Thursday, January 24, 2013

Casa del Grillos

This month has been a fun month for us.  We've done a bit of traveling around.  Last week, we left Cuenca for the coast.  Janet and David were with us.  Our first night was in Guayaquil at the Marriott.  Of course we dined at Noe at La Boca in Samborondon.  I love the fountain there.

The next day, we drove to Olon, where we had rented a house for three days.  We stopped in Montanita for lunch.  Here's Mick and Nikolas at the restaurant.
In the garden was this little guy.  You can't see it very well, but he has a red tail.
Janet, David, Mick, and Nikolas
It's amazing how how good you can make things look in pictures.  This is the house in Olon, rented on Vacation Houses for Rent by Owner.  Here are some pictures from the downstairs. 

Janet taking pictures on the beach.

Mick and David on the veranda
The pool
Gina, the housekeeper

The house was in a beautiful setting.  The views were phenomenal, but.....     Firstly, there were crickets, and I mean CRICKETS!!!!  The crickets (grillos) were everywhere.  Much time was spent sweeping them out.  They were everywhere, on the furniture, in the cabinets, in the showers, EVERYWHERE!

Additionally, there were water problems.  In the master suite, which was the only one with a king bed, there was NO hot water.  The first night, Mick and I took cold showers; in the morning, we used Janet and David's shower, which was adequate.  That night, we tried one of the showers downstairs, well, there was hot water, but no drainage.  By the time you finished your shower, you were standing in 3 inches of dirty water.  The towels that were provided should have been trashed several years ago.  The house had been poorly maintained. 
Our second night there, I had forgotten water, so I went to the kitchen to retrieve a bottle.  I flipped on the light and there was the ugliest, most evil looking lizard I've ever seen.  There were no weapons available, only the dustpan on a stick which was too flexible to do any damage.  The creature ran into a cabinet.  I opened the cabinet to find him, out ran two roaches.  (I despise roaches, they're riminiscent of undergrad days at Coker.)  I raked the lizard out and he ran under the buffet, never to be seen again.  I've searched images for this guy and I believe him to have been a basilisk, Jesus Christ lizard. 

Here are some pictures of the dilapidated plumbing fixtures in the master bath.

We had paid for 3 nights and could only handle 2 at the house, we moved on to Manta, which is a lovely drive.  The house was far to expensive for what you received.  There was a minimum of 3 nights at $325 per night.  I know that you can't expect home, but, you can expect clean, bug free, and nice accommodations for that price.  For a week, the cricket house is over $2000.

We had reservations for the next night at HoJo; however, that was the next night.  HoJo suggested another nearby place, Hotel Nazo.  It was new and clean, with a GREAT shower.  After checking in, Mick and I went to the American Sports Bar for coffee.  The view is great.
Having lunch at a little restaurant.
A large snail with house
Dinner in Manta was at Muya, it was a lovely restaurant with OK food.
Because we'd heard so much about Crucita, we decided to drive there the next morning.  Talk about a sleepy little fishing village, that's Crucita.  The roads are unpaved.

The sheds are where the fish are prepared.

The catch these days is sardines, lots of them.

The fish are fair game for the frigate birds.

On our return trip to Guayaquil, this was an unlikely sight on the interior road, a guard rail.
Nice planters in the median of a little puebla.
The gateway to Manabi
A tile picture of Eloy Alfaro.  I've been told by a number of Cuencanas that he is the greatest president to every serve Ecuador.
We also encountered a cattle drive.

It was a good week.  The weather was warm, yet no sunshine, lots of clouds.  Although Mick and I had been to the coast a number of times, it was the first for the Meinkes, who loved it.  It's a nice place to visit, if you have adequate accommodations; but, there's no place like home.

Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Monday, January 14, 2013

Banos and Beyond

After leaving Riobamba, we went to Guano.  There's lots of cacti.
The center of town.
The church
Continuing, we encountered a very small town, whose park was filled with topiaries.
Mick, Larry, and Nikolas
In Banos, we stayed at the  Samari Resort and Spa .  We've stayed there before and found it to be really great.  The price is negotiable.  This is outside reception.
Mick and Nikolas
The grounds
The restaurant is quite good.  A steak that is cooked on lava rock is offered.
A tranquil area amidst bamboo
There are several peacocks that live on the grounds.
 Views on the road to Puyo.
This was a sheer drop off, guard rail.
Do you think it may be a copy?
This was at a gas station in Puyo.  Apparently different things are stolen there.
The lamp posts are painted like bamboo.
In a previous post, I mentioned bowls at Abraspungo.  We attempted to  find similar bowls. Repeatedly, we asked.  Finally we were directed to an artisan that had a type of bowl, but not what we wanted.  They were supposedly a type of ceramic, but the weight was more that of paper mache.  I called the hotel and spoke with someone else who then told me that someone from Puyo had come to the hotel selling them.  Oh well, we came home "bowless".
We had no idea that the Mickster had ice cream shops here.
Across from Mickos, some guys were hard at work.
The entrance to Shell, the town that was the center of Shell Oil.
The peacocks again.
A trip to the region of Riobamba-Banos is a good area to visit.  There are many "touristy" things to see.  Our plan was to take the nightly chiva trip to view Tungurahua; however, weather did not permit.  There's always next time.  The places we stayed, we also recommend.
Until next time,
Mick and Kathy