Salinas de Bolivar is a small community in a beautiful location north of Guaranda, Ecuador, that is known for its various cooperatives which produce some of the best cheese in the country, as well as chocolate, textiles and other products. Products are locally made and of high quality. Purchasing locally made products helps support the sustinence of the community as a whole. Ahead of their time, the people of Salinas de Bolivar started focusing on fairtrade and responsible tourism over 30 years ago, and as a result have seen a number of national and international visitors trying to learn from their success.
The town is rustic with relatively few amenities; however, for many, this is a draw. The hospitality and friendliness of the locals is unmatched. Although at least a basic course in Spanish would be helpful in communication, hand signs and gestures work relatively well.
There is a (fairly tough) hiking route down to San Luis de Pambil.
From Guaranda, capital of Bolivar Province.
See also International Telephone Calls
The centre of most towns, cities and villages have telephone 'shops', advertised in the street as 'cabinas'. Go in, ask for a free phone booth and call. There is usually a digital display giving the cost (per second) of your call, whether local, national or international. Some mobile phone SIM cards of various networks have problems working in Ecuador - you can purchase a local network SIM (for an unlocked phone) for a few dollars in local mobile phone shops.
Correos del Ecuador is the national postal service of Ecuador. It's fairly reliable to send postcards and letters to other countries, though count on at least 5 days up to weeks for it to arrive. In general, postal services to North America are much faster than to other western countries. Prices start at around $1 (up to 20 grams), but rise steeply after that. You can get stamps at post offices or small shops/kiosks. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays, although there are slight variations throughout the country. If you are going to send heavier post or post which has more value, it might be better to contact private courier companies like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, which are generally about the same price and much faster!
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