In the months preceding my trip down to South America I've done a lot of research. Much more than I normally do before a trip. The reasoning is simple. When I go somewhere, I want to let my own experiences and perceptions happen naturally and not be affected by what I've read or heard beforehand. Naturally, as a good journalist should do, I do a bit of research in order to not go in looking like a fool, but I want the experience to be mine.
With Ecuador, however, I've been reading just about anything I can get my hands on. I'm excited to know about the place I'm going to be living for a year, and this time around, I want to know a bit more before I go in.
In my research I've come across the South American Explorers Club, which is a club for outdoor enthusiasts living throughout South America. With branches throughout the continent, including one in Quito, the club can offer a number of services. Besides maps, expert advice for local sights and adventures, and discounts on various travel related things, they also have services at their branch locations. From movie nights to free internet access with a membership, you can also just hang out at the office and talk with other travelers.
The only catch is that the membership is $50 for a year, which isn't too much when you consider the amount of things you get with it, but $50 is a lot of money to be shelling out at one time, especially when you only make $150 a month. Also, because I'll only be in Quito for a month, I need to figure out if it will really pay off to have the membership when I'm down in Machala. Either way, I'm sure at some point in my stay in Quito I'll take a walk down to the SAE office and see what the deal is. If it's as good of a deal as it seems, I'll spread the word.