We are trying to make some time in our trip, and unfortunately that means we are going to have to skip seeing some places along the way. When we set off this year we were a month later than expected because of hot and dry fall conditions that allowed us to work until the end of October. This is a bit of a double edged sword. Financially, it was super helpful because we got a month extra pay to fund the trip, but time wise, it cut a month out of our already tight six-month journey. When we got to Ecuador, we knew we were going to have to sacrifice seeing the coast, and the jungle and make time on the Pan-American through the highlands.
The border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador was so simple, so fast, and the best part was- free. I did unfortunately witness many Colombian travellers being turned away at the border. It seems that Colombians have to be out of Ecuador for a certain amount of time before they are allowed back in. Some of the unhappy vacationers had some rather loud arguments with with customs agents raising the tension in the room. For us, the formalities were straightforward, the border guards were super helpful though they gave us a hard time and were visibly disappointed when we said we were only going to be spending a week in Ecuador. Despite that, we had no trouble getting our paperwork done and clearing customs in less than an hour. Hopefully this will be a trend in South America.
Our first impressions were good. Ecuador uses the American dollar as their currency. The set lunch menus here are never more than three American dollars, this includes a soup, and a main (rice, fried plantain, meat and salad), and often a fresh fruit juice as well. Damn good value. Another big change was the price of fuel. 1.45 USD a gallon. This is insane. The price is less than a quarter of what is costs on either side of the border, and works out to about 35 cents a litre! Though I was super stoked about saving money, it kind of made me wonder why it`s so cheap, and what kinds of destruction/ subsidizing is going on to keep it that way… More research required.
Unfortunately Ecuador got the chop, but it seems like a great place to visit on its own. None of the distances are too far, and you can find a bit of everything- mountains, coast, and jungle- all within a day or two’s drive… now we continue south.