We have a very dynamic remote team who live around the world in exciting destinations. We like to showcase some of the lifestyles and locations of our staff. Donovan, our contract manager, is living in a picturesque co-working and co-living space in rural Ecuador, paying only around $400US for his private accommodation including breakfast! Check out our video, or read to find out more about the place, and his lifestyle!

Eric Muth:

Hey everybody, welcome to Support Adventure stories. I’m currently talking to Donovan who is on the Pacific coast of Ecuador in South America, where you’ve been living for how long now?

Donovan Bjorkman  

For about nine weeks, maybe since June 8.

Eric Muth  

Right, and you’re working as a contract manager for Support Adventure helping us onboard Latin American clients and contractors from there. You were previously in Belgrade, Serbia, and now you’ve relocated here and have spent nine weeks, leaving soon. How does it feel to be leaving this place, first of all?

Donovan Bjorkman  

Horrible!

Eric Muth  

The backstory of this is we brought you over to Colombia, in February from Belgrade. After a month in Colombia, you decided that you didn’t want to go back to Serbia. So you continued living in Latin America and working with the business from there traveling, seeing new stuff, new places, new things. And at which point did you decide that you didn’t want to be in the cities and that you want it to be somewhere on the coast in a sort of more rural and peaceful environment?

Donovan Bjorkman  

Well, I kind of always knew it. Before I came to Latin America, I was in Belgrade just for over a decade, in the city. I always knew I wanted to go somewhere a little more rural, with less of the city life. Just because it was getting a little tiring, not tiring, but it’s just nice. The rural areas are nice. They’re peaceful. So I came to Medellin, Colombia in February, and I love it there. It wasn’t more rural, but it was different. It was still amazing. And decided to stay as long as I could out in South America. I went to the coast to the beach and to Santa Marta and the surrounding areas. It was nice, it was all great. But I just knew in South America there’s gotta be something more what I was looking for.

Eric Muth  

So let’s take a look at the place that you found. I’ve got some pictures from booking.com. It’s called Punta la Barca in Santa Marianita, Ecuador. So, let’s first show everybody where you’re on the map.

Donovan Bjorkman  

Here we go. Obviously on the seashore.

Eric Muth  

So you’ve got a nice city which is near you, Manta.

Donovan Bjorkman  

That’s a couple hundred thousand people, I’ve actually been there just for the ATM. And there’s cheaper shops there then the shops here. So if I go there, I might as well just buy some stuff in the shops. But it’s just so nice here that I don’t even use that city for anything.

Eric Muth  

Do you have some sort of outdoor workspaces there?

Donovan Bjorkman  

Yep. Well, that’s one of the issues. When I was looking to find something more rural to work at one of, one of the main issues was that the places were more geared towards travellers and backpackers, so it didn’t seem like there would be spaces with some peace of mind to work at. People are all going there to do adventures and traveling They just didn’t get that working vibe. And then I was really, really looking hard to try to find somewhere it would actually be peaceful. In this place you’re supposed to work here, it’s meant for that. You can do other stuff, too. But you’re not going to have just all the distractions 

Eric Muth  

Australians drinking cocktails on the beach.

Donovan Bjorkman  

Exactly, if you want to have a party I don’t mind, it’s fine. But go out to do it, not in the area. And that’s why they have the city there. And that’s what seemed to be like the vibe and a lot of these places, It just seemed that then the local town vibe became like, oh, let’s make it bars and party places for all the travelers and, you know, make wild noises and sell them things all the time.

Eric Muth  

Yeah, so it’s pretty peaceful. There’s not much commerce on the beach there where you’re at?

Donovan Bjorkman  

There is from kite surfers. Usually there’s none on the weekdays and tons on the weekends. It’s just a large deserted beach for the most part, but with kite surfing schools on it and people staying here for that. So they’re pretty active and it’s calm. But there’s restaurants and like 10 fish restaurants with fresh fish, surf shops, kite shops, schools. That’s all just about maybe a 10 to 15 minute walk from here. Get straight down straight down the beach.

Eric Muth  

You have everything you need. And I believe you’re paying about 400 US dollars a month for your own room.

Donovan Bjorkman  

Yes, with my own bathroom. The showers are outside, but it has only rained twice here since I came. It’s usually around 25 to 27 and some days up to 30, but 20 at night tops. So that’s not an issue.

Eric Muth  

Nice. And so tell me about the people that you’ve encountered staying there, the people who work there and the people who have been coming through over the last nine weeks.

Donovan Bjorkman  

Well, the people who work here are a couple, there’s a woman from I think Belgium, and her kids. She married an Ecuadorian guy from this village, and they built them themselves. Their kids are here as well, playing all the time and not working. There’s a two year old and a four year olds. And I think that they have volunteers, I think they use a workaway or something like that. So there’s two volunteers now and then switching.

Eric Muth  

Cool. And so when I was visiting a rural co working space in Serbia in May, at the Mokrin House. And one of the things I felt like when I got there, the environment was so self sustained, that I didn’t have this sort of like desire, because when you’re in a city, there’s always this sort of fear of missing out on something that you have to go to this party, or this cafe or this event. Did you find that you feel like you’re missing out on anything by being there? Or is it just like I’m here, and this is fine.

Donovan Bjorkman  

No, I don’t feel like missing out on anything that and that’s partly why I came here was for work and and myself, you know, in the cities, it’s distracting a lot. You have to work, you have other things to do that, but you kind of want to do your job well. And you also kind of want to at the same time maybe like, do other things for yourself. And when you’re working in the city it’s it’s very easy to quickly lose track of doing the stuff that you’d like to for yourself, such as being healthy, exercising, doing other projects that you have on the side and and all that gets stressful to keep up with in the city, if it’s even possible. Because there’s always those things distracting you here, I was able to do that. And I don’t feel like I’m missing out. 

