Published: June 14th 2012June 10th 2012
Ok so after returning to Quito hoping for a package to arrive from home I found myself facing a slightly different issue than I was thinking. I spent the weekend meeting up with the friends I had previously met in Quito and also booked my flight to the Galapagos for the Wednesday. When it got to Tuesday night I got all my stuff together in the hostel ready for the night bus to Guayaguil then the flight afterwards. What then happened next would make a massive dent in my travels....I had my large and small bag ready, packed and locked so I could take a taxi to the bus station, I then quickly went to the toilet leaving my bags by the toilet door in the lounge area of the hostel, after coming out the toilet 30 seconds later I noticed my small backpack wasn't there! At first I thought I must have put it somewhere else as I didn't believe it was gone then soon realised it had been stolen!! I went upto the guy at the door who worked there and he said he didn't know anything but he let 3 local guys into the hostel (for no apparent
reason) as one was asking about a room..although a bit strange if they actually live there! I then ran around the Plaza Foch area hoping to spot my bag but after 20mins realised I wouldn't be getting it back and everything had gone. As I was getting on the bus I had all my valuable stuff in there which included passport, cards, money, laptop, cameras etc.. I had to go to the police station but they only gave me a report and didn't help further but the bag was gone anyway not much they could do. I felt gutted to say the least that in 30 seconds I could lose everything leaving me with only clothes and $20 in my pocket...I told the hostel I was staying that night and not paying which they agreed to and although I didn't get much sleep I had a bed for the night. I let my friends in Quito know and Paola very kindly offered for me to stay at her house with her family which saved me from sleeping on the street. I don't normally like being helped by others but in a time like this I couldn't have been more grateful.
Paolas family were soo nice to me...her brother David gave up his room for me and her mother made 3 meals a day with fresh juice and great food and I was treated like one of their own! Paola had finished her exams and luckily had a few days off before starting work so she kindly came with me to sort things out at the Embassy and also going to my Spanish School where Monica the owner was being really helpful and getting money for me that was sent from a friend back home to Western Union as I had no passport (its the only way to get money). On the Saturday I played some football in the local Barrio against the neighbours which was good but muy cansado is an understatement. We then watched Ecuador v Argentina which didn't go too well. The Sunday morning I went with Paola and helped out with the children at a local church playing games etc.. was really good fun and a great experience. The Monday I could finally get things sorted with the Embassy as I had some money and a new photo so applied for a new passport then got myself
on a bus to the coast in the night. I brought Paola and her family some gifts to say thank you which is the least I could do...I was overwhelmed with their help (don´t know what I would of done without them) and the 5 days or so I had there it made me forget about the events that had gone on at the hostel...muchas muchas gracias to the Vasquez Family!!!
After saying goodbye to the family who I felt I had grown quite close to (not for the last time as I would be returning to Quito to pick up my cards and passport) I got on my bus to Guayguil to then make my way to the coast. While waiting at the station...I met an Ozzie guy called Al who was going on the same bus and found out he didn't really have a plan so I said he is more than welcome to join me as I was heading to Puerto Lopez as it is the start of whale season there. He agreed and after getting into Guayaguil at 4:30am we jumped on 2 more buses to then get to Puerto Lopez around 10am. It was
once to feel some heat after being at altitude for a few months and we took a walk around to see what was going on. Just off Puerto Lopez is Isla de la Plata which is known as the ´Poor Man´s Galapagos´there were signs everywhere for the day tours and after talking to a few guys we decided to book for the next day as for $30 we had a chance of seeing whales as well as blue-footed boobies and frigate birds on the island followed by snorkelling with sea turtles and lunch was also included...so not a bad deal. After booking in we then went to a nearby beach called Los Frailes which is in the National Park of Machalilla, we took a tuk-tuk there and did the hour or two´s hike to the view points and beaches nearby...there was some great views and the actual beach of Los Frailes was nice so we went for a swim for the first time in ages with a lovely setting around and only the noise of the waves and the birds in the air. We then got our tuk-tuk back to Puerto Lopez and had a few games of pool at
