“Cuy, quiero cuy!” These were the desperate words that escaped my mouth as my family and I scrounged the Ecuadorian mountainside, searching high and low for the famous cuy; also known as guinea pig in America. Yet, this was not a friendly household pet to take home and brag about to my friends, this was dinner.
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I have been traveling to Ecuador for 5 years now, as my step-dad is Ecuadorian and my family faithfully awaits our arrival over the summer every year. In these five years I have experienced a myriad of adventures, both strange and exciting, and I would like to share and give suggestions, you know, if any of you just happen to find yourself on an impromptu trip to Ecuador, my second home.
Now, if you are a city-goer, than look no further than Guayaquil! This city is filled with many sights, sounds… and iguanas! These little creatures can be spotted hanging out in your neighbor’s backyard, or even better, there is a giant statue residing at the Guayaquil airport. If it is sunny, take a stroll down the famous Malecon, the view of the bay is beautiful! If warm weather does not suit your taste, why don’t you take the most dangerous mountain ride of your life on the bus company Reina Del Camino. Take caution, they announce their ride as a speedy 4 hours, yet this trek takes around 8 due to ongoing construction to improve road quality. Be sure to look out for the “Diablo” on the side of the mountain, along with various waterfalls that add to the beauty of the country. The bus will stop at a less than desirable buffet restaurant on the way up outside of Santo Domingo- don’t waste your time. Purchase goods at the bus terminal to tide you over to Quito, you won’t regret it! In Quito there are plenty of historical locations to visit and rather modern amenities like two large shopping malls and quite a few American chains. Be sure to watch your bags closely, they are familiar with tourists and are quite sneaky when snatching bags. If you seek homey accommodations in Quito, look no farther than the Hotel Interamericano. The rooms are quite toasty with hot water, and Wi-Fi is available from all parts of the hotel.
If you are searching for “the road less traveled by”, like my family, head on over to the coast! There are plenty of small towns that should spark your curiosity. Whether you spend quality time milking cows on a family member’s hacienda, or decide to experience the school life for a day, you will without a doubt experience traditional life. In Chone, every seventh of August there is a giant parade celebrating the Saint Cayetano and it never disappoints! Stay at the hotel Los Naranjos, right in the middle of the action on La Calle Washington. For some time at the beach, head over to Manta. Similar to Guyaquil, Manta is a coastal city with beaches galore and plenty to keep everyone in the family occupied. From Manta many coastal cities can be reached and a whole new adventure can take place! Take your pick; the street signs will direct you to your desired destination. For an exciting day, try whale watching in Puerto Lopez, you will never forget this amazing experience!
Whatever you may choose to do, remember to enjoy your trip and learn from the Ecuadorians! Their laid-back lifestyle is something to go home with.
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