What a fiasco! On the way to Puerto Lopez, we had to go through Guayaquil, catch a bus to Jipijapa, and then (hopefully) catch another bus to Puerto Lopez. Only we got to Jipijapa at 8pm, and there were no more buses to Puerto Lopez until 5am the next morning… and Jipijapa was slummy, so we had to pay a cabbie to drive us an hour and a half to PL for $25. Yikes! Then we get to PL and the hostal we wanted to stay at was booked up… we didn’t have a chance to call and make reservations… doh. But the owner was nice and he told us of a new place just down the beach that we could probably bargain a decent rate. So we ended up staying at the Oceanic which was more like a resort… I bargained the guy from $40/night to $30, which was still about $10 more than we wanted to pay. Like I said, you can’t depend on anything in Ecuador.
And then to add insult to injury, the bank there didn’t have an ATM and also didn’t accept traveler’s checks or do cash advances from a credit card. Also, I thought I had forgotten to bring my extra cash and checks… didn’t realize they were in a secondary compartment of my backpack until I arrived back in Quito at the end of vacation. “I put it in a such a secret location that I forgot where I put it.”
So we paid $45 each for a day trip out to Isla de la Plata to see the whale migrations, hike around the island to see the native birds there, and snorkel in a small coral area off the coast of the island. It was really amazing… the island is 35km off the coast of Ecuador… we saw about a dozen whales, flapping their flippers, jumping out of the water, and putting on a show… then on the island we saw 4 or 5 different kinds of birds that were nesting (see pictures and video). The snorkeling was also great… I saw at least 15 different species of colorful fish. If I have enough money, I think I’m going to get re-certified as a diver when I get to Costa Rica.
However, after paying for this trip we only had $10 left. We went to eat at a restaurant that took Visa… it was amazing… I had fried fish in a peanut sauce… Jenna had the plain fried fish… and they did us a favor by charging us an extra $10 and giving us change… so we now had $20, but we owed $60 for the lodging at the Oceanic. Ooops.
So I woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning and took a bus to Jipijapa to use the ATM there. Only I put my card in, entered my password, and selected “Fast Withdrawal” and it gave me “OUT OF ORDER”. I watched another person use it and they didn’t get any money either. So I went yet another hour farther north to Manta and found an ATM there… and it gave me the same error. What? But then I saw two other people successfully retrieve cash. So I tried again, and this time I selected only “Withdrawal” instead of “Fast Withdrawal”, and it worked just fine. I’ll never know why those options are different, and whether or not I went an extra 2.5 hours out of my way to find another ATM for nothing.
But I finally got us enough money to pay for everything and still have a good spare amount. Whew! We paid for the lodging, at some amazing shrimp, and got a bus to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador’s so-called “Eco-city”…
Isla: Blue Footed Booby
Isla: Masked Booby
(Videos coming later)