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Xavier
06-25-2007, 12:14 AM
Day 1

Our American Airlines flight from Miami to Ecuador was 1 hour late. The flight attendants were caught in immigration and customs at another terminal. We took off at 7:15pm for Ecuador. The flight was 4 hours. It was a comfortable flight although I was expecting personalized Televisions for each seat like many of the other over 3 hour flights I have been on. The flight attendants were friendly and the announcements in Spanish & English were similar to what we were used to in South Florida. The “touch down” in Guayaquil, Ecuador was reminiscent of flying on Air Jamaica. It was smooth and the people clapped.

The immigration lines were similar to Jamaica. They were long. It took us 30 minutes to go through immigration and customs. It started before we left Miami. Everyone was speaking Spanish to my wife, Karen. Because of her Chinese-Jamaican bloodline she looked like a Latino. The immigration offer started to talk to here in Spanish. She quickly told them “Ingles”.

We were met at the airport by Jimmy who is the son of my wife’s associate for the training scheduled on Friday. His English was excellent. In fact he sounded like an American. I inquired about his accent. He left the US when he was 2 years old and his father is American. He learned his English from his father and also attended 6 years of college in the USA.

The hotel was 5 minutes away from the airport. It was a Sheraton. We were hungry. We quickly checked in and asked if there were any restaurants open. We saw a Tony Romas across the street and were hoping it would be open. No luck. It was11: 30 pm Ecuador time. We lost an hour traveling here. Jimmy said most places were closed but he did know a small restaurant that would be open.

Streets were empty. We traveled about 20 minutes from the hotel to the restaurant called “Liverpool”.
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The food was great and the price was excellent. I had barbeque steak rib for $5.50. No pictures as I was too hungry to do that…

Day 2

We tried to sleep in late but the person who had the room before us set the alarm for 4:30 AM. There was a casino next door to the hotel and it still seemed to be bustling. I could not go back to sleep plus the hotel room window had “see through” curtains. Eventually I went back to sleep. I woke up at 8:30 am Ecuador time to see Karen off. She had to do her training at 9:00 am and her host, Jim, would meet her in the lobby. We headed out to breakfast at 9:00 am. It was served on the same floor we stayed; the club level. Jim has “contacts” at the hotel and had us upgraded.

I was really hungry so again I did not take any pictures of the food. I tried some of the food that may have been from Ecuador but could not verify because the server spoke little English. We also had the traditional eggs and bacon breakfast.

Next we checked out as were going to the host’s beach cottage off the coast of Playas. Our host’s wife Marie met us outside the hotel at 11:00 AM. She was with a friend who drove a mini-van. I joked with her about being on time. She says Americans are always on time but for the most part in Ecuador you are always 1 hour late. I told her it was the same in Jamaica.

The plan was to go to the location Karen was conducting her training. We would eat lunch there together, and then drive to Playas, which was an hour away.

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The drive to the training location was interesting. When we arrived the night before we did not see much as it was dark. Now we were able to see the hills surrounding the city. There were little houses on these hills. Some were finished and some were not. Most places were grilled like Jamaica. At each stoplight you had men and boys selling their wares. Like Jamaica their wares were hanging on a string.

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The children enjoyed the ride because they were sitting backward. If you are familiar with mini-vans in Jamaica you know what I am talking about. Every section of the van is used for seats and sometimes they place seats facing each other.

The cars on the street varied from old to new. There were many Fiats and Ladas. There were also many motorcycles on the road. What was strange was people tend to drive closer to the middle of the road. They drove on the divider.

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We passed a few new developments going as we drove along.

The training location was about 40 minutes away from the hotel. It was in a remote area.

We spent about a 1-hour there. It was there I asked my first question in Spanish. “Donde Esta el Bano”…lol…I ventured outside with the kids and took a few pictures. I soon realized that there were iguanas in the trees. We saw Karen, ate lunch and then headed back on the road again.

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This time we were in a car with another friend of the family along with Marie.

Two of the children fell asleep on the way there so it was difficult to take pictures.

It was a country “drive” to Playas. It reminded me of going to the country in Jamaica but less “winding” roads. The roads were rough at some points and smooth at others.
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We traveled through a few small villages. There were finished homes and unfinished homes. People were walking along the streets. After about an hour of driving we were there. The place had guards at the gate. They recognized Marie and let us in.

The beach house was wonderful. It was 3 bedrooms/2 ½ bathrooms. Everything was nicely decorated in matching blue and white colors. The main balcony was facing the Pacific Ocean. The beach house was on a cliff over looking the sea. There were 2 pools below the beach house and a hot tub.

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The children were up and we were ready to go down to the beach.

The water was rough. It was high tide. Marie told us that the best time to get in the water was in the morning.

