Friday, January 14, 2011

Reverse Reputations

After two weeks experiencing the general sheistiness that characterizes much of Ecuador, while listening to travelers’ ill-informed and negative views of Colombia, Miles and I have come to the conclusion that the reputations of the two countries are completely reversed.

The first indication that Ecuador would be a bit sketchy came from the Rough Guide warning against taking night buses. Having traveled by night buses all over Asia and with no trouble in Colombia, we at first questioned the warning but soon heard several stories from other travelers that confirmed the danger. Nearly everyone we met had tales of stolen bags or belongings along with a few more sinister stories about late night hijackings. I have never seen an in-country reputation put travelers so on edge; we actually saw two girls ride with their giant backpacks on their laps for an entire four-hour bus trip in the middle of the afternoon.

Add in the numerous people trying, and often succeeding to cheat us at nearly every payment, and you can see why Miles and I were taken aback that people happily traveling in Ecuador still expressed wariness with regard to Colombia. It just goes to show how much work still needs to be done on Colombia’s part to move away from the bad reputation still lingering from earlier decades. I know that Miles and I did our part by acting as ambassadors of the new and improved Colombia, and perhaps handing out a few Wandering Paisa business cards here and there . . .

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