Expedition To Ecuador

Well, I had a delightful flight; I was seated between a Japanese exchange student and a woman on her way to Spain, and I couldnt have asked for better traveling companions. I spent the whole trip chatting about Spain on one side and learning Japanese on the other. Never having studied Japanese, thanks to Sannas kind attention I now have a good grasp of the basic vocabulary. And know the most important word/phrase (no, it isnt please; that is almost worthless in most languages) nani wa kore? (what is that?). With it and nothing but time, you can learn any language :)

She wrote out my name in Honshi characters, and in another Japanese script; Im not 100% sure what the difference is yet, but they look cool either way :)

(Picture to be inserted later)

They have the most charming alphabet song in Japan, but on a packed plane flying over the gulf of Mexico didnt seem like the right place to learn it :)

Her English was very basic, but languages are only one of many ways we express thoughts and abstract ideas to one another; and once we had a few words out of the way, we progressed quite rapidly, even talking about her thoughts about America vs. Japan towards the end of our flight; she thinks Americans are more fun than the Japanese. I guess shes never been to the midwest! (so sorry to any midwesterners who took that personally but seriously :) ).

On a separate note, we lucked out; it seems that all MD80s for American Airlines had been grounded the night before due to some maintenance problems. Something about wiring on the wheel wells. I was in favor of the FAAs decision to make them check them all, since I consider landing gear a very important part of an airplane.

Anyway, the fortunate part is that pure by accident we were on 757s and Airbus 300s so we werent grounded, but evidently 10s of thousands of people had to get rerouted and delayed, and every flight is full to the brim.  We had 27 people on standby for our plane! Today was not a good day to be an American Airlines employee. A lot of people on their way from the East Coast to Colorado Springs, who had a layover in Dallas, were rerouted through Miami(!) to Colorado Springs. One man said (only half in jest) that he was going to rack up more flyer miles than he did on his trip to Australia.

So after arriving in Guayaquil that night, finding a hotel at midnight (Best Western, $70/Triple), and trying to get onto the wifi for about 2 hours, (the fixed it as I was checking out the next day router malfunction),and sleeping, we walked from our hotel to the Iguana park. As the name implies, its a city park full of iguanas; they are literally dripping from the trees and running around the ground. Some extremely cute (and unusual) squirrels, too.

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The iguanas were 2-4 long and so tame they walked around underfoot. They also had some rather unhappy looking young Galapagos turtles there, too. One of the great things about the other Americas is that they have fruit juice bars like we have fast food joints; I had a noni, papaya, and milk shake-like-thingy. They call them Licuados aqui. I mean, here.

We sampled three different Licuados for a total price of 3.50; which at 20 ounces each I think is quite a bargain. At the same tienda – I mean, store – I bought a Humita (1$), which is basically a very very slightly sweet cheese tamale. I mean oh wait, tamale IS an English word. Well, it is now. I mean – oh, forget it. Anyway, it wasnt bad; A bit mealy for my taste, but I could definitely get used to it, and hey – it beats an Egg McMuffin.

Speaking of Egg McMuffins, there was one of the more unique McDonalds Ive seen around in Guayaquil on the Malecon – Boardwalk – with Big Macs for 1.30$. Find that in the US, I dare you!

As I write this we are bouncing along a fairly good road, on a bus ($5) making the 3-hour, 80-mile trip to Machala for the night, where we will catch a bus to Loja tomorrow, making towards our for-now destination of Vilcabamba.

Guayaquil itself? Its ok. Theyve done a lot of cleaning up in recent years, and there is like a divider running through the middle of town; north of that is the rough, dirty neighborhoods and the airport and bus station, and to the south is the Malecon and the clean streets and safety of a conspicuous police presence. Also, the hotels in town are very overpriced for what they are and what the town has to offer, and there are quite a few people trying to pressure-sell you tours to the Galapagos. So I dont like the city – though to be fair, I dislike most cities. My advice – spend a night there (since your flight from the US is gonna get there at night, whether you like it or not) and then get out of dodge. Well, after you see the Iguanas, that is

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Posted on April 11th, 2008 by Natnee and filed under Ecuador |



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