It’s not me, it’s you

It’s not me, it’s you

I’ve been doing some soul searching lately. Wondering if it’s me there’s something wrong with. Jolene calls me a hater. Is she right?

I had always pinned Ecuador as the country I was least likely to like. Why? I don’t know, it just never seemed like a nice destination. And I was right.

The thing is, I liked Mexico. I loved Cuba. They were not flawless, but I still had an overall nice time. Ecuador was different. It was horrible. Not nice at all. Worse than expected.

It’s hard to point to what exactly is wrong when you hate everything. But here’s some pointers at least:


I’m a sucker for big cities. The sights. The bars. The restaurants. Just wandering the streets “absorbing the city” or whatever they say on travel blogs. #wanderlust etc. So you’d think I’d like Quito then? I didn’t. I absolutely hated it. Worst capital I’ve ever been to.

Why? It’s hard to point to one exact thing. I had some issues with the high altitude which obviously didn’t help either. Also, the sights and attractions are pretty damn boring there. 

But the main problem is that Quito isn’t considered “safe” for tourists. All the research you find online say the same: Quito is relatively unsafe, be aware, avoid being out after dark, don’t show off any signs of money, walk in groups, avoid certain neighbourhoods, don’t take the city bus etc.

Even the official tourist app for Quito provides a guide for tourist to stay safe. Now I do realise that the situation probably isn’t that bad, but if the alternative is being stabbed in the neck I’d rather be safe than sorry.

So what’s the option? It’s taking taxis everywhere. And in Quito, Mr. Big City, they even have Uber. That’s better than Norway for example, so I was pretty happy right away. A few problems though: for starters, taking taxis everywhere is an awful way of exploring a city.

And yes, I do see the irony that a lazy piece of shit like myself is complaining about having to take taxis. Trust me, I do. It’s just a dreadful way of exploring a place. The stuff between destination A and B is usually what makes a city cool. The journey is more important than the destination, if you want to sound like a Facebook inspirational quote. But the main issue is just how useless the Ecuadorian Uber drivers are.

All over the world, Uber is a fool-proof system. Not in Quito. Maybe the GPS network is different here. Maybe the Ecuadorians don’t know the difference between left and right. We’re talking about the country that put up a massive “theme park” to mark the equator line, the centre of the earth, but got the coordinates wrong and built it all hundreds of meters off.

Cool monument – shame it’s in the wrong place

Anyway, I digress. When you order an Uber in Quito it’s a) minimum 10 minutes too late and b) it will AT BEST park two streets away from where you are. Every single time.

I don’t think we got picked up at the right location once. It was always a few streets down. When you watch them drive past on the app you just assume they will turn and come back. They don’t. They just stop in a random side street forcing you to walk over. When dropping you off, they usually ask “Is OK to stop here?” a little while away from where you asked to be dropped off. “Considering that is not the destination I entered in the app, that would be a no from me.”

It seems like a minor detail, but I use (and pay for) Uber exactly for the convenience of being picked up right where I am. How hard can it possibly be to follow instructions? YOUR PHONE LITERALLY TELLS YOU WHEN TO TAKE A TURN. Just take a left when your mobile tells you to take a left. How are you able to fuck up the simplest system in the world? It’s baffling.

So that’s boring Quito and its useless taxi system. Which didn’t even annoy me even in the slightest as much as the next point:

The food

Jesus. Christ. I thought Cuba was a culinary wasteland. I was wrong. When we got to Quilotoa we were so happy to finally try the “almuerzo” we’d read so much about. It’s basically a starter, a main and a drink for +/- $3.50. I know you can’t expect much for that price, but is it too much to ask that the food you’re served tastes something, anything? 

Then we sit down for dinner, and what do we get? The exact same menu. And the next day for lunch? The only thing available for lunch is almuerzo. And dinner. And lunch. You get the picture. It’s like a modern-day Groundhog Day, caught in a almuerzo hell for all eternity (three days). Imagine a dry, unseasoned overcooked chicken with rice and no sauce. That’s every meal in Ecuador.

Not sure if zoo or restaurant…

We also tried the local delicacy guinea pig. Yes, guinea pig. It’s not as bad as you might think, but still extremely chewy. Anyway, you get the idea about the food situation in a country that considers this to be a delicacy. 

The breakfasts are not much better. Unless dry bread and bland scrambled eggs tickle your fancy of course. Regardless of where you go, the food is awful. There’s no flavour, no sauce and no condiments. Nothing tastes like anything.

We tried all kinds of non-local cuisines the few times we had the chance, but the result is always the same: bland as hell. I think I broke the record for “worst meal ever” at least four times in Ecuador. 

I’m no food snob, but you would barely serve this kind of food in prison. This is fucking awful. If you served this as a last meal on death row the prisoner would most likely take the needle immediately.

And don’t come here and tell me “that’s just the way it is in South America”. I’ve been in Peru for five days now and every meal has been lovely. Fresh, juicy, flavourful, enjoyable. They even have their own almuerzo (which is awesome). So this one’s on you, Ecuador.

Hostal Conejito / Quilotoa

Jolene already touched on how Hostal Conejito is an awful place that everyone should avoid. We paid $40 per night, which is a LOT by Ecuadorian standards.  Needless to say, expectations were high. What meets us? The coldest, saddest looking room I’ve ever seen. It was absolutely freezing. Which they must know since they provided eight blankets.

You could feel the breeze coming from the window. You could FEEL the wind. Inside the room. We built what could best be described as a pillow fort using clothes, blankets and pillows to cover the cracks. The blanket we hung over the window rose up like the sail on a ship whenever the wind blew (which was constantly).

The toilet was freezing, and get this: There was no toilet seat. I’m paying $40 per night and I have to squat to take a shit? I waited 5 minutes for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and tell me I was Punk’d before I went to ask for a heater. The landlady laughed like that was a stupid question to ask for in a room with less than 10 degrees. The best she could do was another blanket, but considering we already had eight I (not so) politely declined and asked for a new room.

No need for A/C in this room

The second room luckily had no window. It says it all when “no window” is considered to be a positive thing. The toilet seat was a nice touch, while the lack of warm water was not. The room was also right in the living room, next to the kitchen. I’m not sure what the worst thing to come out of there was: the food or the noise. 

So we got three nights of sleeping with thermal underwear, hats and jumpers. We got three nights of eating the worst food we’ve ever had. We got three nights of listening to South American telenovelas and the screaming of a little kid with some serious mommy issues. We got three nights of ice cold water. And the power went out several times. In short: we got three nights of hell. We’d obviously a lot earlier if it wasn’t prepaid and our bus schedule was awfully timed.

Also, Ecuador isn’t anywhere near as cheap as you’d think. The bang for your buck is awful here, and much, much worse than in Peru. 

Other things I didn’t like here: the altitude, the (lack of) sights, the coffee, the shower temperatures, the food. Did I mention the food?

This didn’t work out Ecuador, and I’m blaming you. I’m moving on and never looking back.