On the way

Ground way

Even though the delay of the flight B6 2850 caused postponement of my further trip for one day, I think I did not have an opportunity to experience Quito.

Tired, without energy and brightness of my brain I wasn’t creative at all. I didn’t want to take an advantage out of this unplanned day in the capital of Ecuador. Instead of that I just extended my stay in a hotel located in the suburbs of the city, very close to a bus terminal the buses to Tena go from.

From the airport, I could have gone to the city. This way I would win more sleep, and probably a more enjoyable day. My sickness just started so I was still in relatively good shape to explore.

Quito downtown was closer from the airport than Quitumbe, and also I would get to see, I bet, a beautiful town.

But I shouldn’t criticize myself for not making a smart decision as my brain was too tired to use its potential.

So, after an unsuccessful attempt to connect to the internet and order Uber, I walked out of the terminal and took an airport taxi that was nearly one hour long and cost me 33 USD. I knew that the price for tourists should be not more than 25 dollars during the day but it was a middle of the night and I was exhausted.

In different circumstances, I would probably try to bargain because it was clear that the amount that the airport pimp of taxi drivers asked for the ride was half more than usual but as my energy level dropped, my “whatever” rose.

I threw my backpack into the trunk, climbed on the back seat, and closed my eyes.

“Quitumbe?” He asked.

“Yes. Would you like to see the address of the hotel?” I asked back. He gave me a puzzled look that could mean that he didn’t understand. I found the address on my phone and passed it to him. “El hotel… sabes?”

“Sí.” The engine has been started as he confirmed, and slowly we moved toward the destination.

The taxi driver was very helpful. He looked at me from time to time. I could spot compassion in this look.

I had to look like dead. He moved a front passenger seat forward to the maximum to give me more comfort. Once a while, probably when he was giving me this look full of compassion, he asked me how am I doing, or if I want anything. He asked in Spanish. My only answer was “Esta bien, gracias.” I didn’t care much about my comfort during the ride. Just wanted to lay down in a bed.

When we finally arrived at the hotel, I paid 35 USD (I know… I said that the price for the ride was already more than enough, but I came from the desert where I learned the importance of tipping. Those 2 dollars wasn’t even a tip; I just rounded what I owed him. I also was drained, what I mentioned before too many times already, to wait for a change) to the taxi driver.

Btw it feels a little bit bizarre that Ecuadorian use US Dollars as official currency. It’s easier, however, for a traveler.

The next day, when I woke up before sunrise, Quito was cold, rainy and grayish planting in my mind a feeling of melancholy.

Regardless of the weather, I left my hotel ready to explore the neighborhood.

I wandered around, lonely, having no one to talk to as my Spanish wasn’t sufficient to have even a basic conversation. On the other hand, the local people I met weren’t keen to at least try to speak English with me.

Very early morning on the 22nd of April I left my hotel. It was 5:20. The receptionist who tried her best before to check me in waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. She must have heard me when I left my room.

She looked sleepy or stressed – I couldn’t decide. I passed her the remote control with a room number on it and the room key with the same number. She didn’t take them, so I put it on the counter and slide through a small hole in plexiglass.

“I’m checking out”, I said with a smile. “Do you need anything more from me?” I asked and then saw her puzzled face so added: “like signing anything?” and supported myself with a hand gesture pretending to write.

“No. But maybe you need something? Taxi?” she asked.

“Oh, no. Thanks. Gracias. I’ll walk. I’m going to the bus terminal. It’s 20 minutes tops.”

Her face turned to concerned now, so I thought that it’s a good idea to ask her if it’s okay to walk in the dark. She said that it’s safe, but her face looked like she didn’t believe in it. I left relieved, deciding to listen to her verbal declaration, and made my way to the terminal.

To access the terminal one has to pay a fee that’s 0,25 USD. I observed people and copied them. As I came closer, I prepared a coin, held in my hand trying to figure out where to put it until the security guard prompted me pointing on the right hole. Easy.

In the materials sent to me by an administrator of amaZOOnico, I read that ticket counters are located on the first floor, and also I knew the names of the companies operating on the route to Tena. Another easy stuff. Even more comfortable because as I was walking up the ramp, I heard a lady shouting “Tena, Tena.” The lady sold me a ticket and briefly explained to me where I could find the bus. It was in Spanish but I understand, plus all the information I needed were printed on the ticket.

A few minutes later I boarded Flota Pelileo’s bus to Tena, made myself comfortable and started the third leg of my journey.

The bus no 55 from Quito departed delayed (why on this trip I was so unlucky with transport?), but fortunately only a dozen minutes. 6:30 I was on the way.

The bus was surpassingly comfortable and empty what brought even more comfort. Only one discomforting thing was coldness that after a few hours disappeared when more people got on the bus and the temperature outside increased.

To make 114 km from the capital of Ecuador to Tena took the bus driver a little bit more than 6 hours. In this case, time may vary even one hour as it depends on traffic which in turn depends on the weather conditions, time and the day of the week.

The bus stopped from time to time to let passengers in and out. After a couple of hours, when we left the urbanized area, the view was impressive.

Stunning nature kept me peeking outside till the end of the trip.

Because I left Quito early enough, I had about two hours in Tena before departure of another bus. Several minutes after 2 pm I made my way to Parada de Buses ”Centinela de Tena” – a terminal from where I supposed to catch the bus to Puerta Barantilla, bought a ticket to mentioned stop that costs 2,40 and waited outside for the bus to arrive.

A few minutes before the scheduled departure a blue city bus pulled in. I grabbed my backpack and walked towards the vehicle.

Three persons stopped in front of me. I faced the bus; they met me.

”Are you Anna?” one of them said.

”Yea…” I knew right away that they are the volunteers. They looked nothing like locals and spoke English. My excitement had to be visible, but on the other hand, I didn’t try to hide it. ”How are you? I’m so happy that I met you here!”

We introduced ourselves, greeted and boarded the bus.

I took my seat that, what was written on the ticket, was number 21. Once a while I checked if I still can see my new colleagues, who got seats at the front.

The bus was crowded, people spoke loudly. I tried to fish words from conversations which I might know or guess the meaning of, and get a clue what people are talking about, but it was harder than I expected.

A man sitting next to me said something to me, I smiled, what apparently made him feel encouraged, so he started talking.

“Lo siento, no hablo español” I said feeling really sorry because it would be nice to finally have a conversation about whatever. He said something in response didn’t take his eyes off me.

“Mmm, but you can keep talking if you like. There’s a chance I understand” I laughed. He laughed too.

The man stood up to let a woman with an infant sit down. She squeezed through the crowded aisle to the seat and sat slowly, with visible relief. Legs of the infant ended up on my knees. I chuckled. She chuckled and slid closer to me making some room for a toddler traveling with her.

People were taking off gradually. When the bus stopped again, I saw that my colleagues stood up and proceeded to the exit, so I rushed out too. We had arrived at Puerto Barantilla.

A small path led to Rio Arajuno. I followed my colleagues there feeling really grateful for meeting them in Tena. The bus stop wasn’t marked so there’s a chance that I could miss it.

After a dozen minutes of waiting, a canoe moored to a little river shore. We have been invited on board, and after 10 minutes we reached amaZOOnico.

To be continued


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