Lily Ann Fouts
Clickable Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - The Treasure Between Cuenca and Vilcabamba


My interview on the Expat Kingdom podcast (2015) gives a good overview of Loja:

A look at the rising number of North Americans moving to Ecuador:

A beautiful introduction to the Province of Loja:

More resources for an overview of Loja

Chapter 2 - Growing Up in Latin America

More of My Story

Third Culture Kid (TCK) Resources

If you plan to take your kids to another country for a significant time, they will be Third Culture Kids.  Check out these resources to learn more about TCKs and the particular advantages and challenges they may have:

Chapter 3 - Getting to Know Loja

Audio and Video Overviews

  • An overview of the city and province of Loja (and a few other things in Southern Ecuador) in my interview on the Amateur Traveler podcast:
  • [SPANISH] Touristic video of the city and province of Loja:

Informative Websites About Loja

Chapter 4 - First Things First: Learn Spanish!

How to Learn Any Language in Six Months [Video]

Where to practice your Spanish before moving abroad

Chapter 5 - Nine Steps to Speaking Spanish

Step 1: Spanish Pronunciation

Pronunciation of the Vowels

Pronunciation of the Consonants

Rules for Accent Marks (or where to place the stress/emphasis on a word)

Step 2: Greetings and Niceties

Step 3: Numbers

Video of Spanish Numbers 1-20:

Steps 4 and 5: Useful Phrases and Communication Strategies

Use Spanish travel phrase books to learn the most common phrases you need to know to get started. If there are phrases you need to be able to say and can't find them in your phrase book, try these resources for translation: (<-- Use this link for a free $5 gig)

Step 6: Top 1,000 Words

Top 1,000 Spanish Words (along with their pronunciation and English meanings)

Flashcards can be a great way to learn new vocabulary in Spanish.

Anki is widely used and recommended by the language learning experts. Here are links to the various versions:

AnkiMobile Flashcards for iOS devices

AnkiDroid Flashcards for Androids

Anki computer version


Step 7: Fill-in-the-Blank Formulas

See the book for an explanation of how to use these cheat sheets:

Esto Phrases (PDF Download)

DINA phrases (PDF Download)

Step 8: Grammar

Recommended books - with links to Amazon:

501 Spanish Verbs

Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions

Practice Makes Perfect: The Spanish Subjunctive Up Close

Practice Makes Perfect: Advanced Spanish Grammar

For the Advanced Spanish Speakers

Lojanismos - Or expressions characteristic of the region of Loja

A list of "Lojanismos" - expressions unique to Loja

A list of Ecuadorian expressions/slang

Diferencias entre un amigo normal y uno ecuatoriano (Humorous Spanish article about the differences between a normal friend and an Ecuadorian friend)

Recommended Resources

Fluent in 3 Months, by Benny Lewis. This is the best book I have ever read on language learning (and I've read quite a few as a former language teacher). Though it is not specifically about learning Spanish, it gives some great principles for language learning in general and does have special sections dedicated to specific languages, including Spanish. Highly recommended. Benny Lewis also has a great blog at

Duolingo. These free online language lessons are actually quite good! I've been through of the French levels and was quite impressed. Check it out.

Memrise. Here are the links to the mobile versions: Memrise for iOS devices/Memrise for Android devices

Chapter 6 - Arriving in Loja and Finding Your Way Around

Getting To and From Loja

Bus Station - Terminal Terrestre Reina del Cisne

Bus Schedule for Ecuador and other South American Countries: and

AirBnB places to rent in Loja

NOTE: If you are new to AirBnB, CLICK HERE to use my referral link for a $40.00 credit.

1 Bedroom Townhouse, fully furnished, $20/night or $375/month

Studio apartment, fully furnished, $20/night or $300/month

Efficiency apartment, fully furnished, $20/night or $300/month

Other options in Loja, Malacatos and Vilcabamba HERE.

If all else fails and you want to book ahead of your arrival, there are several places listed on Just make sure you are booking in the city of Loja, not a different town in the Province of Loja.

