Taking a bus from Montanita to Cuenca
First, a big thank you to TJ at Montanita Brewing Company for being completely honest with us and making it clear that we should not head to Manta. The choice to skip Manta and take a bus from Montanita to Cuenca has been confirmed as a good decision by a few people since our arrival in Cuenca.
Taking a bus from Montañita to Cuenca is pretty simple. Direct buses run from Montañita to Guayaquil on a fairly regular basis. Our Spanish school ended at noon, we walked over to the ticketing station that is right on the edge of town on the main street, bought our tickets ($6/pp) and were all set to catch the 1pm bus. Prior to take off we stopped at a food cart and had a bowl of fruit, yogurt & granola and a ham, lettuce & tomato sandwich. We also popped into a local mini mart to grab a bag of bbq chips and some waters.
The ride is 3hr in a pretty nice air-conditioned bus, they played a movie (Spanish with no english subtitles) and had a bathroom. The movie was Blackhawk down and we couldn’t understand it so instead finished out our Serial podcast. Which is just very OK. I am not sure what all the hype was. The ending was weak.
The movie ended and we were approaching Guayaquil, maybe another 30 or so minutes until we would arrive at the bus terminal. It was at this point that I felt a little rumbling in my stomach. Nothing serious at all, but make no mistake – something was happening. It went away quickly and was replaced by the urge to pee – very badly. I thought I would be able to go in the bus terminal no problem.
The Guayaquil bus terminal is large. Home to 100+ buses on several different levels. Easy to navigate, but big. We asked the information desk to point us in the direction of the Cuenca ticketing booth. We walked over there and to our surprise there was a bus leaving in 10 minutes that we could board. We bought our tickets ($8/pp) for the 4hr ride and raced up two levels to where our bus was. No time to use the bathroom. I wasn’t too concerned because I would just use the bathroom on the bus.
We checked our luggage and boarded the bus. Our seats were in the front of the bus but I looked towards the back and saw the bathroom. I couldn’t read what was written on the door, but I assumed it was something along the lines of “hey, this is the bathroom.” We settled into our seats and soon we took off. They also had a feature film on this ride as well, it was called “Let’s be Cops”- not sure if anyone has seen it but there were a few parts where I was laughing pretty hard even though I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. However, my need to use the bathroom (#1) was increasing. About 20 minutes into the ride I went to the back of the bus to take care of business. I tried opening the door. Locked. The kind people in the back let me know (I think because it was in Spanish) that I needed a key. I walked to the front of the bus and asked the first mate to let me use the bathroom. The guy made sure I understood that the bathroom was ONLY for urinating. Not using it for a #2. Hey, that’s not a problem. Not so fast. No sooner than I get into the bathroom that I feel a mass of something move lower into my bowels and feel some terrible cramping. I sat in the small bathroom (no toilet, just a hole in the floor) for a few seconds and let the cramps pass. It was a lot harder to take a pee than I thought it would be. But I did it.
When I got back to my seat I told Lindsay that I went, it was a suspect bathroom and I was starting to feel the early stages of Montezuma’s Revenge. Please no. This is not good. I thought to myself “I’m a grown man, I can do this – mind over matter.” (spoiler alert: wrong.). Another 30 minutes or so later and the cramps are getting worse. I am in pain, sweating and wondering if the bus will make a scheduled stop. Lindsay found some Tums and some Immodium in her backpack so I took those. It didn’t really help. Another 20 minutes goes by and there are some really messed up thoughts going through my head on how to relieve myself. I type into our Google translate app “Will this bus make a stop before Cuenca? I have to use the bathroom very badly. I will pay you $20 to stop.”
At this point the pain is horrible and I am one bump in the road from making a complete mess of seat #3. I wonder if I can get into the bathroom again and just do it or take a bag with me and then drop the bag out of the window. None of these ideas are sounding real good. Uh oh, we hit a small bump and take a sharp turn. I’m playing with fire here. I type into our Google translate app “Will this bus make a stop before Cuenca? I have to use the bathroom very badly.” The app translates it to Spanish and I show the first mate. He says (again, I think) that there are no stops because we’re driving through the mountains and that if I really needed to stop that I could just go to the bathroom in the forest surrounding the road. I walked back to my seat very pleased with the intel I received. Lindsay handed me a packet of travel Kleenex and I walked back to the front of the bus and told the guy it was showtime.
I sat upfront with the driver, the first mate and another lady. They were trying to make small talk with me…”where are you from?” “are you sick?” –I couldn’t respond. They told me five more minutes. Two minutes later I asked “How long??” It’s raining, it’s really foggy, we’re in the middle of some mountains and it’s getting dark. The bus finally pulls over and the people point to this little white shanty on the other side of the road. I get off our bus, take a peak around the front of the bus and run as fast (very carefully) as I can across the street, cut some locals off as I make a b-line for the toilets, sit down and go to town. I’ve never felt so damn good. The walked back to the bus like I was king of the world. Lindsay asked how I felt and I just smiled. I made it.
What a day. What an adventure taking a bus from Montanita to Cuenca. We had 4hrs of Spanish classes, 3hr bus ride to Guayaquil, 4hr bus ride to Cuenca, one pit stop in the mountains and a happy couple arrived in Cuenca. We were met there by Larry & Beth (Lindsay’s family) and taken to their place (5 star accommodations).