Seattle to Guayaquil

img_6530Mo's daughter picked us up at 3:45 am to take us to the airport. We didn't get snow like was predicted and half the city was still out of power from the storm but the airport was still operating so off we went. We arrived at the airport and stood in line like everyone else. Some from Continental told came along and told us that if we didn't have any bags to check we could use a kiosk and get our boarding passes ourselves. This turned out to be a good thing because the self-check kiosk had no line at all. We were a little apprehensive about the security check because of the heightened security status in airports. We could not carry any liquids in bottles larger than 3 oz. Each passenger could have one and only one zip lock bag of quart size with 3 oz bottles in it. We worked extra hard finding bottles of sun tan lotion, bug lotion, shampoo, saline solution etc in bottles under 3 oz. The whole thing is ridiculous because I'd bet that if I had a quart bag full of 3 oz bottles of nitro glycerin I could blow a hole in the side of just about any plane. But hey, I felt safer knowing that terrorists are too dumb to think of this. It's nice to see the extra amount tacked onto passport fees going to good use. After all this work in getting the bottles Natalya's bag gets flagged and they take us into a small area divided off and asked me if there was any bottles in our bags. I of course said no very confidentially because I KNEW there were none.

Three seconds later he pulls out not one but three bottles full of liquid over 3 oz. It seems one of us (not mentioning names Natalya) decided to add stuff to the bag after they'd already been packed. They asked us if we wanted to check the bag with the liquids or throw them out and I said throw them. There goes $50 of Proactiv. We flew from Seattle to Houston with nary a bump from the clouds. It was one of the smoothest rides I'd had. When I book plane tickets I try to get layovers of about 2 to 3 hours but because we didn't get our tickets until last minute I didn't have a lot of choice and ended up with a 6 hour layover. Hmm, 6 hours in Houston, Texas. Boy that's a happening place. We ate as slow as we could, walked all over the E terminal and came to the conclusion that Continental had their own airport because we never saw anyone from any other airline. While I was waiting in line for Chinese food I asked a gentleman about this observation and he said that this terminal building was only Continental but the others served other airlines. It hadn't occurred to us that there were more terminal buildings. Let's just ignore the fact that we were in the E terminal and E isn't the first letter of the English alphabet because if we don't it would make us look pretty dumb. Armed with our newfound wisdom we searched out a way to get to the other terminals in the form of an elevated train. We love trains and have spent many hours in Dallas riding it's sky train around in circles in an attempt to kill time so we were more than anxious to hop aboard this one. It only goes in a straight line but was air conditioned and barely had anyone riding it. We went to the other terminals and walked their halls as if we were expecting to see something different from what we'd already seen. We saw a few more restaurants, more terminals, more airlines and older moldier smelling hallways. Since the train was the highlight so far we returned to it and rode it's length several more times until we decided to camp out near our gate. A year ago when I went to Mexico from Dallas I commented on the fact that our journey into the foreign country starts in the airport because the people flying the line to the foreign country was filled with people from the foreign country. This was no different as the waiting area for the plane to Guayaquil, Ecuador filled with little brown Spanish speaking people, presumably Ecuadorians. The plane Continental decided to use was a single aisle Boeing 737 which seemed quite odd as 737s are generally short haul planes. The smooth journey from Seattle to Houston would not be repeated again and we had quite a bit of turbulance over central America. I just shoved my in-ear earplugs deeper and the volume of my travel pod cast higher. An hour of the “You live where?” pod cast guy asking questions and very gratuitously providing all the accepted answers to the host got a little irritating so I turned it off and slept a bit. I awoke to a plane descending which is a strange feeling anyway. The landing was ok and we talked a bit with a petite and attractive Ecuadorian girl that sat one row ahead of us. She lived in the states but was born in Ecuador and was bringing her almost 4 year old daughter to Ecuador to see family. The little girl spoke Spanish and English almost equally. It was interesting to hear them use English and Spanish together. Sometimes a paragraph would be 2 Spanish sentences and two English ones mixed all together. I'd like to get fluent enough with a foreign language to do that. The Guayaquil airport isn't that big but probably larger than I expected. Immigration went fairly smooth and it was huge relief to get through because there was question whether they'd let us in without a notarized letter from my ex-wife saying we could go to Ecuador even though I have full custody. I brought custody papers and my notarized letter for Mexico just in case. Nobody asked so I didn't offer them. Nobody in the Immigration area spoke English which surprised me because even in countries that don't speak English the Immigration people do. There aren't a lot of signs telling you what to do so we follow everyone else into a huge line where they are obviously running luggage through a scanner for a second time. There was a lady in line that looked more white than not and she started asking us questions in English. Apparently she came from Oregon and lived in Ecuador for 16 years. She commented that we looked very American and we should be careful in Guayaquil which of course we know on both accounts. I don't spend too much time trying to fit in because there's not much chance I'm going to pass myself off as a 5 foot tall brown skinned, Spanish speaking native anytime soon. As soon as we pass though immigration a man approached us asking if we wanted a taxi. He spoke in English and I asked the relevant information about whether he was official, what company he worked for, how much etc... It turned out he was just the guy who led the people to the taxis and the driver actually took you to your destination. When we exited the terminal building we saw a line of bright yellow official taxis which made me feel better because I've been wanned about the crime and the corrupt taxi drivers. The fair was $5 which was grossly inflated for the gringos but I didn't argue because $5 is squat in the big picture. I didn't know if we even had a hotel because Hotel Alexander had not responded to my email when I asked them if we could shoe up at 2am. We arrived to a hotel with metal garage doors over the windows and door and an armed security guard outside. The taxi driver yammered to him and he opened the door and woke up the receptionist. She had a room with air conditioning and we promptly crashed.