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The children were excited to see the beach and wanted to walk on it. We left our luggage and headed straight for the beach. Because we were on a cliff there was no path by the beach homes to get to the beach. We had to walk a few yards away from the cottage down a path that lead to the beach. There was a huge unfinished building that looked like a hotel on the beach.

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I later learned construction started 15 years ago but was never finished.

The sand on the shore was filled with shells that came up from the tide. The water was cold and the waves were strong. My pants were soaked knee high from a large wave that came in as we walked along the shore.

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From a distance we could see rocks in the water but close to the shore. We did not venture out there as we were tired. The children collected shells.

Marie and the driver left while we were walking back to the cottage. The original plan was for her to be there with her husband but she had a family member who died in the US. She was going to the funeral in Washington the next day and needed to get prepared. Jim told us the next day that her flight was delayed for 3 hours.

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We sat on the balcony and watched the waves “batter” a blue crate. It took it out to sea then back on the sure. We were cheering for it to stay on shore but the waves continued to get higher. It took it in and out.

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Later that evening Karen came with our host, Jim. We went to town to buy food to cook for dinner. Playas is a small town and Jim said we risked getting sick if we ate at any of the small restaurants in the town. The ride in town was quick. We passed an unfinished high rise building on the way in. It was about 10 stories high. Jim explained that years ago people thought Playas was going to be the “place to be” and investors started to build. The economy went down and they left. Hence there were many unfinished buildings.

The grocery store was small but was modern. The cashiers were using a computer check out system. They had a “wheel of fortune” for customers. For every $5 purchased you got a spin. We had six spins and won nothing. The lady gave us a t-shirt anyway.

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Over dinner that night Jim told us about Ecuador and its economy. He is American but has lived here over 20 years. His wife Marie is Ecuadorian. Many of the stories of government bureaucracy sound similar to Jamaica. He loved it here as he could live like a King at a low cost.

We ended that night using Jim’s binoculars to observe the stars. The sky was clear and there were no city lights to affect the view.

Day 3

We had a typical American breakfast of eggs and toast. Out the window I could see a man on a raft. It looked like he was going to overturn at any moment. I soon realized he was fishing. The waves were still very rough but he managed to balance while throwing his net out. I used Jim’s binoculars to observe him.

The other beach homes were empty. I asked Jim why. He explained that now was the cool season. I was surprised. 83 degrees was the cool season!!! It was perfect weather. He explained that when it gets to 84 degree the locals sometimes wear sweaters.

Next it was off to the beach. The tide was now low but the waves were still strong. There were plenty of shells along the shore. Jim told us about a cove that was calm. It was just past the rocks I saw along the shoreline. While walking along the beach I could still see the fisherman on his small raft.

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The rocks were amazing. So were the cliffs that surrounded the shoreline. It looked like something I had seen in geography books. Between the rocks were pockets of water with fish and other sea life. There were fish, crabs, shrimp and other unknown sea life in these pockets. The waves came right up to the cliff depositing shells and sea life between the crevices of the cliffs along the sure. There were beautiful shells everywhere. The children enjoyed the cove.

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Karen and I were more interested in discovering the life around the area. We found a small red spotted sea snail (that’s what we called it) on the dry sand. The waves were not coming up that far so he was stuck. We used a stick to take it up and put in one of the pockets of water in the rocks. He was back to life. He opened up beautifully like a firework opening in the sky.

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We soon noticed a man who was climbing between the rocks with a spear in his hand. He was sticking the spear between the rocks trying to find clams. We were there for a few hours and we never saw him catch anything.

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The fisherman I observed that morning was still sailing out off the shore. As far as I could see he had caught nothing. I could be wrong.

We spent about 2 hours on the beach and then headed back up to the cottage where we had lunch. After lunch it was now time for the pool.

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While in the pool I was still observing the fisherman. Now he had a sail out and was moving along the shore. I believe he was coming to shore. I lost track of him as he went behind the cliffs.

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We spent about 3 ½ hours at the pool before we went back up to the cottage. After a quick shower I went to play with the kids in their room. That was the last I remembered…I fell asleep.

When I woke up 2 of the three children were sleeping. Karen had just come back with Jim from the grocery store. Dinner was ready. Jim had cooked spaghetti with his special secret sauce. Karen had cooked her special shrimp. Both meals were a “hit”.

The dinner conversation was lively as I learned move about the Ecuadorian culture and the people.

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The night ended with Karen and I telling the children story…they loved Anancy stories….

Day 4

I was the first up. I cooked breakfast. Karen had gotten some sea bass, which I steamed. She also got some green plantains which I friend and crushed.

It was father’s day and the kids made me a card.

I looked out on the balcony to see if the fisherman was out there. Nothing.

After breakfast it was off to the pool with the children. There were some other guests there. I guess not everyone thought it was too cold and it seemed Sunday was the day families came to their beach homes. Jim also mentioned that some families rented their homes for the weekend.