Chapter 7: City Buses and Neighborhoods of Loja

Loja City Buses

Loja City Bus System: The Complete Guide

Loja City Bus Routes, Schedules, and Main Stops

Interactive Loja City Bus Map

Maps of Loja

Click here for a good map with important sites marked.

Map of the Neighborhoods of Loja - primarily on the outskirts of town. Some trails are also marked. (PDF Download)

Chapter 8 - The Fun Side of Loja: Art and Culture

Music and Entertainment

Orquesta Sinfónica de Loja (OSL) Facebook Page - see page for upcoming concerts, which are usually weekly (and free!)

At San Sebastian Park (Plaza de la Independencia) each Thursday at 8:00 p.m. there is live music put on by musicians from Loja.

Entertainment and Nightlife in Loja (Spanish Article)

Visit the Que Hay en Loja Facebook page to see upcoming events.

Touristic video of Loja (Spanish)

More Live Music

Zarza Brewing Co. 

La Huerta

Lemon Trip

La Mancha De Don Quijote


Carnaval Weekend: February or March

Feria de Loja: September 1 to 15

Festival Internacional de Artes Vivas: November

More Art and Events

Visit the Que Hay en Loja Facebook page to seewhat’s happening. Many upcoming events aroundthe city are mentioned on that page

Visit the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana Núcleode Loja (CCE-Loja) Facebook page to seeupcoming film screenings, art-related workshops, exhibits, and more at one of Loja’s main culturalcenters. CCE-Loja is located at the corner ofColón 13-12 and Bernardo Valdivieso. Phone:7-257-1672.

Visit the Facebook page, Coordinación Zonal deCultura, tocheck for any other upcoming events.

Chapter 9 - The Fun Side of Loja: Nature


Parque Eolico Villonaco (Spanish)

Parques de Loja (Spanish article)

My blog post and photos of Loja's parks.

More Adventures

LojAventura is a local adventure group whichorganizes monthly outings to natural attractions around theProvince and sometimes has other hikes and smalleradventures closer to the city. Activities include hiking, rappelling, cycling, camping, backpacking, caving, andother adventures. Hang out with a bunch of locals doingsomething fun! The cost varies depending on the trip, butis always reasonable. Find out more on their website and Facebook page.

Chapter 10 - Eating and Shopping


Culinary Tour of Loja

What to Eat in Loja

Some restaurants recommended by local friends:

Mama Lola, Av. Salvador Bustamante Celi y Santa Rosa (on the corner, Sector El Valle), 07-261-4381. Highly recommended for its traditional dishes from Loja.

Tamal Lojano, on 18 de Noviembre and Imbabura in front of Parque Bolívar - with another branch in a building on 24 de Mayo between Mercadillo and Azuay 7-258-0506

Zarza Brewing Co., Loja’s first craft brewery, owned by a Texan/Ecuadorian couple. Popularwith both locals and expats. Incredible Tex-Mexfood and craft beers. On the corner of Esmeraldasand Pto. Bolivar in El Valle

Riscomar, an eatery with seafood and more, recommended by several locals. Near theintersection of 24 de Mayo and

El Torito, good, inexpensive Mexican food withseveral vegetarian options. Nice location right nextto the tower in Plaza San Sebastian. Try to get atable overlooking the plaza on the second floor!Great place to eat right before enjoying JuevesCulturales.

Tutto Freddo and Nice Cream (Two downtownlocations, same company. Tutto Freddo is atBolívar and 10 de Agosto close to the PlazaCentral; Nice Cream is at Bolívar and Mercadillo inPlaza San Sebastian.) This is the best ice cream inLoja according to every single local I asked.


El Valle contains a food court, an arcade, and the city’s only movie theater on the top floor. The movies are usually dubbedin Spanish. The mall has several other stores, including the TÍA grocery store on the first floor. We noticed a fewvacant shops inside this mall. It feels like it might be indecline, possibly due to competition from the new mallacross town.

