In major cities of Ecuador, the local people are becoming more worried by the day. Colombians are taking over the country, according to many people in Quito and Guayaquil. The Colombians make their way to Ecuador to get away from the guerilla in their own country. 

An estimated 250,000 Colombians have fled to Ecuador to escape the armed conflict at home, making Ecuador the Latin American country with the highest number of people in need of international protection. Yet to date, only 45,000 have registered with the government or with UNHCR, leaving thousands more without legal protection and limited or no access to public services.

UNHCR is conducting a nationwide survey this year to locate these tens of thousands of Colombians and assess their need for assistance and international protection. In the meantime, its efforts to reach out to remote communities along the northern border are already paying off. Many of the northern communities a made up out of Colombians.

The problem does extend to the city, where many of the poor Colombians have settled, but have a hard time finding employment because of their illegal status in Ecuador. A small group has turned themselves to illegal ways of getting an income.

The Ecuadorean government is making an effort to support the UNHCR, but lacks the resources to get all the Colombians through the process of legalisation swiftly, resulting in long lines in front of immigration offices in Quito and Guayaquil. 

The Peguche Waterfall

Only days after settling into our new home and already we were ready to explore further, so when Andreas our Ecuadorian Big Brother invited us to Peguche Waterfall, how could we decline! Fully kitted out in bikinis ready for a dip, we started the 40 minute climb in the rain up the mountainside with Becky, Andreas and his amigo David. Despite the chill, the first glimpse of Peguche Waterfall was spectacular and well worth the walk. However, that was not enough, so we proceeded to climb for a further 10 minutes up a rocky path until we reached a small cave in the mountainside. What appeared to be nothing more than a dark hollow in the cliff face, was in fact a narrow tunnel leading to a second waterfall.

It always appears like you’re above the clouds in Ecuador, walking or driving through the mist. If you’re lucky enough to have a clear night sky you can see the stars and constellations in abundance. The colours on the Otavalo market stand out like a kaleidoscope against the background of unfinished concrete blocks and stunning mountain scenery.

The traditionally dressed indigenous men with their blue ponchos and white trousers, the women wearing their finery and lace blouses, young girls wailing through the streets, breast feeding their children, others with the bundles on their backs with the unmistakable, two dangling feet protruding as evidence there is in fact a child inside. The Ecuadorian culture is unique.

The elderly ladies and gentlemen, so tiny, laden with heavy loads on their backs, toiling to make their living.

The bumpy roads, the tooting of horns. Does anyone know what they do it for? Perhaps it’s just to say “I’m coming, ready or not, so just get out of my way!” The loud music on the buses, in cars, shops and the cafes. Such a great mix of Latino and western music you can’t help but love it……. And start to feel the rhythm.

The sights and smells of the food market inside and out. All the colours of the exotic fruit and vegetables in abundance. Tiny figures crouched on the pavements, painstakingly shelling the beans in readiness of a sale.

The fresh juice and gelatine stalls, lined up with all the colours of the rainbow to tempt the passers-by.

The smell of the freshly roasted pig and its golden, crispy carcass with a toothy, macabre grin protruding from the counter. The smell of humitas, choclos, empanadas, tortillas de papas and cerdo cooking on the street stalls. The cries of the street vendors selling espumito moracho and the daily newspaper.

Last but not least, the dogs barking in unison during the night as people pass through the neighbourhood. Holding my breath as they chase cars and buses hoping they won’t end up underneath the wheels. They are so cute and cuddly and their presence will stay with me through out my travels.

Moving Ecuador has teamed up with non profit organisation FUNDECOIPA to develop a workshop for foreign travellers about the rainforest culture Shuar.

The workshop will give foreigners a chance to learn more about this fascinating Ecuadorean culture, that is trying to survive the influences from the outside world. The workshop will be a way for the Shuar people to show the people from all over the world about their traditions and history.

During the workshop the participant will not only learn more about the Shuar culture, but also make traditional handicrafts and music.

Moving Ecuador is about responsible travel. We like to think that responsible travel is the way to contribute to a country while travelling.

At the same time, responsible travel is the key to learning more about the country you visit. Going to unique places and getting to know the local people is part of being a responsible traveller.

The cultural differences can be a problem for people travelling in a foreign country. But at the same time it can be one of the most interesting things about travelling.

Moving Ecuador has created an events calender for Ecuador. Cultural events and festivities are being explained and posted in chronological order, so you know exactly where to go for the best parties and cultural events.

