Journey to Guayaquil and the theft of a Cacao fruit
Feb 18, 2018
|Well today we travelled to Guayaquil across the highest mountain pass in Ecuador.
But last night’s meal deserves a mention. We stayed at our hotel as we all still felt a bit shattered from the long drive to Cuenca and I think the travelling is catch up on us.
As the hotel had a restaurant area in the centre of the hacienda we thought it was worth the novelty value of eating there. First issue was that it was very cold as there was no heating. We asked if we could get some heating which took nearly the whole meal to fetch a calor gas mobile fire. We had not seen one for many years so it at least made us laugh. We ordered our food in our best Spanish which apart from Alison is not great. Bob ordered Burritos with no cheese, Alison soup with no extras, Irene had scallops with Parmesan cheese and I ordered a rice dish with prawns,
When they turned up Irene’s was on fire and spat at her. Alison had soup with all the extras and Bob got fajitas. Mine was the only one correct and we had gone through the order a number of times. Never mind it made us laugh and eventually we warmed up. In the morning we had a quick breakfast and then a Sunday morning drive to the Cajas National Park, which was on the way to Guayaquil. We met a park guide, Kathy, who looked about ten who took us for a delightful walk through the park. The altitude was about 11,000 feet but it was a perfect day and no rain at all. After our walk we dropped Kathy off and then headed to the highest mountain pass in Ecuador at 14,000 feet. Took some photos and watched a near accident unfold as a local family let there dog run wild with a pack of llamas that then ran across the road stopping traffic and causing numerous near misses. Diego told them off but they did not seem to care.
We then drove on and had to go down from this height to sea level at Guayaquil.
The journey was interesting as we went from the highlands through the cloud forest and then into jungle. The cloud forest was frightening as it was virtually zero visibility but cars still seemed intent on passing everything in front of them, even when they couldn’t see what was there.
We came out of the cloud and Diego wanted to show us a Cacao tree. He tried to buy a Cacao fruit from a few shops on the way down but to no avail. Eventually he got Faust to stop the minibus and ran into a field and came out with the red fruit. Once opened it had really strange looking seeds that were covered in a jelly like coating. If you sucked it the taste was quite sweet and pleasant. He told us not to bite the seed as this is very bitter. Apparently they dry these out with the coating and then crush them to make the starting ingredient of chocolate. Very interesting and whiled a way a few more minutes on our drive.
Once we got to sea level the temperature soared and tropical rain ran across our path as we headed along the main road. Eventually we arrived in Guayaquil which is a port city with three rivers and a delta running through it that then ends up in the Pacific.
We starting sorting out our bags for a last trip tomorrow - Galápagos. As we are leaving a suitcase at the hotel and trying to travel light. Diego and Faust came to the hotel and we took a walk around the city to see the sights and have a farewell meal with them as they are handing us over to the Galápagos guys in the morning. One of the parks we went into had iguanas lounging in the trees and on the grass competing with the pigeons for the tit bits people were feeding them. We then went to what looked like a fairly average restaurant but it had great food and after Diego sorted out the staff we had a really good evening with Bob and myself telling Diego our worst jokes (Fox hat and the cycle path tarmac) Diego then had to translate these to Faust and then explain why they were funny. In truth the jokes in Spanish sounded far better and Faust laughed so it could have been worse.
After the meal Faust brought us back to the hotel where we made arrangements for the trip to the airport and on to the Galápagos Islands.
We have had a brilliant time in Ecuador and whilst we have not seen as many spectacular sights as we saw in Peru we have enjoyed every moment.
Tomorrow should be really exciting but we will miss Diego and Faust after the last five days.
Not sure what the internet will be like on the boat but I will try to get some more stuff out to you.
Less than a week to go before we get back to the UK and I think we will be really pleased to see everyone and our own bed.
Also just in case you have tried to contact Irene her phone has completely died so we are hopeful that Vodafone can save all of the data on it!
See you soon x