Our last morning in Cuenca. I miss it already..especially since I am writing this while I am back in the states.. But really, what a nice town.
We still had some unfinished business of the phone charger and returning it to our friend Neil at his NEW condo. Like last time, he gave us no address…just two street names, plus the name of a building and some landmarks: The Coliseum, The Olympic pool and the river. We drove around for an hour looking for these two streets in the area of the three landmarks. No dice. NO ONE knew where these streets were. I tried to call him several times….Remember: I had returned the only cell phone that would work inside the country to him yesterday. To use a phone I had to ask people, “Uhhhh, can I use your cell phone? Oh, and BTW: do you know where Neil lives?” I must have sounded like a raving Gringo-Idiot.
Each time I would call him, we would get cut off right when he was trying to give me more directions. This was sooooo frustrating. One time he put his facilitator, Ana, on the phone…Of course, she did not speak very much English to my Not so good Spanish. Comical yet frustrating because we had to get to Guayaquil to return our car on time.
Our last ditch effort was at a gas station, which I now realize was really closed but the door wasn’t locked so I just walked in and I asked for help and directions. Thankfully, a really nice manager-type lady came out and asked what my problem was. She took me to her office where I again called Neil and again was cut off. Then two lads from Denmark came into the office. They heard in the parking lot that there was an American woman who needed help. This was almost an International incident! Their very brilliant idea was to take a cab to Neil’s apartment and have Rene follow in the Car. BRILLIANT except…
Not one cab driver would let me get in their cab when I showed them the street names. By now, we were even more desperate to get out of town so we had to chuck it. Meaning…give up….ARG! This was very difficult for this Virgo to do. Even a week later as I write this at 11:20 PM at night, my stomach is churning with the realization of defeat. If it had just been David and myself, I would have cried but I “ate it” and reasoned that Neil could probably purchase a new charger pretty easily AND I had put $10.00 of minutes on his phone, which was a nice thing to do…Gad, can you believe it? I actually thought of giving that charger to the two Denmark lads with Neil’s address and maybe they could find his new place. But that is ALL behind me now. I did send Neil an apology email and he couldn’t believe no taxi would accept me. Oh well, it’s done, done, done.
Thanks to Robin and her map reading abilities, we got out of town and on the road to Guayaquil and over the Andes. Gosh, it was beautiful and I was happy to show it all to Rene and Robin since I had seen it twice before.
One little bitty detail: FOG!! Can you believe it? More fog AND we ended up behind a car that couldn’t wait to pass us but had no idea how to drive in FOG and literally almost came to a complete stop several times. We were afraid someone, like a really big bus would come from behind and smash us like a bug so we turned on our flasher lights and honked at them. They were also riding the center line instead of the FOG line so there was no hope to pass them, which would have been terribly risky anyway so we just ate it and ranted at them in our car till the fog lifted and then we passed them and rejoiced that we were all still alive and then….
Just as we got out of the fog a HUGE tarantula was crossing the road. We couldn’t believe it. I mean, how often do you see that? But there it was and it generated a whole lot of jokes like, “Why did the tarantula cross the road?” I admit it…We were pretty punchy by this time. (sorry no picture)
Pretty soon we were on the downhill side of the Andes and seeing things like Banana trees, Watermelon stands, fields of sugar cane and we knew Guayaquil was in the distance.
We still needed to drop the car off and for some reason, all I had was a business card which contained an email address, phone but NO ADDRESS. Gad, here we go again. Remember, we had no phone, so we went to the Airport side of town because we knew that is where we had picked up the car. After several minutes of unfruitful looking we stopped at a gas station and I went in and asked for help. The kind manager man – every attendant would not meet my gaze – took the card and he called the number and told us the location is back one kilometer. WHEW! That should be easy enough, unless you miss the turn around and have to go forward a mile or so…Good news…We finally found it and funny enough…It was in the same place we left it.
We quickly cleared out our stuff, luggage, Alex’s hats, misc. trash and I went in to pay the bill in CASH. Here’s the story: They would hold the bill on my credit card but wanted a cash payment in the end. I wanted the Credit Card hold because if we got in a collision, Capital One Insurance would cover us. The car rental did NOT want the payment via Credit card because they don’t get their full payment and would have to charge us an extra 12% to recoup the lost amounts.
In the end I handed them $700 for sixteen days. That’s under $44 a day!! They even provided us with a Taxi and small car to take us to Patricia’s house for our overnight stay.
When we got to Patricia’s – after a hair raising ride thru Guayaquil – we discovered that she didn’t know we needed TWO rooms…but guess what? It all worked out and there were two rooms. Of course there were because that is just the kind of trip this is…It all works out.
