Between the mountains and the sea: “halfway” in a thousand shades of Green.
Life in Quito doesn´t have a lot of advantages compared to living elsewhere, but one of them is that it´s super easy to get out of it. At least, once you are at a bus station: the city stretches over 35 kilometers and the terminals are situated in both the very north and the very south of it. The amount of grey is already less prominent there than in the city center, but as soon as you actually leave Quito, you remember how many colors and shapes “green” has in this country where the jungle, the mountains and volcanoes, rolling hills of cloud forest, lowlands with plantain plantations, coffee and papaya´s, and the tropical coast are found in an area as small as eight times Holland.
The first part of the trip is a three hour bus ride with impressive mountain views and breath taking hairpin curves through a sea of green. As a consequence there's also a significant amount of white crosses along the way. In every bigger village five to ten vendors get in with cane baskets full of yuka-bread, tortillas, boiled corncobs with cheese and tropical fruits in pieces (pineapple, (water)melon or a fruit salad mixed in a plastic cup), all for 25 cents, or five for a dollar.
After seven months of acclimatizing in Quito, one gasps for breath in Santo Domingo. But this time that´s not because of a lack of oxygen or exceeding pollution, but because of the heat and the amount of water in the sticky air. Despite the warnings, I cross the city center about three times with all my stuff without feeling uncomfortable, except maybe for the fact that my back is soon soaked with sweat. I find a hostel with a great shower and the temperature drops significantly at night, so if it wasn´t for the reggaeton across the street that kept me awake until passed midnight, I´d probably have woken up fresh and ready. Without a doubt, my breakfast at vegetarian Abdul´s (an Ecuadorian version of Mr. Myagi, including bows) makes up for that, and a little later I´m ready continue my way towards the coast.
The bus to Bahia de Caraquez already left before the sun (and I) was up, but there´s one to Chone, halfway. Most people take the night bus from the Andes to the coast; they sleep through the brilliant scenery of green hills with condors and a hundred of other species of birds and butterflies, waterfalls and little hidden streams, restaurants with plastic chairs and tables underneath improvised lean-to´s on the roadside, little wooden and bamboo huts without doors or windows, shops simply called “tienda” (shop) and villages that proudly announce to organize the “world championships of Ecua-volley”. And of course there´s banana trees, trucks transporting bananas or families, fruit shops with bananas or… bananas (they say there´s about twenty sorts of bananas here (?)), and road workers at places that make you wonder if that´s really the best way to spend government money. And still the vendors get in at every stop: 25 cents, five for a dollar. Their cold water is bought more frequently as we get closer to Chone and to noon.
On arrival there, it turns out that the bus only goes to halfway Bahia again. This time “halfway” is called “Dos Aguas” (two waters) and although that name raises other expectations, it´s a dusty lively village with sand roads, trucks, motorcycles and a lot of strays. If the air wouldn´t have been so oppressively heavy I surely would have looked out for a lunch there. But my next bus to Bahia is already filling up on the other side of the road, and this one has air conditioning, so I don´t even consider getting out of it before I really have to.
At the terminal of Bahia I learn that the bus to Crucita only goes as far as… right. Halfway. This “halfway” feels just a little less comfortable than the previous ones: at a dusty roundabout with red and white cordon in front of a construction site, the bus driver lets me get off and points his finger: “Crucita is that way.” Great. Getting closer everytime.
But I don´t have to wait long before the bus with “Crucita” in big yellow and red letters appears at the roundabout and stops in front of me, and this one goes indeed all the way to my final destination of today. The aim of a journey may not be to arrive, but it's still nice sometimes when you finally do: one hour and a half later I´m floating stretched out in the waves of the Pacific ocean.
“Between the mountains and the sea”, composed by my busking companion in Spain, is a song that sounds like the feeling of “home” in my head: a sigh with a smile for how familiar and comfortable surroundings feel. In Quito, I don´t think much of that tune, but travelling from the edge of the city, between the mountains and the sea, perceiving the harmony and tranquility as an ever-present background for all kinds of chaos and improvisation, providing a space to let it develop all together into a beautiful whole that feels like home, made me realize that there´s no better title for that song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFpb4BbiH0Y. Check also: https://www.youtube.com/user/oriole2