For a country about the size of Colorado in the US it is a vast and biodiverse paradise of sight & senses. From the sierras you can easily get on a bus in the morning and be on the pacific coast that afternoon or in the Amazon basin...provided of course the bus doesn't break down or the road is not blocked by a landslide or something.
A few tips to keep in mind:
TIP #1: On cell phones. This trip I did one of the smartest things I have done on one of our many trips to Ecuador...I bought a cell phone. Didn't rent one, nor pay a us company outrageous prices to have mine (maybe) work down here. I walked into a cell phone store in Quito and plopped down $50 for a brand new pay as you go cell phone, which included $20 worth of minutes. The government has enacted a policy that everyone with this type phone service must give their "cedulla" number (individual ID number) or it wont work. Well each person can apparently use it on 15 phones, so the cell stores are only too happy to program in someone else's cedulla (then write down the pertinent info for you, in case you need it again) and you and your phone are on your way. I can make calls/txt all over Ecuador as well as to the states. It is peace of mind and we will have it with us on future trips here. Just load saldos as needed, takes about a minute...or less.
TIP #2: In the us you find paper money in pristine to utterly shit conditions. Taped together or 3/4 torn apart...it's all good greenbacks. Well here they tend to freak out when a bill has the smallest tear, even if you need a magnifying glass to see it. So was the case when I bought 3 bottles of beer and handed the woman a five spot. The bill had a virtually unnoticeable tear at the middle bottom from many folds (big whoop). Well she went on about it and said it was no good and it was a problem. I told her the bank in the us gave it to me and it was good, she said not here, then I said I can rip one in half and tape it together and it would be hunky dory with the bank. She looked at me astonished and gave me my two bucks in change. We chatted some more and I said that what she was telling me was just loco.
The government and the banks all know the money is good crumpled, torn or ripped. Why they try and bullshit the public otherwise is beyond me.
So try and be cognizant of this, save yourself some unneeded hassle and don't hand out a torn bill. However if that is all you have, hand it to them and stand your ground.
NOTE: Two weeks into this particular trip I lost my cell phone while in a taxi. We were on the way to Quito to catch a flight to Manta on the coast. My wife and I both heard something go "clunk" but thought nothing if it. Turns out it was our cell phone sliding out of my pocket into the taxi driver's cab floor. We bought another for $45 in puerto lopez, using the same cedula info as before, and were back in communication that afternoon. We had both our buddy roger as well as the hostal mgr call the old/ lost number to see if we could get it back (dropped off at the hostal in Quito, where we would be back at in several days), but to no avail. Seems that lost cell phones have value on the black market. The old sim card is removed and the phone resold. Oh well, a learning lesson...keep phone in a zippered pocket or well secured place.
A word about stomach bugs:
About a week into this, our fifth trip to Ecuador, and close to a dozen, or maybe more, trips to South America and Mexico, Lori got a stomach bug. Call it what you will it brought on stomach cramps and many trips to the bathroom. Who knows how she got it as we both ate and drank the same, from street food to hostel food. I was fine but she got a bug in her gut. We started to treat it with Imodium and that initially helped stop or greatly slow down the bathroom visits. However after two days it was evident it was more than what Imodium alone could do. Luckily there was little nausea and no vomiting just a general "feeling like crap" feeling. In Ecuador you can get meds, that in the US you typically need a doctor's prescription for, over the counter...this was very handy. I went to a farmacia and got a week's worth of cipro (500mg) and she took this twice a day along with a probiotic (taken a few hrs later). In a couple of days she was basically back to her old (er...young) self. How did I determine what to give her? Our friend Mike who up until about a week prior had been traveling with us had this same med with him, prescribed by his doctor in case he got the same thing as Lori now had. So I asked the guy at the farmacia for it as well. The probiotics were also recommended by the man and I thought it was a good idea to include them. From now on we will include a course of Cipro in our first aid kit. Take this narrative only as how we dealt with this issue. How you decide to tackle any stomach bugs or illnesses while you travel is up to you. You should consider discussing any potential medical issues and their remedies with your family doctor prior to your trip.
Our backpacks do contain our basic first aid kits, however in
addition to that we also carry these items:
From time to time when you travel, inevitable you will pick up something that does not agree with you. Hopefully it is something slight and passes quickly. Common sense about the sanitary conditions of the local food/water and FREQUENTLY using hand sanitizer can cut down the probability of this happening to you. But you should still try and be prepared just in case.
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