This week we added another country to our passports and went on an adventure to Ecuador!
Ecuador is one of the smaller countries in South America that is nestled between Colombia and Peru and has the equator running straight through it. It is most famous for its Galapagos Islands, but also has a lot to offer on the mainland too. This is a very vibrant and colorful country with a very rich culture that goes back to the Incas!
Ecuador is divided into 4 regions, making it the perfect place to visit if you want to experience city life, mountains, and sea. The country’s mainland regions run north to south and are Costa in the west, Sierra in the center, Oriente in the east, and the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast. If you visit Ecuador, you can choose between exploring the Pacific Ocean, climbing the Andes Mountains, or experiencing the Amazon Jungle. The capital, Quito, is in the north of the Sierra region and is surrounded by the Andes Mountains, which is the perfect place to explore this colonial city while enjoying the beautiful snow-capped mountains.
Not Just Spanish
This country, along with many other countries in South America, has a history filled with conquest. It was once the home to many different indigenous groups, of which many are still very present today. Although the official language is Spanish, the indian population speaks Quichua, which comes from the language their Incan ancestors spoke. There are over 2.5 million people who speak Quichua as well as 10 other natives languages spoken throughout the country. Some words that come from Quichua that have made their way into both Spanish and English with a slight modification are llama, avocado, quinoa and chullo.
There are many delicious foods exported from Ecuador like bananas, lobsters, shrimp, and coffee. But they are also known for their high-quality chocolate. Some even argue that it is the best chocolate in the world! Along the northern border, the cocoa plant is known as black gold. Chocolate changes based on the soil it was cultivated on. Ecuadorian chocolate is known for its hints of fruity and floral flavors. Plus, the untempered chocolate is often kept in boxes or barrels to age, which gives way for other hints like smoke or wood. If you visit the coastal city of Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, it will be the perfect place to experience a chocolate tour.
The Galapagos Islands
It’s hard to not talk about Ecuador without talking about the Galapagos. Famous for Darwin and his studies on the animal life there, today you can visit some of the 19 islands. These Islands are unique because they are home to many animals that you can’t find anywhere else on Earth. Today, 97% of the island is a national park and there is a very limited number of people who can be on the island at one time, to keep preserve and conserve the natural life. You can snorkel, scuba dive, swim with sea lions, and see the giant tortoise that can live to be 120 years old!
Ecuador might not be on the top of your list of places to visit, but it definitely isn’t short on amazing things to do and see! We’ve enjoyed looking at and wearing colorful traditional clothing at school, making our own giant tortoise, and listening to Ecuadorian music.