GringoPost | Ecuador: Bus travel questions

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Bus travel questions

My wife and I are in Cuenca for a couple of months and have (sort of) mastered the town buses and phones, etc., but we will be traveling down to Puerto Lopez in a few days. I have some questions about the buses. We used a driver to get up here from Guayaquil but it seems so much more expensive than the public buses.

Questions:
Is there a best line to use to Guayaquil?
Can/do you buy in advance (I read on one post to go to the bus station the day before)?
Do you buy a return ticket?
Do you simply go into Guayaquil and then buy a ticket to Puerto Lopez and likewise coming back?

Would appreciate any input from a more seasoned traveler.

Best,

John Lay