Upon arrival to Guayaquil, Ecuador we went straight to the check-in counter to check on the status of our flight to Santiago, Chile. After a few short hours it was clear that Chile and Easter Island were off the table. LAN, the airline was willing to send us to another destination but because of the crisis pretty much the whole continent was sold out....we considered an option of going to Buenos Aires and or Rio but it was too complicated since we would have to take 3 flights to get there and would add significantly to the cost. So we booked tickets to go to New York the next day on Aerogal in first class, which was the cheapest option available on short notice.
In the meantime we decided to explore Guayaquil with the guidance of John, our classmate from Pace, who permanently lives there. We checked into a hotel and then we were off to see the city. The city is modern and much larger and more developed than Quito. We saw many western franchises and tall office buildings. Afterwards, we went to a very nice steak house and had lots of Sangria. Again, the city seemed safe but there were many warnings to be careful. Armed robbery seems to be a popular crime....John is sending his car out to get bulletproofed as many robberies happen at intersections while waiting for the light to turn green. Overall, we had an awesome time and even decided to try and change our flight home for a day later so we can see the beach.
The next morning after checking out we went to the airport and changed our flight without any issues or penalties and we were on our way to Montanita, a remote beach town. The ride was very peaceful since we went on a workday with only interruption coming from tens of street peddlers at the toll booth....I wish we had a camera to take a picture...just imagine pulling up to a toll booth on a bridge and as you are paying the toll three people run up to your car and try to sell you candy, water, or a puppy...yes puppy. Montanita is a true experience. Although, only about 120 miles from Guayaquil, it feels like you are on different planet. Single rooms start at about $4 per night and the small, three block town is full of hippies and surfers. In a strange way it reminds of Rio where I met travelers who liked it so much they simply didn't leave but unlike the students who I met in Rio, these nomads have dread-locks, make a living by making and selling crafts, and also openly smoke and sell pot. It was nice to be in a remote place that does not often receive visitors from the USA. After spending the night we were off to the airport to fly home into the cold weather.
Thank you for traveling with me!!!