Today is a travelling day. A harder day. A dull day. A meal management day. A home learning day. Everyone’s mood changes for the worse when we’re hungry and generally our patience levels are low. We need to get from Santa Cruz (taxi) to Baltra (ferry and bus) to Guayaquil (aeroplane) to just outside Montanita (car).
The plane journey is relatively short, made all the more exciting by one child refusing to do any school work – cleverly choosing a confined public space to exercise his refusal. Rewards are revoked, patience is tested and I sit wishing the plane journey to end. That. Or a large glass of wine to arrive (it’s 10am).
We land – the small child is intact. We’ve been told to be extra alert in Guayaquil as it has ‘an-edge’. The children all get their hands held pretty tightly through the airport and we’re met by a man mountain known as Jofre.
We exit the airport through glass doors with NO GUNS and NO DOGS stickers reversed out. Assuming that’s a message for anyone entering the airport, I now figure we’re entering a world of guns and big dogs – excellent.
Disappointingly for his size, Jofre has a surprisingly small car. We spend two and a half hours squeezed in the back with no air conditioning. Guayaquil appears to have the same high-speed-lane-hopping behaviour as Qatar, with the added bonus of no seat belts in the back. I get the children to lie down and take a nap… hold onto them tight… make a wish… and focus on the dangly cross hanging from Jofre’s rear view mirror. Whatever it takes – right?
The place is manic. At the first traffic lights we’re offered strawberries, loom bands, windmills, avocados and a street-dance (!) – all for money and mostly through the window. Jofre is very clear it’s a ‘no’.
We go past a police check point and pathetically I smile and hope my face is saying ‘honestly we are happy to be in this car, we are not, in fact, being kidnapped’.
The high volume contrariness from today’s playful child continues and only on the realisation that pocket money was indeed being taken away, one pound at a time, immediately and visibly on the pocket money phone app, did the car become quiet. Finally.
Today’s destination is an eco lodge just outside of Montanita, on the coast of Ecuador. We drive past a mini Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Big Ben (!). A bit further we drive past pretty baron land with several precarious shacks that could come right out of the Three Little Pigs story book.
Eventually we reach the coast and Jofre takes a right along the coast road. Each ‘town’ we go through I’m sat quietly *hoping* this is not Montanita and breathing a sigh of relief as we exit the town on the otherside.
Finally we arrive at the Eco Lodge, we walk up to the top of a green field to find our home for the next three nights. We dump bags, agree on who is sleeping where and then go on the hunt for food for the evening. A $1.50 taxi ride takes us into Montanita – pizza and wine lift our spirits.
Dinner then bed. Quite simply… we survived the day.