Volunteer work abroad in Ecuador

Its capital, Quito, is perched at nearly 3000 metres above sea level and has one and a half million inhabitants. Ecuador is one of those countries of extremes that border the Pacific coast.

With its around thirty volcanoes, its sharp-peaked mountains and its hillside markets, the country doesn’t have the obvious tourist attractions of some of its neighbours. And that’s a plus, for those who are looking first and foremost for the authentic Latin America. The country’s largest city, Guayaquil, is also a Homeric port, one of the most important in the world, that speaks of another lifestyle in a nation with a taste of snow and salt.

Named Ecuador by scientists returning from their missions, and a path of exploration for observers of all types (including Charles Darwin, who wrote about the Galapagos Islands), this country has always attracted foreigners. The Spaniards, of course, who ousted the Incas. Everyone is stunned by the mirror lakes, the sulphurous lagoons and the hidden charm of the Andean Cordillera. Bit by bit, in this region where everything grows without effort, cultivation has increased. And the cities with their moss-covered, colonial architecture have given the country a kind of backbone.

In this very Catholic region, the year is animated by the processions of All Saints’ Day, an impressive celebration of the dead that opens the way to drinking binges. Everything is mixed in this adopted religion, the Holy text that blends with indigenous memories in a country that is resolved not to choose between today and yesterday, tradition and modernity. Ecuador is in the centre. In many ways. A land of reasonable dimensions, seven times as large as Switzerland all the same, it allows visitors to cross it without having to miss too much between sites. And on the Malecón, the Guayaquil boardwalk that is to the Ecuadorian city what the Promenade des Anglais is to Nice, you can imagine the line that crosses the country. And the world at its centre. The sensation of finding yourself at the centre of things.

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