Sunday, May 4, 2008

In Guayaquil, Ecuador...

Hey everyone! I’m sitting in the courtyard of a beautiful little hostel in Riobamba. It’s called Hostal Oasis. I’m amazed at how nice some of these places are at such a low cost. My private, en suite room is only $10 a night, and it’s lovely!

But, I need to backtrack, because I didn’t get to post anything Friday night or yesterday, and there’s SO MUCH to share!

I got to Guayaquil Friday afternoon, and had thought about taking a bus downtown…but after the 5th or 6th taxi drive tried to drag me to his waiting taxi, and I got this one talked into Cuatro Dolares ($4) for the ride, I decided it was easier than having to find my way around a city of over 2 Million people by bus…That and the fact that the buses don’t just STOP at the bus stops. You watch for the one you want, and flag it down…yeah, well, I didn’t know which one I wanted. So that wasn’t too good a plan!

I had decided to check out the Hotel Alexander, as my trusty Lonely Planet Ecuador guide book (I won't ever go to another country without a Lonely Planet guide book...they are fantastic!) told me they had free Wi-Fi. It was pricier than some of the others, but was supposed to be nice. (And it was, but I’m not to that yet.)

The taxi ride…How do I describe my taxi ride? Well, I won’t use that language…but anyway, I think the driver was trying to do everything in his power to scare the daylights out of me. It didn’t work, but he gave it a good shot! For those who went to Uganda with us, picture 10 times worse than what we saw the taxis/boda bodas driving. The taxi drivers use their horn frequently. They literally force their way through traffic, cutting people off, riding down the center lane between vehicles, pulling in front of buses…uhmmm, they’re MUCH bigger than a taxi. It was definitely a wild ride. And the whole time I was kicked back taking it in thinking, “I am NOT going to let than man even THINK I’m concerned about his driving!” Not for the faint of heart.

Ok, so he pulls up in front of Hotel Alexander and the armed security guard/bell hop with the flack jacket on came out to the taxi and promptly grabbed my bags and led me into the building. Didn’t look like quite that bad an area, but whatever.

The lobby of the Hotel Alexander is reminiscent of one of the hotels in those old 1920’s or 1930’s movies. It had that look and charm to it. My pictures will describe it better than I can.

My stay at the Hotel Alexander was pleasant. There was a restaurant off the lobby, and I had dinner there Friday night. I ordered what I THOUGHT was a chicken chalupa :D. This is what the menu had on it: Chaulafan de Pollo. Ok, so I know pollo is chicken...I got that part right. But chaulafan definitely was NOT a chalupa! What I did get though was a HUGE plate of rice, veggies, and chicken that was wonderfully seasoned. The food was great, and the prices were very reasonable for the city.

I ordered the Desayuno Alexander for breakfast the next morning. Mainly because I was SURE I knew what all those Spanish words meant! And I was right! It included coffee with milk (cafe con leche), fresh juice, 2 eggs (huevos), 2 croissants, 6 slices of bacon, a plate of fresh fruit, and jam. All for only $3. I wonder if we could get them to move to Roanoke?

Anyway. I'd originally planned to stay in Guayaquil for 2 nights, but after my view of the city on the way to the hotel, I decided there probably wasn't a whole lot for me to see there within walking distance...I just wasn't "feeling" staying another night. So I finally Got my stuff packed up by around 1:00-ish and checked out. The always available taxi was waiting outside the door, and I headed off towards Terminal Terristre. That's the bus station where you catch the buses to other cities. My new taxi driver was a much safer driver...or there was just less traffic, and the ride to the bus terminal was uneventful. You can check out the pics on my Flickr site (which is now organized into several sets for my trip).

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