Ecuador - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 395 (205)
Thursday 7th April (2005)
With a little bit of a nudge from Sandy (although I’m lying about the bit about it being little), I dragged myself out of bed this morning. Since we didn’t need to check out until noon and weren’t scheduled to be collected to be taken back to the airport until one o’clock, there really wasn’t any pressing need to get up early at all. Even though I could have slept well into the afternoon if left unattended, I forced myself into action since I knew that I would only be doing myself, and my internal body clock, a disservice otherwise. We packed and left our bags locked together behind the reception desk whilst we went out into town to kill some time. We did so by window shopping, grabbing one last bite to eat and looking for some new batteries for the underwater strobe. I wanted to arrive in the Galapagos Islands well prepared for some underwater photography. Whilst in town, I also withdrew another CLP50,000 (€68,50) and went into a nearby bank to exchange some of this with a full collection of Chilean bank notes for my collection. I’ve already found one of each coin and these are now also tucked away safe and sound.
Our shuttle bus arrived on time but had parked just out of sight from where we sat in the reception area. We discovered this when the driver apparently called the hotel and the receptionist told us that he was outside waiting for us. Luckily, we were the last passengers to be collected and were whisked immediately off to the airport. Even though we were a full two hours early, the check-in clerk informed us that there were no longer any two seats together due to the fact that so many people had already checked in. Since Sandy was pregnant, she was given the bulkhead seat immediately behind business class and I was given a seat in the emergency exit row. Neither of us was complaining.
I kept thinking back to that open-air performance that we enjoyed back on Easter Island. I kept thinking how much I enjoyed the music so I popped into a couple of the shops in the departure lounge to see if I could find a CD of traditional Rapa Nui music. I found a couple of different CDs and the second of these sounded most like the performance that we saw. In fact, I’m not entirely convinced that it isn’t the same performers even. I bought the CD for US$17 (€13) and have now loaded it onto the laptop. We did our best to whittle away the remainder of the Chilean money that we now had with us and were largely successful in this endeavour by buying a few snacks and things before getting onto the plane.
After taking my seat, I was met by two other, young, English travellers, Alyson and Albert. They are two months into their yearlong round the world journey and have spent most of their time so far here in South America. We got on immediately and chatted non-stop throughout the five-hour flight about the places we’ve each been to and all the things we’ve encountered. We agreed to share a taxi into town upon arrival and may even spend the day with each other tomorrow. They seem like really nice people.
On the whole, I’d have to say that our first impressions of Ecuador have been quite favourable. The airport seems modern enough and although there is a clear South America feel to the place, it doesn’t look as third world as I had anticipated. I’d say that it’s perhaps a little less developed than Chile but I once again feel my initial apprehensions rapidly evaporating. Our two new English friends and us, together with a fifth Australian that we got chatting to on the plane, decided to all share a ride into town but not without first getting just a little bit taken for a ride by the eager porters that insisted on taking our bags all of ten metres from the glass sliding doors of the arrivals hall to the waiting shuttle bus. Before we really knew what was going on, they had already relieved us collectively of US$3 (€2,31). Oh well, at least it was only a Dollar each. Alyson and Albert had already pre-booked a hotel in the same area of town where we were thinking of staying so we decided to go straight there and see if it would suit our needs and budget. As it turned out, it was a proper hotel as opposed to a backpacker’s hostel and we very much liked the idea of a properly serviced room with bathroom so we decided to stay there too. The receptionist initially wanted US$50 (€38,46) but I bartered him down to US$40 (€30,77) in the end. This price included what they described as an American breakfast but this turned out to be a regular South American breakfast with the exception of there being eggs served. At least it’s something. A nice touch was the complimentary drink coupon that we were each given on arrival at the hotel. The four of us that stayed here at the hotel put these to immediate good use with a stiff drink and a snack in the hotel bar. We had a lovely time unwinding over a few drinks and the four of us have decided to spend the day together tomorrow. We’re going to visit the nearby site of the equator. We may also take a tour up to a nearby volcano to peer over the rim, weather permitting.