When I say driver, I do not mean a golf club. I mean the guy we hired to drive us around the dangerous streets of Ecuador. Perhaps the travel sites and books tell everyone to hire a driver, rather than rent a car. While cheaper, they seem to all portray Ecuadorians as bad drivers, roads as pothole infested, and traffic rules totally non-existent.
This is the first email we received from the driver we hired in Quito:
Hello Gerry Kataoka:
Thank you for your message and for your interest in our personalized and private services.
We would like to let you know that we do Day Tours to the most attractive destinations.
* Round Private Transportation in our own fully insured vehicle: Mazda 5, 2011
*Personalized English Speaking Guide and driver: Jamie Hally.
Please find detail information about our most popular Day Tours.
We will be happy also to offer you our Car& Driver for a one day in Quito with in the Distrito Metropolitano” that includes Centro Historico, Panecillo , Teleferico (Cable Car), Mariscal area, Middle of the World Monument & Intinan Museum for $ 90 for the group.
( this rate includes gas) ( 9 hours) ( this rate does not include entrance to attractions)
Yes, we are available for the 30th and 31st. of October.
So, we chose to use a car and driver over a bus with thirty or forty people who have no concept of time or place. Based on what we are paying for our hotel, and the cost of a bus tour, this seems like a reasonable, safe, and certainly, more personal option for touring. Plus, I am certain he can find better places to eat than the driver of the tour bus, who is probably getting a kick back from the fine establishment where he drops us.
Perhaps most amusing of all, is that we are relying on our friend Barry from Cape Town to provide the Spanish interpretation during the trip. I am not sure how a Cape Town accent is going to work with Ecuadorian or Columbian Spanish. So, far, he has done quite well with the Spanish and keeping us out of trouble. This could prove to be a most interesting trip. Jaime is a Canadian and has adapted well to life in Ecuador.