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Published: January 28th 2010
in Puerto Lopez
It’s easy to see how a couple of weeks here in Montañita and the surrounding environs could turn into a couple of years without being cognizant of the time. The laidback atmosphere penetrates everything. The actual town of Montañita is a traffic jam of surfer hostels and hippies braiding hair and selling hemp bracelets. The plethora of ex-pats, I believe like most similar communities, encourages the movement of more ex-pats to the area. Based on a recommendation from my friend, Chuck (originally from San Diego who lives in a nearby community), I stayed about two blocks away from the main town of Montañita and a world away in el Barrio de Trigillo. When you turn down my two-car wide, dirt road, your pace slows down, butterflies flitter in front of you and bird song fills the air. It’s nostalgically farm-fresh smelling (how I long for my youthful days of farming in Los Angeles!). On my leisurely stroll to buy fresh bread one morning, I passed my neighbors, a 40ish, Chilean dreadlocked couple. “Hasta luego, vecinos!” I shouted. The husband hit his marijuana pipe in the middle of the road then gave me a wave.
On my second day in Montañita,
I went over to Chuck’s house about 5 minutes up the coast in a town called Curia. There are maybe a few hundred people who live in this town, 3 blocks by 3 blocks. We went for a dip in the ocean and literally, for miles on either side of us, no one else was on the beach. There are only about 5 houses on the beach. It was amazing. Wild. Chuck and I decided to hop on a bus north. Twenty-five cents and twenty minutes later, we were in the town of La Entrada, I believe named so because it is the entrance to where the jungle comes out to the coast. It was low tide so Chuck and I walked along the beach for about 30 minutes inspecting the tide pools. At one point, the sand changed and became a lovely rosy pink color. Unfortunately, photos didn’t capture the hue.
Back on the road, we continued north to the bustling sea port of Puerto Lopez. It’s quite the metropolis compared to the other towns I’ve passed through, with a population of approximately 8,000 people (according to the painfully outdated, yet most recent, South America Lonely Planet book).
Pte. Lopez is a fishing industry hub. There was actually a mercado (about one block by one block) where we had lunch. It’s the first mercado I’ve seen that also offers hair cuts! My favorite thing I saw in Pte. Lopez? Pink baby chicks! Dunno why they dye the chicks pink. Chuck guessed it was to tell which are male and which are female. I’ll buy that. But how do you know before the dye which are male vs female??
The following day, I thought I’d hang out in Montañita and take in the local scene. I had heard there was a surf competition going on that day but it was actually the following weekend. This was Saturday, high season. And man, was the beach crowded. I decided I liked the empty beaches of Curia better. So I bought some lunch and hopped on the bus. Curia was also crowded. There had to be at least 20-25 people within view! I did see a lot of people driving by on huge 4 wheel drive ATVs. That looked really fun. I thought if I stayed another day, maybe I could look into renting one. Ultimately, I left the following morning.
My skin, now tan, was indicating it was time for a reprieve from the sun. I had entertained the idea of taking the entire “Ruta del Sol” along the coast of Ecuador but I had still along ways to go, tired skin and date for carnaval in Baranquilla to make.
The following morning was a Sunday. All the direct buses to Guayaquil had sold out for the day. So I took a bus to the city of La Libertad, which the Lonely Planet describes as an “ugly, dusty, busy port.” But I quite liked the feel of it. I had to cross the town plaza and head down toward the last main street before the ocean. I was surprised to see the water through the buildings was that turquoise green we usually reserve for describing tropical destinations. I appreciated the detour as I got to see many of the astonishingly beautiful beaches along la Ruta del Sol I had missed on the bus ride up. I tried to jot down names of the most spectacular, in case I get to return one day. From La Libertad, I took another bus to Quayaquil. In Quayaquil, I hopped yet another bus
up to Quito. Somewhere between that second freezing cold bus and the third, humid and muggy bus, which took me from coastal heat through rainy, lush, midlands and finally up to the dizzying heights of Quito, I caught a cold. I didn’t want to believe it a first, but alas, this is what has happened and what has kept me from posting a new blog.
Fortunately, Aunt Sue and Uncle Dan’s friend, Linda, has let me stay with her again and encouraged me to take all the time I need to recuperate. We went to see Avatar in 3D together which was something I had really hoped to do. I originally thought I’d spend two nights/one day in Quito. I guess it’s been four nights now with probably one more to go. I had wanted to hop on an early bus this morning for the 5 hour ride into Colombia, but Linda convinced me otherwise and truth be told, I was very grateful for another morning of sleeping in, in a modern apartment, where I’m not for want of anything.
Most importantly, my head feels clear enough to update you all and let you know that despite a little glitch in the travel plans, all is well!
Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/69192286@N00/sets/72157623285408126/
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