View Full Version : Ecuador!

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Nov 24th, 2006, 09:23 PM
Big news!

I am going to Ecuador in February for 4 months to volunteer at a rescue/rehabilitation centre.

I am VERY excited as I have been building up to this for years, and I plan to learn and do so much (I'm even quitting my job and leaving my house... it;s really going to be a bit of a life-change).

I have to go and get vaccinations next week which I am not too pleased about cos I generally do a very good job at staying away from all medication (I realise I am very lucky here) but anyway I am busy getting myself at peace with that and that's not the point of this thread.

I was just wondering if anyone had any vegan experience of Ecuador. I am anticipating lots of fruit veg rice and noodles; I don't think it will be too bad, but any gems of wisdom are always so helpful.


Nov 25th, 2006, 03:39 AM
Wow! That's unreal pixeequeen! Congratulations :D

I've no experience of Ecuador, but just wanted to pop in and wish you all the very best!!

Nov 25th, 2006, 08:38 AM
I've been wanting to go to Ecuador for a while myself - please let us know if you find any interesting places there!

Here are some links to people/sites that may have interesting info for you:


Nov 26th, 2006, 10:08 AM
Thanks Roxy! It's pretty much everythig I've ever wanted to do a wooo hoo

And Korn, you are truly a legend, thanks for those, very helpful!

Nov 26th, 2006, 03:23 PM
That sounds exciting!

Out of curiosity, are you living with a host family or on your own?

Nov 26th, 2006, 04:10 PM
Ooooooo!! I was so excited when i saw your thread - i went to equador for 4 mths voluntary work (building type projects) in 2002 - i was 26 at the time - it was the most hardest time in my life but also the most amazing! I wasnt vegan at the time but i did have food avoidance stuff going on (i have ibs so had to be careful what i ate etc) do you know whereabouts you are going that would help me answer your questions?

Its also kinda hard to refuse food in some locations because it would be really offensive to your hosts but it really depends where you are, if your on a team or with a family or whatever - looking back i would have had very little problem being vegan in the situations i was in - we ate very little meat and dairy was like a treat :o especially in our first placement.

Oh and as for your vaccinations - i had them all including the typhoid shot and within a week of arriving in ecuador i had rampaging typohid which lasted for 6 wks!! Not pleasant - so just more proof that vaccines are not all they're cracked up to be and make sure you take antibiotics with you!!

Oooooo I'm so excited for you!! Let us know the details of what your doing - I think about my time in equador every day - the people i met there where just lovely and i will never forget them! I'm guessing you know some spanish or are learning it as you will need it!

Nov 26th, 2006, 05:22 PM
Tigerlily: Thanks! I'm going on my own and will be living on site at the project, its group self-catering style stuff which i think is the best option possible!

Chocs4me: wow!!!! wooo! Thanks so much, it's so good to hear a first hand experience, as everything is very much just what I've read at the mo.
I'm going to Quito, and the first site i'm volunteering at is fairly near there; then the 2nd site is into the Amazon a bit nearer to Puyo than Quito.

That's a reaally useful opinion on vaccines; I'venever needed any before so your knowledge is v useful, tho now I am scared I will catch everything :P

Haha as for Spanish; well I am attempting to learn! luckily there's some English speakers at the animal project, but I think it is hugely important and respectful to make the effort. Si.

Did you have to get a visa? I'm having trouble with this part as it reckons you need a special visa if you stay over 90days and I'm struggling to find definitive info or get in touch with the right people. Though I guess it may have changed since you went.


Nov 26th, 2006, 09:03 PM
De nada mi amiga!

Maybe i shouldnt have told you about the typhoid thing - sorry didnt mean to make you paranoid!! I was really scared of getting ill and i think this had something to do with me getting ill but also other stuff too like i was so run down already before travelling out there and then all the travelling and lots of hard work setting up 'home' when we got there that i was vulnerable - just make sure you are super healthy before you go and know the hygeine stuff!

I was in a place called Muisne for the 1st 2 months which is an island on the coast in esmereldes direction which was a real eye-opener and then we were in quito for the 2nd 2 months. The self catering bit is brill - you really should have no problems, we (team of 10 brits) had lots of rice, veggies, bread and beans, - the only thing is if you are going somewhere and will be served a meal and have no say in it - i didnt partake in a few items when i was there in certain circumstances but looking back i wish i had just ate/drank them cos i now can see more clearly that i may have hurt some feelings somehow even though i did explain i had stomach probs etc... but its all down to your own choice really! I think the typhoid also made me paranoid about eating anything i hadnt supervised the preperation of!! Definately try the 'platano' (plantain) and the yucca - yummy!!

