A first timer in Ecuador, going solo.

Reply Tue 25 May, 2004 09:35 am
Hello everyone,

I am a student at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and will be graduating in December. Following my graduation I have loose plans to travel to Ecuador. Loose? Well, what I mean by that is that my only solid plan so far is to get a ticket to Quito and attend a Spanish school... from there? who knows.

My primary goal when I get there will be to find a Spanish School I am comfortable with, and then attend that school and stay with a family for the first month or so. Any recommendations? I have found the Simon Bolivar and Guayasamin schools the most appealing so far... then again, this is only based on an internet site, and I don't want to make any reservations or give anyone my money until I get there. Any input here would be greatly appreciated.

Following my acquaintence with Spanish, I literally have 0 plans. All I know is that I'd love to do some volunteer work, whether it be environmental, teaching english, or whatever. I want to spend time at the beach--any recommendations for small, safe, beach towns to stay in?

If anyone could give me any advice on Ecuador, or maybe your own experience, it will be greatly appreciated. This will be the first time I ever leave the country alone, and definitely the longest I have been away from home. I just want to meet new people, learn a new language, and overall, just get a different perspective on life.

Thank you,
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cicerone imposter
Reply Tue 25 May, 2004 10:52 pm
vagan, Welcome to A2K. I've been to Ecuador only once, primarily to visit the Galapagos Islands. Never been to Quito, but hear it's very nice there. I have only one suggestion for you; visit the Galapagos Islands at least once. It's an amazing place. Oh, and bring your camera.
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Reply Fri 28 May, 2004 10:28 am
Thanks for the response Cicerone. Although I would absolutely love to visit hte Galapagos (swimming with sharks is a goal of mine, and no, i'm not joking) I am not entirely sure this particular trip is one that will land me there. Depends though, Ihave herad you can catch some pretty inexpensive trips out there on cargo vessels, perhaps I will try to do that. This is a low-budget trip (except for my initial splurge on spanish school) intended for intermingling myself with the local communities and getting to know Ecuador on an intimate level. After Quito I desire to spend my time in smaller communities around the country where I can hopefully volunteer (be useful in some way) in exchange for some food/shelter.

Ultimately I will end up on the coast though, and I do plan on lounging on the beach a bit... and I have a good feeling this will not be my only trip to Ecuador. so if I don't make it to the galapagos this time, I will certainly make it the next.

Anyone else?
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Reply Fri 28 May, 2004 11:02 am
I'm not familiar with Ecuador. But people who have lived there say Quito is a lot nicer than relatively richer Guayaquil.

Good luck.
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cicerone imposter
Reply Fri 28 May, 2004 01:00 pm
We had layovers in Guayaquil before going to the Galapagos Islands. I didn't think there was anything that special about Guayaquil. The only thing I remember is the cheap prices of flowers and flower arrangements compared to US prices. You can buy a flower arrangement with a vase for about $5 with roses.
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Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2004 06:50 am
Vegandago check out mine and others Ecuador pages at virtualtourist:


I liked Loja more than the other locations I visited because of it's smallness, climate and lack of fellow foreigners. In fact I have seriously thought of moving there from Colombia for security but that idea is on the back burner for now.
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Reply Sun 19 Sep, 2004 10:17 am
When I went to Ecuador I worked on a biological station in the northern part of the country run by the Fundación Jatun Sacha. It's mainly environmental work but some stations do do community projects as well - I ended up teaching 6 and 7 year olds english once a week. They have about 10 reserves all over the country, including a coastal one and accept volunteers for a little as one week at a time. I had a great time on the Guandera reserve in the north of the country but from what I heard all the stations are really good to work on. You definitely need a knowledge of Spanish as very few rural Ecuadorians speak any English whatsoever. It's a great experience though, even if the learning curve is practically vertical at times!

We visited the coast and stayed in Puerto Lopez in the Manabí province, which is quite nice. It's small and a bit shabby but nearby is the Machalilla National Park which has beautiful beaches, the Isla de la Plata ('poor man's Galapagos') and whale watching in season (June to September). It is a bit over-run by tourists so it depends what you want. I suggest you get a guide book, Rough Guides have lists of organisations wanting volunteers and are generally the most detailed.

Hope I've been of some assistance! Ecuador really is beautiful - I liked it so much I plan to return next summer on my next South America trip!
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