Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quito to Guayaquil: The Ecuadorian Coast - Oct 22, 23

From Quito I headed to the coast. Tired of rain and cold, it was time for SUN, and a nice warm beach. Unfortunately I hadn't read the weather reports... what is (mistakenly) called the Ruta del Sol (Route of the Sun) was anything but. More like the Ruta de No Hay Ningun Sol Por Ningun Parte (Route where there ain´t no sun nowhere)

The road over the mountains was pure fog. Visibility, oh maybe 10 feet. Mudslides about every 6 cm, and did I mention the rain? Not fun, but after a day and a half I arrived in Canoa.
Canoa is a little beach town that was actually quite nice despite the weather. Not many people, but the ones who were there were a very friendly bunch. All the hotel / pub / restaurant owners seemed to go out of their way to make you feel at home. The kind of place where the publican comes over and invites you to sit down with him for a brewski. Kind of a Gringo/Ecuadorian version of Cheers.
Despite the overabundance of traffic (as you can see), it was a nice, tranquil place.

Getting south from Canoa involved a ferry ride from San Vicente to Bahia. The ferry "terminal" simply didn't exist. Just a drive on the beach, a wait for the ferry (an old landing craft) to pull up, ride a little bit through the sand and surf, and then go up a wet metal ramp and hope you don't slip.

Of course, at least I had ¨proper¨ transportation. One of my fellow passengers on the boat was obviously taking his roosters for a joy ride on his bike. They didn´t look any too pleased, and I don´t think were particularly looking forward to the voyage.

South of Manta I ¨discovered¨ a new road... problem was they hadn´t gotten around to building it yet. This is my way of saying that I took a wrong turn, got lost, and was on this godawful stretch of deep sand and dust. The bike didn´t want to cooperate, and decided to take a little ¨rest¨, without consulting yours truly. Now, if you´ve never tried to lift a loaded, heavy bike by yourself in deep sand I can tell you that it´s not as much fun as it sounds like. But after finding some rocks to prop it part way up, and trying my best to develop another hernia, I was on my way.

The problem was, I didn´t know my way! So I stopped at the only house for miles to ask directions. My Spanish is good... unfortunately my Quechua is non-existent, and that´s all that the old man in the house spoke.
So on I trod, eventually finding pavement and the road on to MontaƱitas. This is a surfer paradise, but given the lousy weather and rain I took off after one night and headed for Guayaquil.

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