Hola! What can I say? The adventure has begun and it is wonderful. We have so much to share, we plan to break it up into sections, so we are not overwhelmed and you will not be either. Bill has taken lots of photos that we are planning on posting , for you to see.
We arrived on Friday afternoon about 2:30 p.m. Our time here is eastern time, so I am the same time as my mother who is in Knoxville, TN. She is thrilled, I am not sure why, I think she thinks that makes me closer, but it is a mental illusion. Our three days on the road to get here was a mini adventure unto itself, lots of interesting observations comparing the American service with the S American services in the hotels and restaurants.
Our first day on the road was from Tucson to Miami, with a plane change in Dallas. We did not have a lot of time between the flights, but due to divine intervention and my cane we were swooped up and placed on a disabled/crip mobile and were whisked off down a concourse, for about 20 miles, or so it seemed to the next plane that was to take us to Miami. Those of you who have seen me walk lately, know I do not need the cane, but when it came time to pack it, the answer became carry it on. So it turned out to be very fortuitous.
When we arrived in Miami we took a cab, a large cab, we had 10 pieces of luggage, 2 of which were cat kennels, housing Clive and Reginald. The services of the cabbies and the hotel were less than stellar, since as you know service in America has vanished with the "Howdy Dowdy Show". I will compare this when we reach S. America, service is alive and well in S. America. The small Art Deco Hotel located in Southbeach did not have any bellmen or anyone even willing to hold the door. No one spoke English, but no one spoke Spanish, it was a mix of French, Portugese and Italians staying their. I love these off beat out of the way places. But, I was determined to see the Art Deco architecture in the Southbeach area, and I did!
In south beach we explored a wonderful pedestrian mall and kept our eyes out for Nathan Lane and Robin Williams, we did not bump into them, but did see several of their neighbors. In addition we saw wonderful art deco architecture, which is one of my favorite American architecture periods. Our plane to Guayaquil, Ecuador was to leave at 6 p.m. So we got ourselves to the airport and established in the waiting area for our plane, to discover a wonderful gathering of lots of interesting people, all going to Guayaquil. Of course, we all started talking, very much a party atmosphere. We have bonded with some other expats who do not live here yet, but have a house in Olon, on the Pacific Coast. Also met an Ecuadorian, MD woman who lives in the states and was coming home for her mother's 91st birthday, finally a lovely young french woman who lives in Cuenca and works for the International Red Cross, so you can see the adventure has already been rich and rewarding. However, the plane was delayed, then we were boarded, again, we got to go on first due to EL CANE! I will never go anywhere again without it. As we taxied out to take off, suddenly the plane stopped and the Captain came on to tell us we had a leaky toilet on board and we were going to turn around so maintenance could look at it. At this point Bill read a review of the hotel we had booked to stay in Guayaquil. It was a rather scary review about how they had stolen a guests credit card numbers and racked up $6,000 worth of airline tickets. So we decided we had to move to plan B. OH! the wonderful world of electrics. By this time we could no longer access the net. So we called our friend Lorna in the states, who is very worldly and has traveled lots. She got on the phone for us and created all kinds of alternatives and booked a new hotel. So when we arrived at customs, again we got escorted to the shorter line for the elderly and pregnant mommas. Cleared customs without opening a thing, with cats and all. When we exited the terminal there was the Howard Johnson Hotel man with our name on a sign. I have always wanted to be met at an airport like that. Thanks to Lorna we had a restful first night in Ecuador. This has already been too long. But, I must add that the service in S. America was immediately noticeable for its excellence as compared to North America. The bell staff were wonderful, the dining staff was very welcoming and we have found the Ecuadorian people to be very gracious and accommodating. More on all of this later in the next few days: we will be adding other blogs that will include our ride over from Guayaquil to Cuenca, meeting some lovely new neighbors and some shopping trips for fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Ciao for now, Dean and Bill