¡Hasta luego, Perú! See you soon, Ecuador!Quito, Fall 2012

While most IES students arriving to Ecuador flew down from the north, I am currently trying to make my way up from the south. Additionally, I have been trying to go north by bus!

Therefore, this can technically be considered as my pre-departure post.

It has been quite an experience full of countless buses that slowly seem to be bringing me closer and closer to the border. I am crossing on the Panamericana highway from Tumbes, Perú–a border-town that used to be part of Ecuador before the 1941 war between the two countries.

I’ve been traveling by bus since 10pm last night and my current bus leaves at 10:30pm which makes for a little more than a 24 hour journey…and I will still have not left Perú! So far, my journey has been: Huaraz-Trujillo-Chiclayo-Tumbes. From Tumbes I will cross the border where Guayaquil and Quito await me!

This really makes me appreciate the close proximity of everything in Ecuador. Bus journeys are never this long because the country is so small, yet extremely diverse. In addition, the 2008-elected government of (the controversial) President Rafael Correa has been aiming to develop Ecuador from all aspects. One aspect is the transportation: highways and roads in Ecuador are well-developed and definitely help connect the country.

Perú on the other hand, is much, much bigger and also has fewer developed highways (from what I’ve experienced). Latin American travellers that I met in Ecuador would always mention to me how efficient they find the transportation.

But in terms of traveling (cost-effectively!) buses have definitely been the way to go.

After I leave Tumbes, I have to go through immigration at Aguas Verdes which is claimed to be one of the most infamous border crossings in Latin America. This doubt has been augmented by the numerous comments locals are telling me: watch out, be careful of the thieves, there are robbers here, carefully guard your things!

Moreover, I will be arriving in Guayaquil, allegedly the most dangerous city in all of Ecuador.

This post isn’t to scare anyone, but rather to dispel some of the myths and exaggerated fears that surround Latin America. I spent one semester in Ecuador and two-and-a-half months afterward in Perú and I have never been assaulted or robbed to date.

In fact, I have experienced that Latin Americans are beautiful people. They are so friendly, outgoing, easy to talk to, and generous. Like in any place, you may find people who do bad things, but that is not characteristic of the region. Of course this is my opinion, but heavily supported by the fact that I am so excited to return to Quito for another semester!

I am excited for: living in Quito again, seeing my Ecuadorian friends, being hours from the beach and jungle, visiting my new and old host families, the inescapable reggaeton and salsa, and the food!

I will be meeting the new IES students (and reconnecting with the excellent staff) at our welcome dinner tomorrow evening – ¡Qué suerte!

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