Reina del Camino is the predominant bus line for routes to the coast near Canoa. A few days before we got to Quito, one of their buses on another route ran off the road and several passengers were killed. They had apparently severely overloaded the bus. The government transit authority suspended their license temporarily. We were told that other bus lines would likely be taking over some of their routes. Coactur is one of the bus lines we were told to check with.
We got up early to get to the bus terminal not knowing what we would find for departure times. The bus terminal in south Quito, Quitumbe, is fairly new and very modern. We began wandering the various bus line booths looking for options. The Coactur booth was unmanned at that time so we went to have a small breakfast. We sat at a table near the escalator and were entertained by watching the reactions of people who had apparently never seen an escalator before.
We kept watching for departures listed for the area where we wanted to go but any we saw were for the Reina del Camino line. I guess they had not bothered to remove those departures from the schedule.
Once we found someone at the Coactur booth, I said I wanted to got to either San Vicente or Bahia de Caraquez, the cities closest to Canoa. He indicated that we should take their bus to Portoviejo that departed at 1:30pm. This gave us about 4 hours to wait but it seemed our best option.
When it came time to board we went to the bus and as we handed over our luggage, I told the luggage handler that we wanted to get to either San Vicente or Bahia. I finally understood that he was telling us that we would get to Portoviejo and then need to take another bus to Bahia. Since everything was being transacted in Spanish I had missed this aspect of the route. I had assumed that this bus would pass though Bahia on the way to Portoviejo, which is about 2 hours further south of Bahia. I then asked how long to get to Portoviejo, 7 hours, he said.
So, at almost 9:00pm, we pulled into the bus station in Portoviejo, not knowing what we would find regarding another bus to Bahia. By the way, I would not recommend putting the Portoviejo bus station on your to do list for a visit to Ecuador. It’s not for the faint of heart, especially at 9:00pm. In fact, the guide book says that there is really nothing notable about Portoviejo. We found the Coactur booth and after waiting through several chaotic exchanges between customers and the ticket sellers, one of the other customers began helping me to get some information about departures to either Bahia or San Vicente, again everything is in Spanish. At first it seemed that there were none, then seemingly there was great surprise and excitement and arm waving telling me to step around to the other side of the booth where they could sell me a ticket to Bahia for a bus leaving at 9:30pm. In fact, there was such a bus and it left more or less on time at 9:50pm.
At just before midnight, after everyone else on the bus had gotten off at other stops, we arrived in Bahia and were dropped off, alone on the sidewalk of a deserted street. I asked the driver about getting to Canoa, he indicated we should go to a nearby gas station to get a taxi, he thought it would be about $10 for the taxi to Canoa.
When we crossed the street a couple of taxis came by and we hailed the first one. This was a very tiny car, never did identify the make and the driver took up most of the available space. I asked to get to Canoa and he said the cost would be $15. I wasn’t about to argue with him at midnight on a deserted street.
The hotel we wanted is about 1 mile south of Canoa so I told him the name but I didn’t have the impression he was familiar with it so I tried to look for any sign of the hotel, not wanting to miss it. We crossed the new bridge that connects Bahia to San Vicente, then on to Canoa. Before this bridge was completed, we would have needed to take a ferry which didn’t run that late at night. After about 20 minutes of dark, near deserted road, I saw the sign for Sundown Inn and pointed it out to the driver. We pulled into the driveway and everything was dark. There was a dachshund “guard dog” barking so we know it was inhabited. The driver honked the horn and eventually someone came out and greeted us. He recognized my name as being expected and showed us directly to a room and said that we would talk the next day about the details.
More about Canoa and the Sundown Inn later.