¨¨You can´t predict the flow.¨
Pat and I were on 3 buses for 11 hours today - only scant minutes between one and the next. It was awful and long and frustrating. After many detours and changing of plans we ended up 2.5 hours south of where we originally planned to be,...and traveled 4 hours longer than necessary. If it was not for the EXTRAORDINARY kindness of a complete stranger on teh bus, Pat and I may STILL have been traveling from bus to bus, town to town. This older Ecuadorian gentlemansat across from me on the bus...he yelled at a food vendor for trying to rip me off and made small conversation while on the bus. When we arrived in Guayaquil...2 hours late...all of the buses for Montañita had left for the day. Basically, we were fucked. BUT, this guy talked to bus drivers, policemen and vendors...finally finding us a bus to a town along the shore where we could catch a cab 2 hours away to Montañita. Did I mention that it was now 830 at night? He told us over and over and OVER again to BE CAREFUL! He told us that the taxi drivers have no heart and to trust no one. When we walked us to the bus he talked to the bus driver who he told multiple times to look out for us, and to help us find a safe taxi upon our arrival. If I have not yet mentioned this...it is ESSENTIAL to speak spanish in Ecuador, it´s not like Costa Rica where everyone speaks some english. SO, a little over 2 hours later we arrive in Santa Elena. Pat and I both decided that arriving in Montañita past midnight would not be safe and that nothing would probably be open, so we opted to take a taxi 20minutes away to Salinas, the ¨Miami Beach¨ of Ecuador. We were SO lucky to have stumbled into COCO´s Hotel and Restaurant. Everything is very expensive in Salinas, but we lucked out with a double room for under 40 bucks. Andrea, at the front desk, was amazingly helpful and assured us that she would help us get situated the following morning for a taxi. Pat and I grabbed some local seafood down the street and then passed out. I went to bed exhausted and pissed and upset....a full day of traveling, all the time and money wasted, and I was definitely missing Baños---BUT, as a fellow traveler said in Latacunga, YOU CANT PREDICT THE FLOW. Little did I know that everything happened for a reason. This morning, day 12, we woke up only somewhat defeated and decided that coffee was the first thing to do. Andrea was already at the front desk and when we asked for coffee she obliged....with FRENCH PRESS COFFEE...beans from the GALAPAGOS islands...with steamed milk, a bar of dark cocoa, and a biscotti. This cup of coffee alone was worth the 11 hours of bus rides. Definitely the BEST cup of coffee in south america. Just FYI: Andrea is the owners daughter....probably in her late 20s. She is beautiful and funny and eccentric...fluent in English, lived and studied in Switzerland, and was now back in Salinas to help run her families business. She told us to return in an hour...she was going to call a bunch of taxis and negotiate a good deal for us. Well, she delivered. Besite was our driver, an older Ecuadorian man who spoke a fair bit of English. He would drive us the 2 hours for 50 bucks...and would act as a tour guide. Our ride with Bisete took 5 hours. He stopped when Pat asked to take photos, he took us into every little fishing village between Salinas and Montañita, and took us to an AMAZING little gem where we had lunch of fresh oysters on the half shell, oyster ceviche, fresh grilled lobster, a shrimp tortilla, patacones, rice and BEER. BAH. You couldn´t wipe the smile off my face. Bisete was such an interesting man. We talked about his life, his family, Ecuador, the government, the people, the poverty and his dreams. We went to a little aquarium in a poor town, visited HUGE beautiful rich cathedrals that were in towns so poor that people cannot afford food. We passed shrimpfarms and statues and visited a museum of artifacts from the first indigenous cultures. Such a rich day. We talked about the culture in Ecuador...most girls marry at age 13 or 14...17 or 18 if they are educated. Bisete said he will let his daughter do whatever she wants...ONCE she is a PROFESSIONAL. We talked about the people in these towns, who only make enough to eat, barely able to put food on their back. Some people recieve money from the government, about $35 dollars a month, which is basically a drop in the bucket. There is oil everywhere here, which is great for the country of Ecuador, but is only benefiting the corrupt government. Bisete is a BUSCADOR TE SOROS...a treasure hunter. His dream is to go to Spain and study old manuscripts and logs of treasure ships. He is bright and kind and unfortunately will never have enough money to do all that he deams. SO - our shitty shitty shitty day turned out to be quite wonderful, and now I am sitting in the internet cafe in Montañita. Montañita is not quite what I imagined it to be...and its rainy and muddy with no sun in sight. BUT, Im holding onto the notion of going with the flow, because in the end...it all works out.