Reflections: An Ecuadorian Journal
-Ecuador uses American currency. Getting change is tough! Bring only small denominations (no $50 bills or higher). Bring $100 worth of $1.00 bills. I brought $50 worth of $1.00 bills and wish I'd brought more.
-If you are going for an 8 day boat trip through the Galapagos, look for one with an itinerary that does not keep returning to Puerto Ayora to drop off and pick up the 3 and 5 day passengers. That way you head out and see more islands, more wildlife and you're with ''simpatico'' travelers who all want to see the islands as much as you do!
-Have your guide walk the perimeter of the Otavalo market with you and quietly give you advice on price ranges. Then go back and start to bargain. Luis suggested. . . if the price is low, you can often bargain for the item at half that price. (starting price $4.00. . . you pay $2.00) If the starting price is ''high'', you will pay 80%. (Starting price $12, you pay $9 or $10.)
-Have a list of folks you want to buy for and don't forget that you have to get everything home in your luggage! You pay for every pound over the limit. The foldable duffel I packed was a life saver, as it allowed me to keep both pieces of luggage well under the limit.
-Pay attention to the weight requirements for small plane air flights. They'll weigh you, your luggage and your carry on before you get on the small plane. Once again, the small duffel did the trick! It was perfect for the Kapawi Lodge flights.
-Make one hotel your home base as you travel around. Make sure they let you leave your luggage in storage as you come and go.
-If you visit a rain forest lodge ask for a copy of the lodge's written pre-trip information before you leave home. I would have brought a larger day pack and set up our itinerary to leave one ''travel delay buffer day'' between the Andes Highlands, the Amazon Lodge, and the Galapagos trips if I'd had the rainy season delay information as well as the detail of weight limitations while still in the US.
-Get the sea sick patches that go behind your ear for the Galapagos cruise, at least on the smaller boats. I am not prone to sea sickness but I suspect I might have added that experience to my repertoire if I had not had the patch on our one rough night.
-Sign up for the US State Department's Warden Messages. It's helpful as you plan your trip to consider avoiding certain regions or city neighborhoods and to get a heads up on travel behaviors (i.e. take taxis at night in Quito, even to go two blocks.) Our Quito hotel had an armed guard 24/7. Don't not go!-Just be smart and informed.
-Travel with people who are flexible and have a great sense of humor and an unfailing sense of wonder. Thank you Kathleen for being a great travel buddy!