Standing in line for Ecuadorian immigration I read the latest poll in the local Colombian paper- Do you think FARC financed the election of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa? An overwhelming majority of respondents felt that it had.
Relations have been steadily deteriorating between Colombia and Ecuador due in part to Colombia’s anti-drug campaigns which have included bombing FARC bases in Ecuador in March 2008 and the impression, at least in Colombia that Ecuador is not doing enough to stop drug trafficking or confront FARC. In fact, as a result of the bombings in March 2008, Ecuador cut diplomatic ties to Colombia. Add to that the video which surfaced July 17th in which FARC leaders acknowledged donating funds to the President Correa’s 2006 election campaign and well lest just say diplomatically things have gotten heated.
Arriving at the border we expected that bureaucratic formalities would be longer and perhaps there would be an strong military presence. Standing in line for our salida from Colombia, we were processed in less than five minutes, not a single military or police official in sight. Crossing the bridge to Ecuador we were greeted by a huge billboard notifying everyone of the governments commitment to fight drug trafficking and a small band of military police who acted more like construction workers on break standing around joking with each other.
Despite the break down of diplomatic ties, the border was going strong- a heavy stream of traffic flowed in both directions seemingly without end. We waited an hour to get to immigration, and less 10 minutes later we were sitting in a collectivo on our way to catch a bus to Quito. Just goes to prove, governments might be feuding but business is business and life must go on.
We made it to Quito that night, after an additional five hours on the bus. Ecuador is more like Guatemala, whenever anyone flags down the bus, its stops. Needless to say this is quite often. Fortunately the scenery through the mountains was spectacular and we were happy to watch our water bottle compress and decompress as we changed altitude.
I feel like a broken record saying this, but Quito was an assault to our senses. We stayed in the La Mariscal neighborhood, the main tourist neighborhood, full of hotels, bars and restaurants. Unbeknown to us we had placed ourselves directly in the center of Quito’s going out neighborhood. While great for the variety of restaurants, we fell asleep to the sounds of pop music coming through our hostel loud and clear.