Splitting up our initial homepage into smaller posts.
Heading North for a day w/Xavier, Taxi driver extraordinaire. We met him from the hotel (Casa Joaquin), which was a great boutique but in the heart of gringo-land, which I wouldn’t recommend due to the noise and distinct sense you are in a tourist area & because it’s very expensive.However, to us it was worth it because: we met Xavier, The breakfast is great (a blend of N American &Ecuadorian food and safe to eat) and the staff was excellent (especially once we all came down w/a bug) AND they held our stuff safely for a week while we traveled in the Galapagos! Overall, I found Ecuador in general to be very expensive. It’s beautiful though, such diversity and really rich colors, but their currency is the dollar and their economy is not great, though apparently much better in this last decade.
Xavier is in the middle. Excellent to meet such a good human early on our trip. It’s also one of the most important security concerns in that the taxi services are not regulated in most countries and it’s a real legitimate risk. We read/hear about horror stories (really just tourists being held hostage or at gun/knife point until they give over their PIN number and have their bank account emptied),& then the policia ‘unable to help’. So arranging transfer and land travel ahead of time with your hotel/hostel is really important and a solid source of income for the local community.