I arrived safely in Manta, Ecuador on Friday night. We had three flights to take: Asunción (Paraguay) to Lima (Peru), Lima to Quito (Capital of Ecuador), Quito to Manta (West coast of Ecuador). Door to door, the journey took 20 hours. I’ve taken longer journeys before and been fine but I found the 6 hour layover in Quito difficult.
We had to leave Asunción at 4am for our flight. That morning I had woken up after only 3 hours sleep. I got two hours more in the afternoon but then couldn’t sleep at night. I had only slept 5 hours the day before too. So essentially, between the time I woke up on Tuesday morning and went to bed on Friday night, I had only had 9 hours of sleep. On the bright side, I slept like a baby for 8 hours when we arrived (I’m no longer zombified!)
Ecuador is the ninth country in South America I’ve visited. I had spent a year in Colombia from 2011-2012 but never went outside of Colombia (I did go to the island of San Andres in the Caribbean but that is part of Colombia). We had plans to go to Quito and then the Galapagos islands last June but we decided to wait until this year.
I’ve been to all 9 of these countries within the last 5 months but I feel like I’ve only touched the surface. South America is a big continent. Whilst I’ve seen most of Peru and Bolivia and quite a lot of Argentina, I’ve not seen as much as I would have liked in other countries. One of the reasons I was able to explore these countries well is because I wasn’t working. I put aside a lot of money to the side and decided not to do any work online. This allowed me to see many things without having any responsibilities.
You can still work whilst travelling. It just makes it more difficult. You need to plan things out better and you need to make some sacrifices along the way. Sometimes this means missing out a town altogether or not going on that trip you hoped you would. I’d rather do that than not travel but I do admit that sometimes I look back and wish I did one thing or another. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
So due to relaunching this blog and working on my new book etc (i.e. work mode!), I’ve not seen as much. We spent a few days in Chile, one week in Uruguay and two weeks in Brasil. We also stayed in Paraguay for a month and Colombia for 5 weeks (Nov/Dec) but we worked all that time so didn’t travel around.
I’m hoping to get the balance right in Ecuador. There’s a lot of great things to see so if we plan everything out correctly we can get a lot of work done and see some amazing things along the way.
As you can see from the map of Ecuador on the right hand side (thank you World Atlas), Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America. Despite this, bus journeys can still be long. Partly due to the Andes running right through the country and partly because of poor roads and traffic.
What’s interesting is that they use the USA dollar here as their currency. This happened in 2000 to combat the high inflation of their previous currency – the Ecuadorian Sucre. They use USA notes and USA one dollar coins but all coins worth less than a dollar are unique to Ecuador (and therefore cannot be used anywhere else).
It’s great to be using dollars. The US dollar is the de-facto currency of most people who work online so it’s a currency I am very familiar with. Many hostels and hotels in South America will quote their rates in their local currency and in dollars so I always found myself converting prices to US dollars rather than UK Pounds.
In Brazil we used Reals, in Bolivia we used Bolivianos, in Peru we used Nuevo Sols, and in Paraguay we used Guaranís. What’s more confusing is the countries that use the Peso: Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay.
We travelled from Chile into Argentina. Then Argentina into Uruaguay. Then back into Argentina. Then back into Chile…..and then onto Colombia. We didn’t always manage to spend all our money in any one country so my wallet is full of pesos from all these countries. And they all have different exchange rates!! Grrrrrrrrr!!!
Manta is the second biggest port in Ecuador. It seemed ok but not a great place to stay. So after a good nights sleep, we left Manta yesterday afternoon for the beautiful fishing village of Puerto López. We’re staying directly across from a beautiful beach and the hotel has a swimming pool too. Happy days. I’m really looking forward to running again as it wasn’t possible to do when we were staying in big cities.
For $33 a night we have a room with two double beds, air conditioning, cable TV and, most importantly, internet. I mentioned last week in my recent video that I was concerned about the speed of internet here. So far…so good.
In Manta the download speed was about 3mb/s however the connection did drop a lot. The connection here seems much more reliable but the speed has been up and down to say the least. When we first arrived I checked the speed of the connection through SpeedTest. It was around 1mb/s download and 9mb/s upload. Yes that’s right….my upload speed is 9 times higher than my download speed. It’s bizarre. Normally it’s the other way round.
After walking around and having something to eat, I came home and switched on my computer. I checked the speed again. One minute it was 0.5mb/s, next it was back up to 1mb/s. At one point it practically stopped for 10 minutes. The connection wasn’t completely down but it had slowed down to only 0.06mb/s.
The good upload speed will help me if I want to do video chat. I’m hoping that the connection will remain steady enough for me to record some video chats and podcasts. I imagine there will be times during the day when the speed peaks and troughs. I just need to find out when those peaks are and arrange my schedule accordingly.
All things going well, we should stay here a week. This will allow me to relax and get some work done. We can then plan out our next destination. I’ll do my best to record another video for you guys this week and show you what the place is like.