We ventured out from Cotacachi today to look for the bank that, according to the CIBC website, we could use to set up an account and direct transfer money from CIBC in Canada to Ecuador without fees. Our lack of Spanish may have been our downfall, but we took the trip to Ibarra as a morning adventure.
The local bus system between towns here in Ecuador is fantastic. You can get from one town to the next by bus for under a dollar and busses leave from Cotacachi every few minutes. We grabbed the Ibarra bus right out front of our apartment and the adventure began.
Once the bus has cleared all the pickup points in town, an attendant comes up the aisle and collects your money. In our case it was $1.25 for the two of us from Cotacachi to the terminal in Ibarra, about a half hour ride down the Panamera Highway which is a toll road….
We arrived in Ibarra at the bus depot and had a walking route planned to the bank we needed to get to, Banco Pichincha, on the corner of Simon Bolivar and Obispo Mosquera, about a 15 minute walk. Ibarra is one of the larger cities in Ecuador with a hospital, and several shopping malls. Anything we could not find in Cotacachi can be found here.
We found the bank with a very long lineup outside. We joined the line without asking questions and about 25-30 minutes later made it to the front. The door attendant did not speak English at all, but Google Translate helped him to advise us it was not their policy to open accounts to foreigners unless they had a passport AND a residency visa. This was contrary to what were were led to believe by online research, so our search for a bank that will let us open an account without a residency visa continues.
Such was the end of our adventure into Ibarra. After a lengthy walk back towards a mall where we knew we could catch a bus back to Cotacachi, we headed home.