Interview with Christian Albers, a German who has been living in Baños for 24 years

The terrace of the guesthouse Isla de Banos

Christian Albers is the owner of the small guesthouse Isla de Baños (Baños Island) in the middle of Baños, a town at the foot of the active Tungurahua Volcano.

Along with my colleague from Exploring SouthAmerica, Christian, and our photographer, Sebastián, I visited Baños for a weekend. During this time I had the chance to meet Christian Albers and talk with him about his life in Ecuador.

We met on the terrace of his guesthouse, which is surrounded by a tropical, rainforest-like garden and which does its name credit. The three of us – Christian, his daughter Marga who is visiting from Germany, and myself – sat and drank coffee while talking.

How long have you been living in Ecuador?

I came to Ecuador with my family 24 years ago and have lived here ever since. My children and ex-wife returned to Germany ten years ago, but my children come visit me regularly.

Why did you come to Ecuador?

I haven’t lived in Germany for over 32 years and I no longer have any connection to it.  Before I came to Ecuador, I lived in Spain. I don’t like living in the city and prefer being in nature, which is something I find I am able to do here in Ecuador. A lot of things here are still very natural. We work with wood and I really like that. It’s just hard because you have to be diplomatic here and I am not.

In the garden of the Isla de Banos

Did you open the guesthouse soon after arriving in Baños?

I have been working as an hotelier for twenty years. When we came to Ecuador, we began offering guided horseback riding. We were pioneers in the field and the tours were so popular that other haciendas and guesthouses expanded this concept.

For a while we also had an ecolodge with small cabins in the rainforest which was something to fall back on.

Why don’t you have the lodge anymore?

For starters, it was too much work to run two businesses – the lodge and the guesthouse – especially after my ex-wife returned to Germany.  It was also a financial decision to sell the lodge. During the evacuation of Baños because of the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano in 1999, we were not allowed to enter our houses or the town for three months. It was a hard time for us, both economically and financially.

In the Spa of the Isla de Banos

Where in Ecuador, besides Baños, do you love to spend time?

I love the back country of Papallacta, the Cayambe-Coca National Park. It is very calm because there are not many tourists in that area.

What will tourists have to adapt to when coming to Ecuador?

They have to adapt to the heavy changes in climate in the country. Ecuador is very small and so you can easily drive from the mountains, where it is cool, to the coast, where it gets up to 30 degrees Celsius, in just one day. But also the changes in weather just throughout the course of one day can be extreme. For example, in the morning in Quito there is a lot of sunshine, but in the afternoon it rains and gets cold.

In front of the Guesthouse Isla de Banos

During our interview Christian showed me the small wellness area of the guesthouse which is built from natural materials and has a small sauna and whirlpool. I also saw the garden where there are beautiful lilies that look more like orchids.  What a pity, they only show their glory for such a short time!

Text: Christina Bremekamp

Translation: Maggie Bjorklund

Photos: Sebastián Oquendo