Sandwiched between Peru and Colombia, Ecuador is a small country in the north west of South America. I discovered a lot about this beautiful country when I visited the capital city this year (2015). Let’s calculate Ecuador’s coolness factor:
- Ecuador was born in the early 1800’s: Ecuador, Columbia and Venezuela were a single country in the early 1800’s. But soon after independence from Spain, the combined country (called Gran Columbia) disintegrated leading to the formation of these countries. Another interesting fact: the flags of all the three countries have the same colors – yellow, blue and green, with slight variations.
- Ecuador is the only country in the world that is named after a “GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURE”: Ecuador pretty much means “equator” in Espaneol. There is Equatorial Guinea, but despite the name, no part of the country does not actually lie on the Equator, as opposed to Ecuador, whose capital actually lies on the equator.
- Darwin studied his Theory of Evolution in the Galapagos Islands: It was the uncountable varieties of species found on various islands of Galapagos, where Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution and Survival of the Fittest.
- Largest species of tortoise is found in Galapagos: The largest species of tortoise is found in the Galapagos. Some of them can weigh upto 300 kgs. Gasp!!
- Main avenues/streets in the capital city are named after important dates: Most important Avenues and Street names are based on important dates, as opposed to important names. Seis de Deciembre for example is the date the foundation of Quito was laid. And the main avenue in Quito is named after this date. Creative, I say!!
- You are closer to sun from Cotopaxi than from Everest: Cotopaxi is a dormant volacano on the outskirts of Quito. Although not as high as Mt. Everest, but Earth’s bulge on the equator makes its summit reach out higher in the space than the latter. You will literally be “on the top of the world” at the Cotopaxi peak.
- Guinea pigs is a common pet in Ecuadorean homes, and also a delicacy: Guinea pigs are tamed as pets in Ecuador as they can sense seismic activity, which is important due to large number of volcanoes in the region. However, it is pretty astonishing that these pigs make it to the plates of their owners once they grow up.
- Peru and Ecuador do not have the most cordial border situation: Peru and Ecuador have long standing border issues due to control of territory. Energy security is killing the world, one drop at a time.
Moment of Truth: Stepping on the equator line, standing closer to sun than any other point on the earth and the Galapagos brings up the coolness factor of Ecuador to 3/5**!
Budget: Ecuador is not expensive (& it uses USD as its currency). Hostel accommodation can be found at 7-10$/day/ home-stays ~ 15-20$/day, local transport @ 0.25 $/ride and food @ 2-5$/meal. Budget wise it would be a backpacker’s dream destination! Except for Galapagos (EXORBITANT), rest of Ecuador is pretty much the same budget!
Safety: I wouldn’t call it unsafe, but of-course, the basic laws of safety apply here. You have to be extra careful about carrying your money around at night. If you are traveling early in the morning to the airport, I would suggest taking a cab. There have been instances of people getting robbed on knife point in the presence of a cop!!
Planning to visit here soon. Check out things to do while you are there!
**The Moment of Truth is driven entirely by personal experiences!