Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mitad del Mundo...the middle of Earth!

We were back home again! This is how it felt when we walked into our condo in Quito! We could have a hearty meal of Johan`s good chicken and veggies, after all the fries and hamburgers on the road!

On our way back to our condo, we passed a new Mall, we haven`t been to in the South! The next day we left Marco home, in the hope that he will study for his last exam paper, Science!  We found a delicious cheese cake and cappucino`s!


I have told you some time ago about our friend (Renna) we met in the Kingman, USA in January. She is an American, but when she visited my country SA, she kept the two words, 'leka, leka!' which mean something like..'good, good!", just much better and with much more energy.... When we found this ice cream parlour...she came to our minds!

We left the Mall, and I was stunned at the women sitting on the square, teaching other women their skills! It was needle work, nail art, hairdressing, and confectionery, and many more! I thought about my country, and wished that we could sit down with each other, teaching each other skills....sharing our expertise, but...

The next day we went to the square again of Quito, just to sit in the warm sun, and to listen to the music, and just to watch the people go by... We sat on a bench, and I saw these two young boys, with their dirty black polish hands, polishing the two people`s boots!

In Ecuador, it is against the law to beg, you have to do or sell something to get a bit of money, and two little boys like many others polish your shoes!

With his clean black boots, the man leaned over, and greeted us, and wanted to know where we came from. It is always a surprise to hear some English in Ecuador, but he was a big man, and didn`t look like a true Ecuadorian. Indeed he was, we met Tony, and his wife Isabel, a Peruvian! We couldn`t stop talking, and ended up making an appointment to meet each other at the middle of Earth!



Montanita was our next stop! It is a little beach town, full of surfers, and we loved the vibe of this little town on the beach! It is only a couple of streets wide, but full of energy, with people of all nations! As soon as we set foot in this little town, a guy came up to us, to take us to a hotel. because of our previous experiences with booking through the internet, we decided not to do advance bookings any more!

 For some reason the photos on the Net doesn`t quite look like the ones we get to. We were scared we would end up some place like the above! We followed him, passing a lot of hotels and hostels, and we knew we will get a bed to sleep in tonight. The hotel was brand new, and right on the beach, and when I walked into the room, and opened the window, I could smell the ocean and the only sound I could hear was the breaking of the waves. It reminded me of my home, and we decided to spend the next days in this orange and green hotel. We paid 25US$ for a room for the three of us.

If you can`t sleep in the noise of the night, it is a good idea to get a hotel on the beach!

Johan really loved this town, with the streets filled with all kinds of restaurants and little shops.

The food on the streets we found better than those of the restaurants, though. Because of this community, the police are very relaxed and turn a blind eye where needed. At night the girl walk with a tray of 'dagga-cookies' to pay for her bed at the hostel. A family with twin boys, sell their jewellery and deserts, just as long as they can live in this beautiful little town!

We found Joe`s mermaid on the beach, and spend the day with a long Pilsener on the white sand.

The Pilsener made us spend  a little while too long, as we turned too pink is the sun! We cooled down with a tray of sushi, twenty pieces for 10US$!

We spotted this blue bus, and I remembered my blue VW bus in SA,  and  we thought this one might be our next wheels.

After three days, we left with the smart Liebertad bus, to Guayaquil. The bus was almost empty with only a couple of foreigners on the check seats, and even less locals. And for the first time, on this grand bus, we saw an incident! A blonde young Russian girl was sitting infront of Marco and me, and she was texting and surfing on her smart cellphone all the time! After some time, she fell asleep, and the guy infront of her, tried to snitch her red little handbag she placed on the seat next to her! Luckily she woke up, and she scared him with her screams! The bus stopped immediately, and the conductor of the bus, escorted the two guys who was sitting infront of her, out of the bus!

We reached Guayaquil when it was getting dark, and after getting into a taxi, the lady took us to a hotel! It was a four star hotel, and after being spoiled with the cheap hotels and hostels along the coast, we spoiled ourselves with a room with a bath, for 54US$! I was in heaven! For the first time in seven months I got soaked again! Thank you, thank you, thank you....,_Ecuador

Monday, September 24, 2012

Still Puerto Lopez.

