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The part I like most about travelling are the people I meet. Whether it’s locals or other travellers, I enjoy talking to them and getting to know them. Yet, on my blog, I have only written about the places I have seen, not about the many encounters I had with people along the way. Which is why I have decided to create a new kind of blog post, in which I will interview locals so everyone has a chance to get to know them and find out what life is like in the countries I’ve travelled to.
My first ‘victim’ is called Jaime. I met him in Cuenca, a beautiful city in the Ecuadorian Andes, where he was our guide on a day trip we took to Cajas National Park.
Jaime, do you originally come from Cuenca?
No. I grew up in a small town not far from here. It is located east of Cuenca, closer to the Amazon.
How long have you been working as a tour guide?
Since 2014. Before that, I worked as an assistant in a travel agency. In the beginning, I did tours in Spanish. I have only been doing English tours for four months.
Wow, I am surprised. Your English is very good. Did you learn it at school?
I did have English classes at school, from the age of nine. But in a small town, like the one where I grew up, English is not valued a lot. I mostly learned the language online, through browsing the internet in English. And also, of course, through doing tours and talking to tourists.
Talking about which. What do you like most about being a tour guide?
Getting to know people. As a tour guide, I enjoy meeting new clients every day. No days are ever the same. Plus, it is nice to get in touch with travellers because the best way to love and respect people and nature is to travel.
Is there anything you don’t like about your job?
No, nothing. As I said, it is great to meet new people every single day. And I have been lucky and have not had any bad experiences with clients yet.
What are your favourite things to do here in Cuenca?
Hiking through Cajas National Park, of course. I also think that Ingapirca is great to visit. Plus, if you have a time, you can go on a day trip to the villages of Gualaceo, Chordoleg and Sigsig. They are very pretty and can all be visited in one day.
And what about Ecuador in general? What places should travellers visit?
I think visitors should not miss Galapagos. Also, the volcanic crater of Quilotoa is beautiful. Have you heard of it? It is a large lagoon and totally worth a visit. Last, I really like Baños of Agua Santa, with its amazing waterfalls.
What is your favourite thing about your home country?
The people. And the landscapes. But definitely the people. They are so friendly and generous. If you go to the countryside and are invited into a house, those people will prepare for you the best food they have. It might only be rice with eggs, but for them to offer the eggs to you is a lot, because they have nothing. People are very generous, no matter under which circumstances they live.
Final question. Food is a great part of travelling. What is your favourite dish in Ecuador that visitors like us should not miss?
Locro de papa. It is a potato soup with avocado and egg and it is delicious. That is definitely my favourite dish in Ecuador.
Thank you very much, Jaime.
As I already said, Jaime was our guide when we visited the Cajas National Park. It’s a beautiful national park in the Andes, located close to Cuenca, that I highly recommend you visit while exploring Ecuador. But there are lots of other things that you shouldn’t miss in this country.
The easiest way to get to Cuenca is by bus from Guayaquil. There are also buses going northwards, to Quito, but the bus ride is very long so I would recommend breaking it into two and planning a stop along the way.