Though the Muse has adequately answered the question, “Why Ecuador?” I’m going to take the opposite tack and ponder the question: “Why not Ecuador?”
You see, we Americans like the familiar. That’s why we’re so apt to head for Europe—if it weren’t for the fact that the Euro makes a trip to France an impoverishing experience—or to take a cruise—yup eating 24/7 and lying in the sun is really my idea of a good time. Hell, I’ve got relations that won’t go to Canada because it’s too foreign.
So in deciding where I wanted to live (note that I didn’t say ‘vacation’) for 10 weeks, I measured many factors, but perhaps the most important was the notion of ‘foreignness’.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “But Mooch, if you really wanted to get ‘foreign’ you could have headed for Nepal or Laos, Tokyo or someplace in the Middle East.” And you’re right, though I did say that foreignness was the ‘most important’ factor, not the only factor. So…how did I settle on Quito? Well first off I wanted to head someplace where I could practice my lousy Spanish, and that meant Central or South America. I’ve already been to Central America, and judging from the reactions of my friends, Quito is quite sufficiently foreign.
I wanted a city with a lot of history and that meant one of the old Spanish colonial capitals: Quito, Lima, Santiago, Asuncion, La Paz. I wanted a place where I wouldn’t hear a lot of English, and I wanted altitude. That eliminated Lima, Santiago, and Asuncion. Of La Paz and Quito, I knew that the latter is a bit safer for Americans just now. So Quito got the nod!
Was I right? Who knows, but here’s the thing. In Quito, I can go a whole day without anyone speaking English to me unless I ask. In Quito, I can live for about $30.00 a day, and that includes the cute little apartment that I’m renting in the Centro Historico. In Quito, I get beautiful weather every day along with stunning views in every direction (take that Lima!) In Quito, I get a World Heritage Site that hasn’t morphed into some kind of Disneyland for backpackers (take that Cuzco!).
In short, the question “Why not Ecuador?” answers itself.