So whilst you may think the Galapagos has it all, the Ecuadorian mainland has some impressive feats too. The Andes swathe through the middle of a beautiful country which also boasts coastline, active volcanoes and Amazonian rain forest.
The farthest point from the Earth’s centre is Volcano Chimborazo, which sits squarely in the middle of Ecuador. Hmmm sounds controversial, what about Mount Everest? Well Mount Everest is the highest point above sea level, but Volcano Chimborazo is the furthest from the centre of the Earth. This is because the World is not round but a bit squashed, and Ecuador being on the equatorial bulge means their highest volcano is the furthest point from the centre of the Earth.
I didn’t spend long in Ecuador but the main things to be noted were:
- Women have retained their traditional dress, which consists of long plaited hair under a Panama hat. Bright beautifully coloured shawls, pleated skirts, thick tights and the most sensible shoes. In rural areas these clothes are worn for farm work including milking cows and digging in the fields. I love seeing the traditional clothing, but do question the practicality.
- On Monday it’s changing of the guard time, and if the President is home he appears on the balcony and gives the crowd a wave. It was the longest changing of the guard I have ever seen – 25 minutes. That’s a lot of President waving!
- The armed police dress in futuristic outfits reminiscent of RoboCop. Scary and funny at the same time.
- Bus drivers in Quito are nuts. There are special lanes for the buses and apparently no speed limits, It felt like a theme park ride especially n rush hour. Try it!
However my most interesting and adventurous experience was getting a yellow fever vaccination which I had neglected to do prior to my trip, and required for my next stop – Colombia. A big shout out has to go the recent changes in Ecuadorian health care where immunisations are now free, a splendid idea allowing everyone to protect themselves and their families.
I managed to get the vaccination in a hospital in Southern Ecuador, which was a real test of my Spanish skills and the doctors patience. However there were no international certificates for proof of vaccination left, I would have to go to the Ministry of Health in the capital, Quito, brandishing a note from the doctor.
On arrival at the Ministry of Health it didn’t take long to realise that my request was most unusual. I was ushered through the metal detectors without being screened. Then chaperoned by a lovely non-English speaking receptionist through most departments within the Ministry (bizarrely including Human Resources) trying to find someone who could help with this request.
Eventually after several trips up and down in the busy lift the receptionist located someone who had the international certificates and more importantly the stamps! So I was given a little yellow fever booklet complete with lots of stamps. However I was not finished yet, I had to go back to the desk where I first started for yet more stamps. The Ecuadorian governments thoroughness and love for stamps was evident.
Interestingly I was then told I would have to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More stamps? More visits to Human Resources? I was, and still am, unclear as to why they were insistent on me going there. I decided to take my chances, not visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and head to the border…..