Brad and I took quite a bit of time off from travel around August and early September. Mainly I wanted to hang out with my kids, especially my granddaughter and my new grandson, and Brad had a nice visit with his son who was on break from school. Taking time out from international travel had some advantages in addition to visiting with family, like enjoying our favorite foods and doing some cooking. I miss daily chores sometimes, and I also tired of camping and eating out of a cooler in a bear box!
When we left for Ecuador last week we had a red eye into Miami from LAX then a flight to Quito. Needless to say our first day and a half were kinda slow going. I will say more about Quito in an upcoming blog but the main thing I want to point out is that it sits at 9100+ feet above sea level so it’s hard to breath. I am sure I will acclimate soon but for now I just want to take a nap.
Arriving here was interesting. Normally I feel kinda anxious when I get to a destination I am not familiar with. I guess because we have traveled so much I felt none of the typical confusion or stress I have felt in the past. A few things could be contributing to this. One-we can kinda speak Spanish at least we know enough words between the two of us to communicate. Two-everyplace is similar in terms of ground transportation in that it is logical. Three-we are very experienced travelers now and that makes a big difference.
One thing that I think will be really nice about Ecuador is that many people don’t speak any English at all, so we will get a lot of practice speaking Spanish in fact we will be in South America for about three months so hopefully we will just get more and more fluent. Fortunately we each seem to know just enough different words to get by quite well. For example in the case of our cab ride to our AirBnB apartment we had a phone number so our driver could call our host for directions. Our map didn’t seem like it was helpful so the phone call cleared it up quickly.
I know the big thing that travelers talk about are “getting ripped off” and having fear for personal safety. Certainly we have been charged tourist prices before. My philosophy is to think about what we are getting and if the price seems reasonable. Normally it does. And if we over pay I try to make it up elsewhere for instance having an affordable lunch or taking a bus or walking instead of paid ground transportation. Honestly when we were in America I felt ripped off a lot because everything is so expensive compared to the rest of the world except perhaps Jordan and London.
Regarding safety, I think most places get a bad rap. If you look at the forums online often you can read dire warnings about armed muggings or express kidnappings. I have no doubt these things happen but if you are practicing common sense I am sure there are few problems. For example, don’t run around with all your best jewelry on at night with your wallet in your back pocket or unzipped purse while super drunk. Not to hard to figure out.
I once saw a lady on her fancy cell phone chatting loudly in English while her phone case prominently displayed all her credit cards. She was a prime target for pickpockets. Not only was she completely unaware of her surroundings she was also showing off her goods. This seems not very smart. In any case I would say if you plan to travel, read the forums and be aware, then read the travel forum for any big city in your home state or region. You might find the same kind of warnings for your own neighborhood. Of course I am pressing my luck just saying there is little to worry about.
I have few concerns being in Ecuador. But time will tell. Normally we have the best possible experiences when traveling. From what I can see we are part of only a handful of tourists here right now. I stand out due to my blondish hair and my great height. (I am 5 feet 3.25 inches). I tower over most of the women and some of the men. For some reason I feel like a sore thumb here even though I know my appearance has been out of place in other parts of the world. I guess because there are so few tourists here I feel more aware of my differences. Brad is like a foot taller than almost everyone. But he always stands out because he likes to sport a fancy hat. In Turkey a man called him “Indian Jones” and someone also called him “Maverick” or similar. It was super funny and I am sure that is part of the fun of wearing that hat.