All sustainable here. They have free breakfast, included with it. lunch for $5 dinner for $5. Or you can just go down to one of the restaurants. I like to do that. Just take a walk more. So I usually don’t have lunch or dinner here and just have fresh fish.

Eric Muth  

So all in if you want accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner, it would be something around like 25 bucks a day or something like that.

Donovan Bjorkman  

Yes, a couple of people that work here pay around 20-25 euros a day. And then there’s a beer fridge full of beer for $1.50, which is actually the same as the store price here.

Eric Muth  

And, and you get 90 days out of 180 days in Ecuador is American, for example.

Donovan Bjorkman  

Unfortunately, that’s why I’m leaving. It’s only 90 days in a year,

Eric Muth  

90 days in a year?

Donovan Bjorkman  

You can extend it for $250 while you’re here, for another three months. Okay, and that’s about it, I hear that you might need to show that you have health insurance. But other people said they’ve never been asked. You can also get a temporary resident visa, and you don’t really need proof of why you want to be here, you can just get one because you have money and want to be here. You do need to show that you have money and you have health insurance. Then you have to stay here for the first two years but you need to spend a good amount of time here in the year. You don’t even need to say you have a business here or open a business, you just need to show you can support yourself. I might consider doing that in the future but not soon.

Eric Muth  

Okay. What kind of person would you recommend to try this sort of beach coworking type of vibe? Like who before was it not for?

Donovan Bjorkman  

Its for honestly, everybody! You have young people, families with kids, couples, it’s for anyone that just wants some peace while still having access to everything you need. It’s modern here. It’s not like it’s some huts and cabanas without everything. Everything’s modern. Everything’s new. It feels more modern than a lot of cities. There’s no mosquito nets but I haven’t really been bitten by them at all or seen them. So I think there might just be a season for it. There’s ants, there’s tons of hermit crabs, maybe like just down on the bottom. As soon as you walk down at night, there’s maybe like four to five hundred or thousands that fill the whole beach, they’re all running around. I’ve never seen that many my life

Eric Muth  

How is the water temperature.

Donovan Bjorkman  

It’s about 24 to 25 degrees now. And that’s the coldest it is, which I was surprised by coming to the Pacific since I thought it would be a lot colder. 

But it’s up to when I got here was 27. And this is the lowest it will be now so it’s between 24 and 28. All year round. Well, just for compare comparison, out of bland Montenegro is 24 in July and the hottest that gets is 25 in August. Yeah. Wow. So you can envision that you would want to do this long term, like work from the beach and just build your life like that or what has has this left you longing for a city at all? Are you looking forward to going back to Colombia in a couple weeks? Or what? Um, no, i’m, i’m not i’m looking forward to it. Like like to go back. But I know I’m going to leave again. So that’s okay. So then when you say now I don’t mind. I spent enough time out here. So going to city now is Yeah. Okay. Go to the city for a few weeks a month. That’s all right. But I know I’m not going to make any roots in a city now.

Eric Muth  

And do you feel healthier?

Donovan Bjorkman  

Yes. A lot healthier.

Eric Muth  

Yeah. Okay, so what’s the routine? Like in the morning and stuff?

Donovan Bjorkman  

Wake up between four and 6am. Sometimes I start right at six having stuff to do. Other times I don’t have much so I can distract a little bit and then stretch, take a walk, come back have breakfast. So I’m working from early here. If I wasn’t starting, then I would probably wake up between six and eight then. But it’s fine. It’s great. Everybody wakes up by like eight here. Even the people who usually wake up late. You just naturally just wake up at eight, since there’s the sun. There’s the roosters in the morning as well. Oh, yeah, there’s just chickens walking around everywhere. Like baby chicks and baby chickens like right in front of your door.

Eric Muth  

They have free range chickens there! And what about local culture? What can you say about it? Is it different than what you’ve encountered in Colombia and places like that?

Donovan Bjorkman  

Yeah, it seems to be a lot more of their own local culture here. Traditional, much more traditional. Columbia has got a lot more Western and European influenced culture. I mean, there’s all that here too, but it just seems a lot less here. It also seems a lot calmer here. I’m not sure if that’s just the country overall. I’ll know in a bit because I’m going to head down to Peru or if it’s just the coast, the Pacific Coast. I have a feeling it’s the Pacific Coast that has a calmer vibe. That’s true for the most part in the states as well. Near the Pacific Coast people and lifestyle seems a lot calmer than the East Coast.

Eric Muth  

And so you spend every day watching the sunset, don’t you to the west.

Donovan Bjorkman  

Yep, every day, the sun sets over the water and the sun rises over the mountains. It’s beautiful. And you just hear the waves everywhere. The only time I didn’t hear the waves since June eight is when I went to the town to get to the ATM. But even in town you hear it. That’s going to be the weirdest thing to leave, from always hearing calming seas to going back to the city.

Eric Muth  

Wow. Okay, well, great. Well, thanks for sharing the story. I’ll put a link to the place in the description so people who are interested can check out the website and maybe visit some days.

Donovan Bjorkman  

I recommend anyone to stay here. There’s a lot of working spaces. This is the peaceful room. That’s just for work. There’s a few others for it. 15 download 8 upload. So it’s not lightning fast, but it’s solid as the towers are right here. They have backup internet on solar power as well.

Eric Muth  

So that’s everything you need. Okay, well, thanks for doing this interview and I’ll see you soon!

Categories: Lifestyle

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