Impressions of Ecuador
Ecuador is not third world. Not exactly sure how this rating system is applied but I would have to guesstimate Ecuador would rate as second world. The infrastructure condition and the amount of available amenities are not the same as North America or Europe but the folks are surely not suffering. In fact, I think the country is quite progressive.
I only visit a very small part of the country but everywhere I go public trash cans have been converted into recycle stations where there are three bins for disposing of assorted refuse. One for garbage, one for recyclable metal and plastic and a third for organics. We live in a city that is a world leader in recycling and there are only a few of these types of stations placed throughout the city, but in Ecuador the single trash can is in the minority.
In 2017, Ecuador will shut off the last of their fossil fuel electrical plants and depend solely on renewable sources, hydro, solar and wind to provide the country with the required supply of electricity. This is far ahead of anything I have heard about in the so called first world. Kudos.
There seemed to be an adequate number of public washrooms about. Sometimes there is a toll to enter but all of the establishments I made use of were in good condition and respectably clean enough. This is not the case in most of the world and again first world countries could learn a thing or two.
The roads we travel on, even in the remote Galapagos Islands, are in at least as good a shape as the roads here in Edmonton. The roads in Quito are excellent and the new highways are outstanding. In Canada we do have some weather challenges that mess up the roads but this is not a new thing and we should be able to maintain our roads to the condition of those in Ecuador.
Ecuador’s sidewalks could be improved. The sidewalks in Quito are quite good but the sidewalks in Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno are on par with Asia or Africa which requires walking on the road for a good part of any stroll around town.
There is a lot of construction taking place. Flashy, modern buildings are being built alongside stately older structures in both Quito and the smaller communities on the Galapagos. There is some respect for the existing fabric and a lot of ‘heritage’ buildings remain close to their original state or renovated to modern standards.
The urban areas do have their share of dilapidated buildings but so does every city I have ever visited and they are no more unsightly than in my home town.
Whenever we decide to go somewhere we always hear how dangerous the place is and how one should not carry any valuables and be sure to be indoors after dusk. I do know that one has to be diligent when walking about anywhere and that tourists are easy targets for the local bad guys, but after spending a day in Quito I did not find it any more threatening than anywhere else I have been. We kept our wits about us and the one place we spot a bit of trouble we turn back towards the crowded centre of town and avoid any possible confrontation with the inebriated combatants. I don’t think Quito is any more dangerous than any other city in the world.
The people we meet and deal with on a one on one basis are wonderful. They are helpful, cheerful and friendly. In fact more congenial than other places. I find the atmosphere to be warm and welcoming.
They still happen between noon and 3 pm (or sometime in those hours when the desire hits) everyday. After we found out about it we adopt the rhythm ourselves and go back to the hotel room between those hours. The rest was appreciated. Since we are close to the equator, this timing would of course put us out on the street looking for supper after the sun went down at 6 pm but not once did I feel threatened.
We do ride bikes and we live in a bike unfriendly city. I am amazed that a “second” world country would have bike lanes, but they do. Even in the towns on the Galapagos that have a minimum of traffic there are designated bike roads. Yeah for them!
We must have been in the Galapagos in the mosquito off season because we encountered very few. On the Galapagos Islands there is the potential for huge numbers of the flying blood suckers. The islands have vast expanses of mangroves at the sea’s edge, perfect breeding grounds. The one time we loose a pint of the red stuff is walking back from a beach just after sunset on San Cristobal.
We read about how good the snorkeling on San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Islands is and are quite excited by the possibilities. Frankly, in my humble opinion, the snorkeling is dismal. At the sites near the towns there is very little wild life and except for Los Gretas the visibility was less than optimal. If you cannot get out on day trips where I would hope it would be better, leave your snorkel gear at home.
In most cities smoking is banned indoors. This seems to be no different in Ecuador. The difference is there are no crowds of people gathered outside the entrance to office buildings, retail stores or eating establishments puffing away. I do not see very many people smoking at all. I do note a few on the islands but most are tourists. If Ecuadorians smoke, they hide it very well. I’m guessing this has a very positive effect on their health care system.
Ecuador is a outstanding place. I don’t know if we will get back but if the right opportunity arises I would not hesitate.