After racing around Saturday morning, we got to the airport right on time, got on the plane, relaxed, read some magazines, read the paper...and got to Houston...changed planes...and almost made it to Quito. Because of heavy rains and poor visibility, our plane was diverted to Guayaquil, which is the largest city in Ecuador, down in the lowlands on the coast. Instead of arriving in Quito at 10:30 pm or so, we landed in Guayaquil and then sat on the runway for quite a while. Finally they told us to get off of the plane and told us, "don't worry, your bags will be fine. They'll stay on the plane. Please be sure to take all of your belongings off of the plane..." and no other instructions.
Once we were in the 'in transit terminal' we discovered that there wasn't any information there, either. After milling around a little bit and eating some dinner in the 24 hour cafe (see Susan eating her 'sandwiche de jamon y queso, sin jamon' which is a ham and cheese sandwich, without the ham), we find out that there is no onward flight to Quito and the plane will continue on in the morning. This is learned via an announcement over a loudspeaker...and there's no one to ask about what we should do or where we should go. We can't leave the terminal to even go outside, so most people start hunkering down on the benches. By the way, it wasn't just our plane of a couple of hundred people, it was at least one other plane, too. After a couple of hours (at around 2:30 am) we hear that buses will take us to a hotel.
In order to get out, though, we have to go through immigration...so several hundred people all marched out of the terminal at one time and we waited in line to get out. We were at first a bit puzzled at the picture that was up on the wall, welcoming people to Ecuador. It was a picture of a fruit we didn't recognize, bananas, and roses. Ok, so we were tired and didn't initially recognize that the bananas and roses at least are two of Ecuador's major exports. If you buy those little roses on the street in the States, chances are they're from Ecuador.
After about another hour or two we finally get to a hotel in downtown Guayaquil and get to sleep for about three hours before we have to go back to the airport. But at least we got hot showers! While lots of people were irritated and grumpy, we made some acquaintences with other people from the plane and had a pretty good time overall. On the way out this morning, we got to go past the waterfront area in Guayaquil and are excited about coming back. The weather there was warm and humid, and it was wonderful to sleep with the window open and have the warm breeze blowing in all night.
Because we arrived so late at night, the 'phone store' was closed and there wasn't any way to contact Chris and Sharon...so all we could do was get back on the plane the next morning and continue on to Quito. This was actually just fine, from a sightseeing sort of way, since we got to look out the window during the morning (instead of at night) and see the gorgeous mountains and volcanos.
Sharon and Chris were waiting for us at the airport, having heard about the delays when they were at the airport the night before. We all took a taxi back to their beautiful apartment, which is on the top floor of a building, with views across the valley to the mountains.
So! We're here, all safe and sound. Everything is fine...it's gorgeous here, the weather is fantastic, in the high 60's maybe with dramatic clouds and green, green hills. We've had a little bit to eat and we're taking it easy, giving ourselves a chance to acclimate to the high altitude, although we feel just fine. Well, just fine and a little sleepy. Tomorrow we'll go exploring.