After spending the night in a hotel – for the soul reason of taking a real shower and getting my clothes washed – I departed for Estero de Platano.
Let me tell you, traveling by bus in Ecuador has ruined me for all other forms of public transportation.
On my first bus, I was given a front row window seat with my very own foot cushion. Best part? It cost me all of $5.50 and I was able to walk right up and board without having to go through hours of security or waiting or all of that other nonsense that usually accompanies public transportation.
My second bus wasn’t quite as comfortable (nor did it arrive on time). Instead, I ended up having to get a refund for my ticket and purchasing a third ticket (which was $4 because the lady charged me the ‘foreigner price’) of the day and waiting almost three hours for a bus from Esmereldas to Estero de Platano – but still better than flying if I’m being honest.
I finally arrived in Estero de Platano just before dark only to discover I had no cell reception and no one in town had wifi.
Deciding to worry about it in the morning, I ate dinner with my new family and went straight to sleep.
The lack of reception and wifi didn’t bother me. I’d prepared to not have wifi during the duration of my trip and was pleasantly surprised when Cristina’s home had wifi. But I was unprepared for the inconvenience of not having cell reception at all, meaning I couldn’t even use my data plan to send messages home or check my email.
Leading me to an impromptu to trip to a ‘nearby’ small city, Atakambes, on the first Saturday with Sonia and Katryna.
This was also a long process because we missed the bus and had to wait for a random pickup truck to drive by and take us part of the way there.
Let me tell you, speeding down a road full of potholes perched precariously on an unsteady bench in the back of a truck, clinging on to the side for dear life, was an adventure in and of itself.
In Atakambes, I found an Internet Café and finally checked in. I was unable to access anything except Facebook (because Gmail’s security measures are ridiculous) to contact my family, and was left to use my phone data to conduct other business aka email and Instagram.
The subsequent days in Estero de Plantano passed relatively quickly.
There’s nothing to stress about in Estero, including what’s going on in the rest of the world.
While there is a TV, and we did watch the news every morning, afternoon, and night, I wasn’t spending hours on my phone receiving breaking news updates about the current state of America.
Nor was a constantly checking emails for news about internships, jobs, funding opportunities, grants, etc.
I was able to simply be in Estero.
Meaning, I was able to visit with a community group, a parents group at the school, wash clothing with the women in the river, play with the little girls in the ocean, tromp off to the fields with the farmers, and wake up at five a.m. to join the fishermen on the black early morning waves as they hauled in their catch.
I also spent a lot of time in various hammocks being fed various wild fruits. Or walking barefoot on the beach in the sand, taking a zillion and one photos of the gorgeous landscape of my basically private beach.
It was amazing.
It gave me a lot of time to think, read, and relax – three things that I either 1) do too much of, 2) don’t do enough of, or 3) never do – in Estero.
I’m not sure I’d have been able to literally turn off and walk away from the rest of the world and concentrate solely on myself and the place I was at so completely if I hadn’t been literally forced to do so, but it was a nice break regardless and something I’d recommend others try out.
Spending two weeks on the beach without your phone isn’t a bad way to spend the summer during grad school.
Sunburns, bug bites, blisters and all.
Up next: my trip to the Galapagos Islands!!
My name is Hunter and this the blog of my worldwide adventures. The purpose of this blog is to show that you can be a traveler, not just a tourist.