Whenever we've gone to the coast before we've always taken a regular bus but this time, with our daughter coming with us, and with a fairly tight turn around schedule, we decided to try one of the vans we'd heard about. We phoned a friend and then took a walk to the offices of Operazuaytur on Thursday and prepaid for our tickets. The regular bus to Guayaquil is about $6 and the van is $12. You are allowed one piece of small luggage and as we are taking something to our friends on the coast, we paid for one additional piece of luggage ($6). Brian is over 65 so his $12 fare was reduced to $6. There are 3 rows of seats in the van, with 2 seats in the front, 3 in the middle and 3 in the back, plus a very small storage place behind the last set of seats. The van leaves at 7 in the morning and apparently takes 3 hours to get to Guayaquil. We'll probably take the bus back to Cuenca but thought we'd try this out. You can be sure that if anything untoward happens, we'll report it!
OH!...by the way...AeroGal phoned and changed 5 of the 6 flight times in our saga to get Brian to Quito to pick up our daughter and return her there at the end of her holiday. Now, this happened with AeroGal on our trip to the Galapagos as well. None of the flight time changes were too onerous or inconvenient this time (for the Galapagos trip we had to leave a day earlier than planned and overnight in Guayaquil), it's just that now it's happened twice in a row. We chose AeroGal because frankly their snacks are better and their staff more personable but this changing of flight times is annoying. We'll try them at least one more time(we really do like their snacks) in the future and then perhaps rethink going back to TAME.
Friday took us to the Sankt Florian Restaurant for lunch where we met up with a friend of a friend and his friends. (Confused [?] You know: Our friend tells us their friend is going to be in Ecuador: "Be sure to get together" and their friend brings friends.) We had the lunch special which was potato soup, mushroom spaghetti, fresh fruit juice & a heated slice of pineapple for dessert ($3). It was all very good and it was nice talking to new people about their impressions of Ecuador & their plans for the future. Once again however, we got back late for Brian & Fredi's nap. This simply cannot continue.
As it worked out, taking into account the time differences, our daughter and Brian left the ground at relatively the same time on Saturday. We'd heard there were problems with the Dallas airport (snow ~ can you believe it?) and were a tad worried as Sammy was going to land in Houston. We text(ed) her but all was well. Brian planned on spending his day in Quito looking for things that we are unable to find in Cuenca, such as chili powder & maybe even some decent European type sausages. He later wrote (on a frustrating [for him} Spanish keyboard) that he could not find chili power. We had encountered a Swiss deli when in Quito the first time and he was going to try and find it again. Shelley played scrabble on the computer, watched TV, read, took Fredi for a couple of walks & generally patiently waited. (Fredi wasn't so patient; she spent her time longing for the alpha male to return.)
There's a pile of junk, on the river bank outside our window, covered up by a tarp. It's a pack sack, some clothes, more of this and that. It's been there for 2 days now. (Eventually the "men in green" take away such garbage.) Shelley just got up from her seat at the computer and looked out the window. Brian had commented the day before that it looked like a pile of stuff that had been stolen and then abandoned. There's a young fellow sorting through the bounty. He's looked into the pack sack and inspecting everything that's there. After awhile, he closed up the tarp and took away a couple of things. The tarp is a nice touch. It keeps everything dry. We wonder....
One of the reasons our daughter is able to come for her visit is the 2010 Winter Olympics. Can you imagine (?) the Winter Olympics causes someone to come to Ecuador, South America. Her office closed down for the 2 weeks the Olympics was to be held in Vancouver, Canada and thus Sammy had the time to come see us. We've been keeping in touch with the Olympics as much as we can and praying for snow for them. There's not much coverage on the television we get but WWW provides details via various sources. It's a surprise to us how "patriotic" we feel (with glowing hearts) about the whole thing. (Canadians are noted for being polite & dull & stalwart but hardly ever patriotic.) The mere description in the on-line Vancouver Sun Newspaper of the opening ceremonies had us tearing up. Had we been located in Vancouver we'd be complaining about the constant media chatter & the inconvenience of all the tourists. There's nothing like distance to give a form of perspective; right or wrong.