09 November 2008 | Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador
The Spanish word 'Adios' is rarely heard in Ecuador, it's usually 'Ciao!'. Tomorrow we say 'Ciao' to Bahia de Caraquez and Ecuador as we point the boat north toward Panama. After almost 5 months here we felt we should add a few closing thoughts but they are pretty much top of mind points and there is no order, so you were warned ...
Ecuador by the numbers -
� Estimated hours we spent on long distance buses within the country: 69 hours
� Number of flights we took in/out/within the country: 7
� Number of Ecuador stamps we have in our passport now: 6
� Number of days Hiatus spent in Bahia: 147
� Number of days we spent in Bahia on the boat: 48 (we would rather travel inland)
� Hours we spent in Spanish class: 70 hours each
� Average cost of an almuerzo (local style lunch): $1.50
� Average cost of a large beer: $1.50 (which yields about 3 glasses)
� Cost for a gallon of gasoline: $1.48 (government subsidized)
� $5 at the local city market will get you: a dozen eggs, a whole chicken and fruits/vegetables for a week.
� Basic cell phone: $40 for the phone and then phone cards at $1, $5 or $10 intervals. No phone plan required!
� Average speed of a bus along single lane roads with hairpin turns: 50 mph (ok, I made that up but I am pretty sure that is close to accurate!)
� Ecuador has 24 provinces and is similar in size to the state of Colorado.
� 85% of Ecuadorians are Catholic.
� Ecuador is one of only two countries in South America (with Chile) that does not have a border with Brazil.
� Ecuador includes the Galapagos Islands which are 600�miles west of the mainland.
A few random thoughts on Ecuador -
� Cuy - an Ecuadorian specialty, guinea pig. They skewer them whole and set over a grill or rotisserie.
� Live animals roaming restaurants. I doubt the chickens know that they are on the menu.
� All parts of the animal used in the cuisine. Feet and bones in a soup, mystery meat next to a scoop of rice. We quickly learned to ask 'What part of the animal is it?' when we didn't know the name of an item on a menu.
� Trash, trash and more trash. It's hard to watch as drivers of buses or parents and children simply throw their cups and wrappers out the window or onto the ground. We try to lead by example but it is rampant.
� On the other hand, we have seen large grocery stores use biodegradable plastic bags and fluorescent bulbs have been used everywhere for years here.
� It is not rare to see entire families riding together on one motorcycle or 3 people on a bicycle. I don't know how they manage to balance but they do.
� We often see 20 people sitting and standing in the back of a pick up truck. It is more out of necessity then a desire to carpool.
� Rum and coke in a can. Just open and drink.
� Men on bicycles with live chickens that hang upside down by their feet from the bike's handlebars. The men ride around selling them - fresh as can be!
� Bus vendors who sell everything from copied DVD/CDs to Ginseng tablets to hamburgers. They board the bus at one stop, shout at the top of the lungs their spiel on what they are selling and then get off at the next stop.
� There are more one dollar US coins than there are in the US. The American dollar is the official currency in Ecuador and it seems all the one dollar coins are in circulation in Ecuador, we never saw them when we were in the US.
� Friendliness everywhere. Buenos dias, Buenas tardes and Buenas noches are the first thing people say to each other and strangers are no exception. I cant count the number of times we utter one of these statements each day but it's a lot.
� Generosity. Those who have so very little are willing to give what they can to help those with even less. It is inspiring.
� Children have more independence at the age of 5 than those appear to have in the US at the age of 10. Of course they also have far more responsibilities at younger ages as well.
� Diversity. The coast with beaches, the Andes mountains, the forest and the jungle. All within such a small country.
� Music. There is only two ways to play it - LOUD and until the early morning hours.
That's all folks!