I decided to break the trip down into three or four sections, the trip before Quito, Quito, and then the rest of the trip. If they go too long I’ll add another post of my thoughts on the trip, Ecuador, and anything else I can think of.
(EDIT: I’m breaking them up into various days, I think there will end up being 5 or six posts as this one is at 900+ words.)
I knew most of what to expect. My girlfriend, who I was going with, explained a lot of things to me. Third world country, I’d be staying with her family that lives down there, don’t drink the water, and be careful. It hardly prepared me for the trip but it was enough. So, here’s what happened for the most part.
Saturday: Saturday was the big, long, travel day. Up at 4:30, we were out and at the airport by 6. We accidentally left a bag in the car; it was full of ‘merchandise’. I wasn’t entirely sure what this meant until he end of the trip, but our drivers didn’t have a cell phone so there was nothing we could do. Cue nearly 4-hour flight to Miami.
In Miami we get in and look around for food, right out side of our terminal some group was doing salsa dancing (or I think that’s what it was) and that was pretty entertaining to watch. We decided to eat at a Cuban café, and my girlfriend told me that this is what I’d be eating the next week. I had “Vaca Frita” which was very tasty. Our layover was about 3 hours and we spent the rest of the time wandering around and getting last minute things. On Friday we were going to a wedding so we got some booze for it at the duty free shop because there’s a heavy tax on alcohol down there. We got on the plane and then there was another 4-hour flight to Guayaquil.
By now it’s 8:00ish at night and there’s a 2 hour drive ahead of us. To get out of the airport you need to go through their customs, this is part of why I got to come along with, they could take an extra bag of stuff and split up the merchandise a bit more. If the customs people suspect you’re bringing lots of stuff in, they charge you an arm and a leg for the stuff. We got through all right, met one of her uncles in the lobby and her uncle Vincente, the driver, was waiting outside in the truck. Quick hellos and piling the stuff in the back we began one of the most terrifying experiences ever. Driving in Ecuador at night.
Dear lord, I will never forget that drive. First of all, there were…8 of us in the truck. It was made for 5 so there was just a lot of squishing together and little kids sitting on laps. Now, form what I gathered the rules of the road that we learn up here are more of just general guidelines down there. Even stoplights weren’t always stopped at. Driving in the middle of the road, passing on double yellows, turning a 2-lane road into a 3-lane road. All going twice the speed limit. Vincente is also an expert at avoiding head-on collisions that have me pressing my feet into the imaginary break. We dropped the other uncle and his family off, leaving 5 people in the car then headed to Santa Elena. Out of Guayaquil the driving got a little better. The whole ride there was spent being harassed by Vincente’s youngest Marie-Vilene. She’s 9, the best way to describe her is that she’s a monkey. She crawled all over everyone, from the back to the front to the back again.
I have to comment on the busses here. There are a LOT of busses in Ecuador, and they drive just as crazy as the rest of the cars. There are so many busses because cars are expensive in Ecuador (new ones especially, they pay heavy import taxes), so most people just get around by bus. The busses are dangerous though, there are armed robberies on the busses, and lots of pick pockets. BUT, the busses loot so cool there, imagine all sorts of decals, neon and LED lights, blinking and flashing. I even saw one with that under glow thing. I couldn’t get any good pictures of them though.
We got to Santa Elena in one peace, around 10, and then we took the family into that same truck (the five of us in the car plus another 3), and then went to dinner. I was worried about picking something that might make me sick (not that it helped, I was/still am sick since Tuesday) so I went with Carne Asada, a thin steak with rice and beans and Yuca. Yuca is like a potato but with less flavor. The dinner was good, so we started heading home to sleep because it was 11 and we’d been up since 4. Or that’s what I thought, we ended up going to the beach and I’m still not certain as to why. After half an hour there we headed home, stopping by a club to pick up the middle child in the family, then we went home. Finally sleep. I passed out but not before being harassed by mosquitoes, I vividly remember one going up my nose. I woke up with a blanket over my head.