Gifts and Souvenirs

For a personalized and unique souvenir, contact Diego Díaz for a custom-made carved rock. He will hand-carve anything you want into a river rock (sizes vary from palm- sized to dinner plate-sized). He carved a beautiful clock for Keith and me, with images of us at the top of a mountain.

To see pictures of Diego’s rock carvings and to contact him, visit his Facebook page or call 98 527 0354 (Spanish only).

Note on Prices in Ecuador

An excellent source of information for moving to Ecuador, including recommended shipping companies and much more detailed information about the process, can be found in a book called Becoming an Expat: Ecuador by Shannon Enete. To order it on Amazon visit this link.

Chapter 11 - Setting Up House

Long-Term Housing

Classifieds sites to look for long-term housing:

Southern Ecuador Property (Buy/Sell/Rent)

Arriendos, ventas delocales, casas, terrenos en Loja

Building in Ecuador

Are you thinking of buying property and building a house in Ecuador? Recommended reading:

Our House in the Clouds: Building a Second Life in the Andes of Ecuador

Translation and Other Help

If you plan to set up house in Loja for awhile and are still learning Spanish, here are some recommended resources for translation and more:

Diana runs the Loja Services Collective with the aim of providing needed services to visitors as well as expats in the city of Loja. She was instrumental in providing some of the information found in the book. Click here to visit the Loja Services Collective website.

Diana also administers a very useful Facebook group: Loja, Ecuador for English Speakers. Join the group and use the search function to find answers to all the most common questions. If you don't find an answer that way, ask your question in the group and you're likely to receive a helpful response soon!

Another useful Facebook page is the Loja Expat Exchange.

Contact Adriana "Adri" Alarcón at adrialarconloja84 (@) gmail (.) com to arrange Spanish lessons, translation/interpretation services (finding a house, setting up utilities and cell phone service, etc), and help with cultural questions.

Hospitals, Banks, and Other Resources

Resources in Loja - Schools, Hospitals, Banks, etc. (Spanish page)

For medical needs, I've seen Clínica San Augustín recommended more than once. They are a hospital and have a full lab and emergency room and doctors for many specialties.

For banks, one expat recommends Banco Pichincha. He says, "I have a savings account and have everything (TV, Internet, mobile service, IESS) all on direct autopay. They are full service and have been easy to work with. They don't charge me to cash/deposit checks on my US accounts. However they don't deposit the money until they get it.

Visit the book for a comprehensive listing of utility, phone, TV and internet companies with their contact info.

Click here to order the Steri-Pen on Amazon (mentioned in the book as one way to purify your drinking water on the go).

Phone Service

Some good articles about cell phone rates and service in Ecuador:

Cell Phone Rates and Plans: Ecuador Cost of Living

How's the Cell Phone Service in Ecuador?

The two main cell phone provider websites:

Claro (Spanish)

Movistar (Spanish)

You can also get:



If you wish to have a high quality cell phone in Ecuador you should buy it in the U.S. and take it down with you since electronics are much more expensive down there. Click here to see the results of an Amazon search for an unlocked GSM smartphone if you'd like to shop for one before going down (if it is not an unlocked GSM phone it won't work in Ecuador!).


Check out OLX, which is similar to Craigslist.

Car or no car?

Getting a Driver's License in Ecuador

The Ecuadorian National Transit Agency's website (Spanish)

Regarding rental cars, I have heard from several sources that they are extremely expensive. Estimates I have heard range from $65 to $90 per day with insurance. Also, if you are not familiar with driving in Ecuador, it might be best to watch other drivers for awhile before jumping behind the wheel. Buses and taxis are far cheaper and will get you most places you need to go.

One recommended driver in Loja:

Utilities and Other Bills

The electric company is Empresa Eléctrica Regionaldel Sur S.A. (ERSSA).

Other offices and places where you can pay your bill are listed on the website.

For a schedule of when to expect garbage service inyour neighborhood, check this site.

