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ECUADOR | Sunday, 29 November 2009 | Views [982] | Comments [1]

September 5, 2009 – November 29, 2009

I decided to head back to Ecuador and continue to work on my Spanish after traveling for 15 months throughout Central and South America and returning back to the states for 3.5 months.  I had a job opportunity that I was waiting on that would involve selling food for a food distributor in Venezuela, and decided the best thing to do while waiting for this position was to continue improving my Spanish.  If for some reason the position doesn’t work out I figured it will never hurt me to become fluent in another language.

Upon my arrival at the Guayaquil airport on September 5, I spent my first two nights in Guayaquil with my friend Mariano from couchsurfing and then caught an 8.5 hour bus up north to Quito where I would be working at a Spanish that morning in Quito.  Before I arrived Quito I had a problem that I never had before after taking MANY buses throughout my travels.  My friend accompanied me to the bus station and told me where I was supposed to wait for my bus, and then he left for home.  Once the bus arrived there was very little space for everyone’s luggage.  I was the last one to give my suitcase, and they could not find any open space for my bag along with a few others.  The bus driver was sweating from struggling to fit everyone’s bags on the bus because a bunch of the Indigineous people had these huge bags of supplies that were taking up all the space. 

Finally, they worked something out after about 20 minutes.  Before I hopped on the bus I double checked with the girl before boarding by asking “A Quito” and showing my ticket.  I noticed when I got on the bus that my seat was occupied, but I just continued to another seat.  Eventually, after being on the bus for about 20 minutes, a guy came up to me and said I was occupying his seat.  So I told him that someone else was in my seat and showed him my ticket.  After about 10 minutes they asked me where I was going…I said to Quito…they told me the bus was going to LOJA (as I was getting some dirty looks from the people on the bus)…which is a city down south by the Peruvian border, and I was supposed to be going north to Quito.  I don’t know what happened, but they dropped me off in the middle of the highway (I don’t plan to take Panamericana buses again), grabbed my suitcase, and sent me on my way.

Now I was stuck in the middle of the highway at 1:00 am on the outskirts of a dangerous city with $1,200 in my sock, a laptop bag, backpack, and suitcase.  With the amount of money I had on me I definitely have to say I was a little worried.  Luckily, I was able to catch a taxi after about 20 minutes and got dropped off at another bus company (Transportes de Ecuador) where I was able to catch another bus to Quito.  As a result, I showed up to my job on the first day a little late.  Upon my arrival, Rosa took me to the hostel to show me my room that I would be staying in, and also offered to let me shower quickly before we went back to the Spanish School to start work.

I got the job working at the Spanish School “Vida Verde” as a student coordinator organizing activities etc for the students, responding to any questions that potential students had via email, and collecting the student’s payments.  It was a pretty boring job because we didn’t have many students during the two months that I worked there.  However, I did go on this “FAM” rafting trip for free that was designed for different companies to get an idea of what this rafting company had to offer, so we could promote them and create future business for them (in my case to the students of the school). 

We took off for the rafting at 6:30 am and had a nice breakfast catered by the Rios Ecuador Rafting company after our arrival around 10:30 am.  After breakfast we jumped back onto the bus for a short ride to the river where we each received a wetsuit, helmet, some basic rafting instructions, and also had to take a swimming test down the river.  The Rios River is class IV+ rapids so it was pretty intense (they had the 2005 rafting championships on this river), and the river was actually quite cold.  After about 4 hours of rafting down the intense rapids they had a nice lunch ready for us along with some cold beers, and we arrived back to Quito around 8 pm.  It was definitely a great trip, but I don’t think it was worth the $89 that they charge for people to go.

One other event that I organized with the school and went for free was Horseback riding on the Greenhorse Ranch.  It is a nice horseback ride through a volcanic crater a few hours outside of Quito.  We had a nice 4 hour ride or so through the mountains after about two hours of driving to the ranch along with a nice lunch during the adventure.  There were some beautiful sights along the way, but once again, I don’t think it was worth the $75 tourist price that I would normally have had to pay.  Usually when I organize the activities I get to go for free if I get some other people to go.  That was definitely a nice thing, but like I said, there just was not that many people at the school to organize activities. 

One thing that I didn’t care for too much while working at the school was that I didn’t have a whole lot of time for myself.  I had to organize the activities happy hours, movies, etc during the week and things on the weekends if we had enough students.  It was nice to do the activities, but I felt that I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do what I wanted to do during my free time.  I did sign myself up for salsa lessons on Monday and Tuesday nights, and left those nights open so I could do what I wanted to do, but I still felt like the school was my life for the two months that I worked there.  I took salsa classes through Ritmo Tropical ( www.ritmotropical.com) (11 classes for $60) and Aracely, Patricio, and Anita were excellent professors.  I was also supposed to get 10 hours of Spanish lessons per week during my time of working for the school, but I wasn’t getting that until right before I told them I was going to quit the job.  After that they started giving me a bunch of Spanish lessons.  I figured out the amount of hours I was short, and they told me they would give me the hours online when I wanted.

I really liked living in Quito for the two months that I was there.  I had my own room with a shared bathroom, and was able to take the Ecovia for 25 cents to and from work (20 minutes).  I felt a little spoiled as well because they had Gaby (the cleaning girl from the school) clean my room every two weeks, and she even did my laundry one time when I had my dirty clothes sitting on the floor in a bag.  Living at the Vida Verde hostel (www.vidaverde.com) was nice for the first month because it was just me and another person for the first month occupying 2 of the 7 different bedrooms that they have, but the second month it was completely full with a wide variety of people.  

The hostel was basically a big house with seven bedrooms, a dining room area with a table, TV room where I watched many DVD’s to improve my Spanish, and there was also a spacious kitchen to do any cooking, and a washing machine as well.  There was also a nice terrace upstairs to dry your clothes or even sit outside and read while catching some sun, or even barbeque.