The visa thing - i can remeber that but only vaguely - ours were all due up when we were in quito and we went somewhere official to get something done with them (extended or something i think) and i havent a clue what it was now (how helpful is that!! :D ) the agency the trip was arranged through kinda sorted it for us - are you in contact with anything like that to get the info you need? I would say do an internet search for organisations that send people to south america to do voluntary work and be really cheeky and ring them to ask - i can get you the contact of mine if you want.

Oh and quito has a few really big american style supermarkets which may even have soy milk in - you never know!!

You will pick up loads of spanish when you are there - i did a basic course before i went but learnt LOADS there because basically we had to to be able to communicate!! I just wish i'd kept it up a bit on getting back home but with no-one to practice with it makes it a bit pointless - but i so love the language!

Oh and i've just checked puyo is really near banos we went there for our weeks hol inbetween projects and it was a brill place for a hol - had a fantastic time and was just what i needed at the time - lots of vodka and dancing (just dont tell anyone it was me who told you - long story!) :D

Anyway - i could waffle on forever about ecuador - so if there is anything at all i can help you with just let me know!

Nov 26th, 2006, 10:05 PM

that's really good thinking about the Visa; I think I've read aout what you descrive - that you can get your tourist visa renewed after 90 days, but I'm not sure how it stands if your flight tickets are longer etc.

I think I'm inevitably going to have to hurt a few peoples feelings by refusing food;but hopefully self caering will mean most avoidanceof that. I think I'll nly go 'out' to eat if I have to.

I'd love to know what you got up to in Puyo ;)

Nov 26th, 2006, 10:47 PM
I think (although i may be wrong) that those who could afford to serve you meat would be less likely to be offended if you explained why you dont eat it than those who wouldnt serve you meat anyway cos they cant afford it if that makes sense? :confused:

I never went to puyo but banos (where our hol was) is near there and as to what we/I got up to i could fill a page or more-its a real traveller hot spot so i met people from all over the world there had lots of amazing conversations, lovely snogs :eek: (opps did i really say that?) met some gorgeous israeli men very good snogs :eek: there i go again! The drinks kept flowing, i danced my socks off every night (i love dancing) and the ealiest i was home was 4am - and i have a very touching memory of sitting on a bench till 7am talking to an amazingly tall handsome youth pastor from america - no snogs there but it wasnt necessary! I was the oldest person on the team (at 26!!!!) and i was the last to roll in every nite and the 1st up in the morning for the biggest breakfast i could find - it was just my kinda place, especially after the amazing but very difficult 2mths i'd just had - but there were reasons our situation was more difficult - i know yours will be better (you'll have to pm me if you want me to explain that 1) - anyway thats the short version of the banos story!

I would so love to back to ecuador one day - unfortunately my husband is rather unenthusiastic about it plus we have our little baba now and i wouldnt take him till he was a lot older!

Anyway keep me updated on your plans etc - i know i dont even know you but i'm so excited for you - it will be worth it 100fold and you will have stories to tell about it for years to come!

Nov 27th, 2006, 04:06 PM
Wow that's all so amazing.

I have a vegan passport, looks like I am going to be memorising the first few lines of spanish. With my gentle lisp and inability to roll 'r's should make for an interesting accent.

That many good snogs eh? This trip looks like its going to get better and better hehe.

i'm getting proper excited now! Thanks so much for sharing your stories, it's really helped with my nerves too!

Nov 27th, 2006, 07:25 PM
Wow, I'm sure you will have an AMAZING time!
I went to Ecuador a couple of years ago, and really enjoyed it. The country is beautiful, and the people are very friendly, and will generally go out of their way to help you out.

There is a veggie restaurant in Quito (El Maple) which serves wonderful veggie and vegan versions of traditional Ecuadorian dishes, as well as several other good places to eat. (see Vegan Volumes Quito guide (http://www.veganvolumes.co.uk/guides/samerica/ecuador/quito/quito.htm)for more info)

I was only in Banos for one day, but I remember there was a Mexican restaurant which pulled something vegan together for me.

When I was staying in the rainforest, I found very little meat was served, although quite a bit of dairy was used (including milk hidden in soups, or cheese in mashed plaintain), but I was able to find plenty to eat.

Be sure to try all the wonderful fruits you simply can't get inthe UK!

°buena suerte!

Nov 28th, 2006, 02:38 PM
It would make sense to get the right visa, because if you are on a fake visa any country hs the power to deport you.

