We stayed overnight in Guayaquil, where we had landed post-Galapagos. The city was essentially a busy, dusty city. It did have a lovely waterfront along the river so we did fit in an evening stroll. We walked from our hotel near the airport to get there… Probably about 7km that were not particularly scenic. Not sure I would recommend the trek to any visitors.
The next day we strapped on our packs and walked to the bus station. In a word: hectic. We managed to navigate through the terminal to the appropriate desk and get our tickets to Playas. It was pretty nuts. I also needed to navigate the restroom prior to our departure (travelling 5 months pregnant is not always super easy), usually this is a simple process… But in a super busy bus station one tiny bathroom with only two stalls it is a challenge, especially with the families bathing their children in the sinks. Anyway, we made it to our bus, which was pleasantly air-conditioned and featured a comedy on the television – luxurious! The most entertaining part was probably the vendors they would allow on at red lights and then off again a little later. You could get everything from light snacks to ice cream, fried plantains and meat on a stick (I was very glad I wasn’t suffering from any motion induced nausea). A couple hours later, we made it to Playas, hopped off and began the walk to our hotel.
We arrived at Hotel Titopolis, a beachfront hotel we booked for the duration of our stay. They seemed rather shocked we had taken the bus from Guayaquil and had walked there. This hotel is a whole other story. It is run by a very nice, if at times invasive and overbearing, family. The parents have four children, some of whom are around for the holidays. We just can’t quite figure them out – they are all around all day, but they don’t seem to work much. They have a very, very nice lady who seems to take care of everything! She does the breakfast, the cleaning, the lunch, the laundry… Yesterday she served us breakfast at 7am and brought us clean towels at 9:30pm! Clearly amazing. All that aside, the room is comfy and overlooks the beach, there is a small pool and hammocks underneath a cabana. Of course just outside the gate is the ocean with a long wide beach, perfect for a morning stroll where we have found many treasures to remind us of our trip (most recent find: a sand dollars this morning!). We have decided it is the perfect way to end our trip: with some true vacation time.
It seems not many “gringos” make it here, which suits us just fine. There are quite a few ecuadorians who are around on holiday, so we are hardly alone. Today we were told about a “local” spot where you can take a boat out to see dolphins. We decided to give it a go and head over there.”There” is a port called Puerto del Morro and I say “local” because upon our arrival in this little town, it became quite apparent that dolphin tourism was a very popular destination indeed, perhaps just not for foreigners. It seemed that everywhere we looked there was another sign boasting boat tours to see dolphins. We crashed an extended family outing on our boat – we were the only two of the 16 that weren’t related. It was pretty amusing.
We did see some dolphins! They are such graceful animals and were great to see in the wild. The tour also took us through the mangroves and by some sea birds. I have a general distaste for following the animals once they have been spotted – I mean, seriously, as if the dolphin family wants to be followed by a bunch of gas fuelled boats while they lunch. I was seriously thankful it wasn’t a weekend and the number of boats was limited. The dolphins and birds were lovely, the boat ride was a tranquil hour or so – certainly not a bad way to spend a couple hours of vacation!
To top off all of our excitement so far we ended today with a lovely Foster Family+ Skype! Not only has Nur made it through the paces, but Justine seems to be holding her own very well (as Paddy said: “With that family!? Thank goodness!”). What better way to end a fantastic day?
Well: A smorgasbord of new year’s dinner is a start and I’m not exaggerating. Shrimp salad, lobster salad, ribs, turkey and so much more. I haven’t eaten so much meat and so few veggies since I don’t know when. All that remains: ringing in the new year! Fireworks Playas-beachside will be warmer than fireworks Bundt-side were in Shanghai last year!
Happy New Year! Enjoy the festivities. We wish you everything wonderful in 2014!