Saturday, July 14, 2012
Off to the Coast
Got up when the alarm app on my iPad sounded out the cuckoo's song. Had two cups of coffee and a banana and we were off. The bus ride to Otavalo was routine, now that we have done it so many times. One of the dozens of bus hawkers came to fetch us for the bus to Quito. It was a comfortable bus, and I actually slept a bit on the way to Quito. When we arrived at the bus terminal, there was a taxi line and we had no trouble getting a taxi to the airport. The Quito airport is small and we easily found the Tame Airline desk. However, we were told that there was a problem with our reservation. We had to go outside and get in a different line to get it straightened out. When we gave the agent our ticket, she explained that the travel agent had failed to confirm our reservation, so we had seats on the way to Manta, but not to return. So now we will have to fly back to Quito on Saturday morning at 8 am instead of at 1:30 pm. Which means that we will have to go back to Manta Friday evening. The flight to Manta was only about 30 minutes, but I can't remember when a flight hurt my ears so much. It took hours for them to pop enough that I could hear. Once we landed, there were taxis, and we got a driver to take us a Hosteria so we could make a reservation for Friday night. Then he took us to the bus terminal. What unbelievable chaos! We were so recognizable as "rich American tourists" we were almost trampled by men trying to get us a room, or a bus, or a tour, or something - I never found out what exactly, that it was almost frightening. I yelled at Bill that we needed to eat - it was 1:30 and I hadn't had anything since that banana in the morning. And, Nan, you know what that meant! We found what looked like a restaurant, but the selection was pretty slim. The other three ordered fish, which they said was good, but it was fried, and I didn't know what they might have used to fry it in, so I ordered chicken and fries. The chicken was so-so, the fries were mediocre, but they can't mess up Pepsi in a bottle. We went back into the bus terminal and didn't have too much trouble buying tickets to Puerto Lopez, our final destination. Our plan is to take a boat tomorrow to do some whale watching, go to Isle de la Plata, and I guess they take you snorkeling, too. Then, we have Friday morning here at the hostia Nandu before we have to check out and go back to the madness that is Manta. This part of Ecuador is beyond ugly. The shacks that people live in are maybe one step up from mud huts. The kids are running around in the dust, the starving dogs follow anyone in hopes of a scrap of food, the most sturdy buildings are concrete block, no paint, no decoration at all, might as well be a prison. I could never live here. It amazes me that in China, where people have lived for thousands of years, there are modern buildings going up everywhere, world-class shopping, education for everyone, and a feeling that everyone is moving forward. There is nothing modern about Ecuador. America has nothing to fear from Ecuador!