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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Ecuador between two hemispheres

Ecuador between two hemispheres

This is the third time that I cross the Ecuador, this line that is separating the northern hemisphere to the southern. My first crossing towards the southern part of the world was in Uganda. I went back to the north when I was crossing the Atlantic. This time, I am crossing the transparent line in the country of its name.

The border between Colombia and Ecuador offered me a cultural shock, even though it was softer than the americano-mexican border or the sudano-ethiopian one.

 First impression… More calm, more quiet. This is the end of the constant movement, the screams and the honking. Without being as different as Bombay and the Sahara, I felt that the inhabitants were trying to not disturb anyone in the streets.

Second impression. Looking closer, the faces of the local people are very different with the ones of their Colombians neighbors. They are mainly natives. When you look at it, their charismatic faces seem to tell the dramatic stories of their previous generations.

Situated in the northwest of South America, Ecuador is quite unique. Its History, its geography and its population are worth to get interested in. It has been a very good experience to visit the second smallest country of this continent.

 

La mitad del mundo

First of all, this country is unique because of its name. Ecuador surely got his name because of its geographic place in the world. Indeed the latitude of Ecuador is passing through the country, separating the northern and the southern hemispheres.

Here is the map of Ecuador, with its latitude 0 crossing it

La mitad del mundo means in Spanish « the half of the world ».  The line of Ecuador, separating the planet in two, is passing by the north of Quito, the capital of the country.

Here I am at the mitad del mundo » in the north of Quito.

There it is possible to observe some interesting facts of physic. For example, did you know that the water is turning in a different direction whether it is in the northern hemisphere or in the southern one.  More strangely, it doesn’t turn at all while on the line of Ecuador.

The water is turning in different directions in each hemispheres

Video about the water in Ecuador CLICK HERE

Also, it seems that there it is possible de put an egg on a screw while on the line of Ecuador. The geographic situation helps in this case.

If you are on the Ecuadorian line, it will be easier for you the stand an egg on a screw

As I am not good at all with this kind of things, I didn’t succeed in this task. However, I have seen other people doing it much better than me.

One of the interesting things about Ecuador is indeed its geographical situation. I was ready to travel the country to know a little bit more about it. I kept going by hitchhiking as usual, but I tried something a little different on the way.

 

Hitchhiking in Ecuador

Ecuador hasn’t been very difficult to hitchhike. Stopping car was pretty easy and I kept going on my way to the south of South America.

Stopping cars was quite easy… When they could see me on the side of the road!

I didn’t really wait for a long time and it was many cars on the road.

Les temps d´attentes ne sont pas forcément longs et les véhicules plutôt nombreux sur la route.


Hitchhiking for a girl

It happens sometimes that I keep going with traveling friends I meet on the road. This allows me to share my ideas and feelings about the country and the situations happening in front of me.

This time, I have been able to try another kind of experience.

I have always been surprised by what the girls hitchhiking were telling me. Almost all of them would wait 15 minutes when I would stay 2 hours on the same spot. This time, I wanted to see if this fact was true. I decided to tour half of Ecuador with a young Spanish girl I met on a foundation I visited.  In this way, I will be able to compare the time that I will wait in the first half of the country that I will do alone, and the other half I will realize with Arancha.

During the first half of the country that I did alone, I didn’t really wait more than in the other Latin American countries, with an average of 30 minutes for each vehicles. This way, I will be able to see the difference if there is one.

In Ecuador, I didn’t really wait more than in the other countries

Difference, it has been!

I have been very surprised to see that hitchhiking in Ecuador with a girl allowed me to pass from an average of 30 minutes to less than 5 minutes. In fact, most of the time, the first vehicle would simply stop.

Me and Arancha on the back of a pick-up

Apparently, being a girl on the side of the girl help the male drivers to be helpful. Personally, I didn’t complain about it because it has offered me a kind of holidays in the middle of my journey. Thank you to Arancha for her collaboration.  

