We made it to Ecuador! We did have a few unexpected set backs on the way such as checking in to our flight. When they told us we couldn’t just fly to Ecuador on a one way ticket without proof that we were applying for a resident Visa, I’m thinking, “hmmm…this isn’t a great way to start”! The email communications from the lady helping us get our visas was not enough. They wanted something official such as an application which we did not have. So what was the solution? Well, at the airport we ended up purchasing at the check in counter a ticket back to Panama (cheaper than the US) in January. Mind you, we have no intentions of flying to Panama in January, but that was the only way we could make it work until we get the official paperwork. The tickets are completely refundable, so in the near future we will be cancelling the flights and getting a refund. So we were finally checked in!
Thankfully, the actual flights to Ecuador were wonderful. We flew Copa Airlines and had no problems with the dogs flying with us. We were also served a meal which I’m completely not used to!
We arrived in Ecuador on October 10th at 5:30 spending about an hour in the customs line bringing us to 6:30 where we picked up our luggage. That’s when the next snafu happened. All the luggage must be put through the X ray machine with the exceptions of the perros (dogs). A man motioned for me to bring the two dog carriers to his office and wanted to see my paperwork which we had meticulously followed the proper instructions and had prepared and stamped for approval prior to leaving Chicago. He spoke no English but told me this paperwork was no good. This will not work. I’m trying to remain very calm and very friendly in the meantime. I asked porque (why?) and he showed me a sample of the proper paperwork which had a raised seal (like a notary stamp). The seal we had, which again we obtained very legitimately from APHIS (US dept of agriculture) had a stamped seal as well as a raised seal, but it wasn’t as distinct as the sample and he didn’t like it. In the mean time, I’m praying asking God to somehow let these dogs go through and not be required to remain in at the airport in quarantine or something. He was busy taking my paperwork in an out of his office, talking to supervisors, continuing to tell me this was no good. He asked for my passport and wrote down some information. As best I could tell I was told I needed to get the proper paperwork or they could not go back to the US. But they were released! Whew! Thank you God!
Next, Jorge (our driver from Ecuador) and his two sons met us and loaded us up in their van with all 8 totes and carry on luggage and brought us to his Bed and Breakfast that he owns in Guayaquil (which is where we flew into). What a gorgeous place! And what a wonderful personal driver Jorge was! We couldn’t have asked for a better, more competent person to help us. The room was absolutely stunning even for American standards. His parents were there and we had the pleasure of meeting both of them as well as another American couple that would be driving with us the next day to their town in San Clemente which is just a short distance north of our town of Crucita.
In the morning, Jorge made us an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and a delicious dish of misc fruit, warm oatmeal and honey drizzled over the top! As we were eating breakfast, Jorge’s mom frantically motioned for him to come outside. Next thing we know, Jorge was bracing a ladder and coming down with an animal of some sort. The animal was Audrey (our dachshund)! While we were at breakfast, she managed to open a window in the bathroom of our room upstairs and climb out on to the roof. Jorge’s mom was telling her to stay there (in Spanish) while calling for Jorge to help! She didn’t jump, she was safe! I’m sure this is the first of many episodes with Audrey…unfortunately.
After breakfast and the Audrey fiasco, we were on our way in the van to our town. The trip is quite long. I would compare it to driving from Appleton to Chicago time wise. The roads are fairly good, although you go through many little towns along the way. Driving in Ecuador is similar to Mexico or the Dominican Republic. There really are no lanes so cars sneak in between other cars, which is quite normal and accepted. Occasionally you will see a donkey or horse loose along the side of the road. None of this surprised me at all as it was very similar to other Latin American driving standards. The thing that I’ve never seen before, which I saw twice on our drive was a horse riding in the back of a pick up truck. The sides were taller of course, but it was very odd none the less!
As we passed through the tiny towns along the way, many of them were “themed” in terms of selling primarily certain items. For example, we bought a large jar of honey in “honey town”. There was also “pillow town”, “hammock town” “banana bread town” etc. We also purchased a loaf of banana bread, which was still warm and quite delicious! When purchasing the items in these towns, Jorge would just pull over and they would approach the vehicle like a Latin American drive through! Jorge was telling us that one time on his travels he was starving, but in these “themed” towns, they don’t sell food. He had to wait to buy something a few towns up the road.
Jorge dropped the other couple off in San Clemente and then drove us to Crucita. He called Stalin (the handyman that works for the owners of our rental) on his cel and got directions on how to get there. They don’t have addresses here like in the states. Basically on our lease agreement it has the name of the cross streets and the town and state and that’s it. You get to know the homes by landmarks. In this case, Stalin told him that he would meet him on the main street by bicycle and would be wearing a red shirt. We would then follow him in our van to the property. Stalin peddles pretty darn fast because we were there in no time!
The house was just as beautiful as it was in the pictures! The thing that took me by surprise was the roaring sound of the ocean right there. Never in any of our travels have we been this close to a roaring ocean! Wow….what a blessing this is. As I’m sitting here writing this in my living room with the TV on, I hear the roar of the waves. I think I can get used to this very very quickly.