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Las Palmas Update

21 Nov
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Finding Our Gringo on la Ruta del Sol

17 Oct

la Ruta del Sol – the sun’s route … or, the route of the sun.

Three hours into the drive, a wrong turn took us here. I call it the “middle of nowhere at the middle of the world.” The road literally ended at the Pacific Ocean.

How romantic.

It was the two of us and a Chevy Spark against the world.

That’s what it felt like for a good nine hours, at least. We casually assumed the map would match the roads. And that the roads would have signage corresponding to said map.

What were we thinking, and who says roads should have signs anyway? They all go somewhere, right?

Yes, it was la Ruta del Sol that baptized us head first into an Ecuadorian adventure and ultimately leading to the pristine gates ofmap of la ruta del sol Las Palmas. It just took a while ( 7 hours too many). The road apparently had some things it wanted to teach the southern hemisphere’s newest gringos.

***

Dana and I have traveled all our lives. She as far as Morocco and Greece. Me, mostly in just about every major city in the continental U.S. I’ve driven the toughest roadways in Boston, Dallas, New York, Washington, DC, all without fear. So how could a two-lane highway along the mostly uninhabited Ecuadorian Pacific coast challenge a guy like me behind the wheel?

I took about two seconds.

We departed Jose Joaquin de Elmedo International Airport in Guayaquil eager to make good time on a leisurely drive we’d been told would take less than three hours.  Three minutes after I’d pulled onto the freeway, a few things became quickly apparent.

  • Taxi drivers take their work personally. It’s a competition out there.
  • Horns are for both offensive and defensive driving.
  • Left-hand turns from the right-hand lanes are perfectly acceptable.
  • Red lights mean “Stop.” (unless nobody’s coming).
  • Another name for “roundabout” is “death vortex.”
  • I’d made a big mistake thinking this would be no worse than driving back home.

Three hours later, we were out of Guayaquil and on the path to the Ruta del Sol.

route of the sun in ecuador

There was a wrong turn or two. One that ultimately led to the scenario above, just a few moments before we hit a dirt road that literally dead-ended into the Pacific Ocean. That’s right. The road ended at the sea.

Five hours in, we hit the Sol, a beautiful stretch hugging the coast. The Spark was approaching empty, and the first good news I’d seen all day was pulling in for $1.48 per gallon gas.

It’s been years since I locked my keys in my car in the U.S. The newer cars just won’t allow it to happen. In South America, leave your keys in the vehicle, and the car locks tight. We had no cell phones, very basic Spanish skills, we were tired and our keys were locked in the car at a gas pump. Two hours later, a local with a wire and a shoe string set us free.

what do do when you lock your keys in your car

Coasting carelessly now down la Ruta del Sol. Notice the shattered vent window. The keys never got locked in the car again!

Four days later, I did it again, and the 95 degree searing heat at Latitude 1° South helped me come to a quicker, less strategic solution. A hard blow with a crescent wrench will break a vent window almost every time, and you’ll never worry about locking your keys in the car again.

Just a few other things we learned in Ecuador while driving along the Ruta del Sol.

  • Hitting a speedbump at 55 mph won’t kill a Chevy Spark, but it’ll hurt it.
  • Herds of cattle and goats don’t care that you’d like to get somewhere soon.
  • When a driver indicates with a honk, he’s coming around you, he’s not going to change his mind.
  • There’s one particularly famous driving move in Ecuador. I call it the “triple bypass.” Imagine this: Three cars are headed in the same direction in the same lane, one after the other. Car 2 decides to pass Car 1, and Car 3 follows Car 2. Car 3 decides Car 2 isn’t passing fast enough, so Car 3 creates a “third lane” on a two-lane road and flies around both Car 2 and Car 1. I actually saw this happen once.

We’re better prepared for driving the Ecuadorian roadways next time out. Better prepared. Just not fully prepared.

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13 Oct

A nice visual documentary of one of the many fishing villages along the Ecuadorian Pacific coast.

Living It Up in Ecuador

The beaches of Ecuador can be very unique from one to another but all are beautiful in their own way.

The one consistent factor we have seen on the beaches are the small fleets of fishing boats waiting to be launched.

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Banos ~ South America’s Playground

14 Sep

A nice story on Banos. Look to the link at the bottom for some very nice photos.

Brownbeartrip

Just a few hours hours away from Quito, Baños is a break away from the city life. Known as the adventure capital of Ecuador, it offers a wide variety of activities from the tame and innocent to the wild and extreme.

Baños is sheltered amongst South America’s spine, the Andes, which surrounds the city in magnificent beauty. Overlooking it are dozens of waterfalls, spraying down from above, refracting the light to manifest vivid rainbows, the towering mountains stunningly sculpted over the ages embrace the city and the fresh unpolluted air makes each star twinkle that little bit brighter at night.

For the more conservative, Baños has thermal springs heated by the dormant Tungurahua volcano (last active in 1999), spas sit on every corner and international cuisine lines the streets. Mild to challenging exploration trips on foot, horseback or bike are on offer taking one up the surrounding vistas of the Andes.

For the…

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Good News for Ecuadorian Tourism

14 Sep

Good news for Ecuadorian tourism.