Friday, Nov 4, 2016

I woke up and headed to the deck that overlooks the beach and ocean. We are heading back to Cuenca in a few hours and this is my last opportunity to take in the waves. It is heavily overcast but the cool breeze coming off the ocean yesterday morning is absent, so it feels warmer.

I’m watching two dogs play with each other in the sand on the beach. This has been going on for 15 minutes now. They run at each other and roll over each other, then “play bite” each other’s noses while laying on their backs. The many people out for an early morning walk or run on the beach doesn’t seem to bother these two. Right now, it’s their beach.

Eventually the rest of the fam joins me on the deck and we all sit mesmerized by the waves and the surfers trying to ride them. I miss the coast. I’m snapped out of my revelry by breakfast being brought to us at our table. It starts with a delicious bowl of fruit covered with yogurt, followed by some less than cooked fried eggs, bread, and “coffee”. It’s good enough to fill me up for our long bus ride back to Cuenca.

We got an email from Jim. He wrote a short poem about our visit to Ayampe yesterday. Jim writes a lot of good poetry and has a voice all his own. First, his email began like this: “Words, how they do escape me from the jug with a few too many holes!” This is so Jim.

Rear View Mirror


As you all departed in a not so big

yellow taxi that accelerated

To the south

up that corkscrew hill,

and I could’ help noticing how

All of you

craned your necks

(as opposed to bound

Chickens on a bus)

watching intently in the

rear view mirror as Bev & I

Grew smaller and

your new-found-memories

took hold growing larger so as

To surely cause

you all much wonder being

lost in your own realizations of

Just how narrow

had been your family’s

escape! “

Jim Petersen

Jim Petersen


3rd of November 2016

Ayampe Manabi Ecuador



Thanks Jim. I appreciate your poem. It was great seeing you and Bev!

Montanita is packed for the holiday this week and many people are coming and going. We bought our bus ticket yesterday, a direct trip from here to Guayaquil. The terminal only allows tickets to be bought 24 hours in advance, and I’m glad we choose to be here then to get ours. When relying on bus transportation a little preparation can avoid many potential inconveniences.

The bus is full, in fact it has one extra person on it, a 10 year old boy traveling with his mom. This kid does not have a ticket. The reason I know this is because he was sitting in a seat that started a cascade of people in wrong seats.

I’ve run into this before, people sitting in seats that are not their assigned ones on the ticket. I had tried to be easy going about it in the past, but the last time I did that it turned into a complete cluster. Someone wanted to be in their assigned seat as opposed to being pushed farther to the back. I don’t blame them, but it required everyone to then move back into their assigned seats. Try having 6 people rearrange themselves on a full bus with no place to move.

When I arrived at my seat a very nice woman was in it. She told me that someone was in her seat. I just said that everyone is going to have to sit in their assigned seats. Good grief, I sound like a second grade school teacher.

So the woman taps the shoulder of the woman in the seat in front of her and tells her she needs to move out of her seat. That woman moves, then taps the shoulder of the boy in the seat that was in front of where she had been sitting. He moves, then stands in the aisle next to his mom.

Every seat in the bus is taken and the boy sits on his mother’s lap. This bus was odd because no one collected the bus ticket, as they have on every other bus I’ve been on. I assume the mother knew this about this route, and that is why her son was on it with her without a ticket…or an assigned seat. Anyway, this bus is very nice and I settled in for the three hour ride to Guayaquil.

The first thing we did arriving in Guayaquil was head to the ticket area to buy our tickets to Cuenca. There is only one window that handles all the bus departures for Cuenca, and the times for departure are listed on a board. Departures happen about every 30 minutes.

What information is not provided is what bus line is for what departure time. In Ecuador all buses are not created equal. We were able to find out the “nice bus” departure times when we left Cuenca, but here no one will tell us what departure times are for Super Semeria, the “nice bus”.

It is 1:45 pm now. The next three departure times are 2 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:10 pm. We need to pee, eat some lunch, and find a cash machine. To do all of those things will take longer than 2:30 pm, so I want tickets for the 3:10 departure. The man behind the window said I can’t buy them until 2:45 pm.

There is a handwritten sign taped on the window that says no tickets can be purchased in advance.  Today I guess, because of the holiday and heavy travel, the usual “not more than 24 hours in advance” ticket purchase rule has been changed to 30 minutes. Fine. Pee, cash, food, and bus tickets in that order.

When I did purchase our tickets for the 3:10 pm departure, the bus line was San Luis, not Super Semeria. As we stood waiting at the gate for this bus it pulled up with all its windows open. This immediately tells me this bus does not have A/C. Today, it doesn’t matter because it isn’t hot in Guayaquil, but if it would be hot like it was when we were here in January through April we would have died of heat exhaustion.

I was able to get the front row seats so we have a lot of leg room. The bus drove through Guayaquil heading to Cuenca, and with every bump in the road, we bounced up and down several times and listened to the squeaking cry of shock absorbers pleading to be replaced.

Going up the Cajas was an entirely different experience than coming down them. Our driver was sane, and drove with caution and precision. It honestly was a very relaxing ride through the mountains. Bonus points for the San Luis bus line.

I learned something about the bus route from Guayaquil to Cuenca. When it comes into Cuenca it enters about 4 blocks from our house. If I had known this I could have had the driver put our luggage in last and we could have gotten off here. As it was, we spent another 30 minutes on the bus going to the terminal.

The taxi situation at the Cuenca terminal makes me shake my head. Last time I learned to not just get in a taxi before I tell them where I want to go, because if they don’t want to drive there they won’t. As the four of us are standing on the curb with two pieces of luggage and our backpacks, the taxis continue to drive past us, pulling further up along the curb. They aren’t stopping.

Many taxi drivers here don’t like people with luggage. I approached one taxi cab and asked the driver if he could take us to our address. He said yes and got out of his car to open the trunk for the suitcase I had. Chase, Easton, and Heidi approached and he looked at them, and then at me, and asked how many people? I told him four. He said he can only take three people.

I asked him why and he said because four people is too heavy for this taxi. Honest to god I have about had it with these primadonna taxi drivers. I looked at him and told him that his car can hold the weight of five people total in it. He again said only three people.

What was confusing me was that he was putting our luggage in his trunk while he was saying this. I told him we all needed to go. He didn’t say anything and just got back into the driver seat, so we all got in too. The wheels didn’t fall off the taxi before we arrived home.

Gorishek's on the coast, going back to cuenca

Gorishek’s on the coast

It was nice to get back to “our place” in Cuenca. I want to get back to the coast, and I realize when we start that process it may be a while before we get settled into another “our place”.