Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ecuador 2010 May June (Part 4)

Exploratory Trip to Ecuador May 2010 (Still In the Bahia de Caraquez area)

As long as I'm "virtually" waiting for my replacement passport to be printed in Washington D.C., sent by diplomatic pouch to Quito, and then DHLed to Bahia, this would be a good time to fill in a few details that I had not mentioned before.

There is a place on the Pacific coast called The Center Of The World. We didn't go there but as I hear it, there is a sink right on the ecuador, a sink about a yard north of that, and a sink about a yard south of the ecuador. These are used to demonstrate that water goes down the sink without a whirlpool right at the equator, whereas the water turns counterclockwise on the north sink, and clockwise on the south sink. This effect should exist at all points on the ecuator, not just here. BTW, this monument is not really on the equator; a frenchman got it wrong, whereas an ancient Ecuadorian tribe got it right (the real site is nearby).

There are some towns south of Manta that people used to say one must visit: Cuenca, Guayaguil, Vilcabamba (river valley). Word now is that crime, especially petty criimes against foreigners, is rampid in these towns.

I did see a big housing development under construction north of Canoa. Very nice houses.

As I mentioned earlier, there ARE building codes here. This area was devastated by an earthquake a few decades ago. So, the building code that is most adhered to is the one that will keep new houses from falling apart in a quake. New houses are built with lots of rebar, and concrete, cinder blocks, and tile.

One thing that's a bit strange is that the flat roofs (azoteas), have shallow aprons along the sides of the buildings. These give better views of the ocean and the terrain from the rooftop, but could be dangerous after a few margaritas.

In towns, however, there are so many "code violations" it is ridiculous. An overhead pipe drips water to the middle of the sidewalk below. People have been going around the puddle and the drip for years; nobody does anything about it. There are several instances of this. Also, there are several manhole covers missing; somebody said they were stolen to melt and sell the raw metal. You can fall several feet into a manhole if you are not careful; nobody does anything about it.

You can get satelite TV dish service. We never saw TV nor listened to the radio.

Food shopping has one foot in the past and one in the present. We did go to the local produce markets -- odd shaped "organic" carrots, probably healthier than the fertilized ones at the grocery stores. The stores are modern. I found it interesting that some items have no Spanish at all on the labels. Good thing the label has a picture of the product.

These items will improve with time: Internet speeds, very slow; The San Vicente airport, out of commission because it does not have a fire department; pongas and the car ferry, will make way for the bridge linking Bahia and San Vicente.

RE: Medical services. While there, I had my teeth cleaned and whitened by a dentist, saw a chiropractor several times, and bought antibiotics over-the-counter without a prescription. Every medical service/product was very inexpensive and done well. I did not see the hospital in Bahia but I hear it is barely adequate; I did see 2 hospitals in Quito and they were absolutely perfect. In Quito, a Canadian ex-pat told me he had a major operation, which cost very little and turned out fine.

Buzzards(?) hawks(?) fly all day long. No dead fish has a chance to rot on the beach. There are also bats -- they come out at night in search of flying insects. I didn't see the birds as a problem; the bats, though, creep me out.

Everyone has their version of what paradise is. Living in Denver, we would see young couples come from NYC only to return a year later because they missed their friends and relatives. I'm not sure why some people like Ecuador. It was way too primitive for me, but the ex-pats there like it.

More later ...

1 comment:

  1. Your posts are hilarious! My husband is from Ecuador; I have visited 3 times now, and can handle it better now. All my husband told me is that his country was different than the US. You don't say! He said I complained the entire 2 1/2 weeks the first time I was there. After accidently drinking water in the shower I couldn't sleep thinking about what kind of bug I could have ingested or what parasite was taking over my body. The next day my body totally rejected whatever it was. I was sick for 3 days. My stomach made noises it has never made before this or since. Also, constantly locking the door to our room when we left, and hiding our passport so that our housekeeper wouldn't take it was very unsettling. The armed guards everywhere was crazy! while traveling from Guayaquil to Manta kids on the side of the road would hold up a piece of rope so that you would have to stop your car on the highway so that they could ask for money. Before going, my husband said he was afraid I would give out too much money to the children begging on the side of the street. Quite the opposite! After the roap incidents I had no sympathy for them and wanted to drag their lawless selves to their parents so that I could give them a piece of my mind. Allowing an 8 year old child to beg for money, alone, outside of an airport is ridiculous. The airport in guayaquil didn't even have a conveyor belt! Also, we only took the bare minimums to the beach and the entire time I was in the ocean I was scared someone would steal my 20 dollar flipflops, I was in college then! He finally asked the coconut man, and gave him a couple of dollars to hold our stuff. But the entire time I was swimming in the ocean I was stalking the coconut stand.
    There was large dips in the road that could have really torn up the car if my brotherinlaw didn't know when to stop. I was afraid to walk under power lines because it looked like they could fall at any minute. Teenagers made out, groping and grinding, right on the beach in the late afternoons. Women dressed up like prostitutes just to visit the ice cream parlor! And noone knows how to form lines! Its very different and it feels like you went back in time 30 years! They use plastic chairs for furniture in restaurants, and when you buy a coke you have to give them the bottle back. Giving the glass bottle back was mandatory by the way, they would chase you down to get it back. It was like I was on a different planet!