After our Galápagos adventure we caught up with the wedding party’s tour, already in progress (we missed some cool places they visited without us, my husband and I totally have to go back some day). We had arranged for the hotel shuttle to take us to the airport, but the shuttle was stuck in traffic so the hotel staff got us a taxi instead. It was a town car not a yellow cab, but driving through Guayaquil morning rush hour down at ground level was the second scariest moment in Ecuador (the scariest bit is yet to come). No one pays attention to the traffic lights or signage, but there is a complex system of horn honkings that everyone seems to understand. All the drivers use their horns to communicate where they are, where they want to be, and when they think it’s their turn to be there. They all seem to understand each other perfectly, but it’s nerve-wracking, particularly if your car has no seat belts. Luckily it’s a short ride to the airport.
The airport in Guayaquil is nicer than Minneapolis/St. Paul and much nicer than Miami. And passing through security is downright relaxing. You don’t have to take off your shoes, they don’t care about your liquids, you just have to pass through the metal detector and move on. Like back in the good old days.
We were flying from Guayaquil to Esmeraldas, so it was a small jet and we boarded from the tarmac. You follow a painted path that takes you safely around all the engines to board the jet from the back, picking up your plantain chips from a table as you leave the building.
It was pretty narrow on the inside, with the front row a pair of seats that folded down and faced backwards. The jet was not quite small enough to make you want to make sure there were no musicians flying with you (musicians on small aircraft being of course terribly unlucky).
It was a short flight, cloudy so I couldn’t really see anything but the top of the tallest volcano. We came in for a landing over the ocean, which was cool because there were so many ships and fishing boats out on the water. Esmeraldas means emeralds, which apparently there are a lot of, but it’s also appropriate because everything is so intensely green. We were now in the rain forest part of Ecuador.
From Esmeraldas we went a little way south along the coast to Tonsupa, a beachfront town. We ate some amazing seafood (with more plantains, natch) and spent the afternoon on the beach.
From the pictures it looks like a normal beach, but it was really more like a marketplace. People came by every minute or two selling everything under the sun. Some things made sense like ice cream, sunglasses, towels, fresh fruit and that. Other things were more surprising, like massages and someone with pages of designs that I hope were for henna and not actual on-the-beach tattoos. These vendors had sections of beach that were their territory, and we saw one woman who was clearly keeping other people off the section of the beach her people worked.
There was lots to do there, but I was so exhausted from all the Galápagos activity I just people-watched.
The weather brightened up later in the day, and of course the sun goes down promptly at 6:30. You can watch it happen, it only takes five seconds for the sun to disappear. Being on the equator is pretty cool.
But the thing I remember most about my time in Tonsupa was that I slept for nearly 12 hours there. I woke up feeling almost human again. The ocean air will do that to you.