Pablo Calderon takes a mystery friend to explore his native Quito. This first-time traveler was hooked, and no, he wasn’t paid commission by Ecuador’s tourism board!
Have you ever taken a first-timer on a trip anywhere? What sort of experience was it? Is it better to travel with a total outsider or total insider? Join the discussion on Google+
I’d like to write about a little trip I took back to my home country.
I wanted to explore how tourists see Ecuador’s culture, people, nation; and what their reflections are. I won’t talk about my own experience here, but instead, about those of the other person I travelled with.
Let me say a little about my mysterious friend.
She is 30 years old, has never travelled to another country ever, and she has no experience of touristic education or activity. As a first-time traveler, her opinions were 100% honest, and the only point of comparison was her own Mexican culture.
The first days: Mitad del Mundo, Templo del Sol and Pululahua (she liked Pululahua best)
So let’s begin, we took a direct flight with a Mexican airline that took 4:15 hrs. It took us to the new airport, a fully-renovated, comfortable set up, located 1 hour from the city center. The old one was in the middle of the capital city and just 15 minutes away from any destination – something I’ll just have to get used to.
During the first days we stayed at my sister’s house. Our first trip was to Mitad del Mundo.
We took a Quito Tour Bus, costing US$25 per person, which took us to Templo del Sol and Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve.
Afterwards, she said: “Ecuador has amazing nature, even in a capital city which you expect to be polluted, dirty and really stressful.
I find Quito not to be like that, you can still breathe the freshness in the air, you can see green all around the buildings, you can see technology and even if Ecuador is not a ‘big’ country their mountains are just all I need…”
“The touristic bus was not the best thing ever, just OK compared to Mexico tour buses, where tourists are “pampered” even more, but I guess that depends on the managing company. Templo del Sol was small but very interesting; Pululahua was the best part of the trip – to see all the green all around was a unique experience. And as for Mitad del Mundo, it was nice to be at the ‘O’ point, full of little shops and restaurants, and the monument and museums. But Pululahua wins this time.”
She had fun at Cotopaxi Volcano even though it was covered in cloud
The next day we went to visit the majestic Cotopaxi volcano. We took a private tour with a new enterprise launched by a Les Roches alumnus. It was an 8hr tour, and here are the comments:
“We wish we had been picked up earlier, as our guide told us, the earlier the better, when going for a hike to the mountains.
We travelled comfortably in a private 4×4 car, the tour guide was Ecuadorian but not so similar to the guide that we had the day before – he was very funny and sarcastic!
Unlucky for us, Cotopaxi was really foggy so we couldn’t see it, but we still had a good time.”
“First stop was on Limpiopungo Lake, the views were amazing and so peaceful, I loved it. The 1hr walk around the lake was both re-energizing and relaxing.
Then we went to Tambopaxi Hostel for lunch – where they serve the best seafood in Ecuador, it was just amazing.
We ate mushroom ceviche, fruit salad, barley soup, and home-raised trout. Nature is, from my point of view, Ecuador’s strongest point, and it seems that they preserve it very well.”
She gave her thumbs up to the Teleferico experience
“You can practically see all over Quito – the city, the nature, the fresh air. The ride to the top of the mountain is amazing, slow but the view is so much worth it. The hike walking to the top energizes.”
After 5hrs at this place, we did not want to go back home.
And so, to bed…
Finally, we took the recommendation of friends and family, and stayed in one the most exclusive hotels in Quito, which is located within the mountains but very close to the city, so you can see the view of the city and all the stars in the sky. The hotel and the food is great, everything decorated with Irish antiques so it gives a very ‘old’ feeling, yet still very connected to nature.
So what did his mystery friend think?
“Nature is WOW, Ecuador has so much to offer.”
So, resounding applaud then? Not quite…
“The tourism culture could be better, I did not feel rejected neither so much welcomed. It’s mainly due to the attitude of the locals who seem to be very direct but also kind of ‘dry’; but they do not mean this, is just the way they are. Culture is full of surprises, but nature wins it all.”
Hope you enjoyed reading. Be in peace.
For more pictures about this trip, you may visit: