More than a month (33 days) in Ecuador was much more than we expected when we arrived here, not to talk of what we said before arriving in South America. But it was worth it!
The Spanish language course is largely to “blame” for the long stay. But there was also a lot to see and experience in the country. We would have loved to spend some time on the beaches on the coast, more time here in the mountains and so on, but we must after all continue and try to finish off the not too interesting (and not too safe) Lima before Christmas.
I will now try to summarise some impressions from Ecuador.
We understood from day one that Ecuador was a very cheap country. Transportation does not cost much and the hotel prices….
In 32 nights we paid on average 2 dollars a night each, half of Brazil. The average daily spending was 10 dollars. To figure the actual cost of living we may subtract the cost of our Spanish course, reducing that average to 6 dollars each, including 14 dollars for sending packages home and 28 for souvenirs and gifts. Subtracting that as well gives an actual average cost of around 5 dollars a day each.
The cost of dinner was rarely more than a dollar.
The bus terminal in Baños, Ecuador
Transport was very cheap and on quite good asphalt roads. The standards of the buses are often not that good. Long distance buses are worn (inside) and heavy. The system of a central bus station is, as far as we could notice, common.
There are many minibuses serving the smaller towns and the short distances. They are strangely low under the roof and the foreigner who is unfortunate to get only a place to stand will have a less pleasant ride.
In Quito the city buses are very poor and emitted a lot of exhaust. On the other hand they were plentiful and cheap.
People and land
Market day in Saquisilí, Ecuador
The Ecuadorians seem nice and many of the Indians proud. The Otavalo people are more extroverts, in several ways: Temper, and their extensive trading activity in shops and markets around the country. I have previously written about their lives in other respects.
We were for the first time introduced to beggars in quite large numbers, both in the streets where mothers were sitting with their babies and in restaurants where we got visitors at our table. Many, and a lot more, were living on the “edge” in the sense that they secured an income by polishing shoes, selling newspapers or cigarettes, or by having a food stall. We constantly took notice of small, old men living off carrying big burdens here and there.
When we went south in the country from Quito we really got to see the impressive Andes Mountains I missed in northern Peru, at least when it comes to snow-capped summits. The soil seemed well taken care of and with all the green coloured nature it was a pleasure travelling from place to place. The southwest has an enormous amount of bananas.
View of Altar crater from Riobamba
This is the story of a five month journey to South America. My girlfriend Bo and I visited five countries on the continent, from Brazil in the east to Peru in the west, from Ecuador in the north to Bolivia and finally Chile in the south. These were the chapters from Ecuador:
(11) Ecuador (1) – The first days: We crossed the border from Peru in the south and went straight to Quito. We immediately found Ecuador to be an exciting country and with a lovely capital.
(12) Ecuador (2) – Otavalo: This is my story from the world’s most famous Amerindian market town, Otavalo, and a very interesting guided trip to the villages around.
(13) Ecuador (3) – Quito: We spent most of the following three weeks on an intensive Spanish language course in Quito, with a few breaks in between.
(14) Ecuador (4) – Towns in the Andes: After spending more than three weeks in the capital of Ecuador we turned south in the Andes Mountains to visit a string of mountain towns and volcanoes south of Quito. The towns were Latacunga, Ambato, Baños, Saquisili, Riobamba and Guapo. The volcanoes are called Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Altar and Tungurahua.
(15) Ecuador (5) – Impressions: More than a month (33 days) in Ecuador was much more than we expected when we arrived here, not to talk of what we said before arriving in South America. But it was worth it!
The next chapter: Lima, and the long journey to get there: After a month in Ecuador we returned to Peru. We spent two days nearly continuously on buses from Riobamba in Ecuador to Lima, Peru over a distance of 1,700 km. Lima had some old colonial buildings, interesting museums, and we were twice subjected to the good old toothpaste trick.
Click to read the introduction to this journey
Click to view a full screen map of the journey
Read more about my visited World Heritage Sites in Ecuador: Quito, and the Sangay National Park.