 

Selva, sierra, costa

As the culture of its inhabitants, the nature of the country is diversified. Like Colombia, Ecuador has three main kind of landscapes: the Amazonian rainforest (Selva), the mountains of the Andes (Sierra) and the coastal zone of the Pacific Ocean.

The three main zones in Ecuador

I didn´t go to the Amazonian rainforest, as I consider visiting it when I will travel in Brazil in few months.


The sierra

The Cordillera of the Andes is very different from the coastal zone. Its landscape, its population… It seems that it is two different countries.

The Cordillera has a lot of wonderful landscapes and is mainly inhabited by a population of Indians natives.

From one valley to another, the landscapes are wonderful in the Cordillera

In the mountains, where we can see the first lamas, it is possible to see the huts that the inhabitants are building with the local resources. In the middle of the fields, I could see houses made of stones or of dry mud.

 

Those same native people are also giving colors to the Ecuadorian landscape.  Especially in the villages, it is possible to see the population wearing very colorful traditional clothes.

Around Quito, I met a group of native who was going to realize traditional dances. Some of the clothes that they weared are daily used by them.

Color is very important in the Cordillera. I had the opportunity to go in a village in the south of Quito. The stairs that were climbing the mountain were surprisingly painted.

Those stairs were surprisingly painted in the Sierra of Ecuador

Indeed, I found that the Sierra was very colorful, but I also found that it was a little sad.  It is possible that the fact to come from a so lively country as Colombia helped me to have this point of view. Yes, the hobbies seem to be quite rare in Ecuador. Because of this, you can see alcohol appearing on certain tables, before the breakfast time. The bottles of beers are two times bigger than the normal, the standard seem to be one litter bottle. Alcohol is a society problem in this country situated on two hemispheres. I had the impression that every time someone started to drink, it couldn’t finish without being totally drunk… So the sadness of the situation.

However and as usual, the majority of the population behaved extremely well with me. Nevertheless, I have to admit that it has been difficult to interact with the native population.

 

The costa

From the mountains to the coast, from the sierra to the costa. Like in many country, the rule seem to be that the coastal people are more open that their neighbors from the mountains.

However, even if the Ecuadorian coast was more sociable, it has been culturally less interesting than the sierra. There is much less Indian native in this tropical part of the country.

The climate allows to grow a lot of tropical fruits. There are indeed a lot of bananas close to the portal city of Guayaquil.

Many of the bananas of the coastal zone are ready to be exported

The coastal zone is quite touristic. The main interest seems to be seasonal, when the whales come at this place. Many local workers are offering tours to see this wonderful animals in the ocean.

The whales are helping to develop tourism on the coast

 

From the spanish influence to the american

If the native population has been almost exterminated, this is surely because of the Spanish colonization from the 16th century.

Today, we can see a lot of building from this era, especially in the center of Cusco and Cuenca.

A square in the center of Quito

The cathedral of Cuenca

Even if the native population is more important in Ecuador than in Colombia, the Spanish influence is today easily seen, starting by the language…

Like in Panama, but maybe less, I also noticed an American influence in Ecuador. First of all, the money used is the American dollar, as at its neighbor of Central America. Also, in the big cities, it is very common to see the brands of shops or restaurants coming from the country of Uncle Sam.

It is possible to see the American influence up to this little shop. Here, we sell American clothes for babies.

The American influence can be seem especially in the way to consume. The vehicles, for example, are often coming from North America. It can be from Ford or Chevrolet, the famous pick-up is there in Ecuador.

 

 

At the end, I think that Ecuador has been a very good introduction to Peru, where I am currently. This little country is culturally very rich and this is already a reason to have a look there.

It is said that it is possible to go in few hours from the rainforest to the coast and going through the Andes. Without forgetting the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution, but there it needs more hours to get there.

The shy but attaching population let me a good memory. From the children with their red chicks to the very colorful clothes from the natives, Ecuador has been a very good experience.

I let you with a picture of my visit of a foundation close to Quito.

And the video coming with it !

CLICK HERE for the video

See you very soon,

Jeremy



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