….what to expect when driving or riding in Ecuador 😉
Day 4; Bahia de Caraquez to Guayaquil. 272Km/169m
To catch up with the story so far; click Day 1 & Day 2 & Day 3
Todays ride was more of a way of getting from A to B. So I’m taking the chance to reflect back on our road experiences, driving and road conditions here in Ecuador 🙂
Caveat; this is not complaining, this is informing and letting you know how it is. We are thoroughly enjoying this ride and learning to drive/ride like the locals 😉
……but first, let me just go back to where I ended yesterday; that “hotel” in Bahia de Caraquez. I had booked all the accommodation for this trip via Booking.com. I have used them frequently through the years we have been traveling. I have found their reviews to be dependable and accurate and have never had a negative experience…..until last night 🙁
We had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be good as we rode off of the main thoroughfare and in to a less than salubrious neighborhood. We already began to worry about whether the bike would be safe overnight.
We arrived, I hopped off (because I can now!) and went in. First issue was no communication ~ now, I can’t blame them for that. It’s my issue, I own it, I should have tried harder to get some basic Spanish skills. The guy was really nice and tried and to be helpful. Eventually he helped Iain to the locked garage area across the street and assisted in getting the bags to the room……where I was already freaking out!
I will let the pictures do the talking; allegedly, this scored an 8.8 which is “excellent” on Booking.com reviews!
The one good thing I can say is that the dinner recommendation was very good ~ walking through the streets to get there wasn’t the best of fun but we did enjoy a delicious dinner and a good couple of beers! Man, we needed those when we got back! The noise from outside in the street, people calling out, shouting, loud conversations, horns beeping and a strange obsession with using the cars remote control (peep peep peeping all the time!) combined with the upstairs neighbors who thought that shouting amongst themselves and letting the kids run stomping around until well after midnight meant that keep didn’t come easy. When it did, it was rudely interrupted at 5am by the arrival of someone clearly there to collect a person who quite obviously needed a blaring horn to let him know his ride was there 🙁
Let me just say that I was angrier at the misrepresentation of this place than anything else. I think the owners had tried to make good thing of a bad lot but they could really do with spending some time on fixing important things rather than the organic coffee they were so proud of! If you read the description given, you’d believe, as I did, that you’d found a little gem. Unfortunately, none of what was advertised was true.
We were just so angry at this point, we decided to get up, get packed and move on out. We did not even stay to chance the free breakfast offered! Great thing about that was, we got to the destination quicker and were able to relax and take a moment to just chill.
Theres a bright side to every story 🙂
Anyway, enough negativity, let’s talk about driving and the roads in Ecuador!
In previous posts, see links above, I have mentioned the crazy driving in the bigger cities! Seems it’s not just in the cities, the main highways are like a race track!
The Ecuadorian people are very friendly, relaxed and chill. They hang out at the road side, chatting and passing the time of day. Wave greetings as we pass by and are all smiles.
Until they get behind the wheel of a vehicle ~ any vehicle! It’s like, as they turn the ignition, they are also flipping a brain switch and turn into aggressive, competitive race car drivers!
Out of the city it seems that everyone just wants to be the leader. Bear in mind, we’re on a bike, on an open road and going at a good lick, but everyone wants to pass us. It doesn’t matter if they are driving a car, a truck, a bus or a moped. Whatever it is, they want to be up front. We have been passed by a double decker bus, on a bend. We have watched double overtaking; someone passing the person passing us! The solid center line means nothing, anything goes. Seriously folks, it’s like the Grand Prix out there!
The main form of transport seems to be motorbike! They are everywhere. All types, makes, models and condition. Everyone’s riding them; young and old. They either speed on by you or putter along at the side of the road. On occasion, I’ve thought you could probably walk faster.
Many have been adapted to carry whatever they need to carry; often way overloaded and definitely not well balanced but needs must!
People will carry everything on their bike; a guy was hugging his gas bottle in front of him and could barely see over the side! Another guy had a better idea and strapped his on the back! A kid went by carrying his ladder and an old lady was barely balancing with about a months worth of groceries! They stack them high and wide, it just seems to work!
A favourite game seems to be; how many people can you get on your bike!
The most we’ve seen is four, in the second picture you can see the 3rd persons leg dangling, then mama is behind! Ordinarily it’s families with kids that pile on but we did see three grown men on one bike yesterday! Too shocked to get a pic of that!
An adaption to bikes that is popular is what I call a “tuc tuc”. The front end is a motorbike and the back end is a little cart adapted to seat anything from two to….well, however many you can cram in! Some owners take great pride in their tuc tucs and some have been extensively decorated with drapery, flowers and lighting! They are great and used all over……however, they seem to have some bizarre right of way. No-one argues with the tuc tuc driver!
Our ride today took us down the the coast and to the city of Guayaquil. We passed through the pretty town of San Jacinta where the fisherman were getting their boats ready to go out for the day.
The road took us through several small towns on some good asphalt surface. We did not expect to do any “off road” riding today, until we came to the road works……
Road works; quite the anomaly. We have experienced many and varying road surface conditions. It seems that the main highway system is being updated and new surface being laid in many places. Yesterday we hit a long stretch of road repair on our journey to Guayaquil. It wasn’t good 🙁
There was no warning, we just suddenly came upon the workers, the torn up roads and the huge repair machines. There was no direction, no-one seemed to have right of way. There was no flag man with the stop/go sign to guide you through. It was a bit of a free for all. Pick your spot and hope for the best! You just had to plough on through the workers and stand firm against oncoming traffic. Easier said than done on a bike on poor surfaces! We did have a wobbly moment when Iain worked hard to keep us upright. I have to say, if we were going to topple at any time, that would have been the best place as it was super muddy and a soft landing. That said, I would have been incredibly pissed off at being so muddy and as Iain said afterwards, he was more concerned at being embarrassed in front of the road workers!
He did really well to keep us upright and we took advantage of the next gas station to stop for a rest to rehydrate and a bit of a snack – they had Kit Kats!
Things were all a bit tense after that. What with the lack of sleep, early start and stressful moments. As we worked our way through the city of Guayaquil, Iain had his first Ecuadorian case of road rage! This is quite the feat; at home he barely goes 5 minutes up the street with out hooting and hollering at some “idiot” (not really the word he used!), it’s been 4days here so I think he’s done ever so well 😉
To be fair, it had been a challenging morning with the road works event and when we reached the city’s pandemonium it all got a bit much with vehicles just ploughing in and out of lanes and trying to push/force you out the way.
It was all over very quickly and shortly after we found our hotel for the night. Both of us silently praying that it was going to be decent and thankfully surprised at just how nice it was!