Jan. 11: Van Ride to Cuenca

OperAzuay Tur Office in GuyaquilOur Van DriverA taxi took us from the Funky Monkey Hostel to the offices of OperAzuay Tur. We paid $12 each for a ride on the 9:00 AM van to Cuenca. TheĀ  driver loaded our two big suitcases, Nan’s roller bag and backpack, my computer case, and the computer monitor. Before long we got underway.

Guayaquil airport Vendors on the streets of Guayaquil Herd of cows near the outskirts of Guayaquil

We drove past Guayaquil airport and the many vendors who had set up shop along the streets of Guayaquil. When we reached the outskirts of the city we started to see farms such as this small livestock operation.

One of several toll booths along the highway Houses up on stilts Irrigated sugar cane

Before long we came to the first of about three toll booths we encountered along the highway to Cuenca. One area must be subject to flooding because all the houses are built up on stilts. This farmer was growing bananas. Further down the highway we saw field of sugar cane that were irrigated using central pivot irrigation systems.

Rice fields Fruit vendor relaxing Cloud forest at higher elevations

In some area where the land was flat farmers planted fields of rice. These must have been fairly large scale operations because I saw a large mechanical combine for harvesting the rice crop. Many farmers set up stands along the highway to market their produce. Here the vendor is lying in wait for the next customer. Before long we had crossed the coastal plain and started climbing the Andes mountains. As we got to higher elevations we drove through areas of cloud forest. The clouds reduced the visibility of the road but our intrepid driver didn’t slow down because of minor inconveniences like zero visibility – he had a schedule to keep. It is 243 km from Guayaquil to Cuenca. The driver covered the distance in just under 3 hours for an average speed of 81 km/hr. Most of the speed signs I saw indicated a posted speed limit of 60 km/hr.

National park near Cuenca Taxi at the Cuenca office of OperAzuay Tur.

We drove through a National Park as we finished the final kilometers into Cuenca. At the Cuenca office of OperAzuay Tur the dispatcher called our landlady to check the address of our apartment. They piled our luggage into a tiny taxi. Our two big checked bags more than filled the hatchback area (the back door would not close). The rest of our luggage was crammed into the front seat beside the driver and we were off to meet our landlady and see our home for the next two months.