Well we are definitely enjoying our stay here in Ecuador so far. It’s impossible to believe we’ve already been here a month. It took 10 days to get checked in to the country, including two 4 hour / $40 each taxi rides into Manta (a large city south of here) to visit Migracion. The first time we went the President was there for a groundbreaking on a new refinery and they were closed, so we had to come back later in the week.
Speaking of the President, we’re paying close attention to the politics while we’re here. We knew coming in that Correa (the pres) hates Americans. That was confirmed by Rob’s sister Lynn who works for our State Department (it’s very nice to have a sister at State). He’s very left and a good pal of Chavez in Venezuela, who not surprisingly was in Manta that day. He’s also trying to convince the Ecuadoreans to let him rewrite the constitution and change the term limits for his office. He’s taken control of the local television stations, claiming the owners were corrupt “enemies of the state”. So there is constant media pushing his agenda on the people as the vote date approaches.
Last weekend Rob & I took a three day trip down to Guayaquil just for fun. It’s the biggest city in Ecuador and about 4.5 hours south on the bus (more on that later). On Sunday we were in a taxi going across town and Correa was on the radio again. The look on the taxi driver’s face was not positive at all, so I asked him if this new constitution was good or bad for the people. He gave the PC answer and said “I haven’t read the entire document yet so I don’t know”. And who knows, maybe it’s just not a good idea to discuss politics at that level, particularly with foreigners.
The good news is that the vote is September 28th, so we’ll be back from Peru and onboard. I totally doubt there’s going to be trouble, especially way out here where we are in the boonies, but it’s just good to be aware and prepared. Our boat is fueled up and ready to go and I’ll keep an eye on the weather before then so we can decide if we should go north or south. Our friends Jeff & Debby on Sailor’s Run (another Baba40) left last week to head south to Peru for a while and are bashing into headwinds and a 2.5 knot foul current for 800 miles and I just don’t think that sounds like fun.
Our trip into Guayaquil was nice, but a bit of a culture shock. After months of being in small coastal towns, a city with millions of people was a big jolt. The most surprising thing was the constant barrage of noise from all the stores selling expensive consumer goods. Guayaquil is the industrial center of Ecuador, and obviously people there are doing well financially. We stayed in a nice $25/night hotel right in the city and had a really nice dinner out one night. Unfortunately it was at an Italian restuarant that had no Italian wine. I asked the waiter, and he said it just was not possible to buy imported goods. So I guess even if you’re doing well financially you have to remember it still is a third world country and you can’t always get what you want!
The bus ride to Guayaquil cost $7 each on an “executivo” bus. On the way in we had the front seats and occasionally I would look up from my book and see how we were doing. Eventually I decided it was just best not to know. On the way home we sat back further and I kept my head in my book the entire time. Rob was leaning out into the aisle to watch just for amusement. He told me when we got home that at one point our bus passed another bus who was passing a truck at the same time, so we were actually passing on the left shoulder. I’ve decided I definitely want the buses with the older drivers, hoping that’s some sign we’ll survive the trip. I also would pay triple if we could take the bus that got there in 7 hours instead of 4.5, but they all drive like that. And the roads are so bad out here you can’t rent a car and drive yourself (besides, then you’d just be on the same road with the buses passing).
We’re in our third week of having a local named Ariosto helping us onboard. He’s just an absolute treasure. He’s 33 years old and has a wife and three kids who he supports on the $60/week we pay him. He said he likes to work on the boats because it’s more secure than fishing, where he often comes home with no money in his pocket. He’s cleaned all our stainless, waxed the gelcoat, is helping refinish lots of wood and helped me grease winches and is just a really hard worker and handy guy. And he’s a really nice guy, but he sure does lose patience with my horrid Spanish (BTW, he speaks absolutely no English at all). On Saturday he comes to work for a couple of hours and we send him home for the day with some treats I’ve baked or bought for his kids. I’m hoping to have the boat all spiffy and shiny by the time we head to Panama in the winter.
I’ve gotten most of the travel arrangements for Peru settled finally. We’re very excited about our trip there with Brittney. After we get back we may coast hop south a bit just for something different. There’s a marina south of here we could stop at and do some travel into southern Ecuador and the Amazon basin. Seems kinda wrong to be this close to the Amazon and not go visit the area. Unfortunately there are no roads in so you have to fly in and pay big bucks for tourist places, so we’ll have to decide if that’s in the cards for us.
Today on Yohelah we’re totally enjoying Ecuador……