Friday, August 28, 2015

Day Tour to Gualaceo

Back in May we did a four city tour and Gualaceo was one of those cities. But we ran out of time and didn't get to see the orchid farm or shoe stores. That meant we needed to go back!

We organized another bus tour and ended up with almost 40 folks attending. I didn't take as many photos this time around...why? Because I forgot to charge my camera battery. Argh....

We started the day at the weavers where they make their own dye, weave their own cloth and produce the most amazing products! Here are a few pics....oh, we had a couple of special guests on our trip, as you can see in the last photo. Wanda & Brenda brought Avery who thoroughly enjoyed little Rocky who was accompanying his people parents.

From there we traveled to the orchid farm. WOW!!! I could have taken a couple dozen more photos but here are some can see all the photos from our day here.

We also walked over a bridge over the river (Rocky didn't like the noise or the swaying), perused the gardens and saw the local tortoises and macaws. All this was after we learned how the orchids are propagated. Did you know it takes three years for one to bloom? Our final stop was the store where several purchased beautiful orchids to take home.

We then traveled to Chordeleg for lunch, the same spot we went in May and it was just as good. A stroll around town and a few more photos taken....

Our final stop was back to Gualaceo and the shoe shops. Unfortunately, unless you have small feet, it's hard to find shoes to fit. We did some walking and found this interesting church across the street from a nice park.

The highlight of the day was this little female pup - I think she would have jumped on the bus with us if anyone had been willing to adopt her.

Then we came home to these adorable pups next door to our apartment building...

Another successful outing for Cuenca Happy Bus Tours (thank you, Emilio Morocho)!

Ciao for now!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Day Trip to Guayaquil

Passport clip artBecause my passport isn't due to expire until 2019, I wanted to get extra pages added. For those who don't know, after December of this year, that option will no longer be available.

So I made an appointment with the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil to come in to get that done. I printed out the document needed, read all the FAQs and waited for my appointment day.

Our driver and friend, Emilio Morocho, picked us up at at 7:15, allowing plenty of time to make my 11:45am appointment. We actually arrived at 10:30! I checked in with the first security desk, after being directed there by a very nice female security guard.

I had read to bring in as little as possible, not even a cell phone. So my purse had my wallet, some bathroom necessities (hey, it is Ecuador), my passport and other IDs and my paperwork. The only thing that caused a question was my little single use Wet Ones.

But the lady guard told me that she would hold it for me - not that I was worried. LOL! From there I was pointed to another desk with my purse in a plastic bin. The bin was passed through an I walked through a scanner, then was wanded. The bin was now moved to another counter inside where I was able to claim it and was directed to the next stopping point. There the Ecuadorians were in a line but I was sent inside the next building. Here my purse was once again inspected and although I walked through some type of scanner, the beep wasn't an alert. I was directed to a window to get helped.

Yes, here I am an hour early, everyone has been very pleasant and helpful, laughing at my Spanish. No hassles, nothing like I had heard from others. The clerk motioned me up when he was free. He spoke excellent English, he took my papers and passport and handed me a paper to take two windows over to pay my $82. There a nice lady took my money and gave me two receipts (I did have correct change but could have used a credit card).

Back to the first window where I turn in the receipts and am told that my passport will be ready in 25-30 minutes. And it was! I took my newly fatten passport, my task completed an hour early. I had forgotten about my single use Wet Ones but the guard hadn't. She saw me exiting the building and handed it back to me. Talk about service!! Thank you to all the staff there!

From there we headed into downtown Guayaquil for lunch and a little sightseeing. We stopped at Chifa Dinastia for a lunch of Chinese food. Stu had shrimp and broccoli, I had chicken and broccoli and here is what Emilio ordered!

Stuffed, with a container of leftovers, we strolled back towards the parking garage. We made a stop at the Guayaquil Iguana Park - what a treat! They're on the ground, in the trees and plants. Here are a few photos:

Here are some photos of the park as well as our walk along the malecon before we left.

If you would like to see more photos or larger versions of the above, please visit our SmugMug Album.

Ciao for now!
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