A friend of mine and I travelled from Arica, Chile to Quito in Ecuador in a Mitsubishi Pajero in June 2008. The trip was supposed to be only 2-3 weeks but it turned into nearly a month filled with a lot of adventure. During the trip someone broke into the car, we both had food poisoning and I’ve seen wildlife that I never expected to see. In Ecuador I saw poisonous snakes, hummingbirds and various butterflies and plant species for the first time in my life. Peru was also an eye opener seeing the wide gap between the rich and poor.
The Itinerary to Ecuador
We left at the end of June on our two-week road trip which turned into nearly a month! Pancho’s itinerary was as follows:
- Visit plantations near Arequipa and stay with one of his friends for the night in Camana
- Drive to Nazca to visit another plantation
- Stay in Chincha a few days to visit Fruchincha, a massive plantation
- Go to Lima with Arturo, the director of Fruchincha and meet a friend of Pancho
- Stay in Lima a couple of nights
- Drive to Quito with Arturo and Pancho
- Spend two nights in Quito
- Drive back non-stop to Arica, stopping off here and there to sleep
- Fly from Arica to Santiago de Chile for a week
My Travel Buddy
My friend, Pancho is a businessman and he travels a lot in South America and Europe trading whatever he can. After the round trip to Quito we also went to Santiago. During the entire trip we shared the accommodation costs and some of the fuel, and I paid my own food – which was quite cheap! The entire trip came in at just under $400 for the month, which is hard to beat given all the things we’ve done.
We were staying in small hotels and at the landowners’ places on the way up and mostly slept in the car on the way down. Pancho sells agricultural stuff and we visited many huge plantations, some of them 11,000 hectares or more.
The trip wasn’t only an eye-opener in terms of seeing the divide between rich and poor, but it also helped me learn a huge amount of Spanish. He didn’t speak English and I was eventually forced to use only Spanish which was great. Within a month I was so advanced they took me on as an intern at the local newspaper in Arica!
I had a quite simple trick: I had a dictionary on me and exploited Pancho’s patience. In the evenings I always turned the TV on with subtitles and learned Spanish that way. I did the same when I learned English and it worked perfectly for me.
By the end of the 11,000 kilometer return journey my Spanish was almost impeccable! Please come back to read more or have a look around on the site for more articles.
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