on to her from her ancestors who have also remained apart from mainstream life for generations.
According to Anastasia, we are all entitled to a one hectare family plot of land, which she calls a kin domain, that we live on and then bequeath to our children. On this land we should ideally plant 1/3 in forest, dig a pond and raise our own food.
The way in which she describes how to prepare, plant and care for our seeds and gardens is unique and fascinating. If we follow her instructions, the plants we grow will give us exactly the nutrients we need for our particular bodies.
After these books showed up at our apartment and Gary and I devoured them, we changed course with our green development and decided to create our own kin domain outside Cotacachi. Anastasia’s teachings have resulted in a world-wide green revolution. Over 11 million people have read her books.
Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities, by Diana Leafe Christian with a foreword by Patch Adams. I actually bought this book when we were preparing for our charrette, a week-long brainstorming session we had with our land partners and an international group of architects and permaculturists.
Since only about 10% of intentional communities succeed, it is important that I begin to understand more about the process of communal living, even though we don’t intend to create anything more than a small neighborhood of like-minded people who enjoy gardening, organics and sustainability. Turns out the book I chose is practically the bible for builders of intentional communities.
If community living is your dream, this essential book will greatly improve your chances for success. The author has been the editor of Communities magazine since 1993 and offers workshops on how to form ecovillages and intentional communities.
She is a member of Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina, which I have visited when I lived in Black Mountain.
Every aspect of communal living is address, from the many kinds of communities, why they fail, how to get started correctly, the financial considerations, creating your vision statements and documents, decision-making, conflict resolution and consensus.
The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature, by David Suzuki with Amanda McConnell, should probably be the first book on my list, since without our full acknowledgement that we are a global community, one composed of everything on our planet and fully interdependent one with another, from microbes to trees, plants, bees, birds, animals and man, we won’t have the conviction to fully embrace the changes we need to make inside and out in order to end the destruction taking place.
Suzuki, the scientist and environmentalist, tells us that we must find this balance between humanity and all the rest of nature as we come closer and closer to the precipice of environmental disaster that threatens life itself. His book gives us sane, concrete suggestions for meeting our needs in ways that are just, conscious and ecologically sustainable. This book was written in 1997. Have we been paying attention since then or are we still as a global entity saying, "What problem?"
The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss. I’m not quite sure how Gary and I ended up working so hard and so long in Ecuador, but we have been. Now it is time to slow down and eat more chocolate before we keel over from exhaustion, but how to do that? Tim Ferriss’ book is the answer for us.
After devouring it as the life-saver and time-saver that it is, we are implementing his techniques for working less and playing more. Ground-breaking, paradigma-busting and life-affirming.
Not everyone moving to Ecuador is a retiree; many come needing income. But few of us are interested in working for the normal salary paid to Ecuadorians, so we have to find creative ways to work. Tim Ferriss’ book is full of ideas and practical steps you can take to live internationally and to make your business work for you rather than you work for it.
Ferriss went from a yearly income of $40,000 working 80 hours a week to $40,000 per month working only 4 hours a week. He believes that we all should intersperse our working lives with plenty of mini-retirements. My kind of guy!
VIVA Travel Guides: Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, by Paula Newton and Crit Minster, delivers what many consider the most complete and current information about Ecuador and the Galapagos. The travel writers who contribute to this volume have extensive knowledge of Ecuador.
Rough Guide to Ecuador, by Henry Ades and Melissa Graham, 2010 Edition. Many travelers and explorers of Ecuador’s diverse terrain find this guide book among the very best. Read Amazon’s reviews and you’ll see that people claim it’s the only one to use for the most comprehensive information about Ecuador. Words like "authentic", "spot on", "clear", "excellent recommendations." Includes environ-mental information and tribal lore.
Ecuador and Galapagos Handbook, 7th: Travel guide to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands (Footprint Ecuador and Galapagos Handbook), by Robert Kunstaetter and Daisy Kunstaetter. This is a 500-page hardcover book, 2010 edition, chock-full of everything you need and want to know about Ecuador and the Galapagos.
The Kunstaetters have a combined 40 years experience traveling and living in Latin America. Their Ecuador guide book has plenty of updated information, color photos and a new front map and covers eco-tourism.
Lonely Planet Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, 8th Edition, 2009, by Regis St. Louis, Aimee Dowl, Michael Grosberg, Lucy Burningham. Next edition comes out in 2012, but you can buy individual digital chapter updates in PDF. Full-cover photo section, sections covering outdoor activities, indigenous culture and plenty of recommendations for accommodations.
