Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ecuador Part 2

We flew into and out of Quito, and stayed overnight there at the beginning and end of the trip. The Galapagos Islands were definitely the highlight of our trip, and while I’m glad that we explored the area around Quito, there were a few challenges and a few blessings. After researching and considering the advice of others, we decided to not rent a car, so we used a combination of taxis, private hires, and transportation arranged by our lodging. 
Puerto Ayora (Galapagos)
The best experience was Termas Pappallacta, which is an area of hot springs with restaurant, hotel, and spa. The day itself was relaxing, but I find it less than thrilling to schedule a pick up time and then set the alarm clock on vacation. I guess cruises or week long land resort locations are for no alarm clocks, but by not renting a car, we had to pre-arrange excursions with drivers.
The pollution in Quito was fierce, and different transportation options will shut it out to varying levels. For example, an older taxi must leave windows open if the air conditioning doesn’t work, whereas a more expensive private hire vehicle can have the windows closed and block out the noxious exhaust fumes. One taxi driver argued with us about the fare upon arriving at the destination, despite having agreed on an amount before the ride. But all in all, there were more positive experiences than stressful ones.

The food was great, the crafts at the market in Otavolo were affordable (bargain hard), and the locally made chocolate is delicious. We’d recommend Ecuador, and if you prefer nature to a city vacation experience, allocate the majority of your time in the Galapagos Islands or in other parts of the country.

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