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Leaving the beach

Written on: Sunday September 30th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Puerto Lopez, Manabi, Ecuador

Author: Julie

Hola!

Early this morning, Kevin headed out to the beach with Kate, Nina and Matt (new friends we met a few days earlier) to see the daily happenings of the fishermen coming back with their catch. I'm far from being a morning person, so it was too early for me to get up. There wasn't much excitement at the beach since it was Sunday morning. The fishermen spend the night fishing and bring in their catch in the early morning. They are greeted at the beach, by buyers, curious onlookers and women selling warm bowls of soup to warm up their bones after a long night on the cold sea. Interestingly enough, there were many sharks that were brought in including hammerheads. It's illegal to catch sharks but they sometimes get "caught" in the nets at which point it's legal to bring them in. The meat of a shark is sold at a pretty cheap price, but the fins are worth a lot of money in the Asian market. 

It's time to pack our bags again and head out to see a new part of Ecuador. Following our main plan of always heading south, we left the wondefully relaxing town of Puerto Lopez for Cuenca in the province of Azuay. Before leaving, we had to say our good-byes to our new friends Kate, Clover and her daughter Zoe as well as the best dog we've ever met: Scooby Doo. He's an overgrown baby that likes nothing better than a belly rub and he's not shy about leaning against you with his full-weight to get your attention. Problem is that he's a mix of something and Great Dane so he's not your average-sized dog: he's huge! He had a great time with us while we were here, we gave him so much attention as well as Kevin played with him. It was so funny to see this gigantic dog run around like a ungainly puppy. He loved to do 360 turns when playing, but he would always end up hip-checking me. He was crazy!

Our journey to Cuenca was a long one. A 4 hour bus ride to Guayaquil then another 4 1/2 hour ride to Cuenca, all for the low low price of 20$ my friends! The bus to Guayaquil was only one step up from being a chicken bus, all it needed was a couple of animals and it would have been certified authentic. It came close, for the first 30 minutes, a mother and her young sun were on the bus with us with a box punched with holes. We're pretty sure we could baby chicks chirping inside, but we couldn't get visual confirmation. The bus to Cuenca was something different: it was one step up from Greyhound buses we have in Canada. Comfortable reclining seats, a wall/door separating us from the driver, soothing music and everyone fell asleep so it was unbelievably quiet. It was great and explained the expensive cost of 6$ each, when the rule of thumb up to now has been 1$ per hour of the trip. Like all bus rides we've taken so far, 30 minutes into the ride, I was dead asleep. Life is so hard...

About an hour outside of Cuenca, deep within the Andes, we encountered heavy fog, or really we were in the high clouds. It was surreal to not really be able to see anything except occasionally the steep cliff to the left of the road we were following. The clouds would sometimes part and then we would have a few minutes of blue skies and endless vistas of the mountains. As the sun set we entered Cajas National Park. I felt like we were in another world entirely. Rolling hills, valleys, and little lake after little lake, the quintesentiel idea of what we think alpine areas should be. It was so different from the view of Andes we had seen till then. I couldn't wait to book our tour of this wondrous area.

We arrived slightly bleery eyed to rain and fog. We grabbed our bags and hailed a taxi to our new hostal. The taxi driver had to drop us off at the closest corner since our street was closed. Turns out the hostal is located directly beside the Provincial Electoral Office. The elections had been held quietly that day and things has run smoothly from what we could gather. The office was surrounded by armed army personnel with their semi-automatic weapons. Interesting site to see in the dark, on an unknown street, in the rain. We checked in and quickly fell asleep after being on the move almost 10 hours.