Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock ....

I have to start off by saying that right now I'm really not a happy camper!! I'm sick with a horrible cold and the worst sore throat I've ever had. So after writing half of this blog update, it went POOF!! Just gone !!  I tried recreating the scenario and I couldn't cancel or delete what I had written without being asked twice if I really wanted to delete.  So how come it's not there???!!! Argh!!!!

Ok, so noted and now to move on with the update...

This past week saw us visiting Montanita, up the coast, twice. Last Sunday we had hired a taxi driver through a mutual friend, to drive us north up the coast from 9am - 6pm at a cost of $50, which is the actual cab fare to and from Montanita/Olon.  If we had to do it again, we wouldn't have. Our understanding of what the $50 was "buying" and his understanding was completely different. So when we had plenty of time and wanted to go further north to Puerto Lopez, he ended up charging us another $20 because of gas. 

Gas is only $1.48/gal here, folks.  Our 2nd trip up to Montanita yesterday was a whole $3.75/ea one way, so $14.50 for both of us round trip vs. $50 and it only took us an extra half hour to get there on a very comfortable bus.  If we had wanted to catch a bus to go up to Puerto Lopez, it would have only been another $7 or $21.50 vs. $70 !!  We thought he was going to be a "tour guide" of sorts. But all he did was announce the name of each town, very loudly, as we entered each town. Even Mike couldn't draw him out in conversation much.

Needless to say though when we arrived in Montanita last Sunday, our hearts melted and we fell "in love".  The village is "eye candy" everywhere you look with its hippie flare of color, funkiness, character, architecture, and vibrancy.  Hostals, fruit and vegetable stands, souvenir kiosks, food stands, mobile bars, jewelry, clothing, etc up and down the streets.  All streets ended at the waterfront. When we say "fell in love", we mean only that it was charming but still not where we would want to live but a GREAT place to visit and enjoy!

The beach is off to the side of town and is lined with tons of colorful umbrellas and people sitting under them even though the weather was not cooperating and it had started to mist heavily. Now instead of avoiding the sun, they were avoiding the rain.  The stretch of beach and the river that runs into it is where all the higher priced hostals and hotels are.  The Dharma being by far the most spectacular and expensive.

Since walking in the rain wasn't all that much fun, we decided to go further up the coast to Puerto Lopez.  The topography changes drastically and you have to drive over a huge forested hill range with the highway winding up, down, and around many curves. Our driver, although in his 50s, had never been this far north! He drove white knuckle the whole way and never went close to the speed limit and had his foot on the break at every curve going no more than 20 mph. What made me nervous was all the traffic trying to pass us on those curves! Now, that was white knuckle!!

 But coming off the hill you saw this beautiful bay with tons of fishing boats of all different colors. Once getting down to the beach area, you could see how charming it was.  Now, I do want to describe that it's charm is not in its cleanliness or order. It's charm is in its hap hazard chaos and color. In watching all of the motorcycl taxis, which are probably better described as motoecycle rickshaws.  They were everywhere but we didn't find a need to use one.  They don't have them in Salinas, Libertad, or downtown Guayaquil. Don't know why.

 While Mike and I were trying to take it all in with the hope of finding a place to have a decent lunch, Julio, our driver, was busy studying our Ecuador country map.  We don't think he'd ever seen a map of his whole country. It was quite interesting to watch him explore it and look at it with awe.

Needless to say, Mike and I didn't find a place to eat as even here in small tired Puerto Lopez, all of the restaurants were priced too high, in our opinion.  That's to say that the dishes were in the $7 - $15 range and should have been $3 - $10.  Once again, proving that it doesn't matter how small or tired the town is, you'll pay more for a view of the ocean while eating.

So we decided, if we were going to pay the higher prices, we had better choice with better ambience in Montanita.  So off we went back over the hill with Julio not liking it any better than before.  Upon arriving in Montanita, we actually found our same parking space like it was waiting for us to return.  Parking is quite a challenge as there are only a few streets where you can park and no real parking lots.  We could only guess that most of he people arrived by bus in one form or another.

