Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reasons I've Chosen Ecuador.

I seem to be getting this question often. I understand why I would be. I also understand why I've chosen Ecuador. Here's 10 reasons...for now.

1. Ecuador is relatively small, about the size of Nevada. No, there's no Las Vegas. A smaller country will make my goal of being able to poke fun at lame cities and lame regions, in a similar way that I joke about Houston, or maybe Waco, that much easier. Silly, but we're being honest now.

2. The weather in Ecuador is terribly agreeable. There is a rainy season, but being on the waistline of the Earth renders the climate conducive to swim trunks. Not to mention sunburns.

3. The geography is wildly varied. There are mountainous regions. There is the coastline. There are the Galapagos Islands.

4. Speaking of Galapagos, the flora and fauna are equally varied. I'll have new fruits and veggies coming out the wazoo, literally.

5. Ecuador provides an interesting cultural experience. There is African influence in the north, Spanish influence in the cities, missionary influence peppered throughout, and a strong contingency of indigenous groups living all around the country, including the Quichua and Waorani Indians.

6. The political system interests me. Our government would like us to believe that Ecuador is the third, albeit least threatening head of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the hell of socialism...the other two, of course, being Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia. The truth is likely much more complicated. I want to explore that complication.

7. The citizens, especially the indigenous people are becoming more active in the protection of their mega biodiverse country, specifically in terms of ecological conservation, but also conservation as relates to cultural conservation and issues of social (in)justice.

8. None of my close friends have ever been to Ecuador, and it'll be nice to know the weight of my description of it to people back home. They'll have to take my damn word for it.

9. Ecuador is in a strategic place for South American travel, Cameron-style. I'd like to visit, in order of interest, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, and Cuba. Ecuador shares a border with Peru, and the others are almost equally accessible with each other, with the obvious exception of Cuba. Cuba would be a dream come true, though.

10. The people of Ecuador seem terribly gregarious. Given the troubles they've had in their existence, especially with their Bolivarian fight for independence from Spain and their more recent economic hardships, I get a sense that they've emerged a happy and hopeful peoples. This I gather from my discussions with folks who have visited or lived there.

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