In 2019 there were protests over the price of gasoline by the rice farmers. The price had risen cutting into their profits and their livelihood so they protested by blocking the Pan American highway bringing this vital route to a stop. This protest affected the rose and banana farmers too as well as most of the country. Imagine the 5 and the 405 freeways in California coming to a halt. In fact when the 405 freeway briefly shut down for a weekend several years ago it was predicted as Carmageden! In Ecuador it was worse because there are no alternate routes to bypass the Pan America highway without adding hours to your journey.
So here it was a tour guide’s nightmare, another protest was coming up on this day. When? Where? How bad? Our tour guide Marco was on the phone at all hours trying to determine this. He had worked out alternate routes that would add 5-10 hours on to our day and that was the good news. If the road blocks where in key points near the coast the plan was to get to a military base and fly us out from there.
We were unaware of any of this until breakfast when he announced that the roads had not yet been blocked or that they might not be until after we had passed. And so our journey began with Marco on the phone to his boss giving updates on the road closures, or lack there of. The tour behind us would be even more affected because their tour had just started, and that tour was now going to join us at the Amazon resort to avoid the possible road closures.
The road closures brought to mind a group of sympathetic poor farmers trying to make a living, or some machete wielding crazies, we had no idea what to expect. Ahhh such is travel, it’s an adventure.
Marco finally got an “all clear” text during breakfast. Whew! Close one! The protesters had planned to shut down a Pacific coastal highway not affecting our route.
Marco had been on the phone with his boss to keep them abreast of conditions and alert the travel company of any road closures on our route.