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Ecuador street art depicting a smiling indigenous woman.

Ecuador - Next Time

This is a PS to the article featured in our Newsletter: Vol: 2023 Issue: 0621 about our recent trip to Ecuador.

You may find this helpful if you or someone you know is planning a trip to Ecuador. I'll be returning, and here is what I will do differently next time.

1. Do not rent a car or drive. Take inter-county flights and/or hire professional drivers or cabs. Both of these options are incredibly inexpensive and far more enjoyable. If flying into Quito and going north to the Cotacachi area, grab a cab or hire a professional driver. If you're in Quito and want to go to Cuenca, wanting catch a flight.  What about the bus? Bus travel is popular and cheap. But I witnessed buses coming down steep washed-out roads that made me cringe. 

2. When I traveled to Peru a few years ago and felt the effects of altitude, chewing coca leaves did the trick. But they didn't work for me in Ecuador at altitudes of 9,000-13,000 feet. I resorted to 200 mgs a day of Trans-Resveratrol (stuff in red wine). Worked wonders. Next time, I'll take it a few weeks before I go.

3. Take one pair of comfortable but worn shoes and buy your replacement pair there. The workmanship and cost of custom-made leather jackets, handbags, and shoes can't be beaten.

4. Some like it hot and if that is you, take a bottle of hot sauce. The food in Ecuador is different from Mexico's. While their version of salsa, Aji, is as varied as salsa in Mexico, I found that most Aji just lacked the heat.

5. Take my Aeropress. I almost did and then didn't. We mostly stayed at AirBnB's, and most were equipped with a kettle, blender, fruit strainers, and jars of instant coffee. We used a paper towel inside a colander over a pan to make coffee (not instant). Still, the Aeropress would have been more convenient.

6. Listen to what the tourist office and hotel staff tell you in Quito and Guayaquil. If they say to not go to a specific area, believe them. We ventured two blocks further than we should have. I pulled a second phone out of my bag to take a picture of a man milking goats (and selling fresh goat's milk in the middle of the city). I slipped the phone into a relatively hidden pocket beside my body bag. It was lifted by a woman 30 seconds later. FIRST TIME EVER FOR ME. She was a smooth operator, and I am now the wiser for it.

7. Read up on the various scams in the area. We experienced the bird poop scam firsthand. It was fascinating. On our first day in Quito, a young woman from Peru, helping the homeless, was chatting with us as we walked down the street. Suddenly, my brother felt something cold and wet from behind, and the woman indicated that a pigeon just pooped on him. He was focused on the back of my white sweater when I noticed his whole back was covered, literally, head to foot. This amount of poop would have taken a flock. It was fascinating how many people walking by just happened to be carrying rolls of toilet paper and jumped in to help clean us up. We were on to them, and their attempts to clean us out failed.

8. Do not take LifeStraw bottles. It leaks at high altitudes. We each bought reusable cups and giant water bottles and refilled them cheaply.

9. Speak better Spanish. I was able to get by but find myself forgetting words when my brain translates. I resolve to take lessons and go back with a better foundation.

10. When considering restaurants, first choose the ambiance. Most all restaurants offer the same menu, so ambiance and vibes became the priority.

11. Cash is king in Ecuador. You get much better prices when paying with cash and can barter more effectively.

Last but not least:

-Ecuador is on the US dollar system. It's so lovely to not have to convert money.

-This was one of the most inexpensive trips I've ever taken, living on less than $60.00/day for everything. The traditional almuerzo, also known as menu del día, is a fixed-price fixed-menu lunch served from around 12:30 p.m. till around 3 p.m. Traditionally, the almuerzo is the day's big meal. It runs $2.00 - 4:00. The portions are well-sized, and my bother and I often shared a plate.

-I cannot say enough about the flowers, fruits, vegetables, and chocolate. Fresh cut long-stemmed roses you can smell for miles run $2.00/dozen. The organic fruits, vegetables, and eggs are impressive, and the prices are nearly nothing. They take their chocolate seriously, and they do it right. You can eat healthy, fresh organic food for a couple of hundred dollars a month by buying from the small shops or the Mercado's. Items purchased at the grocery store are about the same prices as in the States.


LoLo's Favorite

-Quito: Adamas House Hotel /
-Cuenca: Flore Hotel Boutique /
-Montanita: Hotel Kundalini /

-Quito: Sombreros Lopez / (Hats)
-Cotacochi: Uccuero / (Instagram page) (Leather)

If you have traveled to Ecuador, please share what you would suggest for your next time or to others. 

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Stephanie - December 10, 2023

I’m curious about your taking trans-resveratrol; I already take 500 mg a day so do you think I should increase that while I’m in Ecuador? I’ve never heard of it used for altitude sickness so would appreciate any additional pointers you have.

Tess - December 10, 2023

Thank you for the detailed info about your Ecuador adventure! Great tips! Is trans- resveratrol a prescription or OTC? You mention the food and organic fruits and veggies at the Mercado; did you have to worry about digestive issues? In Peru we couldn’t even brush our teeth with the water; what about Ecuador? Happy travels!

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