Saying goodbye to Manta wasn’t very hard. We had a wonderful time, and are especially indebted to the Malo Family for their hospitality, but Manta is a real ugly city, and a little bit too large for us to spend much more time in. Additionally, it did feel like we were wearing out our welcome. I think it was the stress of the upcoming wedding that was putting everyone a little off (more than once it was stated that people weren’t that excited for it…), but even so, it felt like the right time for us to make our exit. Luckily, while everyone was still in high spirits, we managed to secure lodging at Grandma Claudia’s place in Bahia de Caraquez! With the most basic directions in hand (go to the laundry mat, there’s only one in town), we caught a bus out of town.
In typical Ecuadorean fashion, the bus stopped about 500 times en route to Bahia, which added a couple hours to the trip (most long distance buses in Peru didn’t stop for anyone and everyone on the side of the road – a major difference to traveling here). Once we arrived, we hailed a cab and asked to be taken to the laundry mat. Of course the driver had no idea what we were talking about. Which laundry mat? What’s the address? What’s the name of it? All excellent questions… turns out that Bahia is a little larger than we were led to believe (chiquitita we were told) and there is indeed, more than one laundry mat. A quick phone call to the Nicolas Malo, and we were in a triciclo (a peddle-powered tuk-tuk) headed towards Grandma’s place. We checked in with Antonia at the laundry mat, and she warmly showed us into the tiny, but very cute apartment next door. It has a small, but fully stocked kitchen, two beds, and a great CD collection and stereo.
So, after eating (fried fish, what else?), grocery shopping, and finding a place to watch the World Cup, we’re now finally relaxing in our second free lodging in Ecuador, listening to Elle Fitzgerald, and enjoying the beer I wasn’t able to have yesterday (no alcohol sold on Sundays in Ecuador… wow).
Bahia is a lovely little beach town out on a point where the Chone River meets the ocean. This means we’re almost completely surrounded by water, with only about 7 blocks between the river and the ocean. The funky, whitewashed beach architecture is weathered and has seen better days. The humidity, salty air, bugs and tropical plants don’t let things look new for too long around here. We’re loving the warm ocean just one block from our front door.