(New York City)
There are only a few ways to sum up Ecuador: happiness and beautiful are two words that come to mind. While Ecuador may not be very well known on an international level, I feel that everyone should be so lucky to live in a magnificent place like Ecuador.
I was fortunate enough to be able to study abroad in this country in the city of Quito at "USFQ". Upon arriving here, I was extremely and pleasantly surprised. Like most Americans, I had a huge misconception about Ecuador... that it was poor and crime ridden. This however was and is not the case.
Quito is a vibrant city with much culture, museums, art galleries, colonial center, malls, theaters, good transportation, and a surprising variety of restaurants offering cuisine for every palette.
The biggest culture shock for me was the way everyone greets one another in Ecuador, cheek kissing and a lot of hugs and smiles for everyone in close proximity. It's certainly infectious; so much so that upon my return to NYC I was smiling all the time, something that is not common here and people would look at me as though I was weird.
Later on I traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, and a completely different scene than the more laid back Quito. Guayaquil is a progressive and growing city... so much to do and see.
My favorite place is the city of Portoviejo. Everyone there is fun and laid back. During my five days there, the one thing I did everyday was eat green mangoes with salt, which was a first for me and I got addicted. Apparently so is everyone else; it's so good!
In a nutshell, Ecuador is a beautiful country, with an amazing diversity of places and breath taking scenery. I cannot stress how friendly Ecuadorians are it is very refreshing to be surrounded by such optimistic people. Despite their economic status the people are always happy and always welcome foreigners. They will be happy and curious as to why you are visiting their country.
I don't know what it is about this amazing, little tropical country, but it blew me over and I hope to return. I look forward to watching Ecuador flourish and become more well known.
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