This won’t make much sense to anyone but my Ecuador friends, but I’m posting a list my dad, sister and I have been developing in anticipation of our visit there. To catch you up, my sister, brother-in-law and nephew moved back to Quito in January 2011. It’s been a year since we’ve all been together. They now work at the international school that my sister and I attended when we lived in Quito. Actually my brother-in-law went there, too, because he and my sister met in the 4th grade. In addition, my dad also attended the same school – in the 60s and 70s, when his parents lived in Quito. So there’s a lot of history.
My husband and I were able to visit about three years ago, so he’s had a chance to see some of the highlights. But it will be different for my husband to be there with my dad, because he knows all the good spots. I’m not such a good tour guide. My mom knows a lot of the history of the downtown area, too.
I’m totally biased, but I think Ecuador and specifically Quito is an idea tourist location. Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage site, because of all the colonial architecture. It’s really beautiful, and since I lived there, they’ve done a ton of renovation. In Ecuador you can enjoy the Amazon jungle, adventure tourism, beaches, and of course, the Galapagos islands. They also switched their currency to the U.S. dollar in 2000, so it’s easy to compare prices and know what you are getting. Plus you don’t have to exchange money. Plus, the people are just so nice. I was reminded of that after traveling the world for several years and then going back to Ecuador. Yeah, they might be just telling you what you want to hear, but they are nice and friendly.
I’m looking forward to all that next week. For our Christmas vacation, besides the six adults, we’ll have two one-year-olds and a newborn, so we tried to keep the activities to a minimum. Mainly we just want to be together as a family.
But here’s our list of “hope to dos”.
1. Otavalo/San Antonio/Cotacachi [Large Indian handicrafts/art/vegetable/livestock market. It’s basically a must-do for tourists. The other two towns produce wood items and leather goods.]
2. Elegido Park/Tourist market [Otavalo on a smaller scale, with more avant guard art.] Let’s take the trolley!
3. Amazonas street on New Year’s Eve. [Picture Marti Gras without nakedness, combined with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, street performers, live music and fair food. Oh, and all the floats/dummies get torched at midnight in the street. And fireworks are going off all around town. Our plan is to leave the babies with Grandma Lynn… or someone, and join the fray for a couple of hours. I’m secretly hoping the husband will realize the superiority of this celebration style to his Dutch one. We were there for that last year, and it was a big deal to him.]
4. Cable car to the top of Pichincha. [This wasn’t there when I lived in Quito, but I’m sure the views are amazing. The babies can’t go on this, because the altitude will make them crazy. I’m not sure how high it is (15,000 ft.?).]
5. Eating grilled meat (tablas) in El Bosque and watching the planes land. [My dad’s request, obviously. This wasn’t around when I was in high school either.]
6. Ipiales [The knock-off market in the sketchy part of town. It’s modeled after a market on the border with Colombia where a lot of illegitimate business takes place. This is where you leave jewelry and anything worth anything at home, and just take cab money. And hide it. This might just be the boys who do this.]
7. Iñaquito market [Typical developing world market with meat, produce and flowers, somewhat similar to Pike’s Place market in Seattle, only less clean. My mom did some of her weekly shopping here. The outer stalls have gorgeous fresh flowers for super cheap. Flowers are one of Ecuador’s main cash crops and exports.]
8. Possibly Mitad del Mundo. [A semi-ridiculous monument marking the supposed center of the globe on the equator (get it? Ecuador? get it?). The husband might want to do this, just so he can say he did it.
9. My parents will head to Shell and the jungle after we leave. We’ve both been there, so we won’t be sad to miss it. Though Baños is much awesomer now.
So, Ecuador friends: anything else you’d do? I’d love to hit Atacames, but that’s not going to happen with the little ones around.
I’m so ready! Six days ’til take off.