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If you are venturing into the Sierra (highlands) or the Oriente (Jungle/Amazon) you will probably at some point stay at a Hacienda or Hosteria at some point. These are usually “rustic” inns with basic amenities and lots of outdoor activities on acres and acres of land. I only know a few so-so ones but I caution you to be very careful and ask for things in writing when making reservations. My husband is from Ecuador and usually local guests pay less when you get outside of the big cities.

We had an unpleasant experience at more than one that the price was quoted $XX.XX when we checked in and suddenly became much higher when we checked out. They also attempted to charge us for collect calls (COLLECT!!) we made and more meals than we ordered, figuring we would not check our bill. Once we confronted them, they relented but not on the overcharge for the room. Usually these places are in the middle of nowhere so you have no one to complain to and no tourist office near by to assist you so your stuck paying just to get out.

One of the things to know is that some places “lock” the main road at night so no one come or go without them knowing about it. It can be a little scary sometimes. If you want to do the nature/outdoor thing with kids, I would suggest you try to stay in a small village at an inn somewhere near civilization and venture out from there rather that have the kids out in the middle of nowhere.

Once out of the big cities, as in most foreign countries, there will be a lack of English and other languages spoken. Though you may find a hotel desk employee here and there that may have a small vocabulary. The operative word is ‘MAY'. Definitely learn a few important words before venturing out of the city such as bathroom (bano) and emergency (emergencia) etc. On the subject of bathrooms- on the roads between the cities, a “natural” roadside stop is more sanitary than most bathrooms in these areas and what the locals do most of the time. Bring supplies.

There is bus service between most cities. Thee are cheap buses for around $2-5 per trip but be prepared for cramped buses with loud blaring music. Security for bags is bad as they will be tied to the top of the bus if they are too big and you never know when someone else gets off if they are taking an extra bag or 2 with them. There is a new type of service available. The bus line ‘Reina' offers air conditioned buses (Greyhound style) with a movie (Spanish) and bathroom. They have reclining padded seats and are quite comfy.

If you are going to the coastal areas, it can be a hot, very long trip (5-8 hours). Tha makes it worth while to pay a little extra to get a more comfortable ride. Bring a blanket as the A/C freezes you out but it's better than sticking to the seat and the person next to you on an un-air conditioned bus. Amazingly, the bus fare for these ‘upper class' buses is around $5, a price that it too steep for a large amount of the population. They will pat down the men before boarding and each bus has an attendant. They allow small snacks but not take out. BE CAREFUL WHEN GETTING OFF AT THE BUS STATIONS AT NIGHT. Only get into cabs that have the big license stuck in the front window.

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