If you need gas, you can listen out for these trucks and flag one down when it comes down your street. Most of the gas trucks are independent. You can also contact Loja Gas for delivery. Their information is on their website.

In order to save both money and the environment, wefilled reusable bottles with our filter and took them with uswhenever we went out for a few hours. For extended tripsLive Like a Local in Loja - Lily Ann Fouts165whenever we went out for a few hours. For extended tripsaway from home, we have a Steri-Pen, which is an ultra- violet wand that kills bacteria in under a minute. Simplystir up to a liter of tap water with the activated Steri-Penfor 90 seconds, and then the water should be safe to drink. You can find a Steri-Pen on Amazon at this URL.


CNT, the same company that provides landline phone service

TV Cable

Cable TV


TV Cable

Direct TV

You can set up automatic bill pay for all your bills through an Ecuadorian bank, or via “Electric Cash” set upon your smart phone.

Chapter 12 - Making Friends

Look up classes in the classifieds:

If you enjoy active/adventurous activities, join the LojAventura group on their next outing.

Check Que Hay en Loja for upcoming events to join in on.

Chapter 13 - Culture Clashes

Ecuador - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette - Excellent web page on Ecuadorian culture.

Cultural Differences: Mainstream American Culture and Hispanic/Latino Culture Compared (PDF Document)

Cultural Differences

Punctuality: Gringos and Ecuadorians have a different perception of being ‘on time’

Some Cultural Differences between American Culture and Hispanic/Latino Culture Compared

Cultural Differences Between Hispanics and Americans

Chapter 14 - Vilcabamba

What Vilcabamba is Like

Smithsonian Article - Vilcabamba: Paradise Going Bad?

Article about the impact of foreigners on life in Vilcabamba (Spanish)

Interesting thread about Vilcabamba and Loja on the Expat Blog Forum.

Blog post and photos: Our first trip to Vilcabamba

Blog post and photos: Why I could never live in Vilcabamba

Nice video showing some scenes from Vilcabamba:

Lodging and Food

El Colibrí Mexican Restaurant - located at Diego Vaca de la Vega y Valle Sagrado, Vilcabamba, has some delicious options with generous portions!

Rumi Wilco reserve


Chapter 15 - Cuenca

For all things Cuenca, visit Bryan and Dena Haines' blog for excellent information!

A video interviewing an expat from Cuenca who traveled to Loja, comparing the two cities:

Chapter 16 - Other Towns Near Loja

This video (in Spanish) shows scenes from towns around the province of Loja:


Spanish Wikipedia page for Catamayo

Blog post & photos: Ride from Guayaquil to Loja (through Catamayo)

Touristic Video of Catamayo


Blog post & photos: Festivities in Malacatos

Short video of the parade we watched in Malacatos:


Blog post & photos: Exploring Zamora (and my unwanted souvenir)

Eco-lodge for birders and nature lovers: Copalinga

Recommended birding guides:

Fieldbook of the Birds of Ecuador by McMullan and Navarrete (book)

Birds of Ecuador (iPad app)

Hummingbirds of Ecuador (iPad app)


Blog post & photos: Trip to Saraguro

Turismo Saraguro - Tourism page for Saraguro. The homestay with an indigenous family (24 hours, including activities and three meals) is highly recommended!


Blog post with videos & photos: Trip to Yacuri National Park and Amaluza

Buy the Loja Book Now ($6.99)

Chapter 17 - Let the Adventure Begin!

A happy video with faces and scenery from Loja:

Other Resources

Becoming an Expat: Ecuador by Shannon Enete - A great book with general information on moving to Ecuador, establishing residency, etc. Read my review here.

Getting News in Ecuador

Provinces in Ecuador

Ecuador Expats Facebook Page - a fantastic place to post general questions about residency, insurance, and other aspects of moving to Ecuador

Do you know of another Loja resource that needs to be on this page? Contact me and let me know! I will be adding more photos, videos and resources to this page, so come again!