Ecuador - "niu countri"!

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
1
114
300
Trip End Nov 04, 2008


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Where I stayed
Internacional

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, April 19, 2008

We are officially in Ecuador since 10 a.m.! It has been a hell of a long trip but worth every minute, bump, land slide and litre of sweat. So thats the 8th country for the time being, and the last one in South America.

It was only 3 hours on the Peruvian roads, but the contrast was huge - passing from desert and heat to green forrest and tropical plants all over. The humidity also hit quite soon, it was waiting on the other side of the border post - no joke!

The border procedures where similar to previous countries, with the exception that it was only about 20 people at this border so it was swift and fast (30 minutes only). Exit stamp at the Peruvian side and entry and visa papers at the other side of the bridge. 

There was a Welsh guy infront of us in the cue to enter Ecuador (grumpy little bastard he was too - he probably thought he had to pay for a smile). It was funny when the border guard asked him "which country are you from" (even though he had his British passport in hand). The welsh guy replied "Gales" (Wales), and the border guard replied "Inglaterra" and wrote it down. The grumpy young chap just had to bite his pride and continue... (the border guard was lucky it wasnīt a Catalonian from Spain).

It looks like this border is not used too much so there was only 3 sales men with which we could use our remaining coins with (including the fake coins which one happily accepted). We manged to buy some delicious sliced watermellon, raw sugar cane (which we had never tried before), and a small "king kong".

You might be asking what film we had to suffer on the bus? Well even if you donīt ask, it was an action movie with explosions and shots every 3 minutes. We donīt remember the title, which is good as it was even worse than Van Dammes one 2 days ago! The bus wasnīt that good either - the worse line in Peru (although it is officially Ecuadorian owned).

We were not expecting too much from Ecuador. The first impression was not too good, especially as the roads were initially bad and full of road works due to landslides provoked by rain. However...we were totally wrong. The road soon improved, and when we got to Loja it was a total culture shock.

We are not sure about the Northern parts of Ecuador, but the south in comparison to Bolivia and Peru is like moving to a different continent all together. Its clean, organised, roads well built, all taxis are new or recently built, the private cars are standard in Europe, there are hardly any sales people in the streets and the shops are full of "luxury goods" (i.e. standard stuff we see in Europe but missed in other countries).

The best part of all is that we have not needed to negotiate at all for taxis, hotels, restaurants, buses. The prices are well defined and in most places on the walls. There is no risk of being ripped off, and believe us that is soooo relaxing after all the double pricing in Peru and Bolivia.

Anyway, when we arrived to the city of Loja it was nearly dark, so we had little to do but celebrate with a nice dinner. You can check the pictures of the place we went to (Casa Sol) which serves "cuy" as part of its menu. Marcos missed it in Peru, so decided to try it in Ecuador. For those wondering what the cuy is...its basically a guinea pig of large proportions.

Here is a nice picture of a cuy "before", and you can check it "after" in the pictures...It was delicious, though eating it while observing all its teeth, head, and little paws was a bit of a drag! It reminds both Veronika and Marcos of the pets they used to have...

Link to Cuy:    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_pig

By the way, the cuy is normally to celebrate things locally. It costs $14 (10 Euros) so not for everyday.

For those that didnt know, the currency in Ecuador is the "US Dollar". There is no local paper money and all the notes are US produced. They do however make their own coins (centavos), although there are plenty of US produced ones also.

Its not necessary to say how easy calculating things has become since we crossed the border, and also how good it is for us with the US dollar being so low in comparison to Euro - UK Pound.
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