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What I Will Miss About Living in Ecuador

– Not driving a car, being able to walk everywhere (Save $$$$ on Gas)

– A $2 three-course meal with dessert

– The variety of fruit and fruit juices (Quiero una jugo de mora AND the best pineapple I’ve ever eaten)

– High-priced fast-food and American candy (good incentive to not eat it)

– Empanadas (compare that to hot pockets, which are not as good)

– The breakfast at El Colibri

– Coup attempts that got us out of work

– Living in a country with vastly different geographical landscapes (the coast, highlands, amazon and galapagos)

– The passion in the culture and people

– Being able to survive without a cellphone

– Television isn’t the center of the living room (the only time it was turned on was during the coup attempt)

– Everything being so close (grocery stores, gym, cafes)

– Free Salsa lessons on Wednesday night in The Mariscal District

– Not living to work, but working to live

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Filed under Activities, Ecuador, Facts, Food, Galapagos Islands, Global, History, International, Latin America // South America, Nature, Outdoors, Sites, Tips, Travel, Worldwide

What I Won’t Miss About Living in Ecuador

– The diversity of people (predominantly one ethnicity unlike the melting pot in the States)

– Being stared at for being “tall” and “blonde”

– Having to watch my step, worry about breaking my ankle walking on the sidewalk

– Whistles, Car Horns/Alarms, Random Firework Shows every single night

– The no sense of time philosophy shared by every Ecuadorian

– Stores opening and closing whenever they feel like it

– Having to pay for “agua sin gas” (water) at every meal

– Holding my backpack like it was a baby on the bus in fear of it being slashed (aka having to be overprotective of belongings)

– Public breast-feeding

– Public urination

– Being asked for change when I presented a $5 bill or larger

– Nescafe or any of their coffee

– Fake ketchup

– The supermarket being crowded at any time of day

– Lack of personal space

– Coup Attempts

– Squeezing onto the buses and being packed lack a sardine

– The fact that insulation did not exist in the houses, meaning it felt like the Arctic in my bedroom

– The machismo personality (gawking and throwing pick-up lines at every ‘pretty’ girl)

– No seat-belts, No speed limits, No rules of the road

– Having to dart out of the ways of cars, not having the right of way as a pedestrian

– Having to throw away the toilet paper in a trash can rather than in the toilet

– Not having hot water in the faucets or showers (electric showers)

– Indoor smoking is still allowed in business/bars

– Having to haggle for anything (food, taxi fare, any item you wanted to purchase)

– Being begged for money at every corner, street light or on the bus

– Being sold/or asked to buy candy or food at every corner, street light or on the bus

– The lack of seasons

– Having to see stray dogs and homeless everywhere

– Lack of any spicy food

– Rice

– Not being able to eat salad for fear of contracting a parasite

– Slow walkers – they definitely take their time getting to and from places

– The scary stories of rape, robberies, slashed purses, drugs, etc

– Wondering whether or not the laundry people actually washed my clothes or not

– Being told not to walk around at night after 7 pm by myself

– No sense of common courtesy (knowing what the point of a line means, waiting your turn)

– The mission it is to pickup a package

– Overpriced imports (candy from the United States)

– Lack of laundry machines in the house, having to take it to the cleaners who may or may not even wash them

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Filed under Activities, Ecuador, Facts, Food, Global, History, International, Latin America // South America, Sites, Tips, Tour, Travel, Worldwide

Places you should not miss in Ecuador

¡Hola! I am safely back from an unbelievable voyage around the Galapagos Islands. All desires were fulfilled and then some. Pics are being downloaded and posted. The video is in production – awaiting on my soundtrack selection and minor edits. I have decided to post a series of blogposts from each island to make it more manageable for myself and more enjoyable for readers.

In the mean time, the company where I intern, Viva Travel Guides, had all us interns contribute to a guest post for the travel blog Velvet Escape on the 10 places in Ecuador that you should not miss. The following is what I contributed as my favorite places and here is where you can find the rest.

