Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Arriving With a Bang (and a Splat)

Arrived yesterday in Cuenca, our final destination, on the Vomit Comet.

We expected a four-hour trip, but it took just three. What a great thing, I said, but Di gave a steely reply that it depends on how you look at it, or rather, on how you smell. She, being mommy, took one for the team as Duncan emptied out his breakfast on her. That is due in large part to the vast improvement in the roads Ecuador has been undertaking the past few years. It's nearly all wide, concrete freeway from Guayaquil to Cuenca, and what isn't is under construction to get it there. So the only remaining barrier to speed is physics, which, from the inside of the Comet, also seems to be losing the battle to the van drivers. (We did pay for the luxury of a van instead of a bus, given that our luggage is legion and our children are still soft.) It is truly a wonder what a low center of gravity these vans have and just how well that rubber sticks to the road. I'm sure that was passing through Duncan's mind just before, "What a nice, soft place to disgorge."

So yes, it depends on how you look at making such great time. Being one seat ahead and upwind of the "displacement", I was more in awe of the engineering that could turn 80 miles of distance between two cities into 150 miles of roadway. Dimension must be one of the things. Keep in mind we managed to gain a net of 8,500 feet from Guayaquil to Cuenca, and that is after ascending and descending a peak of what I would guess is about 12,000 feet. And of course going from sea level to 12,000 feet in 100 miles over relatively nascent, jagged topography defies straight line engineering. Which I'm sure is just what Di and Duncan were contemplating.

But arrive alive we did, and, in de rigeur Scherr family fashion, we were dropped on a curb with six suitcases, six more "personal items" (airplane term), and one-night's reservation in the town we intend to live in.

While in the States we had quite a lot of difficulty getting timely replies from anyone when inquiring about 30-day rentals, from which we wanted to find our longer-term lodging. But there were quite a few options and we thought we might be better off just having a hotel a night or two and looking personally at the accommodations before committing to a month. What we had not counted on was landing right at the great festival trifecta. Turns out (ha ha), we are just five days ahead of All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and Cuenca Independence Day, a long party for which many Ecuadorians pay a visit to Cuenca (missed that in the guidebook). Add to that the locals' eager adoption of Halloween, despite President Corrrea's protestations that "we will not be taken by such commercialized holidays" (who's this "we" white brown man?). And, turns out, that Ecuadorians are better planners than the Scherrs and have taken up much of the free housing for the week.

So we are just fine for housing in a week and will just drag our luggage train around town till then.

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