Friday, November 5, 2010

Ecuador 2010 May June (Part 1)

Exploratory Trip to Ecuador May 2010 (US to Quito)

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 ...


  1. wow! Here I was thinking of going to Cuencas, Ecuador for retirement. I'm Puerto Rican and speak Spanish well but after hearing all the negative reports from people such as yourself and others that have lived there for several years, I have changed my mind. I was born and raised in the USA and know that I will experience total culture shock so thanks for your blog.

  2. Celin, I have visited Spain and found it very safe. You might want to consider that instead.

  3. International Living speaks quite highly of Ecuador. I don't think it is as bad as Ron puts it. And I doubt you Celin would experience such a culture shock, particularly if you speak Spanish well. If I were to judge the US just by visiting a Greyhound bus station at midnight in downtown Detroit, I would go running to Ecuador immediately..

  4. I think it depends upon your perspective, expectations, and experiences. I loved Ecuador. I found the people, kind, helpful, interested, and interesting. It is a third world country. There are very poor people in Ecuador. Yes, you need to beware of your person and property. If you look around, you might find, one or two other people taking pictures. Why, because they do not have camera's and cell phones. That is a luxury. What they do have, that I enjoyed was a freedom that is mostly unknown by those of us running the rat race to survive and feed the junky of having possessions and wanting more. They do not feel like working today, they do not go to work. It is that simple. Then again they will work from sun up to sun down, standing by their market day in and day out to make a buck. And, yes, International Living does speak highly of Ecuador. but, as all blog and information websites, someone is trying to earn a living and poverty, theft, and streets and sidewalks litter with animal poop and people opening urinating on the streets does not sale....