Yesterday, May 17, we left the Amazon and headed to the airport four hours away to catch a flight to the west coast of Ecuador. These last few days at the coast were meant to be a nice way to relax after all the intensity that the Amazon had to offer, it was supposed to be a cool-down of sorts. It has not been.
The roads we take from the lodge we were staying at to Quito where we were flying out of twist and turn quite a bit through the mountains. The nature of these roads are mostly what causes the drive to be so long. While the time is definitely an annoying factor, one I never would’ve thought of is the vulnerability to mudslides in these treacherous conditions. While en route to the airport, we were stopped in our tracks by a giant mudslide. I’m not sure how many cars lined up on either side of the road by the time we got driving again, but when we got out to look at the situation I’d estimate there were at least 60 on our side of the road. We walked up to look at what was going on and saw what I can only describe as a waterfall of mud over at least a foot of mud on top of the road. What used to be a guard rail was totally destroyed by rocks and other debris, there was even a tree in the middle of the road that was almost buried in mud.
I’m not entirely sure exactly how long the whole ordeal lasted, but I’d estimate an hour and a half to a little under two hours before the cars began moving again. A bulldozer had to come and clear the road, although before that some people were trying (to no avail) to use shovels to dig some of the debris out themselves. Thankfully it didn’t appear that anyone was injured at all, there was no car debris over the edge of the cliff, only boulders and mud. While we were able to get moving again, we were still almost an hour away from the airport and our chances of making our flight were not looking too good. The flight was leaving at 7:20 pm, and we ran into the airport at just after 7:10, unfortunately they would not hold the plane for us but I suppose it was worth a shot to ask.
From there, we had some dinner in the airport, charged our phones and went to the bathroom and got back onto the bus a little before 9 pm, ready to drive 10 hours to Manta instead of flying. Since we have a large group there was almost no chance of getting enough tickets for the next flight in the morning, so the only option was the bus. Obviously it wasn’t an ideal situation, but I’d say it was worth it.
Now that we’re in Manta, we’re in a collection of cute little bungalows right on a private beach with tons of hammocks to recover from the lack of sleep last night. After some time to rest this morning, we went to a national park and took a short hike to an outlook on top of a cliff with a breathtaking view, then swam in the clear blue water for a few hours. The relaxation is more than deserved at this point, and it’s nice to enjoy the final few days of our trip from a beach on the Pacific.