After lunch it was time to head back to Guayaquil. Karen had one more day of training to do.

The ride back to town was a little slower with Jim. I noticed a few homes that were brightly painted with advertisements. Jim explained the politicians paid residents to paint their house in the color of their political party with promises to give them “goodies” including beer. There were 17 political parties.

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When we arrived at the hotel we checked in and walked the mall. It was called “Del Sol” and was the largest mall in Ecuador. It was like being in the 80’s. The music was from the 80’s. We heard songs like "The Safety Dance" by Men without Hats "I can't wait" by Nu Shooz and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper.

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We had dinner at the Tony Romas in the mall. This was one of the forgetful experiences we had in Ecuador. We did not get sick but the food was not good.

We headed back to the hotel and watched movies for the rest of the night.

Day 5

Karen was off to her last day of training. The kids and I had a typical American breakfast in the hotel. Vanessa, who was one of the students at the school Jim owned, picked us up from the hotel after breakfast. She would take us on a tour of 3 attractions in Guayaquil; Parque Histórico Guayaquil (historical theme park, the Cerro Santa Ana in the Las Penas town and the Craft Market.

Vanessa was born in America and left when she was 9 years old. Her English was with an American accent.

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The Parque Histórico Guayaquil was in the rich side of town. This side of town was nicknamed the “bubble” because it was connected to the mainland by a bridge and the people there did not have to leave to get anything. It was like the small islands off Miami Beach. The homes there were bigger and most of the communities were gated.

As we pulled up to the gate of the historic museum/zoo I asked why the parking lot was so empty. I asked if it was the Monday hang over Jim had explained to us. He said most people came to work late on Monday from the weekend. We soon learned that it was empty because it was closed on Mondays.

Next we headed to Las Penas to see the Cerro Santa Ana. The Las Penas town was the hill with all the colorful houses we saw coming from the airport. At the top of the hill there is lighthouse and a church, which was called the Cerro Santa Ana. Vanessa explained that the neighborhood used to be run down and was rebuilt into an attraction. The government refurbished the outside of many of the building and built steps leading to the top of the hill to the church and lighthouse. She said there were over 400 steps leading to the top.

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We started out journey to the top. I did not think the kids would make it to the top but I was wrong. The numbers on each step was motivation for them. I was the one that was out of breath…lol

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As you ascending you could got a better view of the city. Along the way there were cafes, shops and other small business along the steps. Most to the buildings were 2-3 stories with residents living in them. We took pictures at about each 100th step.

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The view from the top was magnificent. You could view the city from every angle on the top of the hill. The church was small inside but very “homely”. I think we were the only real tourists there, as most people did not venture into the church.

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We spent about 30 minutes on the hill before we headed back down.

On the way down we stopped at one of the cafes and had ice cream.

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Next we took a quick tour of river walk, which was at the bottom of the hill.

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The river walk was built from donations by individuals and businesses. There was a nice glass mural for all the people who donated to the river walk

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Jim called and asked us to meet him for a late lunch in an hour.

Our next stop was the Craft Market. It was the typical craft market. The vendors were trying to get you into their shop. It was easier to turn down the people trying to usher you into their show as I said “No Hablar Espanol”. I did not understand what they were saying. We spent about 45 minutes in the craft market. We bought a few t-shirts and dolls.

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The last stop of the day was the famous steak restaurant where we would have a late lunch with Karen, her host and some other associates. On the way there Vanessa pointed out to us a building called the Word Trade Center. We had passed it a few times since we were there but I never noticed that it was called the Word Trade Center (WTC).

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The restaurant was a few yards from the WTC. We met Karen, Jim, His son Jimmy at the restaurant. Vanessa joined us for lunch. The food was good and plentiful. The steak was served on a warmer that had hot coal under it. It was huge. I ate enough for dinner and lunch. I could not finish my steak.

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Karen ordered a seafood platter, which had shrimp, clam, muscles, fish and octopus. The shrimp were real huge. She also could not finish her food. We too k a few pictures as this would be the last time we would see them before we leave in the morning.

Our host took us to the hotel where we said our last good byes. We were tired from the long day and stayed in for the rest of the day. Later that evening I went over to the Mall to Dunkin Donuts. I had an interesting time trying to explain I wanted a jelly donut with raspberry filling. I kept pointing and saying “rojo”. I got some help when a family from Utah walked up. They heard my English and they knew Spanish. They were a big help.

I know not everyone in Utah is Mormon however as I walked away I remember the large steeple in the middle of the city. Jim mentioned that the Mormons had the largest church in the city.

I was still full from the late lunch but the donuts were the “pick up” snack I needed.


Day 5

We were up at 6:00 AM for our 9:40 AM flight. We had breakfast in the restaurant. There were 3 American there. They had on work shirts for a Crane company.

