Our last day in Salinas we rented a boat ride ($5) and took a tour of the harbour. In the middle of the harbour the skipper stopped the boat and let the 3 teenage girls that were with us leap into the water and swim around. It was beautiful. We showed the skipper a picture of our boat and he was duly impressed. We were in Salinas for a total of 8 days and have been peeling ever since.
After Salinas we went to Guayaquil again for two days. As we've been mostly hitting schtick tourist spots we thought we'd go a little hi-brow and visited the municipal museum and the Botanical Gardens (both free). There was a delightful young fellow at the museum who spoke French, English and of course Spanish - a native Ecuadorian - who spent an hour and a half giving us a detailed talk on every aspect of how to shrink a head. If you need this information - we got it now! He was very enthusiastic and it really was a thrill to see someone so passionate about his work. He's also a musician and wants us to get in touch with him when we move here.
The Botanical Gardens were beautiful but we also stopped off at a small park, called by the locals, Iguana Park. In the trees, walking on the sidewalk, strolling on the lawn, pretty much wherever they wanted to be there were Iguanas. You could touch them if you were brave enough. We weren't. Strange enough the last time we visited this park, we didn't know it was Iguana Park, and in our ignorance didn't notice any Iguana's at all that time. I guess you see what you believe. We also found out you have to be really careful walking under the trees because they tend to spit really obnoxious fluid at you!
After Guayaquil we went to Cuenca for 6 days. The trip there was a hoot. We told you before when we went from Cuenca to Guayaquil we had to take a 2 hour detour. Well the road was open - sortof - so we went direct to Cuenca from Guayaquil. There were slides, and random waterfalls and wash outs and narrow tracks recently dug through the rubble, and on several occasions we were only inches from 2000 feet down. It was fun!
Once in Cuenca we continued our education and visited the biggest museum in Cuenca ($3). It was four floors of exhibits, archaeological and cultural displays and an outdoor re-creation of an archaeological dig. We even saw yet another shrunken head! We were exhausted when we finished.
One day we took a bus 25 k (80 cents) and visited Chordeleg. Chordeleg is famous for it's jewelery stores. The whole town square is one fine jewelery store after another. Big emphasis on filigree work. Speaking of jewelery, everywhere you go in Ecuador they are selling jewelery, Fine jewelery, junk jewelery, native jewelery, etc. Often a street will have two jewelery stores on it. Rarely does a street not have a store that sells jewelery. Corner stores sell jewelery. Open markets have 12 booths and they all sell jewelery. How can so many people make a living selling jewelery?
We, of course, spent one afternoon at the Cuenca food market so Brian could have his roast pig and one morning at an immigration lawyer's office finding out the skinny on how we can immigrate. It turns out that it'll be both easier and more expensive than we thought. We've determined that it is almost impossible for an individual to immigrate without a lawyer. Government offices do not answer the phone or e-mails or even the door when you knock on it. When we talked to the lawyer about this, she just laughed. It is common knowledge that the only way to get things done is through cash incentive, so we guess part of the lawyer's fee includes ...
Don't know what was going on but we encountered about 4 protest parades in Cuenca while we were there. Seems civil disobedience is alive and well in Ecuador!
More when we have more. Both suffering from a cold right now.