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Alexis Monahan is an avid traveler. She spent two weeks traveling around Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands this past winter 2015 with the travel organization Contiki. It was her first trip to the country and she hopes to go back again soon. Helpful Hints -English speakers can usually be found at airports and city hotels but after that dont expect anyone to speak English. That means taxi drivers waiterswaitresses and people on the street. You dont need to be fluent in Spanish to get around and the locals are understanding and patient as you both try to communicate. But it would be good for you to know some basic everyday phrases and definitely know your numbers to negotiate pricing. -When using a taxi be sure to agree on a price before you get in. Many taxis dont use a meter. To ask how much something costs ask Quanta questa -Speaking of taxis look for marked taxis yellow with green writing. And on public transport like buses and trains be sure to keep an eye on your belongings. Just use good common safety sense. -It is advised that travelers only drink bottled water. You can find bottled water cheaply in any local store or restaurant so this is not a problem. -Pack lots of high SPF sunscreen. Ecuador is on the equator line and the sun is much more intense than in the US. Sunscreen is very expensive to buy in country. -Be sure to visit your travel doctor a few weeks before you leave to be sure you have all your vaccinations. -Enjoy your travels And dont forget about the nightlife. Ecuador is a great city for going out and having some drinks. Bars typically stay open until about 3am. Sunday is a dry day but you can usually still find drinks being sold in restaurants. Locals are friendly and they love to dance so go out meet new people and enjoy Ecuador Boasts Two Very Once in a Lifetime Locations to Visit First they have the Equator line where tourists can straddle the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The local guides will even demonstrate some cool equator science experimentsdo you think water really drains the opposite direction from Northern to Southerncome find out for sure Second Ecuador is the country with the Galapagos Islands. Yes the islands made famous by Charles Darwin. But there is so much more to them too. Not only are they beautiful and full of incredible nature but also friendly people and lots of history and adventure activities to enjoy. So what are you waiting for Start planning your next trip and consider exploring Ecuador. 18 WWW.FLIPMAGAZINE.NETJUNE2015