What is it like Raising Kids in Ayampe Ecuador?
This is a question that my husband and I get asked on a weekly basis. Originally from the mountains of Canada, we have to created a life here with no guidance or example before us. Which at times has been hard but for the most part has been exciting and freeing.
Ryan and I moved to Ecuador long before we had children on the mind. We were in our 20s; young and looking for adventure. We didn't think about hospitals, schools or extra curricular activities. All we knew is that being here felt really good. We were learning a new language, a new sport, creating a new business and begin to reconnect with our true self. Life was good. Like many couples when you are at this point suddenly the idea of adding to the family sees like the only next move. We had just gotten a dog and that was working out why not kids??
I am not going to get into any of the details but those with kids know exactly what the next few years looks and feels like. So when we finally emerged from survival mode; we stopped and looked and each other and began to ask those famous question: School? Hospitals? Activities?
Our first thought was oh should we move home?? But after looking around at our home, our businesses, our community and the ocean we knew that wasn't going to be a possibility so know what??
Well we did what any parent would do... We began to look for solutions. I began an in dept look into schooling from the beginning. I looked at all different types of schooling, i began researching and buying books and reaching out to experts to figure out what was the next step. After about 5 years of research I opened up a preschool with an fellow neighbor. This was a great solution for the 5 years. It not only allowed me to be directly involved in my childrens learning at one point I even stepped in as a teacher but it also helped us to create community with fellow neighbours and because the school focused on emotional regulation, mindfulness, surf/skateboarding and connecting with the natural environment it gave my kids the foundation they needed. After 5 years our family was ready for a change and we have since moved to unschooling and love it. Their first questions solved.
During those years of studying education, I also dove into the idea of health. More specifically prevention and care. Being where we are at the time we didn't have access too many opinions in health care so it really forced my husband and I to take responsibility for our own well being and our children's. That may seem radical but it was very empowering. Now that is not including emergency's and accidents. In this respect is it all about contacts here and if anything I feel we have better options in health care. We never have had to spend hours waiting at the emergency, never have felt rushed at a doctors appt. Because in the private sector of health in Ecuador we are in charge. We have control over our healthcare and are no longer a number in the system. There is the public health care system which is another story but thankfully private health care is affortable, this includes dentistry as well.
Now the last point that many families may be asking themselves is what about extra curricular activities. Ayampe is filled with them. My children alone study karate, Kichwa (Andean language), music class, sewing class, art classes and of coarse skateboarding and surfing. Both my children are bilingual from simply being a part of the community. There are many other activities for kids as well especially in the high season where there are many workshops being hosted.
I hope this helps to paint a picture of what it is like to live in Ayampe as a Family. There is no where else I would chose to raise my children. They have freedom that they can still ride there bikes around the town as their is next to no traffic. There is always new families moving in and they are exposed to a international community that is full of diversity with people that are connected to nature and want a healthier life for their family.