Friday, Oct 28, 2016

We headed to the bus terminal at 7:15 am this morning. Today begins our long bus ride to Bahia de Caraquez for a visit. It is a 4 hour trip from Cuenca to Guayaquil and then a 5+ hour trip from Guayaquil to Bahia de Caraquez. Bus transportation is the main method of moving around Ecuador for most of the populace. We have used bus transportation a few times going long distances since we moved here. Usually it works out just fine.

After arriving at the terminal we found our bus and got on it. This bus says we have wifi. I hope this is true. We have been on buses that say that but then they don’t.  It wasn’t too long after we boarded, the bus pulled out of the terminal and we were headed out to make our way up and down the Andean Caja mountain range.

I have done this trip twice before in a private vehicle. This is the first time I have made the trip on a bus. I have heard horror stories of what it is like traveling on the bus as it speeds downward along the very windy mountainous roads. The weather is also unpredictable in the Cajas. Rain and dense fog can appear at any time making the driving treacherous.

The sky is clear today so I think the odds are good our trip will have clear visibility. The bus climbed from 8300 feet in Cuenca to about 14,000 feet at the top of  the Cajas before descending down the snake-like road. Shortly after we began descending the bus increased in speed…a lot!

Going around the mountain curves I had to hang onto my seat or risk falling out of it. I was astounded the bus was still on all 4 wheels. The bus curved hard left, then it hard turned toward the right…back and forth and back and forth. I wanted to look out the window to see the scenery but I was getting sick and I had to keep my eyes closed.

Suddenly I felt a weight on my shoulder and I opened my eyes. A man who was in a seat a few rows ahead had gotten up and was walking toward the back of the bus. The bus went into a hard curve and he lost his balance and fell onto me. What was he thinking trying to walk, let alone even stand, while this bus was at full speed ahead careening downward 14,000 feet?

At another point I opened my eyes but I could only see fog out the window. I didn’t get the sense the bus had slowed any. My only hope was that there wasn’t a slower vehicle ahead of us. If we were going to hit someone it didn’t matter. I couldn’t focus on that because all my attention was on trying not to vomit. My stomach was cramping and my mouth was watering and I didn’t have anything to puke into. I had to will my mind into believing I was going in a forward direction without all the curves.

I looked over at Heidi and I think she had it worse than me. She was just trying to pass out to save herself. Easton said he was ready to ralph and Chase was asking for anti-nausea meds. Eventually we made it to the bottom, and the multiple curves at hi speed ended. It was just in the neck of time.

When I could finally open my eyes without fear of puking I was looking at the door at the front that separated us from the driver and his assistant. Next to this door was a dispenser of plastic bags. I suspect these are for puking passengers. So I now know…for next time.

Saiananda Bahia de Caraquez

Grounds at Saiananda

When we got to the bus stop in Bahia de Caraquez we grabbed a cab and checked in at Saiananda. The property is very tranquilo with lots of green vegetation on the grounds, and large decks to just sit and overlook the flowing river.

Dining area and deck at Saiananda

Dining area and deck at Saiananda

Our room however is off the kitchen area and our windows look out onto the large dining area on one of the decks. I didn’t even know there was a room here when I visited before. No matter, right now I’m starving and just want to go into town and get some food.

We took a cab into Leonidas Plaza, which is the small town just before Bahia, to find some dinner. I called Doug, Donna’s brother, who lives in Leonides Plaza to ask for a good place to eat. Doug recommended a burger place alongside the main road. Our hotel called us a cab and when he arrived we jumped in and headed to dinner.

The taxi driver charged me $4.00 for the 5 minute ride. I remember now where my taxi angst began. There are no meters so they charge what they want. It was a $2 ride by Cuenca standards. I told him it was too much and he went into a song and dance that he had to come get me, yadda, yadda, yadda. I just handed him a $5 bill and waited for my change. Life is too short to have these discussions anymore.

The city has been doing a road project through the whole town of Leonides Plaza. As we sat eating our burgers on the side of road, heavy equipment pushed dirt next to us. When that wasn’t happening we watched buses try to squeeze their way past oncoming traffic in the one lane road. It required the bus assistant to get out, walk in front of the bus, and make cars move to their right if only a few inches so the bus could get through.

When we finished our dinner we flagged a taxi and went back to the hotel. As we walked to our room there was a dinner party being held on the large deck that our room’s windows looked onto. This was bit awkward, and it was noisy. When the dinner was over we listened to dishes being washed and cleaned into the night. Time for a room change in the morning.