After my two months in Quito I left on October 29, 2009, on a night bus to Guayaquil to live for the next month.  My friend Mariano told me I could stay with him, and that he would be able to find me a job.  He never did find me a job, but it was alright because I decided to use the online Spanish hours that I had accumulated and study some Spanish on my own, and also take some salsa lessons during the month of November. 

Living in Mariano’s house was a little change from what I had in Quito.  He lives in an apartment by himself with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  His extra room has some things of his own inside it but had enough room for me to fit my stuff as well.  One drawback was that my bed consisted of two blankets on the hard floor with bed sheets as a pillow.  After sleeping on the floor for a month my back was quite sore.  I also went from having a TV in the main room and being able to watch DVD’s to not having a TV.  He also was lacking a refrigerator or a washing machine for my clothes, so I had to go back to washing my clothes by hand like I did the whole time I was traveling before.  I’m not sure why, but I have yet to lay on a comfortable couch down here either.  In the hostel they had the most uncomfortable couch, and when I moved here it was basically the same thing.  It made it a little difficult to study, but upstairs there was another nice terrace here where I could study and catch some sun if it was not too hot.  Unfortunately, after about two weeks they closed the upper terrace because they were putting in a new floor.

The first couple days that I was in Mariano’s house I asked him to take me to the grocery store so I could buy some things for the month that I was staying with him.  He was quite shocked with my purchases.  I bought 8 cans of tuna, two loaves of bread, 3 packets of cookies, 3 packets of crackers, and a gallon of water.  During my time in Quito I think I ate tuna sandwiches almost every day for lunch while working at the school.  In general you can get a lunch for about $1.75 and dinner for about $2.50 if you going during the basic lunch and dinner hours.  However, I just got in a routine of always eating tuna because I never had a set lunch time while I was working at the Spanish School.

I also found a salsa school (Rumberos Tropicales) nearby Mariano’s apartment that cost me $39 for the month of group salsa lessons for two days a week the other two days with various types of music.  I thought it was only salsa which I really wanted, but I guess as long as I had something to do and keep me busy I was fine with that.  For four days a week at that price I could not complain.  The individual classes for salsa at this school were much higher $15/hour, so I just went with the group classes for the month Monday – Thursday, and it was actually a really good school.

During this month I was supposed to start taking some online Spanish classes, but there were power problems in Ecuador.  There was a huge crisis with the power, so the government decided to turn off the power in different areas at different times of the day.  Yesterday they turned off the power for 7 hours throughout the day (4 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon) and today they turned off the power for 7 hours as well.  They turned it off from 9 am to 1 pm and then again in the afternoon from 3 pm to 6 pm.  As a result, I had to cancel my scheduled classes for Spanish on both days.  This has definitely created problems for the small businesses that lose power throughout the day along with many of the restaurants, and also created problems because people can’t get money from the ATM machines during these hours.  This has also caused lots of traffic problems due to no power with the street lights.  They said that for each hour the power was turned off it was a loss of $1.7 million to the country.

Seeing I was not able to take any Spanish classes due to the power problems the whole month that I was in Guayaquil I just decided to start running a lot (sometimes twice a day) and studying on my own.  My usual daily routine was to get up and study about an hour before my salsa class, run my three or four miles after the salsa class, shower, eat lunch, and study some more. 

For awhile I got in the routine of running to the biggest mall in Guayaquil called Mall Del Sol and then stopping at this excellent ice cream shop called “Nice Ice Cream.”  I would get my usual jumbo cup of twist ice cream with hot fudge hard shell, and then oreo crumbs on top of that.  Wow, that is the best $1.50 spent.  After awhile I made sure I didn’t put any money in my pocket while I was running so I wouldn’t be tempted to stop for ice cream whenever I was running.  I also would run by a bakery every time I ran as well, and the lovely smell of the baked goods made me want to stop every time I ran by the bakery.

On Friday, November 27, I decided to make my way down south to Lima,Peru because I needed to leave Ecuador by December 5th anyways due to the 90 day visa.  I caught a bus to Piura, Peru with a company called C.I.F.A. (10 hours, $11.20) at 5:50 pm.  When I arrived Piura at 4 am it was a little shady where they dropped us off and there were quite a few people outside waiting for us to get off the bus.  One guy that was on the bus with me (Juan) was telling me to watch my bag because a guy was trying to sneak into my backpack and find something to steal and at the same time another guy grabbed Juan’s wallet out of his hand and took off running, but he ended up catching the guy to get the wallet back.  There were departures from Piura to Lima at 3:30 pm, but I didn’t want to wait that long so I walked to a company called Transportes de Chiclayo where I caught another bus at 6:15 am (16 soles/2.8=$5.71, 3 hours) and arrived Chiclayo at 9 am.  I then took a taxi 3 soles (3 soles/2.8=$1.07) to a company called Emtrafesa where they have buses every half hour to Trujillo.  I bought a ticket at Emtrafesa (13 soles/2.8 = $4.64) and left at 9:45 am to Trujillo (3.5 hours).  After arriving Trujillo around 1:20 pm I caught a taxi (4 soles=$1.43) to the main bus terminal where they have more options to get to Lima.  I was able to get a bus to Lima at 2:30 pm (20 soles/2.8= $7.14) with a company called Turismo Erick el Rojo and arrived Lima at 11:30 pm for a total 29.5 hour trip ($31.20) from Guayaquil to Lima.  Once I arrived the bus terminal I took a taxi (15 soles) to the Loki Hostel where I will be working until I fly to Brazil on the 23rd of December.




Sounds like a great trip. I'm thinking about Ecuador next year.

  Beaux Seabury Mar 15, 2010 4:03 AM

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