A Travellerspoint blog

February 4

Travel to Playas

So we caught the bus in Cuenca, which took us over the mountains to Guayaquil, which has to be on the flattest land in Ecuador, and speaking as someone from Saskatchewan - that is very flat!! In Guayaquil we managed to find the right bus company and buy our tickets for Playas. We did have a wait in line for the next bus and although very hot and humid, it was OK. We had been warned about bus travel, particularly to Guayaquil, but we had no problems at all. Made it to Playas and called our host, Roger, who came and picked us up. So now we are settled into our new accommodations at Playagringo. Roger gave us a map and talked to us about restaurants and shopping, etc. Here is the patio outside our room -
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One of the features?? about bus travel in Ecuador, both in the city and country, is licensed?? beggars getting on the bus and making their spiel and collecting what they can and then getting off. There are also vendors getting on and trying to sell food as well, but they are easy to ignore. Today we had a deaf mute (I think) who got on and handed out a little leaflet with sign language on it and a message about his disability (in Spanish, of course). It reminded me of the other day in Cuenca when we were riding home from downtown and a beggar got on and went into his spiel (which we couldn't understand at all) until he lifted his shirt and displayed his colostomy bag! Well...as I said to Don, I've never had anyone but my mother show me their colostomy and I certainly didn't expect it on a public bus! There is very little time to be bored on the bus, people constantly getting on and off, countryside changing very dramatically, It could be very enjoyable it the bus seats were sized for North Americans, rather than South Americans. Face it, we're generally a lot larger than they are. I could show you some of the scenic country we traveled thru, but I know if you weren't there you probably wouldn't appreciate it. So here is a photo I took from the bus as we were entering Guayaquil - how to give your bananas a comfortable trip!
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Posted by katdill 17:45 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

February 3

Last day in Cuenca

Today was our last day in Cuenca. We walked downtown by a different route, just to see different streets and sights. We visited the flower market by the New Cathedral. I told Don we should have gone there on the first day so we could have bought some flowers to have in our rooms, but now it was too late! Maybe we can buy flowers in Playas. Ecuador is the second largest exporter of flowers to the US. DSC02327.jpg
After we had lunch downtown at the Colombian restaurant, we decided to walk home, doing a little bit of shopping on the way and stopping for a fruit salad which comes in a huge sundae dish. We shared one, but we see people eating one all by their selves!
One of the many things which show how smart the Ecuadoreans are is this picture of a glass high rise with windows that actually open! Brilliant!90_DSC02329.jpg
To celebrate our last night in Cuenca, we went out for supper to a bar and restaurant down the street. It is in the third story of a building and has a wonderful view of the city lights, but was so noisy we could hardly hear ourselves. Before we went out, we went upstairs to our hosts' place and took pictures and had a little visit. They have such a lovely home with a wonderful view of the city. Pretty much the one side of the house is glass!
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Posted by katdill 18:03 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

February 2

Turi and El Paraiso

Today was laundry day, so we can pack clean clothes. While I did the washing, Don walked up the Turi hill (mountain?) just across the road from our place. We think he climbed about 500 feet in altitude. He went up by a path with stairs and came down by the road. I had said I would only ride the bus up and then walk back down, but after going up the other mountain yesterday, I didn't care if I did it at all. While he was coming down, he stopped in at Eduardo Vega's ceramic gallery and actually bought a little wall plaque to take home. Here is a photo Don took while part way up the hill, just to give you an idea of what good shape he is in!!
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We went downtown for lunch at Tiesto's Restaurant, a little more upscale than we have been doing. I told the waitress (in Spanish!) the foods I couldn't eat. She went away and a little later the chef comes out and discusses my food restrictions with me (in English) and then goes and makes me a special dish. Quite amazing service and delicious food! After lunch we walked over to El Paraiso Park, a large park at the confluence of two of the rivers which run thru Cuenca. Beautiful, huge eucalyptus trees everywhere, so here is a picture of Don standing in a group of trees - he's the little blue dot -DSC02323.jpg
and just to prove I'm still all in one piece - here I am on the walkway in the park.DSC02321.jpg

Posted by katdill 18:06 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

February 1

Istocruz

Let me tell you a little about the family that we are renting our little apartment from. The parents, Osvaldo and Esperanza, Maria and two younger twin sisters (one of whose name is Esperanza as well) live upstairs in this house that Osvaldo designed and built. He is a newly retired architect. He built the house 25 years ago, before the noisy bypass that runs by their place was put through. We have the ground level apartment which consists of one bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen-eating area. This morning Osvaldo took us in his Toyota Landcruiser up the mountain that has many communication towers on it. We think this mountain, Istocruz, is probably as high as the one we were on the other day - 3800 meters above sea level or so. The view of the city is absolutely amazing from up there. Osvaldo told us stories about how life in Cuenca has changed in the last 15 or 20 years. They used to be very isolated and cut off from the rest of the world, but now that they have the Pan-American highway and better communications life is changing (not for the better as far as he is concerned). The population recently voted down a proposal to have an international airport built here because they don't want to get any bigger than they are, which is about 500,000 people.
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Later we went downtown and did some checking on the bus terminal and bus companies for Saturday when we travel to Playas. Often when we are walking we come across a school or two or three right at dismissal time. The streets fill with kids in their uniforms and there are vendors set up right outside the school walls to sell the kids fruit slices, candies, Freezies, etc. The school buses are yellow vans and they are packed full! The parents who have come to pick up their children also add to the congestion. Everywhere we go there are very young children and babies being carried on their mom's or gramma's back in a shawl. Often asleep, they just look like a big lump on their backs.
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Posted by katdill 16:40 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

January 31

San Joaquin

Today we caught a different bus, with some difficulty because the bus route map was not correct. But with a little help from a concerned Spanish woman, we finally got on the bus going the right way. It took us out to San Joaquin, a little town on the western edge of Cuenca. We got off the bus and wandered around, looking at their fields of cabbages, broccoli, herbs, flowers and other assorted vegetables. It is quite flat land so much easier to walk around than Banos. With the help of an English speaking young woman, we found a very nice restaurant to have lunch. It is perched on a corner of land and most of the eating area is under large tent-like canopies with wooden lattice walls. It turns out (we researched it online when we got home) that it is part of a cooperative project which has been running in the area since 2003. The project started with 15 members and now has 90,000 members and 70 million dollars in capital! It was set up to help people market their produce and increase production. The restaurant is an off shoot of that and sells mostly local/Ecuadorean food. It was a very good meal, tons of food, and cheap as well. The pictures for today are another contrast - literally on one side of the road is this huge mansion and on the other side of the road the farmers are plowing their fields with their cows and hand plows! Amazing!
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Posted by katdill 17:07 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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