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Published: November 17th 2019
Well here we go! Dreamed of this trip for years and booked it over a year ago. Because of riots and Martial law, which settled only a week or so before we were due to depart, and GAdventures cancelling all Ecuador trips, we didn't know if we could go until only 3 days before our departure date. The indigenous population had invaded Quito in their thousands and blocked every road into, and within the city, and threatened to burn the parliament building, causing the entire parliament to flee to Guayancil. There were many injuries and a few fatalities due mainly to the heavy handedness of the police, following declaration of State of Emergency and imposition of curfews. They were protesting about austerity and specifically, the removal of fuel subsidies, brought about by the IMF insistence on tightening austerity to reduce the national debt. Talking to the locals, it would appear that it was a bit more complicated than that. Apparently the indigenous people (mainly living in the mountains, Amazon, and remote rural areas) are mainly poorly educated and not really aware of politics outside their communities. They do receive benefits and pay little if any, taxes. However, their representatives manipulate them for their own political purposes, in this case to try to overthrow the government. This has happened several times before, and the last 3 presidents have been removed by similar manipulation and protests, although this has been the worst, and most damaging. These 'leaders' are corrupt, and include whites, who rarely have the interests of the indigenous tribes at heart. Or so the local guides and taxi drivers tell us. And who can argue with taxi drivers? Anyway, that's all past, for the moment at least, although the peace is very fragile. President Moreno capitulated and reinstated the subsidies, to consider increasing taxes to those who can afford it. SO here we go. About to land in Galapagos in 20 minutes! Have to pinch ourselves to realise that we are not dreaming! Said goodbye to our companions, who had turned out to be a great bunch of like minded folk. Very interesting and stimulating conversations, and all very seasoned travellers, giving us appetite for further adventures. One lady was a 'Planetary Geologist' with a special interest in Martian rock (meteors). Keep on rocking, Ann ! Also had accountant, Bankers, financial advisors, buyers, a few teachers and a very interesting Scottish Doctor ! That evening, we met our 16 new travelling companions, Phil and Hilary, England, Liz and Nick, England, Alan and Mary-Ann, Canada, Mick and Eeta, Ireland, Linda and Oeysten, Norway, Mum Judy, and daughters Sue, Karen, and Nicki.
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