When you’re on the road a lot, you’re in perpetual search of a good night’s sleep. ~Artie Lange
Traveling is exhausting! Lugging heavy backpacks… running for buses gearing up to leave the station…checking and rechecking passports (Are you sure you put our passports in your waist pocket?)…haggling for a cheaper taxi…always searching for a bathroom, then when you find the bathroom, you realize that you forgot to put toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your pocket…it’s like being in perpetual motion physically and mentally.
A never-ending succession of planes, buses, boats, taxis, and trains…always searching for a hostel that has wi-fi so you can check schedules or use google translate to say “My backpack fell off the bus. How do I find it?” (Yes! That really happened!)
In Quito, Ecuador there was a freak hailstorm. Hail the size of marbles blanketed the steep streets with a slippery layer of ice. We were waiting for a taxi with only umbrellas for protection.
We hired a taxi to take us on the Quilotoa Loop so we could stop in the picturesque villages. Along the road, I saw a three llamas grazing in the new green grass. “Oh, this will make a great photo. Can you stop for a second?” I saw an old Quechua woman running in my direction with her muddy black rubber boots and a big stick in her hand. “Dinero!” she yelled while waving her big stick. Apparently, I couldn’t take any photos of llamas without paying her.
The Devil’s Nose Train Ride through spectacular and breathtaking scenery left before we arrived. We waited in an old remodeled train station to see if 15 people would gather for the afternoon ride, but we only found two other tourists. The train was lovely, though, and I modeled a lot of train engineer hats in the gift shop.
Our bus to Cuenca arrived! The buses in Ecuador are classy and cheap. We can store our backpacks in a compartment under the bus. We have assigned seats! No pushing, shoving or standing and swaying while tightly gripping the overhead bar, like in Nicaragua. And, they show movies on the best buses! We watched Jennifer Lopez in Spanish with Chinese subtitles. ???
Of course, we could have opted for the truck bus. But, I think they only load local Quechua people heading back to the farm after an exciting day of selling their veggies in town.
Look at this fancy double-decker bus in Cuenca. You can go sight-seeing in style, hopping off one and onto another for a tour of the big city.
Hang on tight! We’re traveling over 70 miles per hour around hair-pin curves high in the mountains. Knuckle biting, heart racing rides through the Andes…but oh…the views! There are no speed limits on the roads in Ecuador. Plus, rain and fog make for some dangerous combinations with a fearless bus driver! I kept track of the bus fatalities listed in the local papers. While we were in Ecuador, there were over 12 fatalities! I just hung on and kept my fingers crossed that we wouldn’t be listed in the newspaper the next day.
Seas of taxis at the bus station in Guayaquil. I wish someone would tell Nicaragua how to standardize their taxis. I’m tired of playing the guessing game and bartering for a cheaper ride. Ecuadorian taxistas have meters, cameras, and numbers on their taxis. The legal taxis have orange license plates and we always knew to expect a standard fee…most of the time two dollars around towns and cities.
Now, this is a colorful bus! Look at the hub caps on that thing! This driver means business. We only had one poorly maintained and beat-up bus throughout the country. On our way from Puerto Lopez, we jumped on a bus that had been in an accident. We should have known to wait for another bus. The compartment below the bus that held the luggage was smashed on the side, so we had to put our backpacks behind the driver. There was no air conditioning and it was unbearably hot. The driver’s helper kept the bus door open for little wisps of air. We climbed through the dry forest mountain with a muffler that was obviously faulty. I had to plug my ears when the driver changed gears. As we were gathering speed, coming down the other side of the mountain, we whirled around hair-pin curves. “I think something just flew out the door of the bus,” said Ron. No one seemed too concerned, until the driver’s helper whistled. We stopped on a curve…yikes…and waited for what seemed like hours, for the helper to retrieve the mystery thing that flew out the door and down a steep cliff. “I hope it wasn’t my backpack,” I joked. “Here he comes, finally!” I said impatiently. He was dragging my backpack!!!! “OMG! It’s my backpack!” I shouted to the cheering passengers. We gave the driver’s helper a nice big tip when we hopped off that bus!
Interested in a safe bull ride? The moto taxis in Ecuador tried to outdo each other with their decorations.
Then, there was the idyllic boat ride to Isla de Plata to see the mating Frigates and the Blue Footed Boobies! We met some wonderful people on our tour of seven people. I kept humming the theme to Gilligan’s Island, hoping that we could be shipwrecked there. I’d be the professor, building an internet tower out of coconuts and frigate nests.
Since we missed the big train ride, I wanted to take this kiddy train around the city of Puerto Lopez. We waited and waited for it to load, but no one ever got on the train.
But, this nice truck taxi was made just for us. It was kind of like a train and it chugged through Bahia Caraquez to show us the sights.
Got milk? No fear, the milkman will deliver on his moto!
There is probably no such thing as perpetual tranquility while traveling because travel involves constant motion. The wheels keep rolling round and round. Life itself is motion, but it sure feels good to stop the perpetual search for a good night’s sleep. It’s great to be home again.