Prior to Ecuador we met a few American expats who had moved down and a British girl who teaches in Ecuador. They both offered us the same advice; get to the country and out of Guayaquil and Quito as fast as possible. So what did we do - we only went to Guayaquil and Quito. Sometimes we listen to others and sometimes we don’t, we wish we had although there was a silver lining to each town.
Guayaquil was pretty rough on us; we arrived at night and took one of the most dangerous bus rides yet. It is the first time I have braced for impact during our travels. When the locals are yelling at the driver to slow down you know things are bad. The driver still did not mind the yelling and carried on through his conversation and forgot to stop for us where we asked him. As a result we ran 15 blocks through a pretty rough neighborhood (or at least it appeared to be at night….. later during the day it didn’t improve much either) with our bags only to realize that we took the wrong bus. If we had taken the right one we would have been dropped off almost at our accommodation’s doorstep. Following this harrowing ride and journey I quickly got a revisit from my friend Salmonella.
It was a rough 24 hours, but fortunately medical care in Ecuador is excellent and the local doctor prescribed me a battery of pills and elixirs to battle the Salmonella. We explored Guayaquil and were not really impressed but we were able to meet our friends and have a nice meal on the boardwalk.
After Guayaquil we left for Quito to meet our friends again, but just in another town. Quito was much gentler, and due to our friend kindness we were able to stay at their place, which was needed after the griminess of Guayaquil.
Quito is a different kind of city, older, classical and had a cool vibe. We hung out with friends then did some activities during the day. Nothing dramatic and we missed out on the one nature thing we wanted to do because of timing.
When we left Ecuador we felt that we didn’t even scratch the surface and the view we got was underwhelming. But after a few days we started to talk and realized that we actually had a good and unique experience even if we didn’t love the country. This has happened to us a few times when we don’t realize how good an experience is until it is over and passed – sort of like a bad job that you realize was the time of your life later (will explain more in a later post).
Guayaquil was a hole, but in fact we met some nice locals. My doctor was very nice and we chatted for about 15 minutes after my appointment - so we got to know a local which is key to good travel. The medicine worked (also very key), so while I couldn’t enjoy a beer I had a few milkshakes (also very key and not really a struggle when you think about it). On top of that we got to hang out with some old friends (new in terms of time, old in terms of this being the second CONTINENT that we have met up on this year). In Quito we were really disappointed that we didn’t explore some of the forests and the town was only really nice in the old town district. But again looking back on it was really a great time. We hung out with our friends every night, stayed at their wonderful place, went out to concerts, ate some of the best chocolate we have ever had, explored an old town and stood with our legs over each side of the equator, and we saw a dead penis fish. The last thing I need to explain, it’s a parasite which grows inside you if you pee in the river in the Amazon jungle, it is nearly microscopic when it infects you but grows to the size of a jumbo shrimp…with spikes...inside you. DON’T PEE IN THE AMAZON!!! At the equator museum they also had a local history of tribes and local exotic animals which was very well done and they had a dead one of these in a jar.
Ecuador is now a fond memory and a place that we wish to return to. We had a wonderful time with our friends but also had some great experiences despite having a rude welcome and being sick. We checked off all the boxes for a new country without even knowing it; met friends, had great food, met locals, had dangerous experiences, funny experiences, saw a place of interest and left feeling healthier. We have realized this with many places but Ecuador sticks out more now because this happens a lot with small things while travelling, i.e. a type of food you realize you really liked or a town you were at first indifferent to then later realized you really liked, but not usually a country. The only other country we had a bad experience in was South Africa and as a result we have no desire to go there again, but Ecuador has been different. We both really feel we didn’t give Ecuador a chance, but now we both realize that we had a great time and next time we are down here we need to do it again, but this time more sights and more time with friends. And for Lu more chocolate.