You may not know but I lived in Ecuador for two years.. 20 years ago. I was an EFL teacher for The British Council. These were years in which I was still young enough to burn the candle at both ends. We'd work hard; very dedicated to teaching the best we could; we partied hard, dancing and drinking the night away, and we'd think nothing of getting on a bus for 5 hours up the coast or into the Andes just for the weekend. I lived in Guayaquil, one of the cities that has been ravaged by the recent earthquake. This tragedy inspired me to pull out a few old (not very good) photos.
Guayaquil was described by my then bible, The Lonely Planet, as a sweaty port, as I recall. It wasn't really on the tourist trail. A good thing, we all thought, as it was for the hardcore travellers such as ourselves, who wanted to experience real life without the tourists. I did, and loved it. I learned to dance salsa.. yours truly dancing at one of the many parties, with the British Council driver-cum-fixer, Segundo:
I bought the dress in the street market, (always a great experience), for about $2.
I wonder how the old town has fared in the last week. I know it was smartened up after these photos were taken, but I fear it will need much more smartening up now.
The cathedral in the modern part, downtown:
It was a hot place and life was lived on the streets..
I loved going along the coast, the Pacific. These places are very near the epicentre of the earthquake. I fear for those precarious villages along this stretch.
We stayed in beach huts made of bamboo. I thank this country for awakening some of my environmental concerns. I started to appreciate eco-tourism and how much damage tourists can cause. These places trod softly on the planet.
I like the look of this initiative, started up by Ecuadorian students based in the UK. It must be heart-rending to watch what is going on at such a distance when you have friends and family in Ecuador: Fuerza Ecuador!