Archive for March, 2011

The Weary Traveler – Travel Tips 1 (Quito, Ecuador)

Hello fellow adventurers! So you’re planning a trip to Ecuador? Well, never fear! The Weary Traveller is here to take your hand and guide you along. Let’s go!

The first thing that you will notice when you get to Ecuador is that the people are decidedly no American. The second is that their English is very poor. That’s okay, because the Weary Traveller never lets a little thing like language get in the way of saying his mind.

THE BASICS

Quito,the capital city of Ecuador, is the second highest capital city in the world, with an elevation over 9,500 feet! This can take some getting used to, as the thin air makes it hard to breath. Also, Quito is built on the side of a bunch of mountains, so many of the things that you will
want to do will be uphill. Itturns out that Ecuador is right on the equator. That’s the closest part
of the earth to the sun! Bring sunscreen. The people of Ecuador are a delicious nutty brown color, and largely immune to the sun. If, however, you’re of pale English descent, and regrettably used the 3×3 ounce rule for your carry-on luggage to only bring toothpaste, expect to pay $15 to $20 for a small tube of the old SPF. This can be found in the Whites Only section of the local Supermarcado. A cheap hostel can be great, but try to find one where the beds are not made out of large pieces of
foam, cut to fit the bed frame. Invest in earplugs! If the dogs fighting outside, or rooster that doesn’t know what time it is doesn’t keep you up, then the Australians hanging out in the hall listening to Sufjan Stevens may. Also they may have a loud discussion about the real truth behind 9/11 at two in the morning.

DONDE ESTA DE BANO?

Using the bathroom is Ecuador can be a bit incommodious, so it’s good to know what you’re getting into. The first thing you must know is to never, ever drink the tap water is Ecuador. Why? Because it’s so toxic that even Ecuadorians can’t drink it, silly! Buy plenty of bottled water. It’s cheap, at about $1.07 for five gallons. (Ecuadorians wisely adopted the American Dollar as their currency in 2000) When out and about you will find restrooms in many public locations, including large metal huts on the sidewalk known as Servicios Hygienicos. The old woman sitting by the door isn’t a pervert, she’s just there to collect ten cents to pee, or fifteen cents to poop. Pony up your fifteen cents, and you will receive a foot long piece of toilet paper. If you have a fifteen cent emergency, you’ll notice a small trashcan in the stall with you. This is there because Ecuadorians do not flush their toilet paper
after they’ve used it, they throw it in the trash. Do not spend a lot of time looking into the trash can.

FOOD

If you’re looking to stretch a dollar (an American dollar!) you’re going to get your money’s worth in Ecuador. Most meals here can be had for between one and two dollars. The standard breakfast, or desayunos, consists of scrambled eggs, juice, bread, and coffee or tea. For you coffee lovers out there, don’t be confused by Ecuador’s proximity to many well-know coffee grown regions; the country was bought out in a hostile takeover by the Nescafe corporation years ago. Instant coffee is the only thing you’re going to get. For lunch, expect a bowl of mystery soup, followed by rice and beans, with chicken or beef. Sometimes food will contain a disease so ubiquitous down here that Ecuadorians simply call it “The Virus.” If you catch it, you may spend a lot of money at the servicios hygienicos, but think how much money you’ll spend on meals (you will be too sick to eat).

TRAVEL

From Quito, you can travel by bus to just about any part of Ecuador, by catching a bus at the Quitambre Sur Bus Terminal. Did you know that March is the month of Carnivale? Carnivale is celebrated widely in Ecuador, but not in the city of Quito. No, you will need to travel to the city of Ambato to experience the real Carnivale. Bull fights, fiestas, dancing and drinking — Ambato is famous for its Carnivale! It’s not unusual, during Carnivale, to spend upwards of two hour getting
a bus ticket at the Quitambre Sur Bus Terminal. Also, don’t be dismayed if the ticket to Ambato that the lady sells you turns out to be fake, and you wait for your bus for five hours, and then have to take a taxi back to your hostel. There’s always Carnivale next year!

THE NIGHT LIFE

One of the nice things about going out in Ecuador is that the average height appears to be about 4’5”. If you’re an of normal American height, you will be able to easily see over crowds, as you tower a foot over everyone around you like a giant white conquistador. It is a common experience while drinking in Quito to meet up with a mixed crowd. For instance, an Irishman, a Columbian, and an Ecuadorian. If you meet an Ecuadorian in a bar, he may insist that you drink from the same cup as
him. He may also insist that you choose between pot and coke, so that he may share it with you. If you turn him down, he may insist on following you into the one person restroom and forcing you to choose. The native customs can be strange.

That’s all for now, fellow adventurers! And, remember: Keep on Travelling!

Yours,
The Weary Traveller

 

Pro Travel Tip: Don’t get into an argument with your fellow traveler about the probable existence of, or illogicality of belief in God!

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