jamesfalconer asked: Hey Sarah. I love your blog! I just read through the first few posts! But how do I comment on each post? Is this a feature you can enable, where I can comment below each post?
Hey Bames, Yep just downloaded something so now you should be able to comment on each post! Go for it! Can’t wait to hear ur feedback! xo
For those of you wanting to come to Ecuador these are some common questions answered.
Guayaquil is the biggest City in Ecuador- Quito is the Capital.
Guayaquil is not a very pretty city, and is somewhat dangerous, if your just traveling I think the only reason to stop in Guayaquil would be to transfer buses.
When traveling through South America buses are WAY cheaper than plane.
I take a bus from Guayaquil to Esmeraldas which is basically going from the South of Ecuador to the North (9 hours) and it costs $12.50. Keep in mind the buses are more dangerous at night, because of the lack of proper roads and the fact that most windshield wipers don’t even work if the buses have them at all, it makes for a somewhat interesting ride… It usually rains hard at night causing road closures and the whole bit… Hence why windshield wipers would be appreciated. But I have traveled one night bus and from Guayaquil to Esmeraldas and I’m still alive :)
Food is quite inexpensive, you can usually get a good lunch for around $3.
Taxi’s are cheap as well! So when I don’t feel like experiencing the “O so fun” bus rides I jump in taxi’s. Only problem is that Guayaquil is known for what they call “Express Taxi” which means you get in a taxi, then the taxi robs you and drops you off in the middle of no where…and that’s the nicest they do.
It’s a little bit twisted because, apparently yellow taxi’s are the worst for that kind of thing. It’s sometimes better to get in an unmarked taxi… yep.. that means getting in a car that looks like every other car on the road, but this one is a taxi. lol. My host family gave me the number of a taxi company and they are a reputable company.
Cellphones- There are two carriers. Claro and Movistar. Claro has worst serivce but everyone uses them and it’s cheaper to call another Claro phone than Movistar…So I bought a cheap Claro phone for $40. They have credit here some plans but credit is more common; so I normally put $6 on my phone and that lasts about a week.
Don’t expect internet cafés here… they are tiny little rooms with a long line up of people waiting to use the internet. Internet is still not to easy to find. And even when you do find it, it’s slow…be patient.
Besides the usual abundance of “compliments” from the men, the people in Ecuador are really friendly. They are always curious where the “Gringa” is from. By the way, any white person here is called Gringo or Gringa, here it is not politically incorrect and they do not mean it in an offensive manner either.
Remember no drinking tap water! Unfortunately the water is not safe to drink here, the Ecuadorians do not drink it either. That means bottles and bottles of water. Bottled Water is normally 50 cents. Only problem with this is they don’t have recycling here! Apparently a recycling program was only put in place 2 years ago, and I haven’t seen one bin to put bottles. :( I hope Ecuador catches on quick and starts putting recycling bins right beside the garbage’s.
Well all the tips I can think of for now, more to come! xo
Exams, Papers and all the rest are done for this Bi-Semester! Which means I’m officially on holidays for about a week and a half. I have a few days here before going to pick up my friend from Canada so I decided to go to the first day back at the foundation I am volunteering for.
Now to get to the foundation I have to take the city bus to the Main Bus Terminal of Guayaquil. It’s about 20 minutes away without traffic. I live in a suburb called Samborondon, it’s kind of a big island in between two rivers. So to get to the bus terminal I cross over a big river then you can see the terminal in sight as well as the airport which is right there as well.
Getting to the foundation was not a problem; once at the bus terminal I walk through a bit of a sketchy area where they sell clothes I think I figured out today that it used to be the old bus terminal before they build this new one. I continue to walk on a main busy road and then I arrive at my foundation. Of course a month ago before the kids went on vacation from school they told me that school would start back up on March 1st. So I show up today and no kids :( To bad, I was really looking forward to starting today, but it’s not til Monday.
I proceed to walk back towards the terminal to catch the city bus back home I walk past the same people who say the same things everytime I walk by..
Hermosa, Preciosa, Linda, Mujer de mi Vida… Whistles, Kisses, Stares. If you come to South America and don’t get whistled at and these things said to you, you better check yourself cause these guys say it everyday! I think when I’m back in North America I’m going to go through withdrawal or self-estime issues or something because honestly almost every man you walk by will say something to you. The other exchange students the first couple of weeks would get so insulted, they have now realized…you have to get used to it.
So today I stood at the bus stop that I stand at every time I want to return home number 81 as I waited there weren’t too many people around waiting for the same bus and then I found out why… All of a sudden I start to see bus number 81. I stand by the bus stop where it normally stops..but then I notice people start running for the bus… Keep in mind the bus is still on the major road way… everyone starts getting on the bus from the back door and one man yells my way telling me to run on the bus, as I get closer I notice the bus is jam packed… people are now pushing each other shoving like cattle to all fit onto this bus. (So much for the bus stop). So I had a choice at this second in my life…wait for the next bus, which would probably be the exact same, or enter onto the first step of the back of this bus and potentially risk falling off in the middle of a jam packed highway. Naturally, I got on! The one man helped me push my way on and I managed to squeeze myself up to the top stare where I could hold on to a pole. Now already arms were crossing over faces and armpits in other peoples faces, but as the bus went through the terminal to leave there were about 8 more people who managed to squeeze on the back of this bus. This meant I was literally jammed in between two people with absolutely no room to move my feet what so ever. Not only was it too close for comfort but it was hot! Which means my body only got sweatier with every moment that I was pressed between two people. Of course the bus has to take two major traffic circles, which mean while turning normally you shift your balance to compensate for the turn. But when jam packed on a bus in Ecuador, you unfortunately can’t even move your feet. So yep, we leaned. In the little corner in the back of the bus you just see everyone leaning and falling on each other. The only good thing about touching everyone else is that you were fit in like a puzzle piece which means you almost felt secure. At this point I couldn’t help but laugh. The only advantage to being stuck at the back of the bus right beside the door that might or might not open at any minute was that my stop was the first stop so I could just get off right there right?…
Of course once the bus stopped at the first stop I tell the man that helped me on the bus, “This is my stop, he needs to open the doors” then they all look at me and say “No mi niña, you have to get off at the front of the bus.” So I then had to squeeze my way through a bunch more people until finally I go on solid ground again.
