Friday, January 30, 2015

From Quito to Cuenca by land

We have arrived at our condo here in Cuenca, safe and sound with all belongings - and dog - intact! 

Wednesday the 21st we left as early as we could - 7:00 AM or so - and with our driver Galo, brother of our host Hernan and his wife Alicia of our bed & breakfast, Ecuatreasures, we set off for Cuenca armed with our water bottles, breakfast sandwiches of egg, ham, and cheese prepared by the ever so hospitable Alicia, and toilet paper (just in case any restroom stops didn't have any - a customary item to bring along here in Ecuador traveling on the E-35 Pan American Highway).  All the luggage fit easily enough in Hernan's 2009 Hyundai H1 model van, which uses diesel for fuel (at $1.02USD per US gallon, it's a huge bargain compared to prices in the United States).  The front bench seat was kept in place for Carolyn Anne and Cupid, the dog, to sit on behind our captain's chairs.  We had just enough space for our 19 pieces of checked luggage on Delta and the four carryons. . . Thank you Lord for that!  

It took an hour for Galo to get us to get through the crowded Quito expressway route network.  You have to know your way here in Quito both south - leaving - and north - coming - to get to your destination.  I couldn't have done that myself at this point - much like a foreigner trying to leave LAX in Los Angeles in a rental car and getting to Downtown LA and arriving at Whittier - both are difficult tasks for the beginner.

Once through Quito metro area - about 2,500,000 people - we settled down on a nice drive on the straighter part of the E-35 route.  I only saw *one* US Interstate shield like E-35 sign, correct to the letter in its red, white lettering, and blue signage with "Ecuador" in small letters at the top of the blue section of the sign, much like "California" is placed on an Interstate highway placard within the Golden State.  From here to the outskirts of Cuenca, the road was not difficult to follow and the correct route was not hard to figure out (though the route north on return has some more difficult to figure out forks in the road).  Ecuador still has some work to do on directional route signs from at least this traveler's perspective. 

Lunch - Almuerzo - was at Riobamba halfway along our journey, and we dined on a typical Ecuadorian meal of spagueti (spaghetti Ecuadorian style), rice and beans with split pea soup and popcorn as appetizers.  Tasty refreshing fruit juice, too.  $2 per person, which is lower than the $3.50 found for a typical almuerzo in Cuenca.  Small towns here are like that in offering lower prices, btw. 

Our chofer Galo is in the business of driving pasejeros - passengers - for a living.  He has a wife and grown children, one of whom attends a private Christian school, which is expensivo - expensive.  He is also an evangelico - evangelical - believer in Christ, and so we enjoyed a few Christian hymns which I sang on the way during the drive.  Thank God my voice was healing from my cold I had had for the last few weeks!  He knows of and likes the radio ministry of people like Dr. Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers, perhaps through the ministry of HCJB radio (in Spanish), but has never heard of Andy Stanley or Dr. John MacArthur. . .  so there ya go.  We're in a foreign country and things are not the same.  Galo's English is a bit beyond minimo - minimal - and so I conversed with him in his preferred Spanish, while Carolyn Anne chatted away in English.  It was a busy time of talking and translating, but after lunch she got tired, and the van quieted down.  Good thing, because the fog was more prevalent this part of the trip in the higher elevations of the Andes, plus the route got narrower and curvier than previously. 

Patience is when you pass up on a one lane each direction highway a slow commercial 18 wheeled truck, only to find you are now behind a farm vehicle such as a pickup truck - a camioneta de la finca - a farm pickup truck - loaded with dirt, produce and etc.  Repeat for the next four hours and you finally arrive. . . in Azogues, which is about an hour north of Cuenca.  Faked us out. . . we wanted to arrive and finish the trip as we were getting weary of the drive. 

Before Azogues we started seeing road signs for the distance (in Kilometers, of course) for Cuenca.  First we saw a sign stating 63 km to Cuenca, then 72, then later, 70.  Frustrating to those like us who just wanna get there and see this kind of embarrassing (by north American cultural standards) conflicting information!  Then we saw a sign stating Cuenca was 38 km away.  Yay!  We found the new road into town - Avenida de las Americas - after inquiring at the junction of the beginning of the (obvious to us) older road and the newer road, and the expressway was still under road widening/construction as we worked our way closer in.  Then we were in the established west end of Cuenca - I could tell based on our past two bus line rides in and out last Spring - we had arrived in Cuenca! 

That said, I had Galo take an offramp one too soon to what we probably should have taken.  Newbie mistake on my part, and Galo didn't know. . . he was relying on my knowledge.  We were maybe 2 km from our condo building at this point. 

We got a bit lost in new streets and a neighborhood I had not been to before.  Galo wisely parked the van and asked for directions.  After asking in this manner two or three more times - thank God for taxi chofers who gave directions while parked at traffic signals - we arrived at our condo building, with our landlady Lucia expectantly waiting at the entrance. 

Finally home!  It was now about 6:30 PM, with lights coming on for the night.  It was a long, tiring, and expectant day.  Time for much needed rest, and Buenos Suenos - Good Dreams - for the days ahead.  Thank You, Lord for getting us here! 

No comments:

Post a Comment