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Just Back: Ecuador!

Cuenca, Ecuador

Well, here we are again. Is it just me, or was I just talking about my upcoming travel plans to Ecuador? Somehow, the trip is already over and I’m back in the land of English-speakers (thank goodness for that; my predictions about Spanish were correct). I always find it difficult to “sum up” a trip, partly because the usual adjectives start to ring hollow (great! amazing! beautiful!) and partly because there’s always so much to share. But here goes:

When you last heard from me, I’d been to Quito and Otavalo in the northern Andes and had just arrived in Cuenca in the (greener) south. Cuenca is the Washington DC to Quito’s New York City: equally full of character, but with less dirt. In the immediate vicinity of Cuenca, there are Incan ruins, and a national park, and artisans who work in yarn and silver and leather. And orchids! They grow some 7,000 species there. I learned that it takes about 3 years to get from seed to flower, and I left feeling slightly guilty about all the orchids I’ve killed over the years.

Back in the northern Andes, I spent a day in Mindo, a small town in the cloud forest. The cloud forest, which looks as magical as it sounds, is apparently the perfect home for hummingbirds and butterflies, because they have dozens of species of both. Really, I’ve never seen such hummingbirds. (No mockingbirds, though.) I also tried to balance an egg on the Equator (unsuccessfully) and sampled locally-grown-and-processed chocolate (successfully).

So much to see, so much to do.

And yet, considering how much territory I covered (literally and figuratively), there’s still a lot more to discover in Ecuador: the Galapagos, the coast, the Amazon. Many of the locals were sort of perplexed that I wasn’t visiting the Galapagos (apparently everybody goes there), but they were also pleased that I was seeing parts of Ecuador that most visitors miss. Fortunately, I could tell them with confidence that I would be back.

Now comes the hard part: deciding what makes the cut for our official Ecuador tours. The judge and jury (okay, I’m both) is still out on our itineraries, but I can promise you the tours will offer a proper sampling of all the diversity that Ecuador has to offer, with nature and culture and adventure.

Since pictures (they say) are worth a thousand words, I’ve created a gallery of pictures and videos in a separate post; click here to get a few thousand words’ worth of Ecuador. But if a picture is worth a thousand, then being there for real is priceless. I suppose that’s the best way to sum up my time in Ecuador:

You have to see it for yourself.

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