I began 2020 with hopes of going to Ecuador that July, but sadly coronavirus put a stop to that. I still held on to my dreams of exploring this South American country, so this year (2022), I finished reading Lonely Planet Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands and another little brochure (This is Ecuador: The Most Complete Guide to Ecuador Since 1968, dated December 2018) that somehow made its way to me. I started researching online things to do and see in Ecuador.
I found an article that I also read for ideas: culture trip: 12 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Ecuador.
My original intent was to “live like a local,” staying in Cuenca and Quito, possibly taking a Spanish immersion class and spending time wandering aimlessly and writing. In 2020, I started a Spanish class at the end of January. I’m embarrassed to say that I studied Spanish for four years in high school, but I didn’t remember much of anything. Thus I started all over at the beginning, at level 100. We started in-person classes, but due to the pandemic, we had to meet online for the remaining courses. The virtual classes weren’t much fun, and I eventually dropped them because I wasn’t consistently studying. This year I started again, this time with The Great Courses. I still have been inconsistent with studying. Finally, in mid-May, I started with Duolingo, and now I seem to be determined to meet daily goals and to practice more. This is the first language learning course I’ve done that is actually fun.
For my class in 2020, I had to do a Power Point presentation about “Music of Ecuador,” so I learned about the country’s traditional music including pasillo, pasacalle, yarabi, marimba, bomba, and Sanjuanito. I also learned about some Indie rock groups, including Da Pawn and La Máquina Camaleön, both of which I love. I created a short playlist on Spotify: ecuadorian music, which I’ll add to over the coming months.
Of course, I always love to read books set in my destination, so I read some of the books below (indicated with stars and ratings). I own the books in green and will read them sometime during the year.
- the queen of water: a novel based on a true story by Laura Resau and María Virginia Farinango (YA) ****
- America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott *
- The Panama Hat Trail by Tom Miller ****
- Cañar: A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador by Judy Blankenship ****
- Our House in the Clouds: Building a Second Life in the Andes of Ecuador by Judy Blankenship ****
- The Old Man Who Read Love Stories by Luis Sepúlveda ****
- The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
- The Farm on the River of Emeralds by Moritz Thomsen (currently reading)
- Pieces of My Life by Rachel Dann
- Villa Pacifica by Kapka Kassabova
- The Amnesia Clinic by James Scudamore
- City on the Ledge by Philip Kraske
- The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (+ Columbia + Venezuela)
- Fool’s Gold by P.J. Skinner
- Huasipungo: The Villagers by Jorge Icaza
- Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition That Reshaped Our World by Larrie D. Ferreiro
- Lonely Planet Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands by Regis St. Louis ****
- Galápagos Islands
- Enchanted Islands by Allison Amand ***
- Plundering Paradise: The Hand of Man on the Galápagos Islands by Michael D’Orso ****
- Floreana by Margret Whittmer
The Evolution of Jane by Cathleen Schine
- To the Edge of the World by Harry Thompson
- Mr. Darwin’s Shooter by Roger McDonald
- The Origin of Murder by Jerold Last
- Galápagos Regained by James K. Morrow
- The Voyage of the Beagle: Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World by Charles Darwin (intro. by Steve Jones)
- Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
- The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner
- The Origin: A Biographical Novel of Charles Darwin by Irving Stone
For more international books, see my page: books | international a-z |.
I found movies set in Ecuador, but sadly I haven’t seen any of them. Hopefully, I can find some of these in the coming months.
- Entre Marx y una Mujer Desnuda (1996)
- Proof of Life (2000)
- Crónicas (2004)
- Qué tan lejos (2006)
- Crude (2009)
- Rage (2009)
- Fisherman (Pescador) (2011)
- With My Heart in Yambo (Con mi Corazó en Yambo) (2011)
- The Porcelain Horse (Mejor no hablar de ciertas cosas) (2012)
- The Death of Jaime Roldos (La Muerte de Jaime Roldós) (2013)
- El Facilitador (2013)
- The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden (2013)
- Holiday (Feriado) (2014)
- El Secreto de Magdalena (2015)
- Medardo (2015)
- A Secret in the Box (Un Secreto en la Caja) (2016)
- Translucido (Translúcido) (2016)
- Such Is Life in the Tropics (Sin Muertos No Hay Carnaval) (2016)
- Special Correspondents (2016)
- Alba (2016)
- Snatched (2017) (& Colombia) ***
- Final Minute (2018)
- The Longest Night (2019)
After having researched more about Ecuador, we have expanded our travel plans extensively. We will spend our first five nights in Quito, exploring the UNESCO World Heritage city, and venturing west of town to the Mindo Cloud Forest. Another day, we will possibly head southeast to the Termas de Papallacta, a complex of thermal baths in the Northern Oriente, an edge of the Ecuadorian jungle.
