Why Did I Go to Ecuador?

Plaza Independencia in Quito

Plaza de la Independencia in Quito

A reasonable question, one that I have been asked frequently by people who know me. My answers will probably tell you a whole lot more about me than about Ecuador:

  1. I am drawn to South America because it is at one and the same time strangely different, yet not to the extent that I would feel totally at sea. And it has been so neglected by North Americans.
  2. The Andes are incredible. When my brother and I were lost on a road that was not on our map, we suddenly came upon the volcano Chimborazo, which was not only striking in its own right, but surrounded by herds of wild vicuñas. It was a magical moment of the type I keep having in Latin America.
  3. You can always find a bench at a beautiful tree-shaded plaza, get a shoe-shine, and do some world class people watching.
  4. It’s so nice to leave Los Angeles during a heat wave and find oneself in the mountains.
  5. South Americans feel so out of the way of “mainstream civilization” that they tend to be friendly and curious. I keep having interesting conversations with locals who know a little English; when they don’t speak English, I just try to carry on with my poor Spanish.
  6. I have a positive loathing of mosquitoes, so I tend to avoid jungles.
  7. It’s fun to spend the months before vacation time reading up on a culture with which one isn’t familiar.
  8. After standing on the zero meridian at Greenwich Observatory in London, I always wanted to stand on the Equator.
  9. Nobody I know knows anything about Ecuador.
  10. Ever since my visits to Mexico in the 1970s and 1980s, I fell in love with Pre-Columbian art in all its variety.

There’s probably half a dozen more reasons I could come up with, but this’ll do for starters.