Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016

I woke up to the early morning sounds of Guayaquil traffic on the street below us. I slept really well actually. The mattress is hard which seems to be the case of every mattress I’ve slept on since arriving in Ecuador. Seems to work for me though; Heidi not so much.

Our visa rep booked our accommodations for us. We are at the Hostal Savoy II somewhere in downtown Guayaquil. The room rate is $35 dollars per night for the three of us in one room with two double size beds. Have you ever stayed in a hotel room for $35 dollars? Now in the US , I would never do such a thing for fear that $35 is actually an hourly rate…if you get my drift.

But hey, this is Ecuador so when I got the information from our visa rep I went with it . When we arrived last night I could tell this was going to be interesting. The lobby was very small and had stairs next to the reception desk immediately leading upward. The clerk at the desk took us up these stairs to our room.

I need to diverge a minute here first and tell on myself.

When we arrived the clerk looked at the three of us and he said, or what I thought he said, was that we would need two rooms. The reason I thought this was even possible was because some of these rooms have two single beds in them. I noticed this online when I looked at review pics of the hotel after our visa rep told me she booked the room. I called and questioned her about this and she told me our room had two double beds.

So this is some of that shit I spoke of in my first post that I need to leave behind. I immediately went from zero to 75 on the pissed off scale. I motioned to the desk clerk to hang on a minute. I dialed our visa rep to have a “conversation” about this situation. No answer. I tried to pull up the email from her confirming our room had two double beds. No wifi.

As I was standing there with my heart racing, the desk clerk said, “I show you room”. Now why didn’t I think of that? First off, the communication between me and the clerk was hampered by the language barrier, so I wasn’t even certain what he told me initially. I was “filling in the blanks”. Bottom line, the room he showed us had two double beds, and I wasted a perfectly good Vesuvius moment. Seriously though, I exhaust myself.

Back on point to my story…Walking down the hallway with random, mostly bad poster art on the walls, I’m passing rooms with partially opened doors, rooms waiting for their nightly occupants. The door to our room looks antique and is made of dark brown stained wood. It has a one door knob with a key slot in it. Our desk clerk takes the single key with dangling room tag attached, puts it into the knob, and opens the door to our room for the night.

I don’t know what it is about the light bulbs used in Ecuador, but they all are that white light, with a slight blue electric glow. In our room, the single light bulb from the middle of the ceiling initially gave me that “interrogation room” feel. As my eyes adjusted however, the light was not quite bright enough to light the whole room adequately, leaving shadowy corners, and I decided it lent a horror flick like, florescent glow to our room. All it needed was a couple power surge flickers of that light to make it complete.

As I looked around, the two double beds had only a fitted sheet on the mattress, and two pillows in their cases. Another man stepped in the room behind us and laid a folded top sheet and folded thin, random, print blanket on each bed.

The blanket reminded me of something you might win at a carnival or buy off someone who set up his wares in an empty lot along the road. Remember those blankets with Elvis, or a Dolphin jumping out of the water? These were those blankets! Easton’s blanket was brown with a print of dog paws and bones on it. Our’s was a colorful print of a Tiger.

When I walked into the bathroom it smelled like bleach. This was a good thing because it meant the bathroom had been cleaned since the last person stayed in the room. I was the only one who braved the shower, but guess what? It was the best shower I have had since coming to Ecuador. The water stayed hot the entire time, and the pressure from the shower head was fantastic. I actually could get my whole body wet in one instant. All of this for only $35 too!

I came to appreciate this little Ecuadorian hotel room of ours. Heidi though, not so much. She was worried that the mattress had bedbugs. I felt this was ridiculous because both the sheets and pillow cases had embroidered monograms of Hostal Savoy II on them. Such elegance would not be on a mattress with bedbugs. Nevertheless, Heidi took a shirt she brought and wrapped it over her pillow before she went to sleep.

The room also had great AC! It got colder than a tin toilet seat on the shady side of an iceberg. I doubt a bedbug could have survived.

