Posted by: adventuressetravels | January 24, 2012

Route of the Sun

Ecuador’s famous Route del Sol is now the Route del Spondylus.

When I first heard the news I was aghast.  Who was the brilliant mind who thought up a publicity blunder like that?  Everyone knows the word Sol.  Who the hell has ever heard of a Spondylus?  Why on earth would the Ecuadorian Government change a perfectly good name?

Finally I had to ask.  I went straight to the source:  Carlos, a friend working for Ecuador’s department of tourism, and he did have an answer for me.  Route del Sol calls to mind sun-kissed beaches, surfers, and laying in beach chairs sipping cool drinks on warm sand.  There was so much more to Ecuador’s coast than just beaches.  This area is filled with archeological sites, artisans making intricate handicrafts, a diverse array of wildlife, and offers wonderful ecotourism and adventure sport opportunities.

The spondylus is a shellfish that indigenous cultures used as currency in MesoAmerica.  Now the deep-sea shellfish was being hunted to extinction for its prized meat.   Changing the name to the route del spondylus reflected the area’s history and culture stretching over 11,000 years.   Carlos was confident; the change had been a good one.

I didn’t buy it.  It seemed like most people in the Western world knew that sol meant sun.   No way would the Route del Spondylus attract as many tourists.  “Route of the Sun” sounds inviting, in no little part because many people tend to gravitate towards what they know, something they can translate, a taste of the familiar in a foreign land.  I do like change, but change for the sake of change is just silly.  But the change had been made.  I couldn’t win.

As diverse a coastline as Ecuador may have, I still say that its main draw is the beach and to me it will always be the Route del Sol.


  1. I have to agree with you, Route de Sol was better. I saw reference to this route for the first time on a friends Facebook page yesterday and the word spondylus sparked my interest – mostly because I studied palaeontology and know what spondylus is., I had visions of boats and divers following spondylus, not trekking or following a route through Ecuador!

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