Thursday, January 28, 2016

Canoa and Bahía de Caráquez , Ecuador

A few days ago we returned from participating in our second Home Exchange.  This time a couple from Canoa, Ecuador contacted us wanting to exchange for nearly two weeks. When we saw that their condo was directly on Ecuador's largest beach, 17km long, it was a no-brainer to accept.  Not only was it our second Home Exchange, but it was also our second trip to the Ecuador coast.  Exactly one year ago today, we were on our way to Puerto Lopez and Montañita with our friends Curt and Scott.  For this trip, we were joined by friends Tom and Mark.  This was their first trip to the Ecuador coast. 

The condo was located about half-way between Bahia de Caraquez (Bahia) and Canoa.  The beach was nearly deserted, which I loved, and there were lots of interesting shells on the beach including conch and huge sand dollars. We walked the beach every morning looking for unique shells.  We found a few and brought them home with us.  I enjoyed this section of the coast a lot more that Puerto Lopez and Montañita.  The Canoa area is sparsely populated.  Therefore, it was like having our own private beach.  Hours would pass without seeing anyone on the beach.  And, we could walk for an hour or so without seeing anyone except for the occasional local or surfer. 

Every other day a local resident would prepare fresh baked sourdough bread and deliver it to the condo complex, on his bicycle.  He would ring the bell around 8:45am and the residents, including us, would run outside to collect the number of loaves we wanted for only $1.00 each.  The bread was still warm when the guy arrived.  We immediately spread butter on the bread for a tasty breakfast. 

For shopping, and dining out, we took the local bus into Canoa or to Bahia.  Bahia has a new mall which is very nice.  The grocery store reminded me of a Super Target in the USA.  The mall also has a Carl's Jr!

This was my first intra-country bus trip.  I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the buses are.  They have WIFI, reclining seats, air conditioning, and movies are shown during the ride.  It was more comfortable than some airline flights I have been on.

The first bus departed from Cuenca for Guayaquil.  We called it the "disco" bus due to the blue interior lighting. 

On the way to Guayaquil we climbed up to 14,000 feet above sea level.  Once you cross the Cajas the terrain changes drastically.  The land becomes flat and the temperature and humidity rises.  Banana trees, rice, cocoa, mangoes, and other crops surround you on both sides of the road.

The Guayaquil bus station is modern and large.  It reminds me of an airport.  It is here that we enjoyed lunch and then boarded our second and last bus that took us to the bus station in Bahia.

We made two stops along the way to pick up/drop off passengers.  One was in Jipijapa and the second was in Portoviejo where this angel statue stood in the middle of town.

The condo was a short taxi ride from the Bahia bus station.  This is what we saw when we walked in.

A beautiful condo on the second floor. It is one of fifteen in the complex.  The developer of the complex lives in the unit directly below this one. He has two other similar complexes in the area.

This was the first sunset we saw as we walked into Canoa for dinner at Bamboo.

The pictures below are of the beach in Canoa.

And here are some pictures of Bahia. Four years ago, before the bridge you see below was constructed, the only way to get to Bahia from Canoa was by ferry boat.

Another little town that I liked, between Canoa and Bahia was San Vicente. You can see Bahia across the bay.

The cities that I have mentioned, Canoa, San Vicente, and Bahia were all just a short local bus or taxi ride away from the condo.  Here is a colorful view inside one of the city buses.

Here are some of the shells and large sand dollars we found on the beach.

Our time there went by too fast.  However, our Home Exchangers are interested in another exchange as is the developer of the complex.  Another couple has also expressed interest. Hopefully, we will be making a return trip soon.  I leave you with a few sunset pictures.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Giron, Ecuador

Our last adventure of 2015 was a day trip to the waterfalls of Giron with our friends Juan Carlos and Daniel. It was a beautiful day to see an amazing area just an hour outside of Cuenca. Afterwards, we visited San Fernando and Laguna de Busa. 

Stay tuned. We have several trips planned for 2016!