Sunday, October 4, 2015

#travelpost - Ruta del Sol, Ecuador

Making our way to the coast of Ecuador wasn't difficult but took a couple of bus journeys from Baños to Guayaquil to Puerto Lopez but it turned out to be worth it as we got a short stop off in Guayaquil. We'd been told my numerous people to avoid Guayaquil but that was mostly due to them staying around the bus station and like most cities we all know bus stations aren't  usually placed in the most welcoming of areas. So we went with our instinct and spent a lazy afternoon there. The waterfront is the main area to go to if you're short on time. It's filled with museums, bars and restaurants and if you go a little further you come to the neighbourhood Las Peñas... A hill of winding streets and colourful houses, famous for its array of art galleries. We had a stroll and Harry made it to the lighthouse while I watched some kids play hide and seek and may have been giving the younger, breathless, red faced one a bit of extra help... We happened to stay in one of the nicer hostels we've been in for a while too which was an extra bonus. That night thanks to a treat off my mum and dad we headed to a place on the front that we'd read about, they offered all you can eat crab plus a beer, crab soup and crab rice... I don't think we can look at another crab for a while. 

After a great sleep and recovering from our food coma we got the bus to Puerto Lopez, our first stop on the coast. 

Puerto Lopez isn't big but the bus terminal is a little out of the centre so we grabbed a tuk tuk like car to our hotel. Not even a hostel! We were here for two nights so there was no rush on doing anything for our first afternoon. For a late lunch we found a Colombian place serving our favourite patacon... Flattened plantain topped with cheese and a vegetable salsa, it was the best one we'd had and it wasn't even in Colombia. That night we people watched on the beach and hit up happy hour at the bar next door. 

The next day we had breakfast (there was a choice of three!) and got changed for our whale watching tour. We spent $18 and got a boat ride to see the whales in Machalilla National Park, spotting blue footed boobies (famous in the Galapagos), tortoise watching, snorkelling on the beach in the national park and drinks and snacks before the ride back. It was perfect!! We were lucky to still catch the whales because the season is only July-September but with it being early October the guy said we could still be lucky... And we were! We saw a family mum, dad and baby and it was unreal! The baby was jumping about all over the place and the parents were huuuuge! After the boat trip we remembered that our fave TV guy Anthony Bourdain came to Puerto Lopez and he raved over the ceviche so we had a menu del dia and ordered some.. It was so good! For the rest of the day we had a beer on the beach, went for pizza we'd been craving for days and once again happy houred! All in all we loved Puerto Lopez mostly for the whales but for a dusty, sleepy town we had some great food and saw one of the best experiences we've ever had! 

And my favourite picture.....

On Sunday morning we had breakfast and moved on to a small surf hostel, Viejamar, that we'd booked for the night 15 minutes away down the coast. When we got there Buena Vista Social Club were suitably playing and we had the warmest welcome from the Chilean owner Rodrigo and the bunch of volunteers that were currently staying there. Everyone was super nice and from all over the place... Australia, Finland, Spain, France. Within the first 5 minutes we'd seen two huge, bright green iguanas in the trees, Rodrigo wasn't happy though, he said they eat all of his plants... The hostel was one huge garden on the beach, filled with mango trees, banana trees, herbs, avocado trees, even a tree that had a sign for jasmin on it and tonnes of bright pink flowers. All we saw Rodrigo do that day was potter around in his garden! There was a lounge, a pool and some hammocks up on the beach. We literally did nothing for 24 hours except play in the pool, lie on the beach and eat at Jimmys restaurant.... Some delish shrimp rice and shrimp in peanut sauce which was really good!! I think the hostel was one of the busiest we'd stayed in for ages yet I'm pretty sure we were the only customers! Haha   

Ok, so our final stop down the coast was a party, surf town called Montañita. we didn't know what to expect from the place... Every time we mentioned to someone that's where we were heading they'd give us a small giggle and smirk and tell us to enjoy it. We got there and it really wasn't as bad as what we thought but we stayed on a Monday and Tuesday night so I think it was a little more tame than a weekend. It was about 4 or 5 streets worth of stalls selling Montañita merch, tonnes of bars and restaurants and its own Calle de Los Cockteles... An endless street filled with cocktail stalls, each as cheap as the other. We stayed at a really nice hostel on the beach and spent the two days we had there laying on the sand and on Monday night we had drinks in town and perched ourselves at one of the cocktail shacks. All in all for 48 hours Montañita wasn't that bad and we actually had two of the best meals we've had so far in Ecuador there... One place gave us Chupe de Pescado a creamy fish soup with battered fish in it and a Peruvian place gave us green curried fish which soooo good! 

So that's the coast of Ecuador finished... Today we are going to our final place Cuenca and in 3 days we cross the border to Peru... And surprise, our first stop there will be Mancora, another surfing town on North coast.

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