Off to Galapagos while we wait for our vehicle

Trip Start May 02, 2012
Trip End Jul 31, 2014

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We are back in Guayaquil after an interesting bus ride on the local bus from Salinas.  The bus had air-conditioning and a Spanish movie....but was otherwise very basic.  I kept my bag on my lap after watching the guy in the opposite aisle spitting on the floor. The price was good for a 3 hour trip - it was only $3 each as opposed to $80 dollars for a taxi...
 A group of 4 very nice Swedish youngsters stayed in our hostel and we got quite friendly with them.   They are in Ecuador teaching at a remote local school and staying in very basic conditions with local people.   They are experiencing many difficulties as, like rural SA schools, there are no timetables, no teaching resources and no assistance from the teachers. It was a public holiday on the Friday of this weekend so they decided to come to Salinas to clean up and relax.  Anyway, we were very flattered to receive an e-mail yesterday from the one gap year couple who asked if they could travel to Peru with us when they have finished their teaching...
The last day in Salinas was wonderful.  We went out with the Swedes to a local place for "el almuerza" - lunch - and had a 4-course meal for about $6 (including a drink).  They just bring you what they have, so it is sometimes interesting.  The soup was particularly good as it was a white soup and had samp like stuff in it and lots of cilantro. After that we went with the parents of the hostel owner on a trip up north - up the coast.  As far as my understanding went, its called The Shell Route.....They were going to drop something off for some relative, so asked us if we wanted to go for a drive..... So we landed up who knows where, after meandering through areas much like township areas - and in the middle of all this chaos - people/animals/traffic - we arrived at a huge, ancient church towering above all the hovels, made completely out of wood. There was no info about it, and the locals had no idea of any of its history.   I have since googled it and find that it is a church built in 1537 and made of lignum vitae wood and balm.  It is called Iglesia de Colonche. The wood smell inside is just beautiful.  Have posted a photo of the inside but the detailing is perhaps difficult to see.  Piedad is one of those lovely ladies who just chatters away.   I understood about 80% of what she said..... She pointed out every graveyard and crossed herself at every church (lots) that we passed.  Told her that my daughter-in-law is Catholic and she loved that!!  They also took us to another modern Church on a high hill - Our Lady Fatima - that has something in common with the Vatican, but couldn't quite get that....Piedad then insisted that she and I walk down the mountain stairway to the village below - while Andy and Carlos drove.  She battled on every step (went sideways) but pointed out every rock and berry tree with pride.   Carlos collects and polishes the dried seeds and pods of the vegetation there and makes jewellery out of them.  He gave me a beautiful necklace and earing set.  Such kind people.
Our vehicle is probably only going to be ready for us on Tuesday 22nd now.  We dont seem to be taking the journey now, the journey seems to be taking us....! But that's the exciting part... 
Have been reading John Steinbeck's book - Travels with Charley. What a writer he is.  He travelled in a camper with his dog, Charley, in North America in about 1962/3 and his observations are just how I would love to be able to say it!! He says this of travelling... "This journey had been like a full dinner of many courses, set before a starving man.  At first he tries to eat all of everything, but as the meal progresses he finds he must forgo some things to keep his appetite and his taste buds functioning." 
So anyway our journey has taken new turns, in that our time is now compressed, and we probably wont be able to get as far as Chile.  So we will have to come back for Chile next year as Chile is one of the countries that I desperately want to see.
So we have booked a last minute trip to Galapagos and seem to have a good deal.  We fly to the Galapagos tomorrow morning, and then sail on a catamaran-type boat called Seaman II.  We got the last 2 places yesterday.  It is a 6-day cruise and because it has been such a rush, dont really know the exact itinerary.   We were undecided before as to whether we should actually do the Galapagos thing as Andy is prone to severe motion-sickness..... but time and circumstances have forced our hand, and I dont think that we will be sorry - unless the sea is very rough....!
We have had to scramble around yesterday and today to get the cash for the trip as it is quite pricey and we find that our one card has been blocked because it was skimmed in Paraty at a restaurant there....!!! Someone in Birmingham tried to buy things at the Apple Store with it!!!!
Anyway the road still calls.... IF we ever make it out of Guayaquil... Dont have a GPS for Ecuador, and the traffic.....OMG
There is no internet availability on board so will continue with my blog in 6 days....
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Mick on

Hi Ann, I was interested in the wooden churcg. I have an egg made of Lignum Vitae and its very dense and oily, rather like tambotie (but I haven;t that that its poisonous. Its also a funny greenish color and the pices suggested the church may have retained some of that color, which would be amazing given its age.

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