Being told to go to the pier in the city of Guayaquil, we patiently asked ship captains if, firstly, they were going to the islands, and secondly, if they could take us. Taking a cargo boat requires patience. After a few hours of waiting and asking, we were eventually allowed to board a cargo ship free of charge. The ship was called The Benjamin Franklin, and if the name was anything to go by, we were in for a life changing experience for sure! An extremely friendly captain led us to a small room where the employees normally sleep. There was a small mat and a fan on the floor which we were extremely pleased about.
That evening, with our food supplies getting low, the captain on board was generous enough to invite us to eat with the other shipmates. A special experience of eating rice and meat with the guys, they really embraced us as one of their own. Having a decent level of Spanish definitely helped as well!
We were happy to find out that the showers used fresh water and not sea water, which was the norm for cargo ships from what we had read. The water is also hot, as on cargo boats water is run past the engine and heats up nicely!
The days passed by very slowly as all we had was our bags and a pack of playing cards. Making our way up to the ship deck and looking out over the endless expanse of the ocean, along with the constant rocking sway, was something neither was used to, let alone for three days.
Normally, from the airport, foreigners have to pay $100, however when the boat docked we went straight through and didn’t have to pay anything at all.
Source: Torbjørn C. Pedersen