Tomorrow I return home to Cuenca!!! A 2.5 hour drive to Guayaquil, then .5 hour traversing the city, then another 3 hours up, Up, UP into the Andes and home.
Speaking of Guayaquil (perfect segue), I dashed into GYE and back in one day on Friday. When I was coming back to Salinas in the early evening, I saw brakelights ahead and whirling police lights, so I slowed down. When I came to a stop, I was the 2nd car back from a crowd of teenagers blocking the 3 lanes of the highway going my direction. I thought there was an accident. But, it appeared to be some sort of demonstration. When someone tried to break through the mob with their car, they were quick to respond and prevent any crossing of the human line. On the other side of the highway (divided by a shallow ravine median), the traffic was moving freely. What the??? Then, the youths started dragging branches and pieces of wood onto the road to further prevent crossing. That made a few other drivers uncomfortable and they started backing up....to WHERE??? It's not like you can get the quickly accumulating crowd of cars behind you to all back up simultaneously!!! That maneuver left me in FRONT of the blockade. GRRREAT. I backed up a bit to create a bit of distance between me and the crowd. Next thing I knew, they were lighting the debris on fire. GRRREATTT. A few feeble attempts amounted to nothing, but then it took hold and we soon had huge flames. The half dozen (or less) police present were just hanging about, not doing much of anything. I guess they didn't want to provoke them further. By now, the other side of the highway was blocked, too. Meanwhile, I'm not sure what to do or not to do. I just decided to stay locked in the car in case someone wanted to take advantage of this gringo and make me the Rodney King of Ecuador. So, I decided to make like this was a big drive-in movie and got out the big bag of chips I just bought and started munching.
No one had placards conveying their message, so who knows what this was all about. But, I do know the area is lined with colleges and these appeared to be college-age kids, so maybe there's a connection there. More police arrived, and by 'more' I'm guessing another 6 or 7. More hanging out. Suddenly, people who had gotten out of their cars to see what was up, started running away from the group and I thought 'oh no'...but they were running back to their cars as they seemed to know something was about to occur and maybe traffic would get through. The police, sans any riot gear, apparently moved on the crowd and forced them off the road while at the same time putting out the fire and kicking the debris aside. As soon as there was an opening, drivers hit the gas and the stampede was on....driving over the burning embers and to FREEDOM!!!! I saw someone indicate to me that the crowd was throwing things, maybe rocks, and I wondered how many dents or broken windows I might end up with, but I got through without a scratch. It was nice driving back with no traffic ahead of me!! LOL
Ok, that was a major digression from the subject of this story, but it was worth it.
Now, to the beach.
The last few days have been very nice weather-wise. About 80 degrees (26C) and low on the humidity side. Friday was a national holiday, so that meant hordes of people from the city headed for the beaches for a 3-day weekend. I spent my last few days on the beach, soaking up the rays, watching all the people (lots of families and kids) as well the constant parade of hawkers selling their wares.
For 2 bucks you can rent a chair and umbrella. Plop down and watch the whole scene. Here's a list of things you can buy at any given moment as hawkers walk the stretch beach back and forth, repeatedly calling out their product::
- cotton candy
- coconuts (with milk inside)
- ice cream
- potato chips
- corn on the cob with cheese (ewww)
- temporary tattoos
- langostinos (jumbo shrimp)
- langostas (lobster)
- rides on the banana thingamabob behind a boat
- jet ski rentals
- ....and much, much more!!
After the beach, I headed for my favorite roadside outdoor seafood place situated in a cluster of a dozen or so others covering a square block. It was hopping due to the weekend crowds, so they had extra helpers in the form of kids. I don't mean 'forced child laborers'. These were family kids who were enjoying helping their parents and/or older siblings. My 'server' was 11 years old. He took my order, got me another beer, cleared my table...all with a smile...especially illuminated when I handed him a tip.
I mentioned it before, but this time I had 20 (a double order) butterflied, breaded shrimp, skip the rice and salad, but substituted papas fritas (french fries) for $10 plus two 20oz Pilsner beers for $1.50 each. YUM!! While eating my meal, hawkers were selling fresh jumbo shrimp and lobsters. I bought 2 pounds of shrimp ($10) and 3 small lobsters ($10). YUM!!
Enjoy the pics....and a video this time (when you run the video, click Full Screen in the bottom right-hand cornder)!! WOOHOO!!
|The 'mob scene'|
|Bozo meets a lobster|
|An 'ocean' of red umbrellas cram the beach|
|Ride the banana towed behind a speedboat!!!|
|SnoCone cart vendor pedaling around the streets and neighborhoods offering up a cold treat.|
|Ice cream carts|
|This vendor is showing off for me. He takes a machete to hack open the tops of coconuts and hands it to you with a straw to drink the milk.|
|Jewelry is everywhere.|
|The cluster of open-air seafood dives.|