The next day me and Al were up early and got some breakfast in before meeting the rest of the group on the tour. We then got on our boat and made our way to Isla de la Plata, on our way we happened top spot some humpback whales so we followed them around a bit and witnessed them breaching out of the water and making large splashes which was nice to see. After whale watching in Argentina it was good to have a comparison, the humpback whales were definitely more active and we saw an impressive display but I definitely got closer to the Southern Right Whales in Argentina so both are good in their own way. Next up was the island...it was then that we had a choice to make. There are 4 different walking routes you can take on the island which the guide explained all with different distances but the longer a walk is the less time you get snorkelling so everyone agreed to go on one of the shorter routes as you seemed to be able to see pretty much the same things anyway. Immediately after starting the trek you could feel
the heat and with a few older people in the group they struggled a bit when tackling the steps at the start of the trek. Within minutes of starting our trek we saw our first boobies of the day (blue-footed variety ha) and we all began to get snap happy with our cameras....one of the main reasons for going to the island was to see some blue-footed boobies which are also found on the Galapagos and I was quite shocked at how many there are around and also how tolerant they are of humans, with us all walking close to them and taking pictures without then flying off or being scared. We then continued along the path and saw more blue-footed boobies and I managed to get myself a picture with a pair :) ! Along the route there was also some great views with the sky cloud free...we then got to an area full of Frigate birds which are known for their massive red chest which the males have that inflate as a sign that they are looking for a female. Afterwards we got back on the boat for some lunch then went snorkelling with some sea turtles and
other fish although when in the water the visibility wasn't the best, we also took advantage of the roof on the boat by jumping in off the top deck splashing everyone inside which was good fun. It was then time to return to Puerto Lopez and finish a great day and a tour that was great value for money as I saw more than I was expecting. In the evening me and Al met up with a Dutch couple (Olof and Aneke) from the boat and a girl and guy from the England (Kate and Harry) at a nearby bar...it was a good few hours sharing stories and listening to a few experiences, with myself and Olof having a laugh with the English guys as they had paid a lot of money to volunteer and found it to be awful so quit after a few weeks..which Olof found funny so were all played on it a bit ha (was all taken in good spirits) afterwards as the Dutch couple were moving to Montañita next the same as us we said chao for now as we knew we would bump into them in a few days. After a short but good
time in Puerto Lopez me and Al then decided to head to the popular surf and party town of Montañita for the weekend which is just an hours bus ride south.
When you arrive in Montañita you soon notice how small it is with only a few streets but a nice long beach which is popular with surfers. The streets are all geared up for tourists with the majority of the population being tourists there to party for the weekend along with a load of people from Guayaguil on Saturday nights! There are a lot of hostals, restaurants, souvenir shops and more than the odd cocktail stand. We found ourselves a hostel just out of town then made our way to the beach for some sun and a swim in the sea...in the evening me and Al hit cocktail alley where there are 20 stands or so of people selling cocktails and they have a table each outside their stand for around 4 people to sit around, we decided to choose ourselves a few different ones and enjoyed people watching before going to a nearby club where it was ladies night where we danced into the early morning. The
next day took a similar pattern with a lot of time spent on the beach where I managed to get myself more than a touch of sunburn then we got on the cocktails again before meeting up with the Dutch couple we had met in Puerto Lopez for some drinks and a few more stories. The Saturday was the day things got really busy in Montañita with a shed load of people arriving..many being Ecuadorians. In the afternoon we watched some of the Euro´s on TV then hit the beach before meeting up with a friend of mine Amber-Jay who I had met back in Buenos Aires in October. She has been working in Guayaguil for 7 months or so now and goes to Montañita for the party´s which isn't a bad life. There was a decent size group she was with including some other English teachers and a few local friends so we all mingled and got to know eachother then had a really good and funny night dancing in an outdoor club then on the beach getting home at a reasonable 6am (still people on the beach partying). Well and truly got the feel for what Montañita is
all about and really enjoyed it and Al thought the same. The Sunday was chilled out, we hung out with some of the guys from the previous night and got an early night before leaving the next day to Guayaguil where we could meet up with Amber-Jay and the others again.
Had a great time on the coast which has helped me forget the previous events and been with some great people which always makes your time in places. Now for some more city time now before a return to Quito where I hope to find cards and a passport awaiting me...
Also thanks to everyone who sent me messages of support...much appreciated!
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