Friday, May 15, 2009

Driving to Shell

Tuesday May 12, 2009

Lots of travel and interesting things today.

We all got up early and I was out of the house and at the office with Bruce by 7:30. It’s another travel day and we are off to Shell, Ecuador today. I took some seats out of the van and loaded it with the items needed for the hospital in Shell.

Bruce and I stopped by our apartment just after 8:00 am and loaded all of our personal items in the van. Sunshine had completed the move out the apartment as we are permanently moving and will only return to Quito for one night and will stay at the guest house just before catching the plane.

The drive to Shell was long and very, very pretty. It took nearly 5 hours of stop and go traffic, so many speed bumps I cannot count and multiple stops along the way. After the village of Ambato the road was incredible. Lava flows near one of the volcanoes, dense jungle and water falls. After the mountain pass at about 12,000 feet the land drops off 9,000 feet in about 100 km. The road is very curvy, has 6 tunnels blasted through the rock, deep gorges and has incredible scenery. The kids got a bit car sick and Sunshine was not that fond of the road being so close to the edge of the unprotected cliff but it was beautiful.

We arrived in Shell about 1:00 pm and had lunch at a small local street restaurant. The food was good and it was $1.50 per plate. Even the kids are now eating the chicken and rice (main staple here). We then moved into the guest house on one of the HCJB complexes. This “house” is set up more like a dormitory but still very homey. There is a group of men from Tennessee on the first floor and we have the second floor to ourselves. We have 2 of the 4 bedrooms and a common living area. The large kitchen and dining room are located up here as well with 5 individual showers and toilets.

After unloading we returned to the “town” for groceries and filter parts. The town is small and much more homey than Quito. Eric was thrilled to find decent chocolate. Ecuadorians are not big sweet eaters. The kids were thrilled to see grass and to be able to cross the street without us holding their hands and running like mad. In Quito, as the saying goes, there are 2 types of pedestrians – quick or dead. Here the only things you have to watch out for are the busses. Every corner is a bus stop – not 50 feet from the corner but right on the corner so the busses stop half way in the intersection if they are turning to pick up people.

We spoke with Alex (a civil engineer from England) and her husband (a civil engineer from Ecuador) about the projects, how Shell began, etc. for an hour and then toured the hospital and surrounding compounds. The hospital is about 30 beds and very modern for where we are. The organization is obviously very well run and has a vision for the people and the area. We went into the next city, Puyo (means fog in Spanish) with Alex and Alfredo and Bruce for Italian pizza (different from Ecuadorian pizza I’m told). The owner is Italian and his wife is Ecuadorian. The food was excellent however the kids were almost asleep by the time the food came. It took an hour after ordering to receive it.

Kids are now showered and in bed. Everything takes a little longer here as the water is not drinkable and the showers are like camping – except much cleaner!

Adios for now!

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