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We drove down to Santo Domingo today, on our way to Quevedo tomorrow. Given all the bad press the road to Santo Domingo gets, I would have thought it was a lot worse. There are several sections where the road is just one lane due to recent landslides, but once you get past the first 50 kilometers, the landslides and constant switchbacks and hairpin turns end. It’s the trucks that make the going slow most of the way. Of course, it’s nonetheless a dangerous road; if you’re not paying attention or happen to come around a corner just when someone has decided to pass irresponsibly, which is the rule rather than the exception, you could find yourself plummeting several hundred, if not over a thousand feet, down vertical cliffs, with the only thing to break your fall some heavy cloud-forest type foliage-and yes, it has happened, cars or buses suspended just part way down the cliff-and if you’re not so lucky, though that depends on how you consider it, you’ll have your fall broken only by hitting bottom and plunging into some serious rapids.
We installed ourselves with the kids at the Hotel Zaracay on the edge of town. After a little while in the pool and a walk through the bamboo groves-the bamboo is at least 100 feet high and easily as thick as your arm-we took a drive through town. Santo Domingo, while somewhat disorderly like so many places in Ecuador, is really a thriving city with people swarming through the streets, avenues of tall, that is four-plus story buildings, and lots of traffic. There’s a new shopping center, major supermarket, and cinema-supposedly there is a lot of drug trafficking and thus money running through the area.
Tomorrow we’re off to Quevedo and Samuel’s cocoa plantation for two nights. Probably won’t have internet there so check back in four or five days when we return to Quito and I can post again.