Spectacular Galapagos: Exploring an Extraordinary World by Tui de Roy, October 1999. Enjoy absolutely wonderful photos and stories of the Galapagos by this award-winning author. His perspective is refreshing and fitting for this one-of-a-kind island chain, unmatched anywhere else on the planet. Inspiring for photographers, naturalists and travelers alike.
Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle, by Moritz Thomsen. Sharing his Peace Corps experiences as a volunteer in Ecuador, Thomsen eloquently and with great honesty and humbleness, spotlights the clash of two cultures and beliefs about living and working that results even from a sincere desire to be of help.
Full of emotional power and shattering insights, the book is full of humor, pathos, anger, puzzlement and heart. Many of his discoveries about Ecuador parallel mine, the primary one being that even though North and South America are continents apart, we are all basically alike with loves and hates, fears and desires.
During his 4 years in Ecuador, he both learned to understand and to misinterpret the culture and personalities of the people. Culture shock set in immediately. The things he saw sent him, "a gringo grounded in the Puritan ethic, reeling in search of a new definition of reality."
Later there were many more shocks in the tiny village of Rio Verde where he spent much of his time: struggles with native jealousy, resentment and apathy, unabashed drunkenness and the patient acceptance, or lack of concern, for infant mortality. The failure of his gringo way of doing things, which had worked so well for him in the past, was a continual surprise.
For anyone who wants to help others in a foreign environment or who is currently performing these kinds of services, this highly-personal account of one man’s dedication to the poor is an engrossing read.
Culture Shock! Ecuador: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette, by Nicholas Crowder. The enigmas and possible origin of many of the cultural habits of Ecuadorians is explained thoroughly and thoughtfully in this book. Customs and Etiquette.
Most of all, the author stresses the need for diplomacy when interacting with Ecuadorians. There are also sections on bribery, sense of humor, rules for personal space and social etiquette and other topics not ordinarily addresses in typical guide books.
Very detailed information deals with the nuances of slang, regional accents, titles and the hierarchy of society that is influenced by an Ecuadorian’s use of vocabulary. Along with the usual Spanish vocabulary lists there are specific colloquialisms that will help ease your transition into the culture.
The Ecuador Reader: History, Culture, Politics by Carlos de la Torre. For all its diminutive size, Ecuador embraces a very diverse geography and its history, culture and politics reflects that variety. This is a collection of the writings of scholars, politicians, activists, journalists, writers and artists covering the last 500 years up to the present time.
Excellent articles by Ecuadorians which have never been published in English and great writing about Ecuadorians by non-Ecuadorians. The subjects are as diverse as the geography and the culture, including a story of the first black Miss Ecuador, U.S. corporations in Ecuador, the first indigenous woman elected to the national assemblia and even recipes.
The Last Days of the Incas, by Kim McQuarrie, will give you an interesting background in South American history as it pertains to the 2500-mile-long empire of the Incas. They ruled a territory that ranged from northern Ecuador to the tip of Chile.
This longish book of 522 pages is dramatic and riveting. Not only does it cover the conquest of the Incas by the Spanish, it tells the fascinating story of how archeologists and scholars have continued to interpret Inca history and their relics.
Although I know the story of Hiram Bingham and his "discovery" of Machu Picchu, which he believed was the center or capital of the Incas, I didn’t know about Gene Savoy, who in the 1960’s uncovered what is believed to be the real Inca center of civilization, Vilcabamba.
McQuarrie also penned another book about South America, From the Andes to the Amazon.
Cradle of Gold, The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu, by Christopher Heaney. After five visits to Machu Picchu the magic and wonder of this mountaintop aerie has not worn off. I intend to return there as often as I can manage it.
Bingham is a controversial figure of history, known as both a great adventurer and the discoverer of Machu Picchu and as an opportunist and plunderer of some of the most important historical treasures of Peru.
"Cradle of Gold is a wonderfully moving account of those who invented and reinvented three cities nestled deep in the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes: Vitcos, Vilcabamba, and Machu Picchu. It is also a subtle, penetrating study of the imperial hubris of early twenty-century US archeology as it traces the origins of Yale’s misbegotten collections of Peruvian "antiquities." It is a powerfully argued ethical call for the "skulls and bones" of hundreds of both humble and powerful Andeans to be returned to Peru, to their original, ancient, resting grounds, not to museums of natural history where they do not belong." Jorge Canizares-Esguerra, Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin, author of Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550-1700.
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