We went out for dinner, walking the area around Patricia’s casa looking for our last meal…and we found a little street place and had a wonderful dinner. Here’s a picture of us crossing a VERY busy street to get to the restaurant.
Crossing the street for our last dinner in Ecuador
Our next big challenge was that our flight left at 6:00 AM which meant we had to be there at 4:00 AM and would need a Taxi at 3:00 AM – Make that two Taxi’s since we now had a lot of luggage. Patricia arranged for two of her friends to take us and she even woke us up at 3:00 AM.
Sleeping that last night was difficult. The street noise was outstandingly LOUD with cats squalling, dogs barking, motorcycles blaring, horns honking, people talking, yelling. I don’t know that I got more than an hour’s sleep before it was time to get up. I splashed some cold water on my face, pulled on my great Goodwill brown pants that I wore for THREE weeks with No washing and the rest of my gear, back pack, suitcases, loaded the taxi and cruised thru the DEAD streets of Guayaquil to the airport.
Once there we visited the duty free shops and bought a couple of items, including a bottle of liquor (David did that). We made it to our gate and waited. Then we heard Dave’s name called to the “Drug Enforcement and Inspection” area Please.
David is inspected for drugs
Being just a bit worried that I might not see him again, I went to the doorway and was told, “It is just routine.” I did not breathe a sigh of relief till I saw this….
No drugs: He’s good to go
We finally boarded our plane with Rene getting the leg room he needed for his tall frame and I saw this…
- Copa: GYE to Panama City
We landed two hours later in Panama City and headed to our next gate for our trip to Vegas. Lo and behold…This caught us by surprise. At our new gate, there was an entirely NEW Security check of our Carry on bags which had just been checked in GYE (Including a drug check of David’s). We had to show our Passport, boarding pass, turn in ALL water bottles, even empty ones…I lost my dear Pony Malta bottle…and have our bags checked, be patted down and wait behind the black ropes. All fine except…Remember the duty free stuff of a liquid nature? They would not let us take it in our bags. Nope, no can do, Nada.
We were sent to another desk and we explained:
US: “We just bought this in Ecuador in the Duty free shop and then we boarded the plane”
THEM: We understand Sir, but since you did NOT buy it in Panama we cannot allow you to put it in your luggage”.
US: Hmm what if I had bought it in Panama?
THEM: No problem – you can bring it on the plane.”
US: Does that make sense to you”
THEM: “NO sir, it does not but that is the rule”.
They ended up taking the bottles (Rene & David’s) and putting them on the plane, just not in our luggage – God forbid! and the bottles did show up in Vegas at the luggage turn around thingee unbroken. Whew!
Before we boarded the plane I had to use the bano and brush my teeth. I had to exit, with permission, with my toothbrush and passport, do my thing and go thru the Security check again. Overkill Panama…Jus sayin’
By the way, here’s an idea of how to keep your kids quiet on a long flight…
Child in a bag?
Vegas: We land, go thru Customs – It took a long time, get our bags (they weren’t there for 20 minutes which delayed us even more…Now we are going to miss our flight to Portland. We missed it even tho we RAN, pushing our bags on those cool luggage holders. Yep, it’s gone, can’t hold the flight, you missed it.
The Alaska airline person did a good job trying to get us to Portland. She checked every airline that could possibly make it work but the best she could do was: Vegas to Seattle which leaves in an hour and then onto Portland, with VERY LITTLE time to make that flight, stay overnight in Portland and fly to Medford the next morning. No choice. We did it.
On the Seattle to Portland flight: When we landed (late) we told people around us that we had to get off the plane to make our connection and they all moved aside and let us race out of the plane and we made it! Of course they did, because that is what people do when they know you need help.
In Portland, we had booked a room at the Red Lion Airport and a kind shuttle driver was there to take us. We had a marvelous meal in the lounge, got to bed…Wow, did that mattress feel like a cloud of cotton and silk to my weary bones…and the shower with unlimited hot water was so welcome with the little soap and shampoo and body lotion. So much so, that I took another shower in the morning before taking the convenient shuttle back to the Portland Airport for our 8 AM flight to Medford.
And when we landed, gosh, was it great to see Colette and Sam and the Rogue Valley and get home to my Inga Dog and my Ally cat and my garden that looked great, thanks to Colette’s watering and the house was still standing and the mail was piled up and I went to bed and slept in my own bed and just like Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home…”
Thanks for sharing this trip with me. I hope you enjoyed this bloggityblog. Gerry, signing off till the next adventure.
Medford Airport: The tired Crew