My best friend Anne and I had been craving a real international vacation for a while. Our last one had been Ireland in 2009, and we were feeling the itch. After holding out for Spain for a while, and watching European flights stay out of our price range, we stumbled upon a deal for an eight-day tour through Ecuador. Neither of us had been to South America, and after getting a thumbs-up from a co-worker who’s from Quito, we decided to go for it.
After paying for the tour and flight in June, I hoped to spend, and subsequently save, around $700 on the trip in September, including cabs, luggage, souvenirs and any extra meals and drinks.
Being a part of a tour group was a new experience for both Anne and me. We were with a group of 31, plus our bus driver Ivan and our tour guide Alfredo. The group was made up mostly of people age 50 or older, including several generations of a huge family from California who wanted to take pictures, and strike a pose in said pictures, of everything. Seriously. Everything. There were two cousins in their late 20s who only talked to each other, three hardcore outdoorsy Wisconsinites, and a couple from Chicago who quickly became our tour friends.