Back downstairs across from the lobby, in a separate room,  we had a breakfast of patacones y queso, huevos, y cafés for $3 each. I felt relief when I saw the coffee pot in its brewer on the counter. It was a ruse however because the coffee was horrible…definitely made with instant coffee crystals. Why do the Ecuadorians use this shit? Patacones are green bananas cut and fried in some kind of light batter. The green bananas are not sweet. I put salsa on them, also added pieces of the thick-cut white cheese from my plate and I decided they were pretty good!

During check out, the woman at the front desk is especially nice. She patiently helped me understand, and allowed me to repeat in Spanish, all the charges : la habitación es triente y cinco (room charge, $35), desayunos nueve dolares (breakfasts $9), un cervaza dos dolares (one beer $2), y un agua un dolar (one water $1). Todo cuarente y siete dolares (total $47 dollars).

After breakfast our visa rep, Denisse, arrived at the lobby ready to take us to the ministry office to process our visa paperwork. She speaks quite a bit of English so we can ask her questions about the process during the cab ride. She said it should not take longer than one hour to complete this process. Awesome! We can be back on the bus to Bahia and arrive before dark.

I’m standing at the window to have our visa paperwork reviewed. The woman at our window is all business. I don’t understand what she is saying to Denisse, but Denisse keeps talking to the woman behind the glass as the woman carefully reviews each page of our very thick application packet.

What is amazing about this woman behind the glass is that she watches everything. Her eyes lift from the page of our application, and she follows people who are walking behind us. There is one gentleman who keeps walking back and forth, maybe trying to get her attention, I don’t know for sure. She watches the ministry rep on her left dealing with the applicant at the window beside us. Occasionally she says something to her, as if she is keeping her in line with procedures. This woman can multitask!

After all the paper work was reviewed the lady’s mood seemed to lighten. She laughed with Denisse, and then I was asked to sit for my picture. I sat in the chair and put on my biggest smile. Sitting, sitting, sitting….still smiling, smiling, smiling. I’m watching the camera go up and down but nothing seems to be happening.

The lady behind the window says something to Denisse, who then tells me the lady behind the window is not ready yet. All three of us start laughing because I have been sitting with a smile on my face like a Cheshire cat waiting for the camera to snap.

All went well! Now we wait a month to get approval.

Success! Denisse helped us with our Visas.

Success! Denisse helped us with our Visas.

At the terminal terrestrial, what they call the bus terminal, we are catching the 11:25 am bus back to Bahia. We are getting to be pros at this!

Before we leave, a little girl and her sister came and just sat at our table while we were drinking coffee. I asked her in Spanish (via Google translate) what it was she needed. She said something about dólares. I said what, and she said “Moe-knee”. It is very sad actually. We asked her name; she said Serena and her sister is Maria. We gave her some change and she said “gracias”, picked up her little sister and went looking for another table to sit at.

Approaching our bus back to Bahia, Easton and I open our back packs and start pulling out things we will need inside the bus for the trip. I grab a light jacket (the AC on the bus is icy and unrelenting), my Kindle, and my Spanish homework. Heidi is keeping her back pack on her back. I look at her like what’s up? She says she is going to try taking it on with her.

After our experience coming here I thought she was crazy. The thought of the steely-eyed Bus Nazi was still too fresh in my mind. I couldn’t do it. This just goes to show you how much tougher Heidi is than me. She didn’t care about steely-eyes, she wanted her stuff with her.

The woman guarding this bus door had a pleasant expression on her face as we approached. Heidi met her with a smile and handed her the back pack to be examined. This woman opened each pocket and looked in it just as the Bus Nazi had done. The items in Heidi’s back pack were exactly the same items she had coming to Guayaquil. When this bus guard was done however, she looked at my wife, smiled and handed Heidi her back pack to board the bus.

A long time ago I learned an expression that I use at home and share with my family. “Ask for what you want”. The caveat is that you may not get it, but at least you were courageous and vulnerable risking putting yourself out there and asking for it. Because, as you can guess, if one doesn’t ask for what he wants, there is a very high probability he will NEVER get it. In this case, the he is a she, and my wife got exactly what she wanted. 🙂