Blogs from North, Ecuador, South America

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South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 6th 2021

Poet, novelist, and travel writer William Graham holds a BA and MA in English and a MS in Communication from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He lives in Stowe, Vermont. Many of his books are also available on Audible.com. His latest novel is url=https://www.amazon.com/Portland-Noir-Maine-Murder-Mysteries/dp/B08MSLXMN2/ref=sr_1_2?crid=W50AA0CGTCD4&dchild=1&keywords=portland+noir+maine&qid=1609951356&sprefix=portland+noir%2Caps%2C172&sr=8-2Portland Noir, the fourth and final installment in his Maine Murder Mysteries series. It was early: six-thirty in the morning, dawn on the equator in the country of Ecuador. The sun, however, had yet to make a dent in the thick cloud cover in the Ecuadorian cloud forest at the 2,000-acre preserve of the Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge, situated at 7,000 feet above sea level and about a two-and-a half-hour rugged drive north o... read more
Old Town of Quito
Ice and Snow Covered Summit of Cotopaxi Volcano
Dense Cloud Forest

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo February 11th 2020

Our first 2 days in Ecuador were spent at a great hostel in Quito (Hostel Revolution) getting used to the altitude and finding the central market for supplies and lunch. We decided not to have the potatoes and leather or the leather and booklet! We learned that the bus system of Quito takes a bit of getting used to….we were warned to keep each other and our other valuables closely guarded which seemed ok until we finally, after a couple of false starts due to nerves, managed to barge our way onto the bus which was soooo crowded that you had to literally throw yourself off the approach ramp which are built into the bus stops and onto the bus before the doors shut. At one point I (Jan) was on the bus but the doors ... read more
Lunch at 4000m overlooking Las Lagunas de Mojandas
Scrambling? I don't think so....

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 30th 2020

Looking back at my experience in Ecuador as a whole, one of the things that stands out to me the most is the hospitality we experienced. Obviously the first brush we had with hospitality here was with our host families in Quito. They treated us just like their own children. They took time to ask how we enjoyed our day and we spent a lot of time at meals just learning about each other and just being present together. It will be a long time before I forget how it felt to sit down to dinner with some bread and cheese, laughing and joking. They even offered their house for the future if either Matt or I come back to Ecuador. Their openness and acceptance made it so fun to be a part of Quito for ... read more
A Welcoming Environment

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 23rd 2020

Today was one of the most whirlwind days that I think I’ve ever had, full of such different experiences. I woke up early and went to a group salsa/fitness class and ended up being called to the front to help lead. Then Matt and I went to the botanical gardens nearby and saw a really cool bonsai garden. I had some Ecuadorian ceviche and fried squid for lunch. And finally, we went to a chocolate tasting session at Pacari chocolates. It was definitely one of my best days on the trip so far. I want to talk a little more about Pacari chocolate, somewhat because I like chocolate, but also because I really appreciate their business model and I think it fits a very Ecuadorian mindset. They are less than 20 years old, but have already ... read more
Us Messiah People and Our Dance Instructor

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo January 19th 2020

Because we spent so much time in Otavalo, I decided that I had more things to talk about. Aside from their absolutely fantastic peanut ice cream and empanadas (both of which cost a dollar), there were some fantastic deals to be had in the market in Otavalo. One thing that's very different than I'm used to, though, was the way that they expected you to barter with them. In the U.S, one of the most aggravating things for me as a consumer is when prices aren't listed, since I like to take a little time to think about the cost without the seller being involved. As you might expect, the fact that no one in Otavalo listed prices, combined with the fact that they wanted you to make decisions on the spot was a little worrying ... read more
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South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo January 18th 2020

I very much enjoyed the time we spent as a group in Otavalo. It was fantastic to be able to see such a different way of life, and only an hour or so from Quito. By far though, my favorite part of the excursion was being able to relate to them in our interactions. In general, at the various stands I purchased items at, I could tell that they knew I was from either Europe or the U.S. At one stand in particular, I struck up a conversation after my purchase of a Quena (a flute/recorder hybrid instrument), and he asked me where I was from, inferring that he knew I wasn't from around here. He was very kind though, he complemented my Spanish speaking and I'm sure he talked a little slower so that I ... read more
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South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 15th 2020

The culture is so different here in Ecuador, and although I'm not surprised that there are differences, it is still surprising to see certain differences. The past few days have been very interesting on a relational level, especially between Matt and I and our host family. The main difference here in Ecuador is what they call "Machismo," which is really just the existence of a very patriarchal society. At least in our household, Fernando is to be respected and can basically do what he wants. He spoils the grandchildren, he chooses food that he wants to eat, and has the choice to buy what he wants to. The women are forced to live their lives and account for what he is doing, rather than working together or reaching compromise. In the morning session today (survival Spanish), ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 12th 2020

Last night after a very late lunch (because the dogs ran away and they had a faucet leak! A bit crazy), Fernando took us to the more historical part of the city. During the drive, he talked pretty much the whole time about the city's history and about the different historical sites we drove by. We got to see El Panecillo, which has fantastic lighting at night and offers fantastic views of Quito. The base of the statue is a museum also, which shows the largest churches in the historical district and also the construction process of the statue. Matt and I had a great time taking photos and listening to Fernando, who always seems to have something to say. It was very interesting to relate with Fernando during this outing. While he was talking, I ... read more
Quito at Night

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 10th 2020

Although Matt and I have only been with our host family for about twelve hours, and about nine of those were spent in bed, I thought I’d share a few impressions I’ve had. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed the interactions that I’ve had with the host thus far. Fernando and Ximena seemed a little awkward at 2:30 AM, but I think that was a poor first interaction because this morning has been much more interesting. At lunch, we had conversation with Fernando about a variety of things and got to try a few new things as well. Ximena was out this morning but came in towards the end of lunch and was very warm and welcoming to us both. I mentioned that we tried a few things at lunch. A few highlights of the morning so far: ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito December 20th 2019

Heute ging ich vormittags wieder zur Italienischen Botschaft. Diesmal hatte sie sogar offen! Ich ging zu der Tür, vor der ich gestern stand, klingelte und wurde vom Securitytypen an eine andere Tür auf der anderen Seite des Gebäudes weitergeleitet. Dort fragte ich einen Polizisten, der vor der Tür stand, der an der Tür klopfte. Ein Mann kam und fragte mich, was ich denn brauchte, ich erklärte wieder mein Problem (dass ich meinen Pass verloren hatte) und er holte den nächsten Mitarbeiter, diesmal einen Carabiniere. Ich durfte ihm nochmal erklären, dass ich meinen Pass verloren hatte, dann verschwand er wieder für ein paar Minuten, vermutlich um zu fragen oder zu googlen, was denn jetzt zu tun sei. Schließlich kam er wieder und erklärte mir, ich solle mit einer Verlustanzeige und einem Passfoto wiederkommen. Von beidem wusste er ... read more
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