There are a lot of similarities among the organized trips here in Ecuador. Of the established companies here, everyone does a really good job. And how could you not with the everything this country has to offer. Just the “classic” runs that really are must-dos for paddlers coming to visit Ecuador: the Quijos, the Cosanga, Upper Miss, etc…. So what differentiates one organized trip over the other?
Details. Maybe it is the quality of guide used. Or the hotel used. Or the menu chosen for the trip. Or the pririoty placed on being part of the community rather than an isolated group. Still all these are of course icing on the cake on top of the incredible rivers used here. Eveything is in the detail.
One of the details that differentiates our trips is the fact that we have our groups arrive a day early–on Friday evening.
Why? Two really good reasons: We have been running trip sin a lot of different countries for twenty years now. So we know never to underestimate logistcs. Logistics like the fact that flights into Ecuador tend to arrive late at night. And flying into 10,000 feet, there is a good chance that things can get postponed for landing (meaning coming in the next morning). And since a lot of our paddlers are coming from near-sea level, there is a need for some acclimatizing.
So there is no reason to fly in at 1AM and then be on the road to a river the very next day–maybe with/without your luggage, maybe with/without the necessary oxygen….and to top it all off: Quito is a fascintating city!!
The spot on the map called Quito came about when the Incas made Quito one of their capitals. The Incas were not the original indigenous group in Quito, but they had the biggest weapons!! So before long their language: quichea, was the main language spoken in the region. Quichua was the inca language originating more out of Ecuador, quechua out of Peru. But even within Ecuador, the quichua language is different (kind of like the difference between english in New York and english in Missippii!!). When I ‘googled it, I found the following: “there is no single Quechua language–instead there is what linguists called a dialect chain across most of Western South America, in which speakers of one Quechua language can understand the languages spoken by their immediate neighbors, but not a language further from them.”
An example of this: “thank you” in spanish is is “muchas gracias.” In the quechua of the oriente it is “ashka pagracho,” and in the the sierra, one interpretation on muchas gracias is “pagillati.” [Note here: there is a literal translation going on here so there could be some disparity–hey, I am an american trying to understand a third language–a pretty big feat for an american!!] What a way to confuse a poor gringa!!
So what does ERA do with an extra day in Ecuador unlike other outfitters? We do a cititour. Loading up our gang with a guide and driver, we go exploring the old town of Quito and then the equator. Quito is full of 15th century architecture that rivals many of the early designs of europe. And of course, there is the equator. Why in the world would you come to Ecuador and not test out the equator theory (come on, you know: which way does water flush on which side of the equator?!?!)
And then an evening in the new part of Quito–a city that rivals Georgetown or Manhattan for its hip restaurants, bars, internet cafes, clubs and dancing places. Before heading out into the oriente, why not enjoy a bit of civilization!!
After a delicious dinner tonight from one of many international cuisines available in Quito, we will load up tomorrow morning, head over the 14,000 pass, and be on the river by lunch. We can’t wait!!