Monday, Feb 22, 2016

Easton and I started our day in the full sun exercising hard on the beach. Honestly, I’m too old for this shit. Henry, our Boot camp trainer says that this is the Benjamin Button beach. If you keep coming, you keep getting younger. I keep wondering how many “old” people just die…and that’s why the average age of the group is so young!

Before we leave for Guayaquil, I have to run to the bank to deposit the fee to the group helping us with our Cédulas. Banks here are very interesting. There is always a long line, at least each time I’ve been in one.

I count 20 people in line ahead of me. There are only 2 cashiers working for this long line of customers. There is an express line with 2 people in it. The pictures above the line show a wheelchair, a pregnant woman, and a hunched over person with a cane. Hmmm, guess I need to buy a cane.

I saw my Spanish teacher in line so I said, “Hey Gabriella! Como estas?” in my loud American style voice. She looked at me, smiled, and in a very quiet voice said, “Bien” and then looked away. That was it.

Honestly, I thought it strange that was all I got from someone I have class with 3 times per week. I looked at the other people in line and no one was talking. I know some of the people in line behind me came in groups, but they werent talking to each other either. Maybe there is a no talking-in-line rule here?

I already learned there is a no telephone-in -line rule. When I was standing in line at the bank in Guayaquil, I had my phone out using my translator to prepare what I was going to say at the window. I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up. A very tall, very big man armed with a gun, with the word Security across his vest, told me no telephones in the bank. How weird is that?

When I met up with Denisse later, I asked her why no phones in line. She said it’s because people can take a picture of someone getting money and follow them out, or send the photo to someone waiting outside to follow them. Gotta love all the trust in Ecuador!

But I have diverged…

We were headed out to catch our 11:25 am bus to Guayaquil. This will be the 3rd time we’ve made this trip.

About 10 min out of Bahia, there is a large hill that the bus has to climb. It usually goes pretty slowly up this hill. This bus was going extremely slow however. The AC went off and I assumed the driver turned it off to use all the power to get up the hill. Suddenly it sounded like the engine fell out onto the road.

Oh boy, we are broken down on the side of the road again!

Even though people immediately began getting off the bus, we sat for a few minutes. I’ve come to the conclusion by watching how fast people get off a bus that’s pulled over to the side of the road,  that through experience, they must know it automatically means “this bus ain’t goin’ no where’s people”.

When the bus personnel opened the under-cargo door to give people their luggage we knew it was time to disembark this land cruiser. As we are standing stranded on the road Don, Donna, and Dave (of Victoria and Dave) pass us. They see us stranded and pull over.

It is too funny really. We have told them the story of our bus last week breaking down, and now here we are again. I’m so glad we are only 10 min out of town. We lucked out and another bus was available and sent to us from Bahia.

After spending about 10 min or so talking to Don, Donna, and Dave, our new ride shows up. We say good bye, thank them for stopping, and get ourselves on our rescue bus.

The particular busline we take to Guayaquil is only supposed to make 2 stops at bus stations before Guayaquil. Today however, it stopped 8 times to drop people off at various places  along the way before we reached Guayaquil.

This is so Ecuadorian. These stops usually take less than a minute, but can you imagine getting a Greyhound bus driver to stop anywhere but at scheduled stops? People do it here as a normal way of traveling on the bus…schedules are secondary.

Speaking of bus norms, I’ve decided there are no such things. Even the condition and services of individual buses of the same bus line vary greatly. All I can say is that on our first round trip bus ride we had the “luxury version”…wifi, movies with good picture and sound, no mechanical problems with the bus, and no willy nilly stops. Since then though, it’s been all downhill.

Bus travel in Ecuador is a total Forrest Gump…”you never know what you will get!”

We made it to Guayaquil in shorter time than our last bus-breakdown trip to this city. See, it always works out! We are starving and doing a repeat of our great sushi dinner at Noe’s, then enjoying our hotel room with all the American amenities.