Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Visitors, Carnival, and EcuaAdventures

Dave and I had our first official visitors in Ecuador this past week.  Our good friends, Brandon and Tosha, made the long trek from Boise, Idaho to experience a week in the good life.  Luckily, Dave and I had the week off of work because of Ecuador's celebration of Carnival.  We were able to show them around Puerto Azul, Guayaquil, and Puerto Lopez before they had to board the plane back to the states on Wednesday morning.  We had adventures a' plenty in the fast-paced week, and thankfully Tosha and Brandon were open to being our visitor guinea pigs.  

The Bentz' flew into Guayaquil on Wednesday night, technically Thursday morning.  We were able to pick them up from the airport with the help of Paulino, the school's trusty driver.  We headed to bed pretty quickly after they arrived, it being close to three o'clock in the morning, and let them sleep in as Dave and I went to our last day of work for the week.

On Thursday they were able to stop by the school to get the tour and walk us home.  Their first tourist attraction was then a ride on the local bus to the grocery store.  Don't underestimate the adventure of a Ecuadorian bus ride, sometimes it is akin to a roller coaster and this ride was no different.  We made it safely to the grocery store where we refueled with some Sweet and Coffee and purchased all sorts of Ecuadorian goodies for Tosha and Brandon to try.  When we arrived home again, via an even more packed bus, we gave our guests an Ecuadorian fruit taste test and waited for our delicious dinner from Jumbo to be delivered.  Sarah, Mark, and Karly came over for the feast and to meet the first visitors to Ecuador out of our little newbie group.  We had a really wonderful evening, sharing travel stories and filling the Bentz' in on life in Ecuador.
Friday we took the Bentz' on a whirlwind tour of Guayaquil and tried to hit all the main attractions.  We first took the tour of the Malecon, where we walked along the river, stopped into the shops, and toured the botanical gardens.  The Malecon led directly to Santa Ana and Las Penas.  We walked up the 444 steps, with a couple of ice cream stops along the way, and overlooked the sprawling city from the top.  

We also took them through the Bahia and let them experience the pure craziness and hustle of the black market that stretches for blocks.  The artisan market was the next stop, where Tosha and Brandon were able to experience the joy of bargaining.  We finally ended up in Urdesa where we had dinner at one of our favorite spots, The News Cafe.  By the time we got back to Puerto Azul, after a taxi ride where I had to use quite a few distraction techniques on Tosha, we were all beat.  We had just enough energy to pack and make cookies for the following day's bus trip to Puerto Lopez.  

Check out spork soon for all the gory details on our initial bus ride to Puerto Lopez.  What we discovered was that traveling during Ecuadorian holidays may not be the smartest way to go, as you will see in my last post in this series as well.   Thank goodness Tosha and Brandon were such great sports about traveling in Ecuador!