As soon as I got home I peeled off my clothes and took the coldest shower of my life. It was much needed.
Now to be fair to the city transport, I have been on full buses before but NONE like this. So it all depends on what time of day you are taking this bus. Every public bus costs 25 cents, I think it’s a pretty good deal. Dust and dirt is permanently stuck on the side of every bus which I don’t really understand because every night there is a torrential down poor yet the buses seem to be just as dirty as the days before.
When waiting to cross major road ways, my suggestion…close your mouth and try not to face the traffic. I made the mistake while waiting at a cross walk once, and before I knew it my ice creme was covered in dirt and grime. You can only imagine the dirt that was now covering my legs merely from standing on the side of the road. Also, don’t be fooled by the traffic police who stand in the middle of the road “directing traffic”. They are not there to help you cross, they are there… well…I’m not even sure why they are there, because they don’t do anything! I think maybe they become somewhat useful when the traffic lights randomly stop working but whenever the traffic lights stop working for me, they are never around.
Well that’s enough about traffic for now, I could go on and on about it, but let’s face it, traffic is crazy nothing more to it.
This weekend was Carnival in all of Latin and South America. Everywhere celebrates differently but I chose to go to the very North of Ecuador named Esmeraldas. Known as the area of black people, it was very true. Esmeraldas was amazing, also known for it’s beautiful beaches and it was just that. After my weekend of Carnival I decided it would be a good idea to write a set of guidelines if you should ever be in Ecuador for Carnival.
First things first… Getting a bus ticket to Esmeraldas
1) We went Thursday night to get our tickets for Friday night since we knew the bus terminal would be packed. We show up and finally found the booths to purchase tickets to Esmeraldas, 2 of the booths said that there were no more tickets to Esmeraldas until Sunday, finally we went to the third booth, they said that they had tickets but couldn’t sell them to us until the next day (Friday) the day of. As unsecure as it sounded we had no other choice. We talked to one of the men and they told us to come find him tomorrow and he would have 3 tickets for us. He told us to come at 12pm. So the next morning we went to the terminal at 12, the man we were supposed to find was of course no where to be found, so we tried our luck at the booth again and they said no and that the bus hasn’t been confirmed yet and to call at 4pm to get our tickets. We went back to our houses, bags packed, we made the phone call and what do we hear…no more bus tickets to Esmeraldas.
Now normally you would be discourage by now, but it was Carnival and I was going to do anything it took to make sure I got on a bus! I knew buses were normally leaving at 9-9:30 pm to go so we went to the terminal at 8pm to start our search. Once again we went to the booth and they told us the same thing, but this time we had our Ecuadorian friend with us. While we were waiting in one of the many lines he was waiting in another, all of a sudden he disappeared I called him and he was a couple booths down pushing his way through a crowd. He was waiting in one of the lines and a man came up wispering “Esmeraldas, Esmeraldas” He followed him and sure enough they had just opened another bus going. And yep we got tickets! Call it luck if you want, but that’s just how things work in Ecuador :)
2) Always carry toilet paper with you- you will need it.
3) When going out at night for Carnival be prepared to get spray Foamed. It’s inevitable.
4) Bring sunscreen for the beaches! I’ve never burnt so much in my life, I don’t know what I am going to die of first; skin cancer or skin poisoning from the excessive amount of bug spray I put on myself every morning and night.
5) Be prepared to get wet. One the the last nights of Carnival we arrived to the house to find our neighbors and family friends outside soaking wet with homemade water guns. So we left all our important technology in the car and prepared to get wet. It was a lot of fun with huge pools of water and music in the streets everyone spraying you with foam and water. Then they brought out the flour and oatmeal. Yep, they put that all over us too. They were thoughtful and spared us from the eggs that normally gets thrown on us too.
6) When driving 9 hours in car home from Carnival, as hot as it is, when passing pedestrians on the street, DO UP YOUR WINDOWS. When passing trucks with people in the back of them; DO UP YOUR WINDOWS. It was a great way to end Carnival by the simple mistake we made. It happened so fast before we knew it we were driving 100 km per hour and drenched! Yep some how people in the back of a truck manage to splash water in our front window at 100 km per hour. I couldn’t stop laughing.
7) When asking for directions ask 3 different people…If someone asks you for directions in Ecuador it’s rude to say you don’t know (even if you don’t) so they point strait ahead and nod their head saying it’s that way… Hence why you should ask at least 3 people each time. One of the 3 people we asked said it was really close only about 3 minutes (we were trying to find the beach) so we kept on driving, 45 minutes later we proceeded to ask another person who said it was also very close. 15 minutes later we had arrived! So when asking for a time line… be prepared for longer.
8) If you are not from Ecuador, please don’t try driving in Ecuador. Somehow a two lane HWY at 100 km per hour suddenly becomes 4 lanes according to the other drivers.
Well I am learning lots and having amazing experience! If you follow those simple Carnival guidelines you will be sure to have a great trip!