Opinion: Ecuador

I almost didn’t visit the coast, so will only speak (well, write) for the andine and amazonian part.
RICH. Ecuador is a rich country… whatever that means. They’ve got oil which they extract, refine and sell (unlike Colombia, where the refining is done by the USA and the re-sold to Colombia, doubling the price). That pays for roads and towns on the oil route. Away from that route the country does get some benefits, but that many/obvious. The goverment is looking at some intense mining at the moment as well, forcing the farmers who opposite the project to say hes by noy improving their infrastructures (increadibly obvious in the southern Loja area: the price of coffee is ridiculously high for farmers, but they’ve been promised lower prices and asfalt roads… if they give their ok to local mining). Still, the minimum wage is around 400 USD, whrn in neighbour Perú is around half of that).
HERITAGE. The andine past can be seen and felt in many places. They keep their language alive as well, along wtih many other traditions, clothing, etc. Still, that’s not always for good. Ancient traditions include arranging marriages for your children at the age of 12, beating women to be accepted, cock-fights as entertainment… Lots to improve (and yes, it’s obvious for me that changing all of these means improving. In some other cases I might not be so sure, but on this ones I have it clear). Oh yep, and they can bully Spaniards at schools for what they did 500 years ago?
TOURISM. The parts I visited are NOT touristic at all. Take Baños out of the equation and I wonder whether they really want tourists or not. Also, their reserved nature doesn’t help, specially in comparison with Colombia. It felt as a much more serious (and sad?) country to me. There lots of highlights to visit… but they really don’t make them appealing at all (nor easy to reach! Example: how do you get close to Chimborazo? No road sign, no bus, no clearly marked route…).
EXPENSIVE. Compared to surrounding countries (except, maybe, Brasil) Ecuador is much mkre expensive. 10 USD per night is the usual rate no matter how crappy the place. Sure, you can find cheaper places without much effor, but the state of them… Eating is ok, but the menus do not include a wide selection: you either eat what they have cooked that day or there’s nothing else. I liked Colombia and, specially, Perú so much more in that sense. Buses are VERY cheap, on the other hand, but also much more unconfy than those ones in Brasil, Colombia or Perú.
POLITCS. If you’re going to Ecuador trying to find what makes it such a special country for situations like the Assange case… Well, let me know if you fond it!! I couldn’t feel/read/hear/see anything!!

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