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St. Maarten - St. Martin
5 minutes ago
This was with AA right?
11 392 Read More
World Wide Travel
27 minutes ago
Pacific Adventure 2020

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Happier times

I had been planning on this trip for years, ever since Dan and Em first mentioned that they were thinking of taking Skyelark to the Pacific. I managed to do a few legs of their first two World ARCs, but I had always wanted to do an extended charter and see the South Pacific. Knowing that I would be retired for this year’s stint I expressed interest in March 2018 and put my deposit down in January 2019. This was going to be the trip of a lifetime and a very nice retirement gift to myself. It has now turned bittersweet as I lost my son, Nicolas, three months to the day of when I was booked to leave. We were as close as any father and son could be, having divorced his mom 23 years ago, he lived with me almost the entire time since. Nick always loved hearing about my trips and seeing the photos I would take on the way, he was proud of his old man being the adventurous type and doing things his friend’s parents would never think to do. I am dedicating this trip to him as I know he will be looking out for me as he always has.

February 22, 2020

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I had booked my flight to Ecuador last April and using airline miles on American I was able to get a first-class ticket for just 30,000 miles. It was a round -about route they sent me on; Buffalo – Charlette – Charleston – Miami – Guayaquil, with a total of around 8 hours in layovers. The flight went smooth and with a first-class ticket I was able to check two bags with a weight of up to 70 pounds each, that came in handy as I will be traveling for eight months and will need warm clothes for Australia since it will be winter when we arrive there.
C&I was quick and easy, no cards to fill out, no questions to answer, just walk up to the next available agent, passport stamped, luggage off the carousel and out the door I went.
Taxis rates in Guayaquil are regulated by zones and the fare to my hotel was $6 for the 3.5-mile drive. I’m staying at the Hotel Continental, I chose it for its proximity to the Malecon 2000, a boardwalk along the river, more about that later. The hotel staff is friendly and the room clean and modern, breakfast is included and there is a 24-hour restaurant on site. It was nearly 11:00 by the time I arrived so straight to bed after a long day of travel and copious amounts of drinks on the planes; the small bottles of Bushmills I had in my 3-1-1 made the layovers easier to take also.

February 23, 2020

Breakfast was decent, although the offerings on the buffet don’t change. Lots of corn and potato-based things along with scrambled eggs and bacon; plenty of fresh fruit and juices too. First order of business was to check out the area surrounding the hotel, especially the Malecon 2000 which is a promenade that runs for probably a mile or so along the river. There are a plethora of restaurants and food stands throughout, also an amusement park and theater. A small manmade canal runs on the other side with paved trails, sitting areas, fountains and statues; the landscaping rivals if not surpasses the botanical garden in Kingstown, St. Vincent, one of the nicest in the Caribbean. I spent the better part of the day walking from one end to the other, people watching and taking advantage of many food stands selling ceviche for next to nothing.

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Scenes from the Malecon

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A fireboat on the wall

Now Guayaquil is a very large crowded city, the largest in Ecuador I read not really my cup of tea, but since I had to fly through here to get to Galapagos, I decided to check it out. I also figured that it would be an opportunity to try and find a small coastal town that might serve as a future travel destination.

After returning to the hotel for the night, I went to the restaurant and tried the bandera Ecuatoriana, sort of an Ecuadorean sampler platter, very nice with everything from chicken and pork to tripe and blood sausage including some sort of fish dish that had the consistency of watery squash, pretty good. A couple beers from the bar and a snort of Bushmills in the room and I was soon fast asleep.

February 24, 2020

I had inquired on Trip Advisor as to small waterfront towns which are budget friendly and have a mix of tourists and ex-pats in addition to friendly locals. Olon, a small-town west northwest of Guayaquil was suggested and seemed like what I was looking for. My original plan was leave early on Tuesday, but since it was pouring rain I decided to head there today. I had read on the internet that it was two hours from Guayaquil, so I wasn’t concerned that I didn’t get to the bus terminal until 11:00 am. My ticket was only $8, however the “2” hour ride turned into 4 putting me there around 3 in the afternoon. It was a nice ride, the bus was comfortable, sort of like a Greyhound bus with reclining seats and a bathroom on board. We had to pass through a toll booth and on the approach, vendors were standing between the lanes selling drinks, snacks, straw mats, all sorts of things.