We will then fly to Cuenca (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) for six nights, exploring the city, going out to three market towns, Gualeceo, Chordeleg and Sigsig one day, and venturing out for hikes to Parque Nacional Cajas for a day. I’m hoping to find myself a Panama hat at the Sigsig market. The hats are misnamed as they originate in Ecuador.
After leaving Cuenca we will make our way north about 80km along the Pan American Highway and stop in Ingapirca, a set of pre-Colombian ruins. We’ll overnight there and then head to Riobamba, where we can visit a Saturday market. From there, we’ll drive to Baños, where we can take a downhill bike ride on the Baños-Puyo Road through a series of waterfalls. The next day, we’ll take a bicycle ride down Volcan Chimborazo.
Then it’s ever northward to Latacunga, where we’ll drive a portion of the Quilotoa Loop to Tigua, Zumbahua, and Quilotoa, a large volcanic crater with an emerald green lake in an indigenous community. We might hike around the rim of the crater, about a 7.5 mile trek, or an out-and-back of a shorter distance. We could opt to hike down to the lake if the weather is bad.
After Latacunga, it’s hacienda time! We plan to stay at Hacienda Los Mortiños, from which we hope to hike and take a horseback ride into Parque Nacional Cotopaxi. The next day we’ll head north of Quito to Otavalo for its huge Saturday market; there, we’ll stay at another hacienda, Las Palmeras Inn. On the way to Otavalo, we hope to stop for lunch at yet another hacienda, Hacienda Cusín.
In all, we plan to spend three weeks in the country.
We decided against the Galápagos Islands on this trip. Originally, I didn’t think I’d have an interest in going there, but having read about it, I would like to visit at some future time.
I prepared one journal, and will bring another along in case I need two.
Back in 2020, I created some intentions for my travels, although I haven’t been doing intentions since I took a break from blogging in 2021. These intentions were for my originally intended “slow travel,” where I hoped to stay in one place and write a lot. As can be seen here, our plans have become much more involved since I originally conceived of this trip.
We planned to leave in mid-June of 2022. However, our plans were waylaid. We received a warning from the U.S. State Department on Friday, June 10: “The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) is planning demonstrations and road blockages nationwide from June 13 to June 15. Multiple roads in and out of Quito, including those leading to the airport, could be affected. Some past demonstrations have turned violent and security forces have responded with crowd dispersal agents to maintain public order.
“Among the Roads Likely to be Affected Are: San Miguel del Común, Mariscal Sucre and Humberto Albornoz, Ruta Viva, Toll Intervalles, Intervalles and Guayaquil, Intervalles and Sebastiana de Benalcazar, Mitad del Mundo, Simón Bolívar sector el Troje, and Maldonado sector Escuela Riobamba. Please keep in mind that these locations are subject to change.
During this time, please take the following actions
· Avoid crowds
· Avoid demonstration areas
· Monitor local media for updates on road closures.
· Exercise caution if transiting through affected areas.
· Consider alternate routes.”
And on Tuesday, June 14, we received this: “The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) continues to lead demonstrations nationwide. Demonstrators have blocked multiple roads around the country, both in cities and rural areas. There are also reports of violence in some areas, including on Avenida 6 de Diciembre in Quito where demonstrators have reportedly vandalized police cars, started fires, and assaulted law enforcement officials. The situation is rapidly evolving and could continue to worsen and spread to other areas without notice. We urge you to remain vigilant, closely monitor the situation for updates, and exercise caution when traveling in both urban and rural areas of the country.”
I have read about these protests, which apparently occur frequently, in the book by Judy Blankenship: Our House in the Clouds: Building a Second Life in the Andes of Ecuador. She describes how the indigenous people block the Pan American Highway, the main north-south highway, with boulders, trees and all other kinds of debris. On Wednesday morning, pulling up a Google map of the route I saw this:
In the end, we cancelled the trip the night before we were due to depart due to the ongoing violence and road closures. We waited, watching the situation and making alternate plans to go to Colombia in case the strikes weren’t resolved. In the end, after 18 days, the strikes were resolved and the government and the Indigenous People decided to sit down for talks for 90 days. We went ahead and rebooked our entire vacation, and now we’re leaving in late July.
We’re hoping all goes well!