The Ride from Hell and an Old Friend! Montañita, Ecuador
Montañita has a slow, hippie, surf charm in the day, that lights up as a fun party town at night. Therefore it attracts a lot of people from South America looking to escape the fast paced city life, for a vacation, but a lot get stuck and stay, not a bad thing! One guy I met was this Peruvian rasta man, named Nicholas. Very soft spoken gentleman from Lima, in his early 20s, a few years older than me the first time I went in 2008-2009.
Enjoying the lovely Montanita, Ecuador
I really liked the little artisan bracelets and anklets that were for sale everywhere, and Nicholas was a guy who made them as well. I came out of the water one afternoon, and asked him if there was a way he could make me one with the yellow, red and green rasta colours. He said "Ya no worries, throw me a couple bucks", and after some more body surfing I came back in and he was already done holding it out to me. I tied it up, gave him a fiver ($5) and said thanks. Later that afternoon,sporting my new anklet, I passed him in the town and he looked real down and upset for a guy usually very jovial. We stopped and I came to learn that he had just been to the internet cafe, and his visa to stay in Ecuador had been rejected. He had to leave the country for good, basically immediately. The guy was devastated. I tried to console him as good as I could but didn't know how the visa situation or anything worked, so I basically just said positive things and left him to his own devices.
Now, this back story was 2009. The final day in Montanita this time around in 2013, we had packed up and walked to the bus station to leave. It was a Sunday and seems like everyone was partied out and ready to get back on the road because all the bus tickets until 5 in the afternoon were purchased.
As we stood around thinking for a solution, a person approached us and said for 10 dollars a person (bus was 8) he would take his car and drive us there. Busses are always full and he comes back and forth so has made a little business doing this. We thought why not, and said we would go grab a quick bite to eat and be ready to leave. Made the 100 meter walk back into town and sat down at what we called, 2.50 chicken place. A breast of rotisserie chicken, patacones, rice, salad and beans, for $2.50 USD! Incredible. Anyways, as I was finishing my meal, I glanced up, and locked on a guy who looked familiar. As he walked past me, I figured it was just a guy I had met during my 10 days this time around in Montanita. As he continued past me it dawned on me that it wasn't just anyone, and I stumbled to find his name and then just yelled “Nicholas!”
He stopped, turned and looked at me and walked over … “Yes?” I said “Remember me?” (apparently I am pretty forgettable) he said “Sorry, no…” I showed him the anklet I still had on my leg … and (apparently they remember my nationality before my name!) and he said … “ Canadian right?” I nodded … he stalled a second … and said with a laugh … “You still have that?!” referring to the anklet! We had a good laugh and I spoke about the last time I saw him, with the visa situation and everything. He had returned back to Peru, sorted everything out and returned to Montanita again and had been there legally for over a year this time around.
What a coincidence that I hadn't seen him the whole 10 days I was in town, yet, missing a bus, something we saw as an inconvenience, turned out in the end to be something great. I got to see someone I had often wondered about, wondered where he was and how thinks had turned out, and show him that I was still wearing his little trinket he made me, almost 5 years on. The whole conversation and everything lasted only 5 minutes or so, shook his hand, said I must be on my way, and we headed back up to say farewell to Montanita and return to Guayaquil, and in end, Baños! (yes a town call bathrooms) We hopped into the gentlemans car and set off watching the coastline pass again, this time leaving Montanita not nearly as happy as arriving but still excited for the next adventure. As we were about 30 minutes down the road from Montanita, we all felt a big jolt and the ride all of a sudden became a lot less smooth and we were riding at an angle. We had a flat. Pulled over to the side of the road, and assessed the damage. The tire had a side wall puncture was beyond repair and had lost air pressure almost instantly. Thank goodness the guy had a spare … barely. He pulled out his spare tire which looked like a bicycle wheel, and a huge lump on the inside wall of the tire. He had all the parts, the jack, the key to loosen the nuts, and the crank, but this Einstein decided to jack up the car and walk to the beach.
Montanita, Ecuador from above
We all looked at each other wondering what he could possibly be doing. He returned with a big, wide, flat rock from the beach … He then refused help and dragged it and place it under the wheel of the car … and let the jack down so the tire and weight of the car was resting on this rock. Still bewildered and confused we slowly started to question what he was doing and Olli said it the best … “They equip you will everything you need … don't you think theyd give you a rock if you needed one?! What is he doing?!” He then reefed on the wrench and nuts, got them loose, and with the pressure of the car on the wheel and the rock, tried to yank off the tire! There's a car resting on that there sunshine, it will not budge! We tried to explain to him that if he jacked it up and put the parking brake on he would easily be able to loosen them, and slide the tire right off. He absolutely refused our intelligent advice, and decided to jack up the car, slide the wheel off, put the other tire on, lower the car back onto the rock, tighten the nuts, raise the car AGAIN and battle the rock out from under the tire, and return it to the beach. Absolutely hilarious and ridiculous to watch this 30 minute battle, and even funnier to see how proud he was after he had finished.
I told him the first place we needed to go was to shop to get a new spare tire, he agreed and we pulled into the first garage in the next town. We knew the normal tire was beyond repair, so the solution was to buy another tire or fix the spare. The mechanic just basically looked at the spare tire and checked the pressure and said its fine. I tried to explain to him the bump was on the inside, between the chasis and the tire, where he couldn't see, and finally after showing him where it was, he still just shrugged and more or less said it was fine. Not much else I could do, and I knew that only by absolutely sheer luck would we arrive in Guayaquil on that tire, but the driver was too cheap to buy another tire so off we went!
Only Taylor is cool enough to sport sunglasses under a sleep mask!
Sure enough, less than 20 minutes on the road, luckily on a quiet strip, the same sensation as before! We were on an angle, bumping along with a racket coming from the left back side of the car. Wasnt really funny this time, we were pretty fed up dealing with this nonsense. We hopped out of the car, as he was looking at the tire, lugged the backpags out of the trunk and threw out our thumbs for a lift to Guayaquil. Quite quickly a combi van stopped a few meters past us, the driver of the car looked up from the tire at us, as in “well I got you a tenth of the way via an absolutely nightmare .. youre not going to pay me in full?!” We just looked away and stepped on the bus and started to laugh at the back of the bus.
Minute later, Olli just said “uh … guys” and pointed out the back window. Around the sweeping bend, the off balance car was swerving its way down the highway after us! Sparks flying from the exploded tire, shaking to keep it in line, the crazy driver was basically driving on a thin piece of rubber, metal and concrete. He only lasted about 40 seconds keeping it on the road after us before he had to pull off to the side of the road and abandon his pursuit. We relaxed in the back of the little van, pleased to be heading towards Guayquil in a decent conditioned vehicle. We stopped in a town called Libertad to jump onto a local bus for the final leg into the city.
Bus from La Libertad to Guayaquil
Bus driver opened the bottom of the bus to throw our big backpacks on. With not much room I tried to move a woven bag of “rice.” Well “rice” shouldnt move, shake, and make weird noises when you move it! This one did. It shook and rolled off a suitcase onto the ground and continued to move, a local person jumped in front of me, obviously belong to him, and threw it back on top where it had come from. Apparently transporting pigs, they just throw them in rice bags … how civil.
Finally settled into the aisle, due to not enough seats, and leaned against my little day pack and tried to catch some Zzz´s as we cruised, hopefully without event, into Ecuadors biggest city.