A tranquil couple of weeks
03.08.2014 - 13.08.2014 22 °C
From Cuenca, we went to the coast of Ecuador for 1.5 weeks, spending most of our time just south of a town called Puerto Lopez. We discovered one of the best hostels in the whole world. It was just so chill, right on the beach and the owner is a really cool guy. At any time of the day, you would be the only person on the beach! The hostel had a nice look out over the beach where you could look at the waves and even watch for whales. I saw a pod of whales one morning of about 6 whales – they were far away but with binoculars you could see their fins sometimes.
The hostel also doubled as a surf school but since we are cheap and didn’t feel like paying for a surf lesson, Thomas convinced the owner to let us use his big inflatable board so that I could practice. The surf there wasn’t the most ideal for anyone, let alone for beginners but I was determined. I was able to stand up by the end of my first time which was a cool experience. On my second lesson, I stood up on my first go which made me feel so good and I was pumped. Then I flopped off my board and stomped down on a sting ray! That was a very painful and unfortunate experience. The pain was awful but eventually the swelling, burning, and fiery red color expanding on my foot went away. I was a little scared of the water after that though. I let Thomas do all the surfing after that!
Through the hostel we were able to book a tour of Isla de la Plata; aka ‘Poor man’s Galapagos’. They picked us up right from the hostel and took us to the port. We took this little boat out to the island. On the way out though, we spent about 45 mins whale watching. It was the first time we had ever seen whales so close and they were amazing! So big and so beautiful! All humpbacks. I think we saw about 15 different whales and they all jumped at least once for us. It was incredible! We found out days later that it is not very common for them to jump and we were really lucky. But the area between mainland Ecuador and the island is the main migration pattern for the whales so they are easily spotted.
The island itself was pretty cool. We were surprised by how much of a desert it was though. It only rains there a couple times a year, and the plants don’t bloom unless it rains so it looked a little bleak when we first got there. Before we got out of the boat we were able to watch some green turtles swim around us which were pretty cool. It was the first time I had ever seen Green turtles so it was pretty sweet. The island is a breeding ground for the Blue Footed Boobie, so we got to see tons of them! They were quite beautiful but I think the Magnificent Frigatebirds were just as interesting. They are the birds with the big red pouch that they use for showing off to other sex. The weird thing is, when they find a mate the red pouch just goes away. There were a couple really cool tree species as well. One looks like blood runs through its xylem! When you make a little cut across a branch, red ‘blood’ drips down! It was so sweet. The ‘blood’ is used for making fabrics impermeable, for cuts/wounds and for bug bites. The other tree had a really strong scent and was used for a lot of perfumes, etc. When you cut off a piece of this tree it is supposed to smell for 30 years!
The only other notable thing we did on the coast was spend one night in Montanita, a party town just south of where we were. We thought it might be fun to see the beach come to life at night but from the moment we checked into our hostel we just had a bad vibe. We learned pretty quickly that this just wasn’t the place for us and that it may be fun but you can never escape the madness. So we very quickly returned to our quiet, friendly hostel 30 mins up the road. We did end up going back to Montanita a couple of times; once to go with the volunteers at our hostel because one of them had never been and the other time I went because I realized I forgot my Spanish notebook at the hostel!
Overall the coast treated us very well – I got to try surfing, Thomas got to surf, we got to eat some delicious food and we met some really great people!
Our blog from Northern Peru will be coming shortly!
Miss you all! Love Thomas and Mere