Visiting My Partner’s Family in Ecuador: A Conversation with Amy Baez
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to your most recent destination?
I am a pediatric occupational therapist, author, and speaker. I enjoy working with young children and helping them to meet goals for learning, play, and life skills. I also create publications and workshops for educators and parents. You can learn more about my company on my website or Twitter.
I have made Miami, Florida, my home for the past 16 years. I moved here after completing my education in Pittsburgh. Growing up in New Jersey, I longed to live in a place that reminded me of being on vacation and of my family’s home in Puerto Rico. Miami was the closest I could get while still stateside.
Last year, I was invited to meet my partner’s family in his home country of Ecuador to celebrate Thanksgiving. Nine years ago, I had traveled to Ecuador visiting Quito and the mountainous countryside north of the capital. This trip I was able to visit Guayaquil and the coastal town Salinas.
How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?
My more recent trip was for about a week. In addition to spending time with family, we visited the several of Guayaquil’s notable attractions including the Parque Historico, Las Penas, and Malecon and its neighboring streets, churches, and parks. Most of the time we hired a taxi to take us from place to place and walked most of the the downtown area. My partner did not feel comfortable renting a car, and I quickly learned why he felt so strongly about that after the first few rides.
We also took a day trip to Salinas paying about $10/person to take a van to the coastal town. We visited the La Loberia pier where you can view sea lions and had a peaceful lunch at the yacht club surrounded by bellowing birds. Unfortunately, the day was cloudy and overcast, but I imagine the sunsets must be beautiful.
What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?
One of the most memorable moments we had was feeding the iguanas in the Parque de las Iguanas. One actually climbed up my partner’s leg while he fed it lettuce that we bought for $1. It was amazing to be surrounded by tens of iguanas and made for great photography as well. We also came across a book fair at an arts college nearby and appreciated a glimpse into the lives of its students.
One of the disappointments was the presence of armed security in simple locations like an ice cream shop. It was a reminder that the neighborhood was not a safe location to walk around independently, which is something I love to do in a new country.
What do you wish you knew before you went?
I also do consulting online for business and had significant difficulty with the internet access I had in the family home. There also wasn’t an option to go to another location to work like I could at home. I also remember being unprepared on my first visit to Ecuador. Since I was traveling in the summer, I was surprised how cold it was in Quito due to the elevation. I ended up buying an alpaca sweater from a street vendor when visiting a mountain summit because my jacket was certainly inadequate.
Any favorite restaurants/hotels/hostels/
sites you’d like to recommend? Tell us what made them great!
I visited the Mercado Artes Sanal a few blocks from the Malecon. There was a plethora of clothing, crafts, jewelry, and fine art for purchase. After a bit of bartering, I took home a beautiful, colorful painting of women playing the flute. I get to look at her every day and am reminded of my trip.
I also enjoyed visiting a fantastic town center in Guayaquil called Plaza Lagos. There were many upscale restaurants and shops to visit with a regal yet easygoing atmosphere.
Is there anything that women specifically should know before they travel to your destination?
I have traveled in many countries alone including Greece and Turkey. I was not alone on this trip, but my partner seemed to feel very strongly that it was not a safe country in many respects. Aside from the security presence, I did not feel in danger at any time. However, I don’t know if I would have felt the same if I had been traveling alone.
I think it is best to approach traveling here like most places and leave your valuables and expensive equipment at home. You may feel more at ease and able to enjoy the beauty of Ecuador as its friendly citizens would want you to.