0:36.00S 80:25.00W Let Ariosto be our guide to Puerto Amistad Bahia de Caraquez

Fri 1 Apr 2016 12:19
A typically short Ecuadorian with thick, black, wavy hair, Ariosto arrived by panga flat bottomed  boat driven by Andreas, both of them given to broad friendly smiles. Ariosto guided by quiet movements of his hand to left or right and then a “Si” when we were on course, which itself was a narrow winding route between rolling waves breaking in treacherous, hard sand bars. Rob parked Zoonie between two up/down river buoys as Andreas passed the stout mooring lines to Ariosto, two at the bow and two at the stern. By 5.30pm we were secure and Ariosto took our papers ashore to the office for the formalities to start.
As the evening was drawing in we pumped up the tender and motored ashore for a beer and a tasty meal in the bar, built largely of bamboo and asbestos pan tiles on an old fisherman’s jetty 16 years ago. Tripp Martin was dining with John Halley in a restaurant in Cartagena all those years ago. Their waitress was a beautiful young woman named Maye. Tripp and Maye’s eyes met and the rest is two futures joined by love.
The next morning we visited Juan in the office and he told us there would be no immigration at the weekend as it was holy week, but we were welcome to explore the town. We walked to the supermarket in stifling heat and languished in the air-con for a few minutes before catching the taxi back the 200 metres to Puerto Amistad (Welcome port). 
We cannot make water here as the river water is full of mud and nutrients from the shrimp farms and as we are not attached to the land we have to have drinking water delivered to keep the tanks full. So for the first time we are showering ashore. This is done in the evenings after the sun has set and it precedes our evening drinkSleeping half-moon(s). Diesel also is delivered to the boats. In fact Ariosto, Andreas and Pedro work hard all day on errands and also take it in turns to do regular rounds around the eight moored and six anchored boats at night, shining torches along the hulls to ensure all is as it should be.
Within a short while we were part of the network or regulars to the bar and the mixing with staff was all very friendly. We met an English couple who now live here, an American couple who are immigrating for a short while, David and Victoria (The Beckhams!) Alongside us on the mooring buoys are Kim and Katelina who as I type are preparing for Ariosto to guide them back between the jaws of sand to start their crossing of the Pacific in a three day no wind situation.
A friendly French couple arrived in their cat yesterday who leave soon for Gambia, 800 miles south of the Marquesas, as they are less crowded islands and on a better wind angle at present. We may do the same although the SE tradewinds are thought to be well set in by June, when we will depart.
Zoonie sits happily a few metres in front of the Club so the WiFi onboard is really good and we have done so much work, some using the printer to print off documents, policies, tickets etc that in this sense life is a bit like being back home! Talking of home, we shall be meeting Allan Grey and Lorna soon, friends from Oakham, as they are ticking Machu Picchu off their bucket list at the same time as us!
Soon we needed to stretch our legs after the days at sea so off we set along the promenade of this small seaside resort. A favourite weekend haunt for residents of Quito and Guayaquil, who stay in the apartments within the high rises that make the town look more city like than it really is. It was Easter Sunday and hot and humid and the beach was full with natives cooling off in the river-water. Many of the high rises are on the peninsula that reaches out into the estuary, so weekenders can choose to languish on the river beach or the ocean beach which is cooler, with onshore winds.
We sought the shade of buildings and wandered by the almost empty dual carriageways that make it look as if the planners anticipated a much busier future for this charming place. Back on the river side we found Henry’s Sports bar where David and Tory were on duty. Tory had just brought out of the oven a parmesan and artichoke quiche, so they lunched with us while their blue Russian cat, Pips, patrolled the decks of their sailing yacht home anchored near Zoonie.
In the evening Kim and Katelina from Philiosophy came aboard for drinks. When Chilean, Katelina’s husband died she answered an ad for a crew to sail the Pacific. With the blessing of her three sons she is presently hauling up the out board and dinghy onto the deck in readiness. No widows weeds for her!
Easter Monday Immigration failed to show as promised but as we were waiting onboard for them we made good use of the time; sorting the next charts, making contact with an agent in Tahiti for our clearance into French Polynesia, printing off a Pacific Puddle Jump Fuel form so as EU members (at the moment) we will get tax free fuel, arranging car hire in the UK and hand sewing an Ecuadorian Courtesy flag from a football match cape of the right colours costing 75 cents in the local supermarket.
In the evening we took our tofu curry, I had just made, to visit D and V only to discover I had used coconut creme instead of what I thought was coconut milk. It was very sweet. Tory told me the creme was for pino coladas!