We touched down in Ecuador and the entire plane erupted in applause. I was a flight attendant for JetBlue, and I can attest to the fact that I've heard applause on planes when landing safety before, but usually it's a few sporadic clappers, or, I think one time almost the whole plane joined in, but it was well-deserved as the landing was so smooth people literally weren't sure if we had touched the ground or not. So this was quite interesting to me that it seemed to just be what they do.
Going through immigration and customs was a fun endeavor, as always. Queue after queue. Waiting. Tired feet. Crying babies. Lots of words spoken around us that we couldn't understand. Close quarters. The second thing I noticed: Ecuadorians don't have the same need for that little three foot by three foot box of personal space that we Americans tend to be accustomed to. We experienced it again today at a convenience store in Guayaquil when people seemed to be standing in line literally right behind you, as close to touching as possible without actually doing so.
After we cleared customs we started to walk towards the exit. There's the outdoor wall of the airport to our right and a see-through, waist-high barrier wall on our left. Standing behind the barrier wall? I would say about a hundred people, all ages, some with balloons, some taking pictures, all very excited, waiting for their family and friends to come through. It was insane! It was probably 1:30 in the morning and there were tons of people! I felt like I was walking through a paparazzi gauntlet, except I knew no one was actually waiting to take my picture!
We were quickly assisted by a man at the exit who got us a taxi to where we needed. We were dropped off outside our hotel. Our taxi driver pointed us towards a sign with the hotel name, so we walked towards it. There were construction workers on the corner, and another man said something to us in Spanish and came behind us to pull open up a big metal door that hid the entrance to our hotel. He yelled something up above our heads and we heard a woman's voice and watched as keys were dropped down to the man. He opened the door and let us up the stairs where the woman found us and took us to our room. And that was it. I'm not sure who that guy was, but I'm glad he was there!
We entered our room. Nothing fancy. Not at all. But for $20 what can you really expect? It's a bed and a bathroom; it does the trick. Plus, the air conditioning felt amazing after carrying our now 38 pound packs (our jeans and hiking boots added some weight) through the street and up the stairs. We quickly got ourselves ready for bed so we could be rested to explore the city on Friday.
Buenas noches, Guayaquil.
|Our hotel: Hotel Eloy Alfaro|