There are two foods I recommend: humitas and lapingachos. Humitas are the South American answer to corn bread, and can be easily found in Ecuador and Peru. It is more moist and usually wrapped up in corn husks. (The corn husks are not meant to be eaten.) Lapingachos are tasty fried potato pancakes, usually mixed with cheese.
The intercity bus system in Ecuador is the worst I have seen in South America. The buses are crowded and falling apart, the roads are dangerous, and there are a million stops per ride. It’s so bad that you have to try it.
On The Blog
Riding the bus in Ecuador on the edges of cliffs will raise your blood pressure. I wrote a post that included video of such a cliff ride.
Most of the ride was on pavement, but I could have done without the one hour long skidding on mud at the edge of a cliff thing… Continue Reading
Ecuador City Guides
If you're only going to visit only Ecuador then I recommend you get this guide, which is far more detailed than the continental guide above, with options that cater to a range of budgets instead of only the shoestring backpacking crowd. Also it gives more respectable treatment to small cities and towns that the larger guide breezes over with a paragraph or two.
South America On A Shoestring Guidebook
This is the guidebook that I used in my six month trip in South America. The maps are excellent, the information is complete and thorough, and the reviews are accurate, which is why it's often called "the bible" by many travelers. The only problem is that everyone else has this book so if you are the type of person that wants to hit the isolated small towns you will be disappointed. My advice is to use this book for its maps and information on getting from city to city, but talk to the locals and other travelers for those isolated gems that Lonely Planet for some reason didn't find worthy to include.
Spanish For Beginners
My copy of this book is so beat up and weathered it's disintegrating before my eyes. I took it with me to South America because I loved how it was organized in a logical way that kept me motivated to keep studying. Lessons start short and easy and increase in complexity as you tackle frustrating readings that help take you to the next level. The only downside of this book is that it was originally published in 1957 so some of the vocabulary is very dated. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a modern equivalent of this book whose teachings approach the same quality. Last time I checked you can grab a used copy from Amazon for less than a dollar.
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