A Cult Has Taken Over Quito

Thursday was a wash. Easily the worst of seven days I have spent in Ecuador. While I was feeling perfectly fine, just a little tired, I somehow could not form a logical sentence that day. I ended the night with a few unenthusiastic games of cards with the girl from the U.K. and a guy from Chile.

The Chilean had ridden for nearly 72 hours from Chile in busses. It makes sense that he would willingly do that when I tell you he is here attending a convention for the cult of which he is a member.

That cult is called Herbalife, a pyramid scheme which profits by selling the product to other Herbalife employees.  There is a good article about it here


But unlike Amway

, the privately held titan in the field commonly known as multilevel marketing, Herbalife is accountable to shareholders and had a highly recognizable figure at its helm. “The growth of the sales force was cultic,” says William Crookston, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business Administration. “It became very charismatic and grew very quickly.” As in other pyramids, Herbalife customers have incentive to become distributors, which allows them to take advantage of additional discounts offered by the company.”

And it was not just the Chilean here for the convention. The Herbalife people came from all countries in South America and took over the city’s hotels and hostels. For instance, my hostel was easily occupied by 40 some Herbalife members and just 3 Gringos including myself. It’s normally the opposite for perspective.  I also learned that the same was happening in many other hostels which were fully booked with Herbalife people.

They are a strange bunch.  At all hours of the day you could hear the blender mixing their vitamin drinks, whether it was 4 AM on a Thursday or 4PM on a Friday. Each day at around 5AM the hostel comes to life as all they all wake up and prepare for the convention. Some do workouts full of pushups outside my door while others run up and down the stairs. The one doing pushups like to grunt each time he goes up and down. Each member can be identified by their uniform, of which they either have many of or wear the same one each day. It’s a black shirt, and vest with a green logo. Usually with a Herbalife hat and a few pins attached to different articles of clothing. They also frequent the bars and discos because on a Friday night out I was given two different Herbalife business cards.

Jason Bartoli

"Jason is the best person you'll ever meet here. He's just a ray of sunshine. An adventurer, businessman, and has a 4.9 Uber rating. Lovely person inside and out. I say, go message him" - My Mom

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