Quito, Baños, Riobamba, Latacunga, Cotopaxi, Sangay, Chimborazo, the Amazon. For the last of the international journeys of the calendar year this has been quite an eye-opener. It also has a real chance at charting the course for my future. Before we get started on that, let me say that I've found Ecuador to be full of beauty and surprises. Ecuador beyond just another vacation destination on the list of places to consider visiting. It is alive, breathing, mystifying, vibrant, rich, TASTY, ever changing and popular with expats for good reason.
Take a second look at the picture above. I'm standing at the base of Chimborazo Volcano. Looking out over the sunrise I have "The Alter" to my left and Sangay to my right. The Alter is what remains of a great volcano that after7 years of activity finally collapsed. What remains are the four peaks that locals say are monks, thus the name. To the right is Sangay, one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is overdue for a major eruption. The setting is perfect. Rarely does it happen that you can see both sites on the same day with such clarity. I felt honored. On top of that, one of the most famous Volcanoes you cannot see but is directly to my left, fully lit by the sun, and called Chimborazo.
Most people hear Ecuador, and the first thought is the Galapagos Islands, but if you came here to see just that, you would be making a great mistake! Quito is a colonial city and drastically different from the Coast. Riobamba is at the heart of the country and just about every type of food or product passes through. In the Amazon, your thought of life and living is turned completely upside down. In between you see geography like nowhere else.
As of this writing, it's almost 3 weeks of exploring here. Staying in modest accommodations, meeting friends along the way, eating some of the best fruits and veggies, and experiencing an ancient Shamanic Ceremony in the Amazon. I have 5 days remaining, and for these I intend to make the most. I'll be visiting Otavalo, a market to the north of Quito. While there I'm going to visit an authentic family owned textile operation where Alpaca blankets, scarves, hats, indigenous socks, leather products and Tagua jewelry are made and sold. I'll be bringing back as many items as I can, and perhaps this is the beginning of an import/export business in Ecuador. I'll find out and will be taking photos and videos of the process. Once completed the products will go up on the website and Facebook for anyone to purchase.
As for a group visit, this one is more active for sure. I'll be putting together a visit for those of you that like the great outdoors, are in good physical shape, and the thought of climbing mountains flips your switch.
Last, I want to note that I have been following along with the current state of the vaccine, and all the politics that go along with the health of the Nation. With that said, I have been in discussions with my partners in Costa Rica and have negotiated better pricing for February of 2021. This is a Valentines Getaway on Costa Rica Exotica Extraordinary. The normal rate is $2599, and I have been able to negotiate down to $2099 per person. You'll need to make the reservation by letting me know directly, so I can avoid unnecessary merchant fees. I've also worked with them to make this happen and have brought down my cost as well.
It's going to be a group of no more than 10, and include two locations of luxury accommodations, one of a more Treehouse feel in Monteverde, tours included, transportation while on the ground, meals, etc. Currently there are no testing requirements to enter Costa Rica, however it is something I must insist on in order to protect the group. I'll need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure and a verbal agreement to keep as isolated as possible before leaving.
I assure you, there will not be another opportunity like this in the future. Check it out and let me know!