Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's Hot Now!

Miscellaneous

  • The guide books suggested the men wear a money belt so we went out and got one before we left. Brian hated it! It's uncomfortable to wear and awkward to get at. We ended up cutting the belt part off and Brian keeps the pouch in his front pocket. We've noticed several people wearing trucker wallets that are attached by a short hook or chain to their pant loop. We think that would probably be the best idea.
  • There is apparently a law in Ecuador that you can't bring a car more than 2 years old into the country. They build cars here under agreement with GM etc., so we're guessing this supports the local economy.
  • We've taken to really enjoying fresh fruit juice here - they grind up melons or pineapples and it's absolutely heaven for about 80 cents to a $1. For awhile I thought Tree Tomatoe juice was maybe apple juice but it's not - it's something very like a tomatoe.
  • They have spectacular thunder storms here - no lightning that we can see but loud banging thunder.
  • Minimum wage here is $1.05.
  • Gas costs $1.44 per US gallon!
  • Everywhere you go - on the bus, in a store, in a market, in a restaurant - there's always music. Loud! You can't get away from it. We're convinced that South American music only has 3 tunes and they just throw different words on it.
  • We've seen 4 or 6 women washing clothes in the various rivers. Laundry day (!) we comment to each other. The general populace does not have a drier machine here - no need - but we get our laundry done generally at the place we're staying and they do a good job and have dryers.
  • Most people seem to have some sort of padding on the dash in their cars. I guess this is necessary because of the heat!
  • Pedestrian walk/don't walk lights are apparently optional here.
  • You'll see some motorcyclers wearing helmets but generally not. Often you'll see Dad, a child & Mom on a motorbike - all without helmets.
  • At the airports and bus stations the taxi drivers have to push their cars through the line up. Presumably this is another conservation thing or anti-pollutant.
  • Correction? The bells in the churches in the low lands sound normal - so now we're conjecturing that maybe the bells in the churches in the Andes sound so weird because of the altitude and thinner air. Any scientist types out there who know?
Cuenca - Guayaquil

We got on the bus in Cuenca to go to Guayaquil and about an hour out of town a dozen policia stopped the bus and everybody over 40, except mothers with babes in arms, had to get off the bus and they were all patted down. We had to show our ID but that was it for us oldsters. Looking for drugs? We had to take a 2 hour detour to go around a landslide area caused by the rain. The drive from Cuenca to Guayaquil went through Machala, the banana capital of Ecuador, and for miles and miles and miles there was nothing but banana trees. We saw some minor flooding but nothing too bad. After the banana trees we think we saw miles and miles of rice paddies, but neither one of us are sure what a rice paddie looks like.

Usually when we arrive at a bus station we get off into a hot, dusty, crowded bus station but in Guayaquil you exit the bus and end up in Metrotown! A very modern, air conditioned mall. We really appreciated the air conditioning because now we're into the real equator hot weather down at the coast. The bus station mall is a huge place, right next to the airport; it's four levels.
Everything in Guayaquil cost more, just like in any big city. Cappucino was $1.40 (!) compared to 80 cents in the Andes.

We told you they like Nescafe here but they also have something like coffee where they give you a cup of warm milk and you pour into it a kindof coffee syrup. It looks like soya sauce. Brian has a particularly hard time with this one.

We wandered Guayaquil for a day and a half, spending most of our time on the Malecon which is a strech along the river that has been highly refurbished full of parks and statues and a mall and play parks for kiddies and giant tour boats moored at the docks. We saw the changing of the guard of the policia that is dedicated just to this area! There were about 2 dozen of them to partrol an area a couple of hundred yards wide by about a mile long.

When we left Guayaquil we picked up a self-employed guide in the bus station and he led us through the whole ticket purchase and departure gate processes through the massive facility for $1. It was very helpful!

Guayaquil - Salinas

We arrived in Salinas yesterday afternoon and immediately hit the beach. Brian had lost his brand new swim suit so we had to buy him another ($18 and Brian bargained it down to $12 - he seems to like the bargaining!) We had trouble for the first time making reservations over the phone this time. When they realized our Spanish was so awful, they just hung up on us. So we got the clerk at our hotel in Guayaquil to make the call for us and he booked us into an OK place. After seeing the beach and the weather (it's hot and humid!) we concluded that it would be very tiring to do a complete tour of the coast. We're beginning to run a little tight on time to RV with our friend John in the middle of March.

It took us only about 2 hours to decide that the coast is a beautiful place to visit but we would have no interest in actually living here because it is so hot and so humid. Yesterday was 31 degrees.

We tried to negotiate a rate for a week at our hotel but they wouldn't bargain so we went to another hotel that we actually liked better, it's right on the beach, and came up with a rate that is going to be $80 less for a week long stay. We'll be moving this morning.

Salinas is very beautiful, lovely beach, palm trees, the epitome of a tropical resort! You can rent 2 chairs and a beach umbrella for $3 a day, otherwise you're sitting in the direct sun and it's way too hot. We're going to the water park sometime this week - $3, and we're told that it's very well designed and lots of fun.

The non smoking thing is still going very well but Brian is nervous about running out of Nicorettes.

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