I found these bits of info on the net for you:

A special visa is required to remain in Ecuador for more than 90 days

more at

Visa Documentation:
Most tourist visas are valid for up to 3 months. If you are interested in a longer program, we will assist you in applying for a visa extension. We recommend checking with your local Ecuadorian consulate for the most up to date visa information.

more at

Nov 28th, 2006, 03:09 PM
I went to that mexican resturant too!! It was really good if i remeber correctly!

Oh and i totally agree the ecuadorians (or at least the ones we were with) are just gorgeous people, they really looked after us and were very understanding of our strange english ways - i just loved them and they totally made my time over there special! I think especially as you are going out there as a voluteer they really appreciate that - i'm craving to go back now i'm getting to gab about it!! I was like you said in your original post - it was a life long dream to go do something like that and i gave up job and stuff to go - if i hadnt got with my now husband so soon after getting back i would have really liked to have gone back and done a years volunteering there - but it wasnt to be...

Keep meaning to ask what is the rescue/rehabilitation you will doing?

Nov 28th, 2006, 03:23 PM
Right I've just phoned the embassy, and may I say how wonderfully helpful they were! I can't believe I was worrying so much, she is going to email me all the details now :)

Thanks Helen, Herby and Chocs again for all that advice. Bit spooky that you've been to the same restaurant in Ecuador eh?! and I plan on trying every fruit that there ever was :P

If you are interested this is where I am going Chocs www.santamartharescue.org 7 or 8 weeks at each site woo wooo wooooooo
I really like the whole ethos of the place. another woooooooooo

Nov 28th, 2006, 04:19 PM
If you happen to have internet access while you are there, and you have time, keep us posted during your visit!

Nov 28th, 2006, 07:15 PM
I'm not sure if anyone mentioned this, but the most recent VegNews had an article on traveling in Ecuador. You should be able to order a copy through their website.

Have a great time! I'm so jealous!


Nov 28th, 2006, 09:41 PM
I'm not sure if anyone mentioned this, but the most recent VegNews had an article on traveling in Ecuador. You should be able to order a copy through their website.

Have a great time! I'm so jealous!


what! eh?! What are the chances! That's friggin perfick. *runs off to get a copy and read it over and over and over and over....*

Dec 1st, 2006, 03:10 PM
I checked out the link to your placements and it looks brilliant!!!! - your accomadation is the lap of luxury compared to our living conditions when we were there (but that was part the fun really!!) - and you've got plenty of time off too to do your own thing with the other volunteers which is just amazing!! Are you thinking about staying on after the placements to go traveling round a bit with your new friends you will be bound to make?! That would be amazing!! It really does sound good! :)

Dec 1st, 2006, 04:37 PM
Yeah I'll be spoilt really :p I hadn't really thought about afterwards, may risk staying an extra week or so, but will need to come back for stuff around that time. I hadnt thought about making friends, I hope I do! I definitely want to see the place, but for me it really is about the volunteering. Did you see any exciting animals when you were there?

I'd really like to go to the Galapagos but don't see me finding the money. N'mind, tI'll be going to the Amazon yeah baby yeaaaaaah

Dec 4th, 2006, 04:14 PM
Now you come to mention it we didnt really come across any of the exotic type animals- we had a really cute kitten in our first placement that adopted us and was to be found often curled up on our beds - lots of mosquitos, flies cockroaches and gi-normous spiders. Also in our first placement the local kids would delight in showing us the most humungous crab/lobster type creatures they found in the sea outside our 'house' (they let them go again after we had appreciated their brilliance and bravery in picking them up :D )

Hmmmm....in our quito placement i went up once a week to a community in the mountains and they kept animals there - rabbits, pigs, guinea pigs, goats.
Also in banos (this is horrible) but there are lots of street vendors spit roasting guinea pigs to sell they are complete with eyes and teeth as they roast and look like big rats - very sad :(

Dec 8th, 2006, 07:40 AM
Hi Chocs - amazing we go all that way & eat in the same place!

The creatures I saw were pretty similar to you - lots of insects - army ants, bullet ants (unfortunately loads of coackroaches & mozzies too!), all colours and sizes of tarantulas, snakes, tiny frogs, birds like tanagers, potoos, hummingbirds of course... Some monkeys ran off with some washing that someone had left out to dry, but I didn't see them unfortunately.

Dec 8th, 2006, 02:33 PM
Oh yeh - i know about the resturant thing - very surreal! Whereabouts did you go in ecuador and how long did you stay? (if you dont mind me asking - I'm very nosey about anything to do with ecuador i must apologise!!)