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Vendors at the toll booth

The countryside was sparse, few houses some banana plantations, no real towns that I could see, at least along the main highway. Upon arrival I immediately tried to purchase a return ticket, however the gentleman said none were available until tomorrow. Now I only had about $50 on me and no credit cards, but I had seen many hostels with signs advertising shared rooms for $7 and private rooms for $10 so I wasn’t too concerned. My Spanish is limited to ordering drinks, asking where the restroom is, the common pleasantries and promising young Chicas a green card; as in Guayaquil, it was rare to find someone who spoke English. I lucked out however, as I was heading to the beach, I found another bus company that had one ticket remaining for travel back today (thanks Nico!). Ticket in hand I headed walked the two blocks to the beach, I could soon see that this was going to be my kind of place. The beach was inundated with all sorts of debris, including large sections of trees and brush; I later found out that was very unusual and the result of the previous nights storm. Being close to Carnival the beach was crowded with visitors; there is a long row of food stands selling pretty much the same thing. I found one that looked reasonable and had a lunch of ceviche de pulpo, octopus ceviche, accompanied by a plate of rice, with two 24-ounce beers the bill came to $10, nice! American dollars are the official currency of Ecuador so no need to bother with exchange rates.

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A typical street in Olon

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Umbrellas and chairs on the beach

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The beach restaurants and a typical menu, the food and drinks are very cheap here

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A mobile ceviche vendor

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And they worry about sargasso weed in the Caribbean

There was a public restroom, 10 cents admission, 25 cents if you need toilet paper, seems to be a common thing here. As I wandered the town I ran into some guys from the US (finally someone who speaks English!), they were visiting long term and one of them owns a house on the beach. We chatted and joked, and they gave me some pointers, who knew that being over 60 I was entitled to a 50% discount on the bus ticket, oh well I’m not going to cry over $3. I looked around for accommodations that Kim would be comfortable in and found a nice place where rooms for two people were $45 a night with A/C, $35 with a fan; I got a card from the lady for future reference. The town is popular with surfers it appears from all the surf boards adorning the bars and a “surfing school” on the beach; basically, a jury-rigged tent with a surfing school sign hanging on it. I really like the vibe of the place, laid back, friendly and cheap.

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Doesn't look bad for $35 a night

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Even in a sleepy little town there are some touristy things

I had a chicken Caesar salad before boarding the bus for the long trip back. Taxis were readily available at the bus terminal, so I was soon back at the hotel where I had a few beers at the bar before turning in for the night.
February 25, 2020

I’m not one for touristy things, but I do find when in a large city for the first time the hop on hop of bus is a great way to get a feel for the place and see the high points. As I said it’s a large city and not for me, but there are many parks, museums and churches to visit if you care for that sort of thing. After the bus tour I went back to the room to relax in the A/C before venturing out to the Malecon. I tried to find some reading glasses but to no avail, I brought six pairs with me but lost one on the bus already, I’ll have some sent to one of the guests on Skyelar coming from the US.

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Photos from the hop on hop off bus trip

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Like I said, not really my kind of place

More strolling the boardwalk and people watching, just enjoying the day. This is not the place for someone on a diet, the pastries in the coffee shops are decadent and very reasonably priced. There is a “pirate ship” that plys the river, $7 for approximately an hour tour; again, not something I would ordinarily do but a fun way to kill some time and get photos from another perspective. I had hoped to treat myself to dinner at a nice restaurant but couldn’t resist the urge to have one last bowl of shrimp ceviche; except for breakfast ceviche was the only thing I’ve eaten here.

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Nighttime along the river
Back at the hotel I called Kim and started to work on my trip report; I also rearranged my luggage to get me large bag under 50 pounds, the limit on the local airline, stuffing all the dense things like toiletries and such into my smaller checked bag. Finally hit the hay around midnight, tomorrow it’s off to the Galapagos Islands for a week before setting off across the Pacific on Skyelark.
0 26 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
1 hour ago
They are starting to get serious which is good. Stay at home and stop the spread!
1 111 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 11:47 PM
Covid-19 Update - St. Maarten (Dutch side)

Curfew as of 8pm tomorrow, March 30

Government will institute a curfew on the Dutch side as of tomorrow, Monday, March 30. From 8pm to 6am daily no movement will be allowed from homes.

All businesses must close at 6pm daily and all movement must cease as of 8pm daily.

A special movement form will be available online tomorrow, Monday.

As of 12am Monday, March 30, 2020, people who need fo travel should only do so strictly on the basis of necessity - to work and do carry out essential tasks.

Government has decided based on agreements with French side to increase its measures to restrict movement even internally for Dutch side.

