Monday, October 13, 2008

August 18 - October 21, 2008

We left Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela via plane destined for Ecuador on August 18th. In order to stay on our "cruising budget" Jaime made the decision to try out a Venezuelan airline called Santa Barbara. This decision was two fold; money and it was non-stop from Caracas to Guayaquil, Ecuador. The prior year we had flown Avianca, a Colombian airline, which had several stops and it took us all day to arrive in Ecuador! Well we arrived in Caracas and discovered that the Santa Barbara flight had not left Ecuador on time and that our flight would be delayed 14, yes 14 hours!!!! We left at midnight and arrived in Guayaquil at 3:00PM in the morning with tons of "stuff" that we were bringing to the condo. Thank God we were able to find a taxi that could take us and all our things to Jaime's sister-in-law who lives in Guayaquil. One of her house staff, Marlena, greeted us in a somewhat sleeping but pleasant manner. She is a real sweetheart. We crashed, however, we were both back up by 7:00 AM because we were so excited to be in Ecuador, also wanting to visit with Elena, Jaime's sister-in-law.

Well friends, the start of the trip should have been an indication of what was to come!

We stayed in Guayaquil, as planned, for five days visiting with Jaime's family and SHOPPING!
We knew that we would not be able to easily get certain things in Bahia de Caraquez, our final destination. Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador with over two million people. It is very modern, clean and it has MALLS! We were like gawking idiots from another planet. In the grocery stores, we thought that we had died and gone to heaven after being in Venezuela for a year. The people of Venezuela, some of the nicest we have met on our "trip", have had it really bad for a couple of years and often there exist shortages on staples. Milk, eggs, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. can sometimes be really hard to find. It is truly sad. When a person finds the things they need they usually overbuy making the shortages worse. In fact, sometimes the government limits the quantity of each item that a person can buy. One example; at one point a family could only buy two quarts of milk per week. The lines were incredible. Oops, back to Ecuador.

After spending a lovely time in Guayaquil it was time to see our condo in Bahia de Caraquez, a short four hour drive north up the coast. On the way there we stopped in Monte Christi, a small town that has many local artisans where we planned to place an order for our living room furniture. This one gentleman makes rattan furniture for people from the photos that they give him. We placed our order and we would have it in two weeks. We were ecstatic since we had a empty condo except for one bed.
The last hour of the trip was horrible due to the poor roads from Manta to Bahia. Since our arrival, they have fixed them and they are in much better condition.

Bahia is a very small town located on the coast of Ecuador with an approximate population of twenty-five thousand.
It is so small that people were waiting for us on the street in front of the condo to welcome us back and to help carry our stuff up to the second floor. It was such a great feeling. The place had been cleaned, flowers were on our plastic dining room table and another surprise was taped to the front door! We both said we would look at the contents of the envelope a little bit later. Well, we did not look inside until the next day. Lo and behold, it was a lawsuit from our next door neighbor claiming that she had suffered $1,100 in damages from our renovation. It went downhill from there for the rest of our "vacation" in Ecuador. We won't go into all the details but after two lawyers, not serving any use at all and $400 in fees, we are fixing her problems that were proven to be caused by a carpenter she had hired!!! He admitted to us that he had been requested to hang some things on her patio walls and when he did, he placed a nail right through her PVC water pipe and they had to turn off her water until it was fixed. Also it had caused some damage to our interior wall next to her. She had been without water for a few months and decided to "use" us as her avenue of repair without incurring any costs on her part. In order to stop all the hassles from her, court appearances, screaming in hallways and Jaime's mental health we are fixing everything for less than $400. The plumber that fixed the pipe saved us the piece of PVC with the nail, just in case we need it later. It has been a heck of a time. We were unable to do any side trips at all.

Jaime called Santa Barbara Airlines yesterday, October 12th., about our return trip and THEY CANCELED THE PLANE from Guayaquil to Caracas. Now we have to buy additional tickets to get from Manta to Quito where we are now confirmed to fly out. Enough already; we just want to get back to Nereia in Puerto La Cruz.

One of the highlights of our trip was meeting up with friends that we met in The Bahamas back in 2006. We had seen them a couple of times on our journey and recently in Venezuela. They left Venezuela, passing through the Panama Canal and stopped here in Bahia to spend part of the hurricane season.
Beno and Marlene, aboard Diesel Duck, have recently flown back to Toronto to their son's wedding. Upon their return, they will be heading south to Peru, Chile and than around the Horn and circumnavigating South America over the next few months. We got together several times and enjoyed their company while they were here in Bahia. We wish them them the very best.

We will definitely try to keep this blog up-to-date, so that friends and family will know a little more about our travels and the great education that we are experiencing.

The very best to all.

Dan & Jaime aboard SV Nereia

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