Monday, May 3, 2010

Ecuador in Retrospect, Again

I've been updating my companies information on the countries that we sell trips in. This project has taken me through our 6 most frequently used locations: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Peru. Today I started on Ecuador. Though quite far away from Buenos Aires and really only used by us for the Galapagos Islands, I'm updating all of the technical information and weather data.

This means that I'm doing heavy research from the CIA World Factbook, one of my favorite sources for information on any country in the world. You're not getting Top Secret information, but you're just getting incredibly accurate and bi-weekly updated facts, which is really helpful when doing international research. So I've been thumbing through things like population, area, and literacy rates, among other things. But Ecuador is slightly different than the other countries in that our files on it basically didn't exist, so I'm piecing it together not only with this information, but from my own experience.

It's harder to do this because as I write I have to keep in mind who my audience is, and talking about the safety on bus trips is irrelevant because these clients will never take a nice bus from the coast. Yet I'm still adding information on Safety and Emergencies, Food and Water, and Taxis. So it only makes sense to be thorough and include what I feel and know to be true. After all, what else was the point of living there for a year if I can't even walk away and share my experience.

I spent a few solid hours on this one document, and after finishing it and looking back I noticed that it all seemed to be negative. An objective reader might think that Ecuador is in a total state of turmoil. From a macro perspective from someone without personal experience there, that might be the only way you can see it. I feel the need to include that it is a dangerous country and you need to practice caution. I list tips on how to stay safe even if that makes it seem dangerous at the same time. I talk about past, recent, and current economic and governmental issues that contribute to a lack of stability.

This isn't building up a story and it's not hiding the truth, it's merely stating the facts, which is what any journalist should do. But I get the feeling that this is bad for business, especially tourism. I don't know how I can relate in such simple words, next to warnings about crime, that it's truly an amazing country and I had an excellent experience there. How could I describe 11 months in a couple of lines? Yes, it is dangerous, and yes you need to be careful. But the juice is worth the squeeze.

In any case, those who would be traveling to Ecuador would most likely be going straight to the Galapagos from another Latin American country on a whirlwind tour, and not travel up and down the spine of the Andes as I did so often, or roast in an overcrowded bus on the coast to a beach town. I'm keeping the audience in mind, but giving them the benefit of my knowledge. Is Ecuador that dangerous? All of the information would seem to give that edge. I need to find a way, however, to fit in what an incredible country it is, and how it's worth visiting. That will be my challenge tomorrow.

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