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Ecuador
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Since September, 2000, Ecuador has adopted the US dollar as its currency and the old sucre is no longer accepted. Beware that heavily worn or slightly torn dollar bills are not accepted. Other currencies can be exchanged in the major cities (Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca) but if traveling beyond these bring a good stash of small-denomination dollar bills. Change for large bills is hard to obtain.

Keep cash, traveler checks and passports in a belt or pouch. There is so much unemployment and poverty in the country, pickpockets and purse slashers are common, especially in crowded markets and tourist attractions like museums and cathedrals. I had my straw bag slashed in Quito so efficiently I never knew until I was back at the hotel that my wallet was gone. It was foolish on my part to put my wallet in the bag.

English is not widely spoken. However, the local people try hard to understand and the hotels are staffed with bilingual personnel. Mostly they speak in their native tongue, which is Spanish.

Use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth and don't eat salads or have ice in your drinks.

Passports are necessary. Visas are not required for Canadians.

American and Continental fly to Quito and Guayaquil from Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Houston, with connections to Galapagos.


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