After looking around, we decided on Hola Ola, which is Hello Wave!  It took almost an hour for our meals to arrive but when they did we weren't disappointed!  So since our meal took so long it was time to depart back to Salinas to keep within our timeframe.

Monday brought a visit by some new friends, Bev & Mike. Since they only have a small room in the local hostal and no real place to just hang out, we visited at our place.  They, too, are trying to decide if they want to move to Salinas from Florida.  So we sat around talking about our likes, dislikes, and wish lists. We all agree that Salinas is way more expensive than we expected for what you get. (I'll post our budget results in next week's post.)

At this point, I'd like to ask NO ONE to ever get upset with my/our observations, feelings, or opinions in this blog. I make no judgment here!! These are only OUR thoughts based on how we see our world, our lifestyle, and what matters to US.  If where you live, fills your needs and you are happy, then I'm very happy for you - sincerely happy!  I hope we find ours.  There are no right or wrongs here in a collective sense - only what's right for each of us and that's sometimes different. That's what makes the world go round.

Not much but hanging at home on Monday and Tuesday.  Mike still goes to PT every day and his shoulder is feeling better and better.

Wednesday morning was the 2nd Ladies Coffee Klatch that I went to and will be my last here in Salinas. A wonderful way to meet new people and sit and catch up on what's going on in the area and with them. 

Thursday brought me a doozy of a sore throat! One of the worst I've ever had plus a headache so laid low all day and even took a nap, which is not my style at all! Mike also went back to the doctor and was told his progress was very good. He's supposed to continue PT until his arm feels 100%.  We'll see if he feels he needs to go after we move up to Bahia this coming week.

I continued to lay low on Friday even though I felt better.  Bev, Mike, Mike & me decided to go up to Montanita on Saturday by bus.  They had never been and we jumped at a chance to go back.

We met up at 10am, caught the bus to Libertad, walked through town, which was brimming with activity, on our way to the bus location to catch our bus north. Because there are competing companies, they have guys out there trying to persuade you to take "their" bus over the others. Quite an interesting atmosphere!

Once on a very comfortable bus, it only took a few minutes before we were on our way meandering the streets of several towns before picking up speed to our destination. Mike and I were able to play "tour guide" since we'd been that way before.  We were able to enjoy different sightings ourselves or to make other observations.

Arriving just a bit after noon, we lazily walked down the streets enjoying again the energy this town exudes.  Once we reached the beach area, we were finally able to walk the beach because the weather was much better even though still a bit overcast. Again, the vibrancy of this beach wrapped its arms around us. We all LOVED it!

 We headed back up the street into town and I ended up buying a great pair of extremely comfortable sandals from a street vendor! OMG, they are C-O-M-F-O-R-T-A-B-L-E !!!!  Can't wait to wear them!

Lunch was next on the agenda but we couldn't agree on where so Mike & Bev went their way and Mike & I went ours.  We chose Papillon, a crepe and other Ecuadorian food bistro.  We both enjoyed our lunches immensely!  Good service, great staff, and even better food !!

We met up afterwards and the sun had gloriously come out so off back to the beach we went.  Finding a table in front of a beach bar, we proceeded to roll up our pants, take off our shoes and bask in the sun! Oh, that felt wonderful! We've all been sun starved and our tans are fading fast.  The sun stayed out about an hour or so but then disappeared again.  A final stroll through town a different way and we were at the bus stop to head home.

By this time, I was not feeling well again, but we decided to make our way down the malecon to say our goodbyes to anyone who was at Smokin'.  I had a feeling that I wouldn't be out and about much more with the way I was feeling. So a quick glass of wine and we headed home where I proceeded to have the worst nights sleep during this whole month. There was a boom boom party until 4am, several car alarms that went off forever, dog and cat fights, and lots of traffic noise. I know I was more sensitive but it truly was a long night and my sore throat came back with a vengeance.

So today I've been taking care of myself and looking at what we've got left to eat in the fridge before our departure on Wednesday morning. Time to take stock and mentally start packing for our 6 hour bus ride north.

Hope everyone else had a great week and a better weekend!  Catch up with everyone next week in a new "home". And, so the journey takes another foot forward...


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