Carro is 'car', but roll one less 'R' and you say Caro and that means 'expensive'. I finally bought a car!! No more taxi's!!! YEA!! Now, I am free to stop and go whenever I want and, best of all, get out an explore. Riding taxi's helped me get used to the traffic, how to handle all the traffic circles (roundabouts) we have here, how to be assertive, routes, and miscellaneous rules. So, I felt pretty comfortable driving right from the get-go.
I had searched online a zillion times and, for my budget, it was hard to find cars 2000 and above that had less than 150,000 kilometers (about 90,000 miles). Cars are caro here. My 1994 Jeep with 120,000 miles back home would fetch maybe $3,000. But, here you're talkin $10,000. Cars don't lose their value here like they do back home...which is good when you go to sell.
This is the first time I've not had a car when I sought to buy one. So, it was hard doing the search because I didn't have a car to hop from one dealership to another and taxi just wouldn't have been conducive. So, I relied on the internet. Cuenca has far fewer available to choose from than Guayaquil (why I kill) or Quito (key tow). I finally found two that I was extremely interested in, had only 20,000 miles or so, and was in my price range...but in Guayaquil. So, I decided to reserve a seat on a van ($12) and headed to GYE 8am one morning, determined I would be driving home in one of the two cars.
The first compact SUV was a disappointment. For only 17,000 miles I could tell it hadn't been taken care of. Bummer. So, I called the other dealer and he announced to me that he had sold the other car. DANG!! Now I was wondering how I would get back to Cuenca and that I had wasted a trip. But, that guy said he had 50-60 other cars in the 3 lots he owns, so c'mon over and maybe we can find something. Took a taxi to his place and looked over his inventory sheet, eliminating everything over XX dollars or XXXXX miles. It left ONE. He drove me to another lot to see it...a 2009 red Peugeot 106, 4 door, hatchback (one of my requirements) with 30,000 kms (about 18,000 miles).
Automatics are very rare here. For some odd reason, everyone drives sticks. You'd think they'd prefer automatics with all the hectic driving...one less thing to think of....clutching and shifting up/down/up/down all the time. The Peugeot was a stick and it didn't have power windows. WAAAGHHH...I have to MANUALLY roll my windows up and down!!!! Ghastly.
Other than that, it was clean, black interior, A/C, fold down rear seats for all the stuff I'm sure to buy, and for Gracie. Took it for a spin, drove nice. Tires were on their last leg, so I made him an offer and asked for a new set of tires to be put on that day before I left.
He drove me around to the places necessary to consumate the deal...the bank, notary, Burger King, and ultimately the tire shop.
I was antsy to get going as I knew I had a 3 hour drive ahead of me and I didn't want to drive over the mountains in the dark...for the FIRST time, by myself, in an unfamiliar car. Well, I didn't leave GYE til 5:30 and it's dark in Ecuador by 6:30. It's a 200km trip (120 miles) and 65 of those miles are through the Andes climbing from sea level to 9,000+ feet. SIXTY FIVE miles of dizzying zig-zagging and switchbacks. If there's a straight stretch in that SIXTY FIVE miles, it ain't longer than a quarter mile!!! Luckily, there's 2 lanes going uphill so it's easy to get around trucks huffing and puffing up the hill at 10 mph. And, of course, it had to rain. And, being in the mountains and being in Ecuador, you always have to look out for big boulders in the middle of your lane, or landslides, or washouts. There were 4-5 of those washouts where the 3 lane highway was nothing but dirt/gravel and potholes that's like driving through a game of Whack-a-Mole.
Boy, was I glad to be home. The car handled like a dream, especially with those new tires.