an unforeseen problem

My plan for this trip is to make it up as I go along.  I plan to travel mostly by bus but I heard from multiple sources that crossing the Colombian border by land as a solo traveler is a bit risky, so I decided to splurge on airfare this time.

Well, flying into Ecuador was not as easy as I imagined.  Apparently, there is a law that you need to show proof of a departure ticket before they will allow you to enter the country, something I did not have.  I suppose I should have anticipated this problem since I ran into the same issue when I left New York for Bogotá, but that was  easily resolved by purchasing a ticket from Spirit Airlines and returning it for a full refund promptly on arrival in Bogotá- you gotta love the return policies of US companies! No such easy resolution was to be found in this case.  For almost an hour, I stood at the ticket counter thinking I was going to have to pay $500 for a plane ticket that I didn’t want! How could this not have been mentioned in all the blogs/guidebooks/online research I did??  After much discussion and outlining of options, an agent at Avianca airlines named July Rodriquez took pity on me and printed a reservation back to Bogotá, but did not make me purchase the ticket.  She agreed it was absurd to pay for a ticket since my plan is to take a bus onto Peru, and assured me that Ecuador immigration would not ask to see the ticket, which they didn’t. (Only the outgoing country cares about this policy because they are the ones who have to pay the fee if you are deported; the incoming country generally doesn’t even ask to see proof of departure, at least in this case).

I later found out that people typically get around this policy by printing online reservations without pressing the purchase button, which is essentially what my hero July did for me.  Thinking more about this experience, I feel lucky to have this type of travel opportunity, slipping in and out of countries with little oversight.  Many people in the world are not able to travel to the US or other countries at all, much less with such expansive freedom of choice.

A note about Quito: two words- Party Town!  Crazy amounts of foreigners, bars and techno music, at least in the Mariscal neighborhood where many of the hostels are located.  There is a nice historical center and beautiful parks, but overall Quito feels overrun with partying foreignors; I’m ready to move on to Baños tomorrow, which is four hours south, to settle into a more relaxed place and start language classes.   I’m also excited for all the outdoor adventures; Baños is known as the city of extreme sports- hiking, mountain biking, bungee jumping, white water rafting.


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