Most people who go to Ecuador take the airplane route. There is a large line of unimpressive hotels and hostels next to the airport with a nice view of Quito from the roof. However, if you take the plane to Colombia and then travel south by bus, it´s much cheaper and a very pretty ride, but most of all you get to experience South American buses.
South American buses are notorious for their lack of schedule, “losing” luggage, overcrowded seating, but especially for the sellers who randomly come onto the bus at the many stops.
The Ecuadorean buses, however, are not really anything like the Colombian or Mexican counterparts. In the latter countries, you get a lot of vendors who walk onto the busses selling fruit, snacks, sometimes books; items of traveler necessity and they then disembark.
Crossing into the mountains of Ecuador however is a different experience. On Ecuadorean buses, a whole range of vendors tend to board the bus and then ride it for the duration or, at least until the next main stop, selling their products the entire time.
Travelers on these buses will be offered anything, from dried fruit, to collections of homemade movies, to blessings, to candy bars, to herbal pills.
A common sales pitch is to use pious and long, sorrowful stories of having fallen on hard times, to try and encourage passengers to untie the purse strings.
These vendors are not only tolerated by the bus drivers, but even welcomed. Vendors are allowed to ride for free, and are allowed to use the on-board TV to display their movies.
One of the most interesting products I ever saw were herbal pills that claimed to promote general health, guard against prostate cancer and boost the sex drive. This vendor sold more of his product than most.
Tips For Bus Travel In Ecuador
Keep a flexible schedule: Especially when travelling through the mountains, it is not uncommon for rock falls, breakdowns or accidents to block the roads and cause long tailbacks. If this happens, don’t get flustered, buy a drink from the next vendor and stretch your legs in the road while the blockage is fixed.
Guard your possessions: Generally speaking, bags kept in the hold will be safe from theft or tampering. However, bags left in the overhead rack or under your seat may be vulnerable to pickpockets. Keep anything of value within sight, and on your person while you sleep.
Check arrival times: Try to avoid arriving in a new town in the early hours of the morning. Taxis may be scarce and the bus terminal may be a long way from the closest hostel or source of reliable information.
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For more information about getting around in Ecuador www.visitecuador.com.ec