replied to the thread help!!
on the Ecuador forum on July 29, 2014:
replied on July 29, 2014 with:
JimMorris, my husband & I have lived here - in Manta - for 4 years now and absolutely LOVE it. But you are right - IT IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. You did the right thing by just visiting first to see if you might want to live here. It is a totally different way of living - simple - and simple is not for everyone. I hope you can find a new home some day that is a fit for you and you can be happy in.
replied on July 29, 2014 with:
I'd just like to say that my experience was the opposite of Jim Morris's. I don't know what his expectations were, but EC far exceeded my expectations & my wife's.
First, while we haven't seen ALL of the USA, we've seen enough to know that you can meet great people and horrible people just about anywhere. The same is true of EC. We've also seen enough in the US (our native land) to be able to roll with whatever changes we come across.
We landed in Guayaquil at about 11:30 pm, which meant we got through customs and out of the airport around midnight. I had reserved a room for us at a hotel about 1.5 km away. They said that they had an airport shuttle for $13 that would meet us there. Seemed like a stiff price for a mile, but there was no way we were going to try to haul ourselves and our luggage after midnight in a city that we had been warned about as far as personal safety.
The shuttle was nowhere to be found; Lisa wanted me to call the hotel, but instead, I asked a cab driver how much to yyyy address. "For two and luggage?" he asked in Spanish. "4 dollars." I knew I was paying gringo prices, for a 1.5 km run, but after midnight, and a stranger in a strange land, and the fact that the hotel shuttle wanted 3 times that, it sounded like a bargain.
The desk clerk was outside for a smoke when we drove up. He seemed all of 25, apologized profusely for miscommunication about the shuttle--it didn't run after midnight.
The first surprise we got in the hotel room was the electricity saving scheme of putting the room key in the slot to turn the lights on. That the hall lights only turned on when we passed a proximity switch was not new: South Korea doesn't light anything interior that they don't have to--seems like it's mostly just the US that expects hall lights 24/7. Took us a couple of minutes to figure out the interior light scheme. When I did, I found that my pillow was already occupied by an insect made (in)famous by Franz Kafka. In parts of the southern US, they call these things Palmetto bugs, because if you called it a cockroach, too many northern travelers would freak out.
I thought that might do in the trip as far as Lisa was concerned, but she reminded me of the motel on the outskirts of Beloit, WI where we paid almost the same amount as the place in Guayaquil for a flea infested place with soiled floors and stained linens. And a surfeit of fellow patrons who apparently were part of a highway road crew living there who were barbecuing on makeshift grills outside their rooms (outside entrances).
WE hadn't had any luck arranging an executive van (as I think they're called) with Montanitatours or any of the other car services in GYE. If we knew how easy it was to travel by bus in EC, we'd have taken that way up the coast. As it turned out, we dealt with the desk clerk and the drivers who were loosely connected with the hotel. Montanitatours said it would be $80, but since we were idiot gringos (my description, not theirs) whose lack of familiarity with just.how.seriously Ecuadorians party down on Carneval weekend, MT did not have a single car available. The hotel driver started at $120, saying that it would take 3-4 hours each way. I offered $90. We settled on $100, and 2 1/2 hours later we were at the destination. The dry coastal desert landscape was something we both enjoyed. It's not to everyone's taste.
The driver got his $120 for the way he helped us find the lodge we were staying. The proprietors don't have a sign up yet (and may never do so for their own reasons) and they were 4km west enjoying a swim and ceviche at the beach restaurant in Manglaralto. We knew we had found the right place by some of the signs on a building at the property. The proprietress was there about half an hour after we arrived--and right around the time we said we'd be there. Given the reputation for Ecuador People's Time, we thought that was right on time.
We had a great four days there--the only big screw up was on our behalf. We walked up the beach to Montanita (as we had done the other couple of days) to buy a bus ticket to GYE for Tuesday. We weren't hip to some of the idiosyncrasies of sales offices in EC. Sunday night, when we were in Montanita, there was a guy on the corner across from Montanitatours who was selling tickets for travel Monday, as far as I could gather. So, Monday, which seemed to be the height of the celebrations in Montanita, we expected to see the same guy out there. Nope. So we asked where they sold bus tickets and followed those directions. Mind you, it's about 3:30 pm. The little ticket office is closed. The sign says that they have sold all the tickets for Tuesday. Apparently, when they've sold out, they close. Again, a minor rub if you're rolling with the changes, but a major dislocation if you expect things to run YOUR way.
We decided to get something to eat, and settled for a kinda touristy pizza place. It wasn't terrible, and paying the restaurant prices ($1.50) for the $1 Pilseners was hardly a shock. Our college town charges $3 for a 12 oz Pabst Blue Ribbon longneck.
Being from the upper midwest, we were not used to how fast it gets dark 1 degree below the equator. WE went to the main road trying to snag a taxi back to Manglaralto. NFW, absolutely NFW. One of the cab companies a block west of the Ruta Spondylus was open, but the guy at the desk looked like he was having the same conversation with everyone lining up in front of his desk. With me, he allowed me to stumble in Spanish, haltingly asking if it would be possible....and he held up a hand and started with "Me desespero decirte..." Not getting it, I said "Lo siento," and he replied, smiling, thinking I DID get it "Si, si! Lo siento mucho!" Aha, no taxis.
This was the low point of our trip. We walked all the way back to our lodge, situated about 2 km west of Dos Mangas, and 4 km east of Manglaralto. Lisa was pretty much freaked out that one of the caballeros (in the cowboy sense of the word) was going to splatter us all over the side of the (mostly) unlit road. I felt a little better on the Ruta, because there was a lot of traffic and some lights in Montanita and Manglaralto. Once we turned onto the Via Dos Mangas, there were only the lights of the heavens. We did see what we would call a jitney shuttling between Manglaralto and Dos Mangas, but they were full each time. A few other vehicles went past, but we never felt in danger of getting hit, mostly because between the potholes and the home-made speed bumps, no one was going very fast.
After that long winded wind up, what happened next was profuse apologies from our hosts--they would have come to Montanita to pick us up. Not idle talk, they meant it. We stayed an unplanned day with them the next day--on them, though we offered to pay. I didn't know what the etiquette was for that situation. Lisa thought we should leave the cash in the room. Instead, I left them the bottle of Maker's Mark I had picked up in duty-free. They drove us to catch the bus on the Ruta, and I got a call when she got back to the lodge, saying that the American Bourbon was the best gift I could have left along with profuse assurances that it was too much, we had not owed them anything.
Yes, we saw a lot of people who were poor in terms of money, but every one we met in the tiny comune of Dos Mangas was rich in so many other ways.
We wound up having less time than we planned in Cuenca, but our time there was damn near magical, too. Yes, I know, the rose tinted glasses of optimism. Other than the screw up that was my fault, we really didn't run into any curmudgeons there. The closest was the taxi driver who we engaged at the Terminal Terrestre in Cuenca. I was kinda tired and neglected to greet him before asking how much the cab would cost. I could tell that I came across as a boorish Norte Americano. By the time we got to our hostal, he had warmed up.
I hope JimMorris finds the place he is looking for, but I kinda doubt it. If you aren't happy in general, the minor irritations become big ones in a hurry.