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Cloud forest of Puerto Quito

December 11, 2010

This is actually the story of our trip to Puerto Quito, Oct. 30 – Nov. 3.

We had originally read of fishing possibilities in Puerto Quito when we were researching Mindo.  Puerto Quito is in the lower coastal region of Ecuador between Quito and the beach.  It was originally planned to be the port for Quito, which never did happen, so it is still a pretty sleepy town.  Colin had a five-day weekend from school because of All Soul’s Day (Nov. 1), Dia de los Difuntos (Nov. 2) and Cuenca Day (Nov. 3), so we decided to go there and see if we could find some fish.  Several things delayed our vacation, but we finally made it there and enjoyed some swimming, fishing, and just being away from most everything.

One of the big frustrations we have living in Ecuador is trying to get information, from the name of streets (usually no street signs, and sometimes people don’t even know the name of their own street) to information about places we want to visit.  Puerto Quito is listed only briefly in our Lonely Planet Guide as a stop between Mindo and the Coast, but no accommodations are listed.  We could only find a couple places searching on the web, one of which was no longer in business, one of which did not respond at all to our emails or calls, and one other that just seemed way too expensive for us.  So what do you do when you can find a place a place to stay ahead of time?  You go on an adventure.

Buying tickets to leave Quito for the weekend

We stayed a night in Quito so that we could start off early for Puerto Quito in hopes of arriving early enough to find a place to stay, figure a few things out, and still have the afternoon for fun.  We arrived at the bus terminal a little later than we thought (after an hour on the city bus), but even at 10 am, it was a lot like the Chicago airport with weather delays on a holiday weekend.  Of course it was a holiday weekend, and more people travel on buses than any other mode of transportation in Ecuador.  Lines of people stretched in front of ticket windows, some snaking back and forth because there wasn’t enough room for the “cola” (line or tail) to fit between the ticket window and the other end of the parking lot.  And it was sunny, so some of us huddled in the little bit of shade available, while others in our parties took their turn in line.  We waited in line for over two hours to get tickets on the 1 pm bus to Puerto Quito. The only good thing about this is that all those people are not driving their own vehicles with associated emissions and traffic (another post on this later).  Once you actually do get on the bus, there really is no traffic to speak of.  Ticket in hand, we all went to the bathroom one last time, got some lunch, and got on the bus for our 3 ½ hour ride.  (Tip:  Always go to the bathroom before going on a long bus ride in Ecuador.  Most buses do not have bathrooms.  Sometimes there is no pit stop (usually a place where men get off the bus and pee on the side of the road) at all.)

Sometime before 5 pm (not early like we had hoped) we arrived at our destination.  We walked around town looking for an information office, hotels, etc. and for the first time, I think we were the only “extranjeros” (foreigners) in town.  After checking out two hostals that didn’t meet our standards, we ended up at a hotel that was nice enough but still more expensive than we usually pay.  We were all glad to be done for the day.  After a bit of fishing in the river, some swimming in the pool (our first accommodations with a pool) and dinner, we were ready for bed.  The Gran Hotel Puerto Quito turned out to be a good spot to stay.  Though we were still hoping for something a little more jungle-ish and off the main highway.

I loved this tree next to our cabaña

By a stroke of luck the owners at the Gran Hotel led us to our next accommodations.  They offer their guests a free tour of the fruit farm they have outside of town where we tasted many new tropical fruits; new kinds of mandarins, oranges, and something like a cross between a lemon and an orange called a lima.  And there were fresh macadamia nuts, a fruit like a cross between a cashew fruit and a peach called an “arazá”, and then a huge new fruit that tasted something like a great mango.  Amazing!  On the way back to the hotel from this tour, we saw Hosteria Malacatos and stopped to ask about their rooms and prices.  After a few more calls to other places, we decided to head to Malacatos outside of town and away from the main road.  It was a good change, only slightly cheaper, but beautiful grounds, better food, a tilapia pond for fishing for dinner, and the river right across the road, not to mention a beautiful pool.  Colin swam a lot, even though the pool was cool and the weather was overcast and not very warm.  He also was fishing a lot in the tilapia ponds, though mostly catch and release. I was just relaxing!  No internet available in Puerto Quito unless you go to an internet café.  And we were not anywhere near one there.  I knew work with colleagues in the US was fine without me.

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