My hubby and I are planning a trip to
Equador Ecuador (does anyone else find that impossible to spell?) this fall. Having traveled some in Peru and Costa Rica, I am no virgin to South American travel. In fact, I’m sorta totally into it.
As far as adventure travel goes, the offers are limitless. Canyoning, white water rafting, mountain biking, mountain climbing, bungeeing… you name it. Of course, you take your life in your hands trusting the safety standards of the continent, but hey, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Besides adventure, the continent boasts breathtaking scenery. Glaciers alongside jungles. Not to mention a culture like you wouldn’t believe. The most non-Western of the Western Hemisphere, I’d venture to say. There are a fair amount of tourists; however, most stick to sites such as Machu Picchu. They’re like fruit flies in red wine. So the countries themselves are free to maintain their native cultures. Or at least, their hybrid Spanish-indigenous cultures carried over from the days of colonization, which is fine by me. Indigenous food, dress and attitude paired with European architecture and language. It’s an incredible mix. Not a hint of the double-mocha Frappuccino home you know and love. You are truly somewhere else.
But I digress. Like I said, we are planning our next adventure to Ecuador. And so I have browsed, oh, I don’t know, thousands of travel blogs and forums searching for some information on the country’s highlights. There are definitely things that stand out: Galapagos Islands (we vetoed that when we found out the exorbitant cost), Cotopaxi Volcano, Quilotoa Loop, Banos, the Amazon, Quito and Cuenca. In a mere eight days, we will either have to a) move faster than lightning, or b) pick-and-choose. We chose option b.
It is my job to figure out logistics for the Quilotoa Loop, a trekking expedition we decided was right up our alley. The only problem is making heads or tails out of it. At first I thought it was me, that I was doing something wrong. The hodgepodge of buses, chicken trucks, hitch-hiking, walking, climbing, donkey-riding and stumbling around the most beautiful lake in the world hardly seems like a reasonable way to access one of the country’s most popular destinations. You would think, as one of the top attractions in the country, that there might be something a little more comprehensible.
But that’s not how South America does it. No, they like to live precariously close to danger at all times. They are the only puzzle of countries BOTH without civil war AND tourism. Tourists need little impetus, so something is holding them back. It must be the chicken trucks. Or the bus system, conveniently set to depart at 3a.m. If you try to google/map this place, it won’t work. Instead, you have to follow a pirate’s code like this one. They have beautifully created utter inaccessibility. Alright, fine, not utter, but very close. I say, challenge accepted.