Dec 8th, 2006, 05:58 PM
Donít mind at all Chocs.

I was only there for a couple of weeks, with a group of teachers mainly (I am not one!), who were experiencing the rainforest, seeing environmental issues & community projects and making links with schools out there, to enrich their teaching at home.

I got to do a bit of sightseeing in Quito first, then went to a lodge in the Macquipucuna cloud forest reserve, visiting the local school and community projects, and of course hiking in the forest. The people, including the kids, were great. A really memorable moment for me was playing football with the local kids on the village green (after it had been cleared of chickens & dogs etc), surrounded by towering forest Ė beautiful!
After Macqui, I flew to Coca and travelled by canoe up the Napo river to Yachana rainforest lodge (of jungle chocolate fame!), which is on the edge of Gran Sumaco National Park. Visited the local school, and tried my hand at blowpipe (not too shoddy!) and spear throwing (target practice at fruit, appropriately, although I missed by miles!).

Then I worked my way back west by road, via Banos, Quito & Otavalo, staying at other lodges & haciendas, and visiting a wild life refuge, which is where I got to see the most interesting animals (Caiman, tapirs, capybara, monkeys) although they werenít quite in their natural setting, but most of them were wandering around unrestricted (the caiman and their pool were fenced off, which I suppose was fortunate for me).

I did see guinea pigs & capybaras being farmed for meat though, although I donít remember seeing them being spit-roasted in Banos.

Itís nice to remember it Ė lots of happy memories, not least drying huge banana leaves over an open flame ready to cook with! (I try not to think about the cockroaches though:eek: )

Tell me about your trip - did you go to any of those places too?

Dec 10th, 2006, 03:51 PM
You saw more places in ecuador than on your trip than i did in 4 mths there!! I loved the type of experience i had and it was what i wanted but it would be nice to go back and do more travelling around visiting stuff that you did too...

I could write an epistle on my time there so i will try and keep it short!!

The first 2mths we were in a place called muisne which is an island off the coast, a really impoverished but beautiful place - i will never forget my first site of it going across from the mainland on the boat - just for a fleeting second amidst all my excitment i had a real reality check moment and for the 1st time a kind of fear/dread thing going on but it was fleeting and the feeling never returned! I remeber the first day there it was like i had just arrived somewhere on the BBC 10 o'clock news - but its amazing how fast it all became normal and despite the typhoid and the difficulties we had i absolutely loved the place and of course the people.

There were 10 of us girls and lads and We lived in a house on sticks and i would awake in the morning to the sight and sound of waves lapping under the floorboards. Our project there was to help build a school that was attached to the local church so it was heavy construction type work and also just being involved with the locals - my most amazing memory of this place (and there are many) is on our last night the church was having an all night service - we all were in bed by 2am (couldnt take the pace :D ) and i was awakened at about 4am by all this lovely soft singing coming from outside our house - the whole church had congregated outside to pray and sing for us - they were singing a song called 'friends and brothers' in spanish - it was such a magical moment that i will never forget and it was even more special to me when i woke the next morning and found out no-one else had heard them singing - brings tears to my eyes thinking about it!

I also spent a few weeks in santo domingo to during our muisne stay to help recover from the typoid, i was looked after by some missionaries and got to go out and about with them visiting some indigineous communities and stuff which was good.

Anyway - after there we had out weeks hol in banos which was just a brilliant party and food fest - we had had very simple food in muisne whereas banos caters for tourists - i had lost lots of weight with this and the whole typoid thing so i took the opportunity to fatten up on the good food! Met lots of people and did some interesting tourist things including a terrifying pony treck which was typically ecuadorian (dont think the words health and safety have been invented there! :eek: )

Then we went to quito for 2mths which was an entirely different experience to muisne and just as good - the improvement in living conditions and the huge supermarkets in the city where (i'm ashamed to admit ) very welcome. There we were involved in building a new dormitary on a college for young people from the jungle - again i made some lovely friends there and i learnt so much from them. We visited otlava market from there and just had a little bit more freedom to explore than we had had in muisne. Me and another girl in our group went to visit a womens group in the mountains every week to just talk and stuff with them with our friends from the college. That was really interesting as it was another way of life to witness. Some of our group spent a week in the jungle from quito but although i probably missed an opportunity of a life time i didnt have enough malaria tablets to cover me for another trip into a malaria zone and i was just really paranoid about getting ill again so i didnt go. But they actually had a bad time so it was probably good i didnt go!

So there we have a much shortened version of my trip which is still way too long and i hope it wasnt boring! :)