Maybe WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is a political hero. Possibly, he’s a total creep (two women are accusing him of sexual assault and he’s in major trouble from it). What is known for certain is that the man is trying to get himself safe from possible “American political persecution” by seeking asylum in the South American backpacker paradise of Ecuador. You might be thinking how odd, but really, its not. Sure there’s political drama (Ecuador loves WikiLeaks apparently, the US does not obviously) but forget all that—we’re pretending he’s selected Ecuador for its abject awesomeness. Which is the perfect occasion for us to make some suggestions for him (and you) as to what to see and where to go.
1. Montañita—Gringos like Assange hardly stick out in Montanita, which is actually full of beautiful surfery types from all over the world who flock to this hippie-ish enclave to surf, get fucked up and get laid. Take some surf lessons (Casa Del Sol has some good ones, but its best to arrive and just ask around, that’s how Ecuador works), flirt with your sexy instructor and then maybe try some yoga.
2. Galapagos Islands
Its against the law to go to Ecuador and not see the Galapagos. Did you even know that? Assange should being that he might have a hard time finding somewhere else to hide if he pisses off Ecuador. Anyway – you know the story. Darwin’s revelation about evolution. Sarah Palin might like to blow the place up. An excellent boat tour may be booked with International Expeditions. Also with Adventure Life who do a fab land tour there as well.
3. Cuenca—For a refined Ecuador, head here. Its where the majority of Ecuador’s poets, philosophers, artists and intellectuals have come from and is brilliantly set in high-altitude-mountain-valley-beauty realness. Plus its got charm of its own, with cobble stone streets and old colonial churches every which way. There’s lots of sight seeing to be done—we suggest hitting up some Inca ruins on Calle Larga and Avenida Todos Los Santos, the market outside the church of san francisco for some local flair (Thursday to Saturday only), Parque Calderón for people watching and the Panama hat factory (why not).
4. Do Ayahuasca
One might want to do some heavy soul searching with this ancient jungle root that makes you see god. You can book a shaman in advance or you can ask around locally once in the Amazon region. Just don’t scratch your face off or anything, we’d feel bad. By the way, its perfectly legal there.
5. Eat Bizcochos in Cayambe—Go ahead—break your diet. You have no other choice when faced with the pure doughy joy that are Bizcochos. More or less, an ecuadorian croissant that came by way of Spanish settlers, the highland town of Cayambe is where the best are made. Stuff your face at Casa Del Bizcocho or El Rey Del Bizcocho and then burn it all off by hiking the nearby Cayambe Volcano, also known as the highest point through which the equator passes.
Its touristy but for good reason. There’s the famous hot springs of Basilica, Manto de la Virgen waterfalls, horseback riding, rafting and Ecuador’s tallest volcano called Tungurahua (which oddly, is also the easiest to climb). Or you can just spend all day eating the town’s famous sugar cane taffy called Melcocha. It’s yum.
7. La Choza in Quito—One of the country’s most acclaimed restaurants, this family owned spot in Quito’s business district features strictly Ecuadorian food, prepared richly, or, as some would say, gourmet style. Try the ceviche. Also, catch their colorful folkloric show.
8. Plaza Foch in Quito—There’s some law in Ecuador that makes bars close really early. Like midnight during the week and 2am on weekends. But, if you’re in Quito and you’re looking for a chic (not necessarily gay-chic which doesn’t quite exist here) night out, this is where you’d head. Besides, this is South America – you’ll find that laws can be bent into a variety of shapes and sizes. Perfect for Assange.
9. Eat a Cuy
Or take a picture of yourself pretending to eat one. Cuy (“Coi”) is whole, fried Guinea Pig, a traditional Andean source of protein.