Until now, I was two times in Ecuador and Galápagos. The first, it was just for the reason I didn’t know what to do else. The second time I came back, because I wanted to leave Germany and wanted to be as far away as possible. I don’t wanted to meet any Germans even in my holidays. But it happened to become different than expected.
But first things first. In 2005 my colleague hinted to me to 16 day travel experience to Ecuador and Galápagos. The Travel was organized by Galextur. We were driven in a small bus through out the country side of Ecuador and have seen a lot of remarkable places like Quito, Otavalo, Incapirca, Cuenca, Chimborazo, Cajas and of course the middle of the earth and I mean the real middle of the world, not the one declared by the French people to be the middle. It was a great time, because even as we were driven in a bus we got a small sense of Ecuador and the Indigenas, the real people of Ecuador.
At the end of the year 2006 I decided shortly to make another trip to Ecuador and Galápagos. The decision why Ecuador was easy, because I had a good contact who can organize me some stuff and I should be somewhere where I can improve my Spanish skills. This second trip was then somehow unorganized, because I just contacted the owner of Galextur and asked if he can get my a flight and a stay in Quito. I asked as well if he can get me a Spanish school. In roughly three weeks I had all together and on December 30th 2006 I was going onto my trip to Ecuador, my second trip to Ecuador. The general idea was to stay two weeks in Quito taking my Spanish class at the Galapagos Spanish School and then have another week in Galápagos to calm down where I stayed in the hotel of the owner of Galextur in the Hotel Silberstein.
I will not write about the historic, geographic or political details about Ecuador. They can be read in the CiA World Factbook or in Wikipedia. I will write a little bit on my personal view about some of the places I visited.
Quito is huge city. It is the capital city of Ecuador in the state Pichincha of Ecuador. There are places where you as tourist should go and where you shouldn’t go, especially not at night. So it happened that I was mainly in the tourist district of Quito known as La Mariscal Sucre along the Amazonas street placed between the Parque El Ejido in the south and Parque La Carolina in the north. That is where all the tourists are meet together and where the night becomes day, because there are all the bars and clubs of the city are placed.
In Quito I met mainly three different types of people. As a surprise these are the honest and working people, there are the dishonest you always have to carefully about and there are the tourists. The tourists are what I’d like to call a special type of tourist. That’s not that kind of tourist you will meet in Europe or North America. It’s more that type of tourist that want to change something in their live. It’s more that kind what I’d like to call a real traveler. There are looking for something different, they want to expand their view about the world in general and the people in detail. Most of them are going there for at least 3 month up to 12 month, or even longer. Most of them are young people right after high school or college.
Quito itself is like most of the other western cities in the world. It’s a busy business city. But if you are there you realize it’s also different. This difference is made by the people. It is business, but business is not the essential thing of living. Maybe that’s the reason why it is also the start for many trips of these travelers. They start in Quito to travel to the back country of Ecuador, Peru and all the other countries in the area. They start their journeys just with a backpack. Most of them are in small groups of two or three. They may also buy a cheap car and try to find what they are looking for. I don’t know what they are looking for. But many of them are coming back and changed their minds in terms of caring about people, live and everything. All the small things are becoming more important than before. The small things that can make people happy. You change from complaining about things to try to improve things for a better live. In the big picture it’s just to make the people you have around you and you like happy, just happy.
Otavalo is about one hour north of Quito. That means you have to pass the Ecuator. You can take one of the many buses from Quito. You can stop such a bus at anytime you want there are no real bus stops. But be carefully on the bus with your stuff and have always an eye on it. I got robbed in the bus. That means, my backpack was cut open with a knife and stuff taken out. Just be warned.
Why should you go to visit Otavalo? Otavalo has one of the biggest markets in the country of Ecuador. It has a very touristy market where you can buy all the textile you know from that region. There are lots of booths that sell textiles for different purposes. But be warned again, it’s very touristy that also means there are lots thieves around. They are so experienced that they can rob you without noticing it.
To experience the real market of Otavalo you have to leave the touristy part. Because the city is a market. The reason is simple, all the Indigenas coming from their villages far aways to sell their stuff or to buy what they require. As such you can buy almost everything you may need to build your house such as building materials, and railings and fences. You can also buy food, lots of different food. Different variants of corn. Different variants of fruits. My favorite fruit since then still is Naranjilla. Unfortunately difficult to find Germany.
But remember the market is only on Saturdays. Be early otherwise you will miss it.
The Otavalo can be a good start to trek to the countryside. There are lots of small villages around with helpful people.
Besides of Otavalo and the small villages there are lots of different places to experience. There is Cuenca, a old historic city and with the world most famous company that produces the well known Panama Hat. Did you know that the origin of the Panama hat was in Ecuador? Still today all the Panama hats are produced by the Indigenas at home by hand. Every 6 month or so these people bring them down to Cuenca to the company and there they get their final touch.
Then there are villages like Baños, which is know for its healthy hot springs. Then you can also have great vistas to Chimborazo or you can even trek or make a expedition to the top. But be careful the volcano is one of the still active volcano’s, as you can see from the picture.
Galápagos is named exactly Archipiélago de Colón. It is a UNESCO world heritage site mainly because of its wildlife. If you ever where there, then you will understand why.
These islands are an archipelago created by volcano activities. These volcanos are still active even when you don’t see it as most of the activity is under water. Over hundreds of years these little islands has been formed. But the most interesting thing is, that all the wildlife there consists of birds that flew over from the main continent hundreds of years ago. The other part of the wildlife consists of animals who found there untouched place. There area is also well know by one of the famous scientist Charles Darwin. Here on these islands here learned a lot of what is today know as the Evolution theory on how the life in this world has become as it is today.
If you are in nature and in wildlife then you have to experience it by yourself. If you are not so much in nature and wildlife, then you will become interested in that area. You will get different view on the wildlife and you will understand why it is important to preserve the things we have.
Charles Darwin Foundation
The Charles Darwin Foundation is a science and research center located on the island Santa Cruz, which is also the island where most of the people are living. The Charles Darwin Foundation is the main non-profit organization that is working in preserving the wildlife on Galápagos. They play an important role in recreating wildlife what mankind has destroyed over the last centuries.
Please support the Charles Darwin Foundation with your donation: Give now.