the basilica del voto nacional in quito, ecuador

Basílica del Voto Nacional

The Basilica del Voto Nacional, which means National Vow, was built to symbolize Ecuador´s devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. It remains in an unfinished state and a rumor lingers among Ecuadorians that the world would end if construction was completed. For $2 USD you can explore every inch of the church, which is the largest neo-gothic basilica in the Americas. It has characteristics of European architecture and from the outside; the basilica´s façade actually looks similar to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. However, one of its distinctive decorations is the grotesques, or gargoyles, which do not appear ominous or threatening, but are instead animals that call Ecuador home. Visitors can head into the sanctuary to admire the details in the stain-glass and tile designs before climbing the stairs of either clock tower that offers panoramic views. While ascending the clock towers, do not miss the chance to cross the wooden-plank bridge (you´re walking over the sanctuary) that will take you up more stairs and to another tower with more views of the city. For the extra-brave, there is another staircase near the tower that will take you even higher to a view worthy of overcoming any fear of heights.

one of many waterfalls along la ruta de las cascadas in baños, ecuador

Baños

This city is known as the gate-way to the Amazons. However, most travelers tend to stay in Baños for a decent period of time because of all it has to offer.  The city is situated near the Tungurahua volcano, which is the largest in Ecuador and can easily be climbed, surrounded by dense green forests. The geothermal hot springs are the number-one attraction. Foreigners and locals flock here almost every weekend to pick one of the mineral pools around town that are either warm or cool, depending on the mixture of spring water or that heated by the volcano. Spas offering an assortment of treatments can be found on almost every street. Besides soaking and relaxing, visitors can horseback ride in the hillsides or sign-up for a tour at one of numerous companies in Baños that can take you rafting or canyoning. Another popular activity is renting a mountain bike for $5 and cycling La Ruta de las Cascadas. You stop along the way to see waterfalls and most have tarabitas you can ride for $1-$2 that take you up-close-and personal with the raging water.

the cotopaxi volcano in the cotopaxi province of ecuador

Cotopaxi Volcano

The Cotopaxi Province is one of the most dazzling landscapes in Ecuador. Every picture makes it seem like you are on the set of a movie.  On a clear day, the vast Cotopaxi Volcano, which is the second-highest summit in Ecuador and debatably the highest active volcano in the world, can be seen. It´s snow-capped peak contrasts against the blue sky and green landscape. Hostels in the area offer many excursions such as hiking to the glacier and mountain biking down, or even climbing the Cotopaxi volcano. The alternative option for those not fit to scale the volcano at such a high altitude is to do a similar climb just on the back of a horse. A pretty lengthy horseback ride can take you up the Ruminahui Mountain where you can get a closer look at the volcano.  Cotopaxi has become a sense of cultural pride for the indigenous of Ecuador and a don´t miss for any who visit the country.

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What I’ve learned in my first week of living in Ecuador

1. The men are extremely machismo (hola bonita! que hermosa!) and persistent

2. Never fall asleep on a bus, or leave your backpack in-between your legs or under the seat. It will be cut open and things will be stolen.

3. No gracias, No gracias, No gracias – say that to all the street vendors

4. Say NO next time your co-worker wants to tell you a rape or robbery story

the city of quito with the pichincha mountains backdrop

5. Eat with your purse in your lap, never leave it unattended

6. PUSH your way onto the crowded bus despite the “enter” and “exit” doors

7. Choclo (Andean corn) is a popular topping on pizza – EW! Nasty!

8. Don’t feed the dogs, someone else will

9. Cars have the right away, not people, there are no rules of the road, or speed limits

10. Guinea Pig is a delicacy to eat

11. To have a hot shower, you have to use electricity … electric showers can catch on fire

12. It is almost impossible to get a full night’s sleep with horns, whistles, dogs barking outside

13. Never carry more than $20 USD with you because no one will know how to break it

14. Don’t shower at the same time as your roommates because the power will shutdown

15. You never know when your favorite shop or store is open because people work to live and don’t live to work, which means they decide to open and close when they want to

exploring the cloud forest in mindo, ecuador

16. There is no sense of time here, unless you create it. (i.e. buses leave when they want)

17. No convenience exists. You have to shop around to find everything you are looking for

18. The parks present an escape for everyone

19. The altitude makes even a fit person breathe harder with a simple uphill climb

20. Despite Ecuador exporting good coffee, the coffee here is not that amazing, really watery

21. The smoking indoors ban does not exist here, sadly

22. Always remember “agua sin gas” so you don’t receive a bottle of non-flavored, carbonated tasting water. I think the U.S. is the only country that does not like gaseous water.

23. Do.Not.Flush.Toilet.Paper.Down.The.Toilet.

24. Milk and other random items come in bags or a box-like container, not in jugs.

25. Despite all the horror stories, there are extremely nice and friendly Ecuadorians

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Filed under Ecuador, Facts, Food, Global, International, Latin America // South America, Tips, Travel, Worldwide