Enter Ecuador

Green vine snake (Oxybelis brevirostris) in Bilsa reserve, coastal Ecuador rainforest.


The gun motioned me out of the taxi. He spoke no English, I spoke little Spanish but it was the international language of crime- there was no mistaking the meaning. I looked into the backseat where my backpack containing all my belongings lay sprawled out. The glint of the streetlight on the gun brought my attention back to taxi driver. I pleaded in broken Spanish even as he groped forward checking my pant pockets for cash. I pushed myself backwards out of reach, opened the door and fell out onto the abandoned street and into the wet, stinking gutter. There was a stretch of 5 seconds where we simply stared at one another and then he took off, leaving me with nothing. The morning fog swallowed the car. I stood, defeated, hardly believing…

The memories from my last trip to Ecuador are still vivid in my memory. I don’t know why I was coming back. Was it to show that I had nothing to fear? That I was older, wiser and wouldn’t be pushed around? Whatever it was that brought me back I was determined to be more careful. I hoped that I had learned from my Guyana experiences, I prayed I was hardened enough to endure round two with Ecuador.

I am running to catch my first flight, bag full of camera gear strapped over one shoulder, inflatable kayak on the other. Yes, inflatable kayak. It is time to paddle on the river of dreams down the Amazon into Yasuni and Cuyabeno national parks. Call it an overreaction to Iwokrama’s canoe incident, but I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t take their canoe ever again! So, here I am running through the airport, paddles flailing away slapping and snapping at onlookers not quick enough to jump out of the way. I went over mentally all my belongings making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.

I had made a very sensible list of things to do and not to do before traveling to Ecuador.

1) I would arrive at a reasonable hour in Ecuador so as not to endure the scourge of Quito, the nighttime taxis.

2) I would not take a monstrously heavy book to weigh me down and make me curse every moment spent with a backpack on my back.

3) I would not have anything sent by mail so as not to be screwed by foreign mail services.

Well, before I left my good friends offered me Shantaram to take along with me. A great book, though only slightly lighter than War and Peace. Fuck! Am I really going to have to lug this around up and down mountains?!

My 5D ii out of commission since Guyana I bought a new one just prior to leaving and asked the sender to send it by whatever mail service would get it to me before I left for Ecuador. Go figure the guy cheaps out and it arrives 1 day after I leave. This shit is turning into Guyana all over again?! Not only that but the customs are $280, the postage is an additional $60 and I still haven’t got the package. Thank you very fucking much!!!

I get on my flight, all is nice and smooth until my flight is delayed once…and then twice and now suddenly my comfortable 5pm arrival time is 1am. I arrive into a city that I am already leery of at the witching hour. The thieves emerge and dogs roam the streets in packs. This is not how I wanted to start this trip…


3 Responses to Enter Ecuador

  1. Jim McClarin says:

    It is helpful to know one or more taxi drivers so you can request their services when you arrive. Your story makes me wish I had hung onto contact info for a couple I socialized with in Quito as I am heading there shortly.

  2. pbertner says:

    Hi Jim,

    I think that as long as you get a registered taxi from the airport or you use a service that chooses one for you there should be no problem. Also if there’s more than one person in the vehicle that is always a very strong deterrent. Also if you’re chatting with someone before you get in the taxi (whether you actually know them or not) and you tell them to take down the number of the taxi this can also thwart some malicious intent. Hope that you have a great time though, Ecuador’s a beautiful country.

    Best wishes,

  3. Jim McClarin says:

    Yes, well, I’m moving there. The city always worries me much more than the countryside where my land is. I’ll be bringing equipment with me that would be hard for a thief to peddle but which I cannot afford to replace so I’m extra security conscious on this trip.

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