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Living in Ecuador: The Good, the Bad and the Annoying

Good Things about Ecuador
Rent is super cheap.  If you are paying $450, you are living the high life.  If you're not, you can get small unfurnished apartments for $150-250.  This was my apartment, $90 a month including utilities, shared with 2 other girls.






Food is super cheap.  You can live on $10 a day eating out all 3 meals.  Waiters are also full-service, and they don’t expect tips.  (You just have to be a little patient and don’t drink alcohol to stay within that budget.)
Almuerzo del dia, or lunch of the day, is the best deal around.  You get a delicious bowl of soup, a meat, rice, a small salad/slaw, and a tiny desert.  All for anywhere between $2-3, depending on the place.


When you’re in a restaurant eating, other customers say good morning, afternoon, or evening to you as the come into the restaurant, or simply, “Buenas”.  They also say “Buen provecho” which means enjoy your meal.  I find this nice. 
People don’t in general stare at you because you’re a foreigner.  I’ve ha…
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Galapagos: Isla San Cristobal

I arrived in San Cristobal at about 9:30 am, on the 7:00 am boat out of Santa Cruz.  Thankfully, the ride wasn't as rough as the Isla Isabella boatride. Still, it wasn't fun, and it was hot inside the boat. I got to town and, using my map, found my hotel, Pension Suiza. It was a little ways up into a neighborhood but still an easy seven minute walk from town. When I found out there was no A/C, I was a little disheartened, but with a strong fan, it turned out to be fine. There’s a kitchen you can use and a refrigerator, which is very nice for leftovers and beers/sodas bought at the convenience store.
After settling in, I went down to the Malecon for lunch, where I had “chicken fajitas” which was a glob of chicken with mayonnaise and a few diced tomatoes wrapped into a cold flour tortilla. It was edible but was $6, plus a $3 iced tea = $9 just for a very basic, boring lunch.
After lunch, I took a taxi to Playa Mann, the best beach near town. There are plenty of shade tree…

Galapagos: Isla Santa Cruz

The Galapagos islands are amazing.  It's hard to believe that in the middle of the ocean it can be as hot and humid as it is, what with the ocean breezes and all.  I looked at Accuweather and it was 85 degrees but it sure felt hotter.  The humidity must have been at least 90%.

Once I walked 3 blocks to my hotel, checked in, and got to my hotel room, which was up four flights of stairs, I was dripping with sweat.  I was so happy to have AC, I sat there for about half an hour just to cool down.  While resting, I noticed this classy sign:
After cooling down, I went looking for lunch and happy hour and quickly realized how expensive everything is here!  A local beer in a bar is $4.50, a sandwich is $5.99 and a plate of spaghetti, $12.  I know that doesn't sound ridiculous to normal people but after Loja, where lunch costs $2.50 and a 20 oz Pilsner is $1.75 in a restaurant, I was not used to this.  I splurged on a $8 hamburger and a $9 2 X 1 margarita. With service charges, it was …

The Middle of the World: Zero Degrees Latitude and Quito

Arriving in Quito
My second time in Quito started out a little rough, as did the first time when I puked all night.  This time, I arrived at the Quitumbe bus station from Banos.  I'd forgotten to check to see what the taxi fare to the Mariscal Sucre area of Quito should have been ($12) so when all these people ran up to me at the airport, yelling out, "where are you going?"  When I told them Mariscal they said $12! $12!  I said no, I want a taxi with a taximeter.  (This is what Lonely Planet insists you do.)

So I went outside to the taxi area and waited for an open taxi.  A family nearby asked if I needed a taxi and I said yes.  They flagged one down for me and let me have it.  They were being helpful, the guy calmly asked where I was going, and I told him.  I asked if he was using a taximeter and he said "of course, it's the law" like I was some kind of criminal.  I felt absolutely safe and secure.

A half hour into the ride, when the meter was at $15 I st…

More of Banos: Ziplining and a Person Puenting Off a Bridge

Banos is a haven for adrenaline junkies.  Canyoning, or rappelling down waterfalls, is offered at each of the 150 adventure shops jammed in 4 square blocks.  Most every shop rents mountain bikes.  Whitewater rafting is huge, as is zip lining and renting dune buggy-type cars.  So I went with Geotours on Lonely Planet's recommendation and on their high score for safety.

Some guy picked me up and drove me in a little truck to near where the waterfall road was.  When you enter the place, there are trout ponds where you can pay to fish for a trout.


Here's what a few tourists found in the trout pond:


Much better looking than the 1/8 inch thick trout I had one day in town.  So anyway, we walked up to the little office and got hooked into our harnesses.  Then we walked up to the first zipline.  I didn't get anyone to take a shot of me going down Superman style where you go head-first like you're flying.  Scaaaary.

We were up really high, maybe 300 feet?  And it was over rock…