Puerto Lopez Beach

Bar Restaurants alongside the Beach
We found a place to stay for the night, some hostel with clean beds and a lovely shower, and a communal kitchen for coffee! An Ecuadorian family is looking after this place, and we felt welcome. the internet was not too great, but if you lay in the hammock in the garden it was better!

While strolling the dusty roads, we bumped into an Italian! He moved to Puerto Lopez ten years ago, and he bundled us into his 'wheels with a steering wheel', and Marco and I was hanging on for dear life while he drove us through the streets! He took us up the hill, and showed us the house he built for guest, staying for some time.

 It is really a lovely house, and a lot of people can sleep inside or in the hammocks. He charges only 600US$ a month, or 60US$ a day.  What a character!

We miss the sea so much, and when we saw the billboard of Wiston Churchill at the end of the street, we decided to go out on a boat to watch the baline whales the next day. We paid the 20US$ per person, and were looking forward to get onto the Big Blue tomorrow.

That night we slept better, waking up by the crow in the back yard, and the turkey. I still wonder if he was there for Xmas?

Morning activity - Fishing boats

The next morning we met the rest of the tourists for the whale trip, and we were off to the Ocean. We saw quite a lot of whales. It was just a pity that the Skipper, opened the two 75hp engines and charged at such a speed towards the whales that they dove immediately. While we were on Catlyn, we always switched off the engines, even the depth sounder, and we would softly approached the whales, sharing their company, sailing quiet alongside them.We were lucky to see five huge whales on their way, ignoring us, and only when the Skipper went right infront of them did they dove and disappear. Marco and I were sitting on the deck of this little baot, and we could see the big whale diving right underneath us. For a moment we held our breaths, will he dive deep enough?

Snorkeling on our way back.

We were just in time to reach land, to catch our bus to Montanita! The guy in Manta at the hotel told us about this little town, that is worth a visit!

The Bus .... we were tempted to use !!!

Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.

Cathy, our friend which we met during our Atlantic crossing in St. Helena, is from Chile, and she told us about this little town. Puerto Lopez will be our next stop. Again I loved traveling in the bus, because I could sit back and enjoy the scenery, while Marco fell asleep on my lap. It is so easy to travel with the buses, you can buy tickets in advance at the office, or you can just get onto the bus, and the conducter will collect your money. We paid 3,50US$ per person.

Almost three hours later, passing many little towns next to the sea, we reached this dusty little town. At one of the little towns, our bus just stopped, and a little boy ran up with his bundle of fresh fish to sell!

The coastal road is beautiful, and I was glad we decided not to travel during the night. I think it is safer to travel during the day as well, although, this trip was also without us feeling insecure at any time.

We got off the bus, and was bombarded by the taxis immediately, trying to take us to our hotel.

Local Taxis in Puerto Lopez

But we knew by now, that these little towns are so small, you can`t get lost, and with asking around, you will quickly find your hotel. It was tempting to get into the quite taxis, though!

Main Street in Puerto Lopez
We walked the dusty dirt streets, and saw our hotel. We booked it through for two nights, but the hotel we saw did look slighly different from the outside.

With a little bit of Spanish communication problems, we realised that they were not aware of our booking, and defnitely not about us staying for two nights. They could help us with a room where eight people could sleep in, but tomorrow we had to be out! The room was not too good, but we stayed for the night, and jumped around under the shower to make sure one of the drops will find you. It was a noisy night! Somewhere in the middle of the night, interupting all the dogs of the town, someone started having his own Kareoke show!

According to our booking through, breakfast was included, but not according to the staff, and we paid another 2.50 US$ for two slices of bread, a juice and a coffee.

Marco had to write his Maths paper, and we sat down next to the pool, to get that over and done with!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Manta, Ecuador.

Johan always do a lot of homework before we start a new day. Our new day started getting up very early, to take a 'trolle' ( local buses) to La Mariscal area, to catch our bus! We went there the previous day, to get all the departure times, and to familiarize ourselves.

One of the many corner Retaurants in The Mariscal Area
Starving we ended up, walking about 10km to the big shopping mall, looking forward to a big steak! Hmm, we did get lost a bit, maybe a 10km bit, but it made the food even better.

