I haven’t been to South America previously, although I have traveled to Latin American destinations including
Mexico, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Besides a strong suspicion that I would need to slow down my daily pace, I am not sure what to expect. My friends that have visited go because of the great bird diversity. Ecuador is about the size of Colorado, yet has almost 1600 species of birds, many of which are endemic to a specific region of the country! Some travel to Ecuador because of an interest in the Amazon and all its wonders. Or they go because of the Galapagos Islands – home of Ecuador ’s finches and the site that had much to do with development of the theory of natural selection. Darwin
A poster in the upstairs hallway of a hostel in Quito.
The diversity of birds is one major reason people travel to Ecuador.
On the airplane from Newark, I started reading The Ecuador Reader (Carlos de la Torre and Steve Striffler, editors, Duke University Press, 2008). They begin by discussing the relative lack of identity of
(to the outside world) except for the above mentioned ecotourism destinations. They note that Ecuador Ecuador is overshadowed by Peru to the south (characterized as a source of raw coca or the home to Machu Picchu) and to the north (the source of images of violent drug traffickers and happy fictional coffee farmers like Juan Valdez). Columbia
From my brief discussions with Sue and Paul, my destination of Pimampiro is none of the above. I had seen some of the pictures on their Mountains of Hope website (http://www.mtnsofhope.org/index.html) and could tell that I would be in the northern highlands region of the country – in the
Andes. Not the lush tropical rainforests of , but rather what appeared to be a rather dry region with mountainsides that looked like patchwork quilts of agricultural fields. Some images of the Pimampiro region are below, but the trip actually begins in Costa Rica (to be covered in my next post about Ecuador). Quito
A view from Pimampiro looking west.
the tops of greenhouses (for tomatoes) are seen. The remnant clouds of the
rain showers overnight made for a dramatic backdrop.
A typical street in town.