Hitchhiking from Colombia to Ecuador
Hitchhiking Buses in Ecuador – September 2015
The time had come to leave Colombia, I was bored of pretending to be an English teacher, plus trying to learn English from an Irish man is like trying to learn to ride a bicycle using a unicycle.
Even though the locals were friendly (I got the nickname “El Gigante Amarillo (The Yellow Giant))” I meet a lovely chica (shout-out to Gabby). I wasn’t staying as long as I had intended but I still had made a little cash and had learnt a lot more Spanish to help me along the road.
Leaving Ipiales I was technically an illegal immigrant since my Colombian visa had expired three weeks earlier. I had simply went across to Ecuador on the day of expiry, got their stamp and came back into Colombia living on an Ecuador stamp. The border between Ecuador and Colombia is extremely relaxed, you can walk across without stopping to talk to anyone.
So I got up early and walked to the border from Ipiales (took me about an hour). Then I skipped across the border and began hitchhiking on the Ecuador side.
No luck. Borders are always shit for hitchhiking and especially here with the way people fear drugs, the news in South America has people convinced their goldfish are dangerous.
I walked a couple kkilometers until I reached the turn-off for Tulcan and stood around hitchhiking on the main road for Ibarra.
A Colombian had told me that Ecuadorians eat dogs. Colombians from Ipiales didn’t seem to like Ecuadorians though since they cross the border with their superior Dollars and buy stuff in Ipiales causing inflation of the Colombian Peso. I disregarded the rumour as nonsense and passed the time trying hard to spot a stray dog walking around Ecuador.
After 45 minutes I was giving up hope and decided to pick up my backpack and try walking. While hitchhiking its always good to carry your backpack and walk where possible. People feel more sympathy when they see the rucksack on your back and are more likely to pull-over especially in Ecuador.
Two argentinian hitchhikers had by this time joined me too. Guy and girl, Franco and Jaqueline, two hippies playing music and selling bracelets to gringos on the road. We set out together in high spirits sharing stories and fags and soon got collected by a minivan.
The old lady and fella were happy to take us a few miles away from the border where we easily caught a ride with the first pick-up truck that passed, Ecuador’s Sierra is beautiful from the back of a pick-up. We sat in the back all the way to Ibarra. A beautiful ride only stopping once at a police checkpoint where one officer quickly asked about our passports.
In Ibarra Franco showed off his impressive road tripping skills. He got us free bread and sugar canes by telling jokes and complaining of hunger. Then he convinced a public bus driver to take us for free across the city so we could hitchhike on the northern side.
“No puedo pagar, pero puedo bailar” (I can’t pay, but I can dance)
And we danced our way onto that bus, at the exit of Ibarra we stood at a traffic light asking the stopped vehicles to let us ride. Quickly we got told to jump on the back of one of the pick-up trucks. The driver sped along at a fierce speed too, so we got to wave at all the cars that refused us (only like 5) as we over-took them.
After that Franco stopped another public bus and got us a free ride all the way to Quito.
Hitchhiking in Excuador was proving incredibly simple in comparison to Colombia.
In Quito we ate a 2 dollar almuerzo and I hit up an internet cafe to locate some couchsurfing, later we hung around the street and got offered free weed. Other Argentinian hippies started to materialise from the walls and drop from the sky as soon as the smell of weed got in the wind. Things were looking good in Ecuador, very good. I bid the now growing army of high Argentinians adios.
In the end I stayed three nights in Quito and then headed for the coast solo again for my first swim the Pacific.
Quito`s a cool city, many gringos and other foreigners, the people are friendly and the water is OK to drink from taps. On the other hand Ecuador is more expensive than Colombia since they use the dollar. Still I love Ecuador though, getting a bus here is completely illogical with all the pick-up trucks you can jump on the back of.
Special thanks to my Couchsurfing host in Quito David.