But here we were with our back packs, ready for the ten hour road trip to Manta.

The bus looked ok, clean and it had a 'banos' (toilet) and we had some ham sandwiches for the road. We were very wary, because all the blogs we read before, warned of pick pocketers, slicing your bags to get to your stuff. Marco was frantic, because we hid his IPad in one of our bags. We placed our bags above us, but slightly infront of us, so that we can keep an eye on our bags all the time. Our smaller valuable stuff we kept in our pant pockets, zipped away. Coming from our beloved South-Africa, this didn`t scare us at all, we just decided to be wary.

We were heading south, and I enjoyed the little towns we passed, and the scenery. We slowly left the mountainous area, and it became dry and arrid. Monstrous Boababs were standing gracefully on the soft hills, so beautiful!

Johan`s butt got tired, and Marco almost slept all the way on my lap. Every now and then someone would get onto the bus to sell food or peanuts or ice cream, and that kept him going.

Eventually we got to Manta. Eleven hours later, and almost dark we got off the bus. Where to go? On the internet we saw that our hotel is not far away from the terminals, so we headed in a direction. After asking a couple of people we reached our hotel, Fransisco. It didn`t look too good, but I was so tired and just prayed for a clean bed. we were the only people in this dark hotel, but a very friendly guy and the only one, took us to our room. It was not too good, but when I opened the bed, it was clean. Three single beds were waiting for us, and a shower with hot water. Maybe the guy saw how tired I was, and after a while he knocked on our door with three complimentary bottles of water.

We got rid of the bags on our backs, and Johan and I found a taxi to take us to a shopping mall for dinner. It was great, we found some hot food, and a place to have breakfast the next morning.

Manta is a commercial town, with a lot of fisheries, and I could smell that familiar smell. We were close to the ocean, and the next morning after talking to Joe quickly, we were heading for the beach walking the markets.

The beach was still quiet,

 but a lot of little restaurants were already serving rice and fried egg for breakfast.

 Some people carried dinner on their shoulders.

We decided to get onto another bus, heading for Puerto Lopez.

 Manta Wikipedia link

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Virgen de El Panecillo, Quito, Ecuador.

Since we came to Quito, I saw this beautiful statue high up the hill! I wanted to go there! But not by bus or by taxi, I wanted to climb there! Just after breakfast Johan and I went for a walk to warm up a bit. Our condo is quite cold, as it doesn`t get any sun, and every day I have to go out to warm up my body! Unfortunately for Johan he saw the steps, and that was it!

All of a sudden she looked even higher than I thought, and even higher from down here. But Johan was adament that today was going to be the day! Looking up, I knew it was going to be tough, and I decided to count all the steps. We didn`t take a stroll uphill, we were serious! Nine hundred and nineteen steps later, at a serious angle, we reached the top! We were standing at the feet of the Virgin! It is defnitely worth the sweat to climb the steps. I pretended to admire the view every now and then just to catch my breath!

She was beautiful, and we climbed even more steps, higher up into the Statue, after we paid the fee of 1US$ per person. The view was breathtaking! We even saw a little house full of smoke, as it started to burn down in the distance.  After a while it was filled with red tongues of flames, and we could see people trying to kill the fire. After a while we heard the Fire trucks and their sirens, chasing to this little building, fearing for the fire to spread.  We watched them kill the fire with the water hoses, wrecking what was left. We stood there, high up the hill with the smell of the smoke filling our nostrils.

After the breather we started going down! It was not as tough as going up.We remembered some more steps during our journey! We remembered the Tiger Cave Temple in Thailand in 2008, with its 1300 and something steps.

Tiger Temple, Krabi, Thailand

Marco (2008) still so small, but leading Joe and Dad.

Janlie (our daughter) still trying to get to the top!

We remembered the Jacobs Ladder in St. Helena on our Atlantic crossing with Catlyn in 2011, with about seven hundred steps!

Jacob`s Ladder, St. Helena. (2011)
This is not going to be our last steps....

Photo taken from the Virgin Statue with Quito in background