Thursday, January 12, 2012

Transportation on Ecuador's Pacific Coast Part II

I realized just how many things I skipped in my last post so I'm adding some additional transportation details in this post.

When we arrived in Guayaquil, it was around 5:30 AM but Budget Rental Cars does not open until 7:00 so we ordered some fresh orange juice and patiently waited until the workers arrived at around 7:20.  They found our reservation with no problem and presented the bill to us.  We handed over our American Express card and stood at the counter for about an hour while they tried to get the card authorized.  The guy called everyone and their brother to try to figure out why the phone number he was calling did not work.  I am pretty sure that he was just waiting for us to pull out a Visa or Master Card instead but we were content to wait until our AmEx got authorized.  Finally, the authorization went through and we were able to drive away.  The closed doors behind Scott are the rental car counters at the airport.
Good thing we did have some wait time because while we were waiting, we decided to rent a Garmin GPS unit also.  Originally, we planned to use just the map we purchased in the US.  The Garmin spoke to us in Spanish the entire first day.  On the second day, I figured out how to change it to English.  When driving from Puerto Lopez to Crucita, the Garmin lost GPS signal right before we entered a round about and we took the exit that seemed right.  About 1/2 hour later, I figured out that we were no longer on the coastal road but had cut across the mountains to the inland road.  Good thing they met up later so we did not have to backtrack and we saw some areas that we had not intended to see.  On the way back, we figured out exactly where we had gone wrong and made it back with no problems.  Here were our navigational tools while we drove around:
 During our week there, we figured out a few horn messages that really had us confused on the first few days.  There is quite a bit of honking on the roads but it is not the long horns that you hear in cities like New York.  The honking usually is sending a message to other drivers.  Here is what I think they mean:
3 short beeps - The vehicle in front is saying that it is clear for you to pass them.  This happened when you approached a vehicle driving slower than you and they had a better view of the road ahead.  Seemed most common with the large trucks and buses.
2 short beeps - "Thank you for your courtesy in letting me pass."  This is typically for after you pass someone who either gave you the three beeps or moved over as far right as they could in their lane for you to pass.  (Remember that a lot of people pass in no passing zones and on blind curves so if the person being passed moves over as far as they can, it usually leaves enough room for the oncoming traffic also, assuming they also move to their right.)
1 short beep - As you are approaching a pedestrian, bike, or slow moving vehicle on the road, one short beep lets them know that you are about to drive past them.
Any long honk - Same as in the US (you just cut me off!).

It was also interesting to see quite a few cars and motorcycles driving around Puerto Lopez at night with no headlights.  I mean both with their headlights turned off and ones that physically did not have headlights on the vehicle.  I did not see any of that in Playas so it must be much more common in smaller cities.

There were a lot of people on bicycles but I did not take many pictures of them.  Here is one in the market in Puerto Lopez:
 When driving on the "Ruta Del Sol" (Sun Road), which is like the Pacific Coast Highway in California, there are a ton of speed bumps.  In every community, there is at least one when entering a town and one when exiting.  In town, they seem to randomly appear.  I am sure that there is a good reason for their placement, just like in the US.  Scott had to shift down to first gear for some of them because they were really big.  I only took a picture of one of them and here it is:
Until next time,

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