The regulation is being finalized and will be published tomorrow, Monday.

(Source: Prime Minister of St. Maarten in a joint press conference with French authorities that was conducted on the French side)
1 207 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 11:09 PM
Thanks all. I'll await an official announcement.
21 929 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 10:15 PM
Nice photos.
5 286 Read More
British Virgin Islands
Yesterday at 09:46 PM
Lock down the government and let the businesses take the reins
17 1,819 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 06:47 PM
Work continues everyday at Royal Palm.
15 991 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 06:26 PM
Sammy, your comments make sense. Are you a medical professional, or is this something you've read elsewhere?
3 509 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 05:56 PM
Yes, I figured so.
21 1,453 Read More
British Virgin Islands
Yesterday at 04:11 PM
Originally Posted by Boatwidow
Is Willie T open and is it a safe place to visit?


When the Willy T is open it’s a very safe place to go and have fun and dinner although on Sundays it’s very busy.
5 351 Read More
Cancun - Isla Mujeres - Mexico
Yesterday at 03:09 PM
...and even the FDA approved version of the drug, approved for OTHER uses, probably is not of any assistance with this thing. Really is sad that those people bet their lives on fake news, especially using a fish medication...
13 310 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 02:49 PM
0 275 Read More
SXM People Talk
Yesterday at 02:04 PM
I guess we just never put it there. Maybe Eric will have time to do that tomorrow.
3 100 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 01:56 PM
Thanks for sharing, love the pics, especially the ones of the Yacht Club and Karakter. We were there for 2 weeks before you and we wish we were back already!
5 967 Read More
Afloat
Yesterday at 12:49 PM

Two articles on the HA MS Zaandam and her sister ship Rotterdam off Panama.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.businessinsider.com/elderly-couple-on-coronavirus-stricken-ship-says-theyre-stuck-aboard-2020-3%3famp


https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.th...allow-cruise-liner-zaandam-through-canal


Looks like Panama has allowed the boat to transit. Risky as the canal pilots have to wear hazmat suits to make the passage.

They have allowed “healthy” passengers to switch to the Rotterdam which will sail to San Diego to disembark. Priority for transfer was given to those over 70 with an inside cabin.

Haven’t they read that healthy looking, asymptomatics spread the virus exceedingly well. They are going to end up with two ships infected.

Fort Lauderdale not exactly thrilled with the prospect of their arrival as Broward County, FL already a hot spot.

Why not have both ships haul [censored] to San Diego. They have already housed quarantines before at MCAS Miramar. Is this so HA can get their boat in position for next cruise?

Never been censored before but i thought the use of haulass was appropriate.
6 148 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 12:09 PM
Nancy and I are due to fly in on May 9 on JB. waiting to see what the government will do concerning the ban on arrivals from JFK. Also will depend on what my doctors say because I do have heart issues and breathing issues. It sure is frustrating seeing the beautiful Maho beach on the webcam. Our timeshare at OBBR is closed and after reading the Sonesta Maho is shut down till June 2 it kinda gives me a good idea that we won't be flying in on May 9. Anyway, we are in our home and safe in Connecticut where we are not supposed to hit the peak for 2-3 weeks yet. Thanks to Traveltalk board for letting me vent. Good luck and be safe to all.

Bob & Nancy
10 1,120 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 11:42 AM
Stay safe and Healthy!!
4 628 Read More
General Photo Gallery
Yesterday at 11:13 AM
My Min Pin luv watching T.V.
0 14 Read More
World Wide Travel
Yesterday at 03:55 AM
28 March, 1 week later. Italy 92,472 confirmed cases.....With 10,023 dead.
46 896 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
Yesterday at 02:24 AM
I looked at Dallas, in July and November, RT for $250 (the cheapo seats, no refunds, get seats when you board etc). San Antonio is I believe $780.
12 990 Read More
US VI and Puerto Rico
Yesterday at 01:13 AM
Thanks soooooooooooooooooooo much for sharing!
Time solves everything.... With a little help from friends grin
9 686 Read More
United States & Canada
03/28/2020 10:55 PM
There’s worse places. Nice pic
4 226 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
03/28/2020 10:35 PM
Nope, mostly pups.
7 634 Read More
St. Maarten - St. Martin
03/28/2020 06:58 PM
https://flightaware.com/live/airport/TNCM

Delta arrived and departed TNCM ( real code for SXM/PJIA)
30 3,193 Read More
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