In June of 2007, I made the trek to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with my friends and officemates Bernardo, Edgar, Justin, Mike, and (eventually) Mike's girlfriend Tamarah. "Why Ecuador?" you may ask. As usual, my travel motivations were that I'd never been there and I had free places to stay. Edgar and Bernardo are both from Ecuador, so we were able to stay in various relatives houses for extended periods of time at no charge. I also felt no qualms about spending the money, as I passed it off as my reward for having lost 40 pounds over the preceding year. (See The ELEMental Diet for my easy two-step weightloss program.)((Also send $49.95 to me if this diet works for you.))
And thus it began, 2 Americans, 2 Canadians, and 2 Ecuadorians off on a South American odyssey. (OK, only one Canadian initially came. The law school Tamarah was supposed to be attending in the fall lost her deposit check and told her she couldn't come any more. Thankfully, it all worked out, but she missed the first week of the trip.) The 5 guys started with a drive from Ithaca to New York City in a rented minivan to spend the night in a house in Queens owned by Edgar's parents. Then up early to JFK, drop the car off, wait around, connect in Guayaquil, wait around, fly to Quito, get through customs, and meet Bernardo's parents a mere 12 or 13 hours later.
The view from Bernardo's house
Bernardo's mom Laura graciously set us up in her house and fed us our first Ecuadorian meal, a thick soup called Locro de Papa. It's a hearty potato soup that you genereally put cheese in and then mash in avacado as well. I would proceed to eat it many times during the trip. Fuelled by dinner and the addition of Bernardo's good friend Carlos ("Charlie") we decided to go out see what night life Quito had to offer. The most important thing I learned: in Ecuador you can buy an entire bottle of liquor and have it brought to your table. Also, buying an entire bottle of liquor promotes the finishing of an entire bottle of liquor. With that as a beginning to our night, you could say we had a good time (those of us who can remember the entire evening agree). After a number of hours of dancing, we got home about 3am, ready to get up early the next and be gin the real tourist activities.
Places to go: