I met my friends Greg and Debby Chambers at the Guayaquil airport this morning. They are great friends, and just great people in general, among the best of people in the world as far as I am concerned. They are intelligent, generous, good-hearted, kind folks, and just plain fun to be with. I’m glad I get to share a leg of this trip with them.
The plan was that they would rent a car, and together we would travel the coast, hitting Bahia, then Manta, then Puerto Cayo, then Salinas. As it turns out, we may not do all of that. The rental car is very expensive and comes with only 400 km. free mileage. Above that, we have to pay 38 cents per kilometer (61 cents per mile). So we scratched Bahia off the list and settled for Manta.
Here in Manta, Ecuador, I experienced another first. Believe it or not, for all my travels, I’d never seen the Pacific Ocean before today.
After lunch at the beach, we went exploring. We caught a local bus and toured downtown near Central Park. Frankly, I just didn’t find it too impressive. We ate supper, however, at a very nice pizza place that we stumbled upon. Great pizza, great ambiance. Then we hopped a bus back to the hotel. Or so we thought. We need to go about three miles to our hotel, but a block after picking us up, the bus turned left and headed back into downtown. We disembarked almost exactly where we had boarded and waited for a second bus. This time, we made sure it was headed in our direction. A comedy of errors, but we’re in Ecuador, so who cares.
We decided to share a hotel room. I’m notoriously cheap when choosing hotels. Greg and Debby … not so much. But as I say, they’re generous people and so rather than finding a $50 per night room for me, they opted to let me stay with them in an oceanside room at an upscale hotel. It has one queen bed and one single bed. Greg was quick to point out that I got the single bed. But before bedtime, we sat out on the balcony for a couple of hours and simply enjoyed the wind in our faces and the sound of crashing waves in our ears.
Ahhh … Pacific means “peaceful,” doesn’t it?