Yat's Big Trip travel blog

Our lovely little hotel, Cabañas Pakaloro

View from our balcony, of the Pacific Ocean

Our instructor's hut - far right

Iris demonstrating how she belongs to the balcony...

Our vegetarian haunt for the week... complete with various games and beer

Running into Marleen (middle, from the jungle tour) with her friends

Walking on the beach to the south of the village

Watching for low tide on rocks before walking back to town

Iris trying out a little rock climbing...

Always getting very sandy before going back to hotel!

The beach was really what Iris was really looking forward to... The one real place where she could top up her tan (her face had coloured, and her arms slightly too, but her legs had a looong way to go). I was surprised at her preferred choice of Montañita, a small fishing village on the Pacific coast, with world class surf breaks. I didn't realise she was the aspiring surfing type. Well, I LIKE the sound of surfing, but never gotten round to trying it out. Apparently the paddling is hard work, and I really don't see myself being able to stand on the board. Anyway, we could move onto to another beach if we didn't like it...

We ended up staying for six days - more, if Iris didn't have a plane to catch!

First of all, our hotel was the nicest we stayed at in Ecuador. A two-storied wooden job, with own private bathroom (and hot water, though that doesn't matter too much when it's hot outside anyways), a little balcony complete with hammock overlooking the sea. Though the room was slightly small, and we had to share a bed together (at a minute discount), we did have the best room in the hotel - in fact, we were chucked out on our last day to make way for the owner of the hotel - and were only ten steps away from the resturants and bars.

On our second day, we thought we should try out boogie-boarding, to get a feel of the whole surfing business, before taking surfing lessons. We were pretty clueless, and I mistakenly got Iris to put the wrist band on her ankle... whoops. And maybe I was using the wrong side of the board, plus that it hasn't been waxed for a bit, I ended up with really sore thighs and stomach from the friction burns. Very attractive, and I know Sami would agree that would be my "natural contraception". Still, it was fun being washed on the waves all the way back to the shore - if the riptide was slightly scary...!

Iris received burns of a different sort. Perhaps her skin was not used to the strong Equatorian sun, or a side effect of her malaria tablet, her entire back was burnt. A speedy purchase of a bottle of Aloe Vera was required to give her some relief. Hence she developed her catchphrase of the vacation, "oush!", whenever she parked her bum somewhere new.

We signed up for surfing lesson on Monday, with Eusebio, whom we later found out to be the Ecuador representative in the Latino Olympic Games. He actually came seventh, not out of ten, as I had joked, but out of some two hundred entrants. You would expect then, that we would have some success with such an instructor. Well, I was so thrilled by the speed and force of my first wave, that I totally forgot to try to stand up. And after a few attempts, Iris sat defeatedly on the beach, as her surfboard gave her a "kiss", and she had to nurse a swollen lip. Though we weren't quite the naturals as some of the other girls we saw, I was still pretty pleased by my own performance. I did manage to stand up a few times, and did not injure myself or any other unsuspecting people. Actually, a slight lie... The back of my right arm had a really big bruise, still visible (and feelable) week on...

So with the first few days full of strenuous activities, the rest of the week was needed to nurse ourselves back to health. By now, Iris had adjusted to my body clock, and after brunch, it was faaar too hot to go on any excursions to nearby towns (Iris pleading for her burnt skin), so the afternoons were spent mainly on our balcony - Iris now addicted to "The Woman in White", and I was trying to study some Spanish. A couple of hours before sunset though, we would walk to one beach to the north, and another to the south, for a game of "Twister" in the sand, and promoting some sandskating. Then we would go out for dinner, and drinking the evening away.

Another reason why we liked Montañita so much. There was an exclusively vegetarian restaurant, where for once, I could literally choose anything I liked from the menu! Somewhat pricey, but the portion was big enough for the two of us to share, and so we ended up eating there at least once a day. Pretty unusual for me to keep going back to the same place, but I was seduced by the black mushroom risotto, ok!! On our first night, we met a sweetcorn seller, selling the most deliciously barbequed corn on the cob, marinated with a green herby source. Even Iris managed to eat two by herself. Unfortunately, we didn't see him again until our last night, and we spent the week lamenting on the lack of corn in our daily diet...

There were a few things I wanted Iris to try before she left... Such as riding in the back of a pick up truck, looking at shooting stars (I was the only one to see a little one, when we decided to star gaze on an overcast night) and sleeping in a dorm. But all things considered, I think we have done pretty well. Of all the countries so far, I have seen the most of Ecuador, and we have tried out various activities and lived out in various climates and environments. Iris managed to catch up with tanning (her arms were on par with mine), and both our Spanish improved somewhat. Though expecting Ecuador to be dirty and backwards, she was pleasantly surprised at how "regular" everything was. In fact, she didn't even get sick once, well... until was cooked fish in creamy sauce when returned to Southampton on her first night!

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