We have decided today to head for Salinas, the most westerly part of the Ecuador mainland and the seaside resort that Ecuadorians go to. We took a taxi to the bus depot and I was glad of the help they gave with our bags. It is incredibly hot and humid.
|Yeah, it'll do for another day|
At Guayaquil there must be over twenty different bus companies. The receptionist at the hotel told us which company to look for but neither of us could remember. The chap carrying our bags asked a few locals at the terminal and then took us to a ticket office. The bus leaves in three minutes - good. Having been told that it was the best company we ewe both surprised it was a bit basic, more like a town centre bus than a long distance coach. The main difference was no on board loo - more of a comfort factor just in case than something either of us want, or so far have had, to use!
The journey took about two hours, driving through pretty unremarkable countryside. We passed some gated and secure housing estates and posh looking (very green) hotels, obviously the haunts of Guayaquil's financial elite. Our "in flight" entertainment was Die Another Day, in English but with the windows open to get the breeze you could not hear much. On reflection, this was probably as violent as the Steven Seagal and Jean Claude van Damme films we have seen on other buses. Somehow the violence in Bond films seems different and more "acceptable".
We have nowhere to stay when we get to Salinas and our book has no map of the town so we had no idea where the hotels were. We were dropped in the centre, next to a whole load of cevicherias (places selling marinated fish for lunch). We shouldered our packs and headed to the sea front to get our bearings. The first hotel we tried wanted a silly amount of money for a crap room. We then walked to the other end of the bay to one of the better hotels that Lonely Planet says does good off peak deals. My suggestion to call first fell on deaf ears and I was not happy when we got there and Stef finally admitted that it was too much, $150 for full board. It was swanky but not what we were after.
I had had enough of walking in the heat with my pack and a taxi stopped and picked us up with a "I tried to pick you up at the other end but you said no" comment. He took us to our next option, again one Lonely Planet says does off peak deals. I stayed in the car with the bags while Stef went to check prices and rooms. By the time he came back ten minutes later I had been subjected to a continual flow of "for $40 I'll take you to Montanita where there are nice hotels and lots of people from Europe and America". I tried to explain that the reason we were in Salinas is because there are only Ecuadorian people here but I think he chose not to understand.
Stef came back victorious. He had bargained hard and we have an apartment (en-suite bedroom, lounge/diner, kitchen with no stuff in it and no cooker) for less than the other hotels and we have great sea views too. He had haggled them down from $100 to $50 a night. By the time we had dumped our stuff it was about 3pm and we headed down onto the beach to enjoy the rest of the day.
As with much of the coast in Perú it is very cloudy and overcast here but it is also still quite bright. Salinas sits in between two bays with a yacht club in the middle. The club is private so you have to go through town to get from one bay to the other. On our side, the road runs along the bay and there are restaurants, hotels and apartments (most people here stay in apartments not hotels). The other bay is a bit smarter, the beach is deeper and the apartments front the beach. At the end of the second bay is a military base and two soldiers are on guard on the beach stopping people from going into the military zone.
We paddled through the water, dodging the funny shells like the ones we had seen in Máncora and the odd crab. Stef went in for a swim (really a float) while I dodged the hawkers on the beach selling jewelry, wooden cars and whale watching trips. It was a lazy way to kill an afternoon. No matter what nationality people are, time spent on the beach is the same the world over - sandcastles, football, paddling, chilling out. There are jet skis here and big inflatables being towed through the sea.
The downside of being somewhere at low season where most people stay in apartments is that there are not many places to choose from for dinner. Most were very quiet and did not look too great. We ended up back at the first hotel we had looked at. Our meal was OK but expensive for hat it was - especially as the seafood was more expensive than the meat!
We asked back at the hotel about bus connections up to Puerto Lopez. This drew a blank stare and then information that was immediately contradicted. Oh for the love of centrally accessible, accurate information!