It's been a week since we took off on our adventure and so far it's lived up to it's name.
We've ridden countless airport escalators, translated terminal schedules, navigated darkened streets with taxi drivers, boarded the wrong bus, dealt with condo-flooding leaks, water and power outtages and battled mosquito bites and rumbling stomachs.
But what an incredible experience it's been! We've explored beautifully raw beaches, piled into breezy rickshaws, strolled along the boardwalk and eaten the freshest fruit we've ever tasted. We always get a smiling "muy lindo!", a cheek squeeze or a hair ruffle from the locals. Our good-looking kids even helped us bypass several long lines at various airports, immigration and customs.
We landed in Quito in the evening and our driver, Roberto, was waiting, holding our name on a sign. He didn't speak much English and directed us to his tiny car, which my wife and I both doubted would hold all our gear. But he made it all fit with a certain mixture of elegance and willpower and off we went. Since it was late, all three boys dozed against my wife, in the back seat while Roberto and I carried on a broken conversation about the weather and Mickey Mouse. We arrived around 11pm to the open arms of Lucia, our hostess, and tucked everyone into bed. The next morning, she prepared a delicious breakfast which included freshly squeezed papaya, starfruit and passion fruit juice and had Roberto pick us up and drive us to the Quito bus terminal.
He took us into the terminal and unfortunately, helped us buy the wrong tickets to Bahia de Caraquez. Of course, we didn't know that at the time. We didn't know until we boarded the bus and set off that this was the more "local" bus and we had missed the ejecutivo (first class) option. We all got motion sickness an hour into our 8 hour ride going through the cordillera. My wife's so bad that her hands froze up and she began loosing feeling in them, not a good thing while holding a baby. Luckily, a kind Ecuadorian grandmother (remember, we were the only tourists on this bus) gave her a magic potion (probably a local salve) that she vehemently told her to massage into her hands and voila, the paralysis disappeared! Unfortunately, she got off the bus during one of our sweat-soaked snoozes, so we didn't get a chance to thank her or take a picture of this magic potion. The rest of the ride was steamy (we wore our jeans and long sleeve shirts after reading reviews of the ejecutivo bus trips which are apparently very cold), and filled with minor adventures like dashing to the bus stop bathrooms (no toilet seats and 15 cents for toilet paper) and refusing the advances of the food salesmen who board the bus at every red light. In all honesty, the trip was a memorable adventure. The boys bravely endured and the baby slept most of the way. Towards the end, when everyone started getting restless, we let the boys stand on the seats and wave to all the locals out the windows. We got many strange glances, but mostly smiles. That's the welcoming nature of Ecuadorians...always inviting and inquisitive.
We arrived at our very spacious and well furnished condo around 7pm and our accommodating host gave us the WiFi password, filtered water and directions to a nearby sandwich shop. All we needed besides a bit of air conditioning.
Since then, we've been enjoying our two ocean-front view balconies, frequenting the beach and local market to pick up fresh fish, bakery bread and fruit, and even doing a bit of homeschooling. We are trying to dodge the gringo restaurants and go for more local cuisine. I even explored a potential chicken farming operation for sale. We attended local mass in the town's big church while the 2-year-old hummed along to Spanish hymns. Despite the rain and temporary lose of water and power, it's been a rewarding experience.
We knew coming to Bahia that this wasn't where we expected to fall in love or invest, but we wanted to start in a place we'd been before and let the boys adjust slowly while bribing them with the beach. While we enjoyed our time in Bahia, it's time to head out again. We still have four days here and then we hope to board the correct bus and head to the mountain town of Cotacachi, Ecuador. Make no mistake about it, this transition with a young family is proving to be a difficult one, but the simple joys of our new lifestyle and watching our kids experience the people and culture around them make it all worth it.