The list currently has over 70 events posted all around the country! Enjoy your fiesta!

24th of June, 2007. Just another Sunday in Quito. Luckily, Quito is never a boring place, it certainly is one of those big cities that never sleeps.

I'm personally a big fan of Parque Itchimbia, near the neighborhood of El Dorado in Quito. This park is dominated by the Palacio de Cristal (Cristal Palace). The glass building has been put in the middle of a big green lawn, with one of the best views of the city. On any given week you can find some kind of exposition in this place. Usually something like art, photo's or something else that is generally worth looking at.

Ecuador is a rich country when it comes to biodiversity. Even though Ecuador is only the size of the state of Nevada, its biodiversity exceeds the one from the United States in total. According to the World Resource Institute Ecuador is one of the few countries on earth categorized as “megadiverse,” owing to the variety of its ecosystems and species.

Within three hours, you can drive in Ecuador from arctic tundra to sweltering beaches, from a temperate pine forest to a tropical wet forest, from a desert landscape to wetlands filled with mangroves. Ecuador is also the most ethnically diversified country in Latin America, a home to large Arab, Asian, Caucasian, African, and Jewish populations. In the Native Indian population, one can find tribes living in very primitive conditions, from those who were recently head shrinkers to the most entrepreneurial otavalenos, known around the globe for the quality of their textiles.

According to the Natura Foundation, an environmental non governmental organization (NGO), approximately 50 percent of Ecuador is suffering from various degrees of soil erosion, and deforestation is 45 percent in the lowlands, 48 percent in the highlands, and 8 percent in the Amazon basin. Thousands of acres of forest disappear daily, despite laws that prohibit the cutting down of trees and the exportation of wood. It has been calculated that deforestation amounts to 680,000 acres per year (approximately 2,000 per day), and in less that forty years not a single forest will remain.

We can certainly say that biodiversity in Ecuador is decreasing rapidly. Several aspects of the society are to blame. Mainly the lack of enforcement of laws and the corruption by the government seem to have a great affect on the preservation of the countries most valuable treasure. The lack of insight in small communities who own large parts of natural habitat of animals is also a threat. Preservation of the biological diversity can be achieved by educating these communities and stimulating ecotourism, or sustainable development.

Coming Home Otavalo

It was mid-July when I took my first steps out of the United States and into Quito's airport. With a shakey hand, I completed my forms for customs, leaving a few spaces blank. I didn't understand the Spanish and my dictionary was packed in my checked luggage. My heart again raced after picking up my baggage a few minutes later. I was here to volunteer at a school near Otavalo, but the volunteer coordinator wasn't there at the airport to collect me. There was a mix-up concerning my arrival, and I found myself alone and lost in this world where I didn't yet speak the language. It was to be only my first adventure of many.

Ecuadorean tennis player Nicolas Lapentti goes to the second round after defeating the Austrian Alexander Peya by 6-1, 6-4, 2-1. Peya was forced to retire after suffering serious digestion problems through out the second and third set.

The Ecuadorean hope in tennis since many years was positive about his performance: "Winning the first round has given me more confidence, because I had a lot of doubts about this tournament, where the physical aspect is very important".

Lapentti returned to Paris to play at Roland Garros for the tenth time in his career, looking to beat his 2000 result, when he reached the quarter final.

His opponent in the second round will be difficult to beat. The Russian Mikhael Youznhy, an outsider to win the title, is a specialist on clay courts that will be starting fresh. He received a walk over when Jan Hernych cancelled his first round match, due to an injury.

By Sarah Dale

Beside a mountain and 3000 metres above sea level, children play the beautiful game

I’ve never been very good at football. At school girls weren’t allowed on the football pitch.

We instead played hockey in the mud, with the big sticks, a game which was far more violent! Aimed at the right angle you can easily take out a full set of teeth. So when picked for the 'Huayrapungo’ team, a community in the mountains, surrounding Otavalo, I felt ill-equipped with the necessary knowledge or skills for the job. I had, however, two main advantages.

1) The opposition was roughly the same size as the ball.

2) I was roughly the size of the goal.

DIY: Building a school

High above Otavalo, parents of a local school have been meeting every day. Not to protest, party or discuss the local teacher, but to build a new two story building that will one day hold eight new classrooms.

The parents of any school can be influential. They can ask, complain and suggest new ideas to leadership.

But they very rarely, indeed almost never, have the impact that the parents of this indigenous school in Ecuador have.

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