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Published: March 26th 2009
Sunset at San Vicente
taken from John's living room
On March 1 I left Ibarra after my last weekend of flying with the Club de Planeadores in Ibarra, I returned to Quito with my friends the Davalos'. I stayed in Quito for two nights, then caught a 30 minute flight to Manta on the coast. I arrived in Manta about 7 PM. From the Manta airport I had a 90 minute taxi ride to Bahia Caraquez, then a short taxi boat ride across the bay to San Vicente, and then a short taxi ride to the condo where my friend John Brock lives. I arrived at John's place shortly after 9 PM. The taxi ride from Manta was a shaky affair. The road wasn't in the best shape, with lots of potholes, and it was night. The driver was constantly cranking the wheel and hitting the brakes to dodge the potholes, tossing me like a salad in the back seat for the entire 90 minute trip. I arrived in Bahia with a sore neck...
John bought his condo last year, and is in the process of acquiring permanent residence in Ecuador. His description of the process seemed daunting, with lots of trips to Quito to see a lawyer, and
a ton of paperwork. I guess this is really no different than anyone would experience when moving to a different country. John's condo is located on a hill overlooking the beach, just north of San Vicente. He has a sweeping view of the Bahia Caraquez and the beach that runs about 17 kms north to Canoa. It doesn't get much better.
The climate there was about perfect, temperatures ran about 30 during the day, usually with a slight breeze off of the ocean. It didn't rain much at all over the week I was there, the days usually started with some overcast which cleared off by mid-morning to a beautiful sunny day, followed by some spectacular sunsets as the sun dipped below the Pacific Ocean on the horizon, illuminating the clouds in unique ways every day.
A couple of days after I arrived, John and I went for an unexpectedly long walk on the beach. I found it hard to believe that such a beautiful beach was totally undeveloped for such a long distance. The beach is naturally sandy, with a shallow slope down towards the water. There is no sharp drop-off in the water, so walking out
is possible for quite a distance from shore. After walking along the shore for about ¾ of an hour, I got the brilliant idea that we should walk up to Canoa and have some beer and lunch before catching a bus back to John's place. We could plainly see the cliffs that predominate the shoreline north of Canoa, so walking there shouldn't have been a big deal. And, it really wasn't, except that it took us over 3 hours of walking at a good clip to get there. We were definitely ready for the beer and garlic shrimp meal that we had at a restaurant along the beach in Canoa. I ate lots of “camerones al ajillo” while in Ecuador. Having a big plate of shrimp, garlic sauce, and rice for a few dollars was too good to pass up.
Aside from walks on the beach, I spent my time in San Vicente reading, enjoying the weather and the view, and having many interesting conversations with my friend John. John is a retired computer geek like me, and we could entertain ourselves talking about the old days, things like writing computer programs in assembly language on mainframe computers with
Panga ride across Bahia Caraquez
This form of transportation will disappear with the new bridge being built.
64K of memory.
We made a few trips in to Bahia Caraquez to shop, check email, make phone calls, and of course to have a meal. John has a favourite restaurant in a hotel on the point of the bay, and we ate there a couple of times, sitting under a canopy and admiring the view of the ocean on two sides. We could even see his condo complex across on the other side of the bay from there.
While I was there, John's older sister Cathy was also visiting from her home in Delaware. She was flying home a day after I was, so we all traveled back to Quito at the same time, sharing the cab ride down to Manta, and the same flight back to Quito. John booked us in to a hotel in the Mariscal district of Quito, which is apparently the place to go for bars and restaurants. We seemed to be right in the thick of it, the crowds and noise in the evenings was something else. The morning I left, I was awoken at 2:30 AM as the crowds spilled out on to the street from the closing bars. This went
on for about an hour - I had planned on getting up at 3:15 anyway to catch a cab at 4 to the airport for an early flight. There was quite a bit of entertainment from my window watching the people fueled by demasiado cerveza.
My cab was waiting for me outside the hotel at 4 AM, the crowds had disbursed by then, the streets were quiet. The check in counters were busy at 4:30 when I got to the airport, and there was quite a line of people ahead of me. I was actually confused when the lady behind the counter addressed me in English to check me in. I'd been standing in line rehearsing the Spanish in my mind to check in, two bags through to Calgary, aisle seat.
My flight home was uneventful, except for a 4 hour delay on my last leg from Dallas to Calgary. I wound up sleeping for most of the flight from Miami to Dallas. I had the unexpectedly long layover in Dallas, but I killed time by surfing the net with my small computer, and having a nice meal. The flight didn't leave Dallas until 10 PM local time,
which, with the time change from Quito, meant that I had been up for about 22 hours. I wound up sleeping for 3.5 out of the 4 hour flight, awaking when the pilot announced he was descending into Calgary. I had to rush up to the front of the plane to get a customs form as I was sleeping when they handed them out. I was still filling it out when the flight attendant was hollering at me to raise my table tray for landing. She wouldn't leave until I did it...
The next day I caught a bus from Calgary to Edmonton, a relaxing way to travel the last bit home. It was clearly winter still, and I decided I came back way too early... but, there were things to do. Meg (my daughter) had suggested we do a day of skiing in Jasper, so a few days after arriving home, we got up far too early and took a day trip to Marmot Basin. Quite a bit different from 30 degrees on a beach!
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