I ate the typical American breakfast items along with some of the Ecuadorian foods I did not get to try. Most of it was good.

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We checked out and were off to the airport. The check-in lines were long.

We got a “double whammy“ when we got to the check in counter. The flight was delayed for 2 hours and that there was a $26.00 departure tax for each passenger in out party. It had to be paid in cash. We did expect the flight delay, as it seemed to be normal. The high departure tax we did not. None of the materials Karen had stated this. Anyway after gathering up all the money we “thought we did not have” we were able to pay it. God is good.

We went directly to the gate. Karen and I spent much of the time at the terminal talking about how great a time we had and how accommodating our host was. It was a great “mini-vacation”.

Shine_Eye_Girl
06-25-2007, 12:27 AM
Very nice pictures....... /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif

SandiF
06-25-2007, 12:39 AM
Great pics and sound like a very good trip for you and the family. You didn't get to the Galapagos Islands?

Compry
06-25-2007, 10:44 AM
Nice report and pics Xavier. I wonder why they didn't finish construction on that hotel. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70402-thinking.gif

Compry
06-25-2007, 10:45 AM
It's too early to have my mouth watering....yummy.

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Gen
06-25-2007, 10:58 AM
great report X /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif glad you guys got some time to relax

the 80's music in the mall had me cracking up /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/704555_dwl.gif /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70394-bawlout.gif /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/704555_dwl.gif

Hopyoneson
06-25-2007, 11:39 AM
Big Up X man, lovely report and family. Look like you had fun. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif

Seveen
06-25-2007, 11:53 AM
thanks for sharing - great report /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif

R00TS
06-25-2007, 12:19 PM
What a veiw! Thanks /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif
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MarieK
06-25-2007, 01:32 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Xavier</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Day 1

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. </div></div>

Xavier, ummmmm, that was evil. I sat here saying "why is he posting a column" Then it jumped out at me. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/shocked.gif

The pictures are beautiful. How long did you stay? never thought of ecuador as a vacation spot but now it is definitely on the list.

Great pictures

Diplomat
06-25-2007, 02:40 PM
Nice trip report and pictures, Xavier, but I've been wondering...

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The children were up and we were ready to go down to the beach....The water was cold and the waves were strong. My pants were soaked knee high from a large wave that came in as we walked along the shore.</div></div>

...did you actually go to the beach wearing pants? /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif

Bandana
06-25-2007, 03:03 PM
/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70371-jump.gif Thanks for sharing Xman /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif

Xavier
06-25-2007, 07:32 PM
Thanks everyone.

Sandif, I totally forgot Ecuador was so close to the Galapagos Islands. I did not realize it until the week we were going. If I had know earlier I would have tried to extend the stay to go. When you are that close it makes sense to see what you can.

CEW, we went down to the beach as soon as we got there. I was still in jeans...DWL.

CeaBee
06-25-2007, 07:34 PM
wondering if Xavier have bad knock knees why him no wear shawts

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ETA: nice report btw and please doan lock me outta the site /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70384-praying.gif

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Yuriatin
06-25-2007, 07:34 PM
X - great, great pictures. Thanks for sharing!

(btw - what tarining was your wife there for)

Xavier
06-25-2007, 08:09 PM
Skinny..did not want someone to think it was chicken season /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/704555_dwl.gif

swedishrasta
06-25-2007, 08:15 PM
(((Xman & family)))

Great report. Wonderful Pictures. Loved them all. Didn't know anything about Ecuador so this was very educational. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif

Magician
06-27-2007, 09:44 AM
Nice pictures and story Xavier. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif

Wow, what a way your girls grow up quick! /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/eek2.gif

It's good that you decided to take the kids with you. It's good for them to experience different places. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif

MsExced
06-27-2007, 10:37 AM
Thanks for sharing Xavier great pic's.

kia027
06-27-2007, 11:04 AM
Great report & pictures Xavier. A few ago we had some college exchange students from Ecuador who lived with us. One was from the capital and the other was from Guayaquil. They used to talk about the Del Sol Mall and the 80s music a lot! /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/704555_dwl.gif

Thanks for bringing back the memories.. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/grin.gif

Compry
06-28-2007, 09:37 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Magic</div><div class="ubbcode-body">It's good that you decided to take the kids with you. It's good for them to experience different places. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif </div></div>

Mi agree.

Nanook
06-28-2007, 12:45 PM
Great report and pics Xavier! When I was looking at some of your beach photos I started thinking of Galapagos. That would be living some dreams to see that! I loved your blue and white beach house and the pools! You would have to tear me away!

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Laurel2
06-28-2007, 09:22 PM
((Xie)) ... oh my gosh ... the girls are growing up to be such beautiful young ladies ...

/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wavey.gif Karen ...

what a wonderful experience you shared ~ thanks!!