The "badlands" between Manta and Puerto Lopez.
Flying out of Quito on our way to Puerto Lopez, the volcanoes that surround the city suddenly reveal themselves to you. Due to the lay of the land, their massive bulk is all but invisible from ground level in Quito itself, so seeing them emerge as we got higher and higher was an amazing sight. Huge, snow-capped peaks, protecting the city from the worst of the weather.
Arriving in Manta our impressions of Ecuador began to change. As we took a pimped-up taxi down from Manta to Puerto Lopez, we traversed through what can only be described as the “badlands” of Ecuador. Everything grey and brown, mostly apparently dead, a heavily overcast sky and poverty-stricken villages all contrasted massively with the natural splendour that was Mindo. Your heart couldn’t help but begin to sink.
Still, the driver was no slouch; he got us through this post-apocalyptic landscape in what I suspect must be a record time. Driving on any side of the road that he saw fit, usually to take the corners at maximum speed, this was a classic example of Ecuadorian driving style. I once worked on a game whose strap line was something along the lines of
Puerto Lopez Beach
The view down the beach of Puerto Lopez.
“non-stop no-rules racing”. I think this is what is probably printed inside the front cover of the highway code in this part of the world. If only England were the same ...
Puerto Lopez, a bit of a tourist trap with fairly ugly buildings it has to be said, like much of Ecuador in that respect. Our hotel though, an oasis within this town. The Hosteria Mandala features wood and brick built cabanas set in a tropical garden, all on the edge of the beach along with the roar of the Pacific. After the badlands, this is a welcome sight.
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