Gary and Sarah Girotti/Jones|
¡Hola South America!
The Final Stop
As with the final weeks of our Asia leg, we wanted to get to a really good beach for a few days of R&R before heading home--you kow, to de-stress :o) This time we picked the Ecuadorian coastal resort city of Salinas, which is about 150km west of Guayaquil.
We flew into Guayaquil and headed straight to the bus terminal. We entered the terminal with a swagger, thinking, "We're old pros at this...we've seen it all". Oh, we will never learn! We bypassed the few hawkers selling tickets out front and head directly to the busses to see the goods. We quickly located a bus leaving in 5 minutes, and as the man said "going directly to Salinas". Apparently, direct means you do not stop overnight anywhere??! We heard this one before, and pressed him for an arrival time. "Three hour", he said. Three hours to go 150KM, not bad! Well, by South American standards, anyway...
So we boarded and found the bus next to empty. Great--we are leaving in 5 minutes, and the bus is empty. True to their word, the bus pulled away from the terminal exactly 5 minutes later. Now the rub. From the terminal, the bus proceeded to crawl along the side streets and highways of Guayaquil (at a top speed of 15 km/hr) picking up everyone and anyone going in a general westerly direction. By the time we got to the city's edge (1 hour later) it was standing room only-the aisle was shoulder to shoulder. Then, of course, we proceeded to stop at every little town and hamlet and let people out. Three hours to go 150km--now I understand!!
You may be thinking, "Isn't it illegal to have people standing in the aisle as you scream down a highway?" Apparently, it is. However, as you pass though the tollbooth (where these laws are to be enforced) the driver yells "get down, get down!!". Amazingly, everyone in the aisle--women, child, men in business suits--ducks down on the floor. Isn't capitalism wonderful!
Salinas is a resort town at the end of a long point that sticks out into the Pacific. It is not a popular spot for non-Ecuadorians, but the locals apparently pack the place in the summer. We happened to get there late in the season, and had the town to ourselves. Literally. The place was deserted. We stayed in a great hotel with a casino, two pools, and swim up bars. The first two nights we were two of six guests in a 400-room hotel! The dealers in the casino were fighting to play with us, since we were the only suckers the first few nights. The place picked up on the weekend a bit--at least doubled in the number of guests to twelve! Not that we cared...at this point in the trip all we wanted to do was lay by the pool and veg. Actually it was more like a veggie stir-fry. At just over one degree south of the equator and at sea level the sun is pretty intense. It was kind of like being in a wok.
So what did we do in Salina...well...nothing, bubckes, zero, nada, SFA,........It was a perfect end to a perfect trip.