Going from the US to Ecuador for a 1-month stay does not require a visa. It does require a passport to get in AND OUT.
I bought my airline round-trip ticket (around $700 after taxes) about a month in advance, using an online travel service. The airline was Copa, which is a child of Continental Airlines. There were no problems at all flying there. It was a very long trip with a lot of time wasted in the airports waiting for the next flight. BTW, I used to smoke then and smoking at airports is pretty much a thing of the past. But, when you are a smoker, not smoking for a whole day is sheer hell.
First leg, Austin TX to Houston TX, checked my luggage, no problems. Waited in Houston.
Second leg, Houston TX to Panama City, Panama, didn't have to retrieve my checked in luggage but did have to go through customs because of switching planes, no problems. Waited in Panama City.
Third leg, Panama City Panama to Quito Ecuador. tried to retrieve my luggage, oops it's not here! The luggage missed the plane change and will be in tomorrow. Off to the hostel by taxi ($2).
Hostels are really, really inexpensive -- I mean, $12 a day! Why? Because the average person makes $6 a day. Everyone is broke (poor). BTW, locals have a habit of coming near you; they can be walking down a wide sidewalk and they will gravitate toward you leaning on a wall. Strange.
Next day, another cab ride to the airport ($2) and back ($2). I'm telling you, the people are poor. They are as short on cash as they are in height. Talking to a cabbie (my Spanish was easily understood) I told him I was planning on retiring in Ecuador as some of my friends on the coast had already done. "Don't worry, I'm not here to take you job". "But sir, we need you to start a business and hire us". Huh? I never thought of it that way. What business? A 200 pound bag of rice sells for $28!
Anyway, got my luggage and back to the hostel. BTW, my chicken-shit friend who is retired and living on the Pacific coast didn't travel to Quito to meet me. WTF? The 240 mile bus ride costs $9!
Next day, bought my ticket and waited for the bus. There are a lot of people on the sidewalk. Many are gravitating toward me as they pass by. I feel a tugging at my pant leg. "Hey mister, your money" "Oh, that's not mine", looking at the coins on the ground. I turn to look at my computer and small bag and they are gone! I turn back and the guy is gone. Really, it happens that fast. Before the trip, I had put my data in password-protected Word files and the computer requires a password to sign on (although the disk drive can be accessed in other ways). BUT, my passport was in the small bag (It does require a passport to get in AND OUT). Anyway, I still have my clothes, I didn't get stabbed, and the bus is here, so it's off to Bahía de Caráquez, and a view of the country side.
More later ...