Tuesday, April 1, 2008

La Costa!

After our trip to the Amazon, we did pretty much a 180 and caught an early morning 30 minute flight out of Quito to Manta (a major Ecuadorian fishing and commercial port), where we caught a bus ride to Puerto Lopez, our first destination on the Ruta del Sol (a string of beaches and villages that stretches on the southern coast).

Puerto Lopez

The bus ride was gorgeous! I would compare it to the Pacific Coast Hwy drive in California because of the beautiful beach scenery, but it was a bumpy and loud ride down. Also, instead of passing by huge mansions we saw tiny wood and straw houses, amazing sights nontheless. We arrived in Puerto Lopez at around lunch time. We took a taximoto (motorcylce taxi) that charged us way to much for the two blocks it took us to a hostel. After lunch, we decided that we wanted to take a bus ride to Los Frailes, about 7 miles north of Puerto Lopez because Puerto Lopez is mainly a fishing port that is very slowly developing for tourism (we had a pretty hard time finding good food here).

Los Frailes is a crescent of open beach that is secluded and breathtaking. We layed out in the white sand then went swimming in the almost too warm water for awhile. We then headed back to Puerto Lopez to catch the sunset on the beach while drinking ice cold Pilseners.

Isla de la Plata

The next morning we woke up early for our boat tour to Isla de la Plata (or "Silver Island" because of rumors that pirates buried treasures there during colonial times). It is also known as Poor Man's Galapagos, because of large nesting birds that can be found there. After about an hour boat ride to the island we put on tons of sunblock (it was a super hot day) and headed out to hike the island. Isla de la Plata was gorgeous. There were tons of towering cliffs with birds like blue-footed and masked boobies, as well as frigate birds.

After our hike, we went back on the boat where we had watermelon, tuna sandwiches and coke. Then the tour guide took us snorkling off one of the island's shores. We jumped in the warm water but couldn't really see any fish because the water was a bit murky from the rain the previous night. However, the guide was quick to fix the problem. He threw some bread into the water and the fish were quick to gather up and eat it all.

Afterwards we headed back to Puerto Lopez and caught the sunset on the beach again while we watched locals play volleyball and soccer on the beach. One of the things that we noticed, and I really liked, was that all the locals would take out their chairs and go outside in the late afternoon/early night to chat with their family and friends. Nice tight communities are cool.


The next morning after breakfast we took a bus to Montañita, the bohemian surfing capital of Ecuador. We arrived at Montañita looking for a hostel and found a cool looking one for a descent price facing the ocean. We pretty much hung out at the beach all day and enjoyed tons fruit juices and batidos (juice with milk, like a milkshake/smoothie). It was a very relaxing day laying out in the sun and once again enjoying the beautiful costal sunset. Despite its reputation for being a super chill town with a pretty happening nightlife, Thursday night was a bit of a disappointment.

Sleeping that night was horrible as the room that Alex, Anina and I shared was right next to a communal bathroom and the terrible smells penetrated to our room. Furthermore, there was a lot of noice until very early in the morning, and the fact that there were mosquitoes buzzing around didn't help. Friday morning, our mission was to find a further hostel from the center of the town that was nicer.

After finding a better hostel, which was absolutely legit, we went in search for surf lessons! We paid for two instructors to teach us how to surf for an hour then let us play around (I say play around bc I was unsuccessful of actually standing up on the board, I only ever made it to my knees) for another hour, all for the price of twelve bucks! It was a great experience that I actually hope to repeat at some point and actually get to stand up. (I also now have a lot more respect for surfers, seeing how tough it was for me - so tough I'm embarrassed to say I was still pretty sore yesterday, 3 days later.)

Friday, nightlife picked up a bit as more tourists (both Ecuadorian and international) came and we stayed out pretty late despite our tiredness from the surf lessons. There were various happening bars but not as many dancing clubs, which tend to be our fav.

Our plan was to leave for Salinas, another beachtown on Saturday morning, but after having such a good time in Montañita we decided to stay there for our final full day of Spring Break. We pretty much hung out all day at the beach and witnessed a super colorful sunsent, as well as took more jumping pictures with the sunset as our background, and drank some more jugos and batidos.

Sunday morning we ate breakfast and headed out to catch a 3 hr bus to Guayaquil, where we caught a flight back to Quito. It was a legit Spring Break and I got tan! I'm so tan that the first thing out of every single one of my host relatives was "ay que morena!" or "estas negra!"

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