Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Burning up in Guayaquil.

a big city with big city amenities - thank goodness.

Our plan in Guayaquil was to just chill out after the go go go of the Galapagos – for me that meant catching up on some blogging and uploading the 275 photos from the last week. For Adrian that meant enjoying the sunshine and pool at the hostel and checking out the mall nearby. Well in the midst of doing all that Adrian and I suddenly found ourselves on a mission or two.

Halfway through the photo upload I noticed that my computer was no longer charging. I figured the plug had just come out of the wall but when I turned around to plug it back in I was greeted with smoke and the smell of burning wires. The cord had frayed and was now thisclose to going up in flames. I quickly yanked it out of the wall – I don’t think our insurance would cover hostel arson. Now how to make my computer usable. With an almost dead battery, in about 20 minutes my computer would be a large paperweight. It was Adrian to the rescue. On his mall visit, he’d found not one but two Mac shops. $100 later we had a new cord and an up and running computer. But so much for trying to recoup some of that Galapagos money. The day didn’t pick up either. While checking in on our bank and credit cards, I noticed that our last remaining credit card – the one we’d used to book the Galapagos tour – suddenly had a bunch of mystery charges on it. Adrian called Visa to find out what was going on. Well they weren’t our charges so the Visa was cancelled and reissued. So now we had no credit cards and no travelers’ cheques and just one bank card. Rather than a relaxing day it was all quite stressful.

We tried to shake off the bad news and hung out at the hostel with the rest of the guests. Some of who were familiar faces. Simon had been there before we left for the Galapagos and had spent the last week recuperating from a bad sunburn he’d gotten on the top of his feet while in Mancora, Peru. When we left he’d barely been able to walk and the sunburn was a giant nasty looking blister. Luckily, while we were away a couple of traveling doctors had passed through the hostel and helped him get some antibiotics. At least now he was able to walk and like us he was heading out tomorrow to continue his journey. And there were new faces too including the nicest most polite guy from Alabama. He’d spent the last 5 years in the navy and seen the world although he said most of the world was viewed from the ship watching the officers head to shore for the good times. He was off tomorrow too although he wasn’t sure where.

The next morning all our bags were packed and lined up in the front hall ready for destinations known and unknown. Simon to Quito. Adrian and I to Cuenca. And Alabama to, well, he still wasn’t quite sure. While he sat staring at his map of Ecuador for inspiration, Adrian and I split a cab to the bus station with Simon. And in a change of events, the cabbie actually charged us less than he was supposed to (according to the hostel). Wow that was a first – but not enough to make up for every other cab driver. Once inside the station we said goodbye to Simon as he headed North and we headed South. For us it was perfect timing as there was a bus leaving for Cuenca in just 15 minutes.

Four and a half hours later in Cuenca. We hadn’t heard back from any of the hostels we’d emailed (what is it with South American hostels and email?) but headed to the first on our list anyway. They only had an expensive room available and when I told them I had sent an email they acknowledged that they’d received it but in a condescending way told me they couldn’t guarantee any room when booked online. What? I was annoyed. So they got our booking request but didn’t bother to respond. And they accept bookings online but don’t guarantee them. Wow, that makes no sense. But I guess we were supposed to feel happy that they even had a room for us. Although the room was comfy the attitude was a put off and despite the hostel also being home to a popular local restaurant we went out to find food elsewhere. In less than 24 hours we’d gone from almost burning down one hostel to the cold shoulder at another.

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