It’s only been 4 days and it already feels like we’ve been gone for weeks. We arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador close to midnight and found that the hotel we’d booked wasn’t even close to our expectations. The city made up for it by regaling us with a park full of prehistoric looking iguanas across the street.
After two days of strolling along the city we took a 5am bus and had breakfast in Montanita, a great little town which caters mostly to foreign surfers. Halfway thru the ride a young man asked to be left by the side of the road. Before letting him out, the bus rider asked aloud if anyone was missing anything. We thought it a bit odd but when 20mins. later a young man ran to the front of the bus screaming about his camera being gone it made sense. By then we were too far away to turn back, the poor guy was frantic since he was also missing two very expensive lenses and 100USD. It turns out he had also been robbed the previous day on a different bus ride, why that experience didn’t teach him to keep valuables on his body at all times we can’t understand.
The boys “adopted” a stray dog and named it Cookie in honor of the cookies they surreptitiously kept feeding it. The cookies I zealously guard for emergencies no less! Surprisingly one of the thoughest issues has been convincing the boys that we can’t feed the many strays roaming everywhere.
After spending the morning walking on the beach and looking at curio shops, we stood by the side of the highway and flagged down the next bus to Puerto Lopez, a fishing village. As soon as we got off, we were overwhelmed by men trying to sell us tours to the surrounding sights and finally succumbed to the most perseverant one. That afternoon he took us to Playa Frailes in a makeshift motorbike taxi. A 3mile stretch of soft sand and turquoise ocean. We had the entire beach to ourselves for over two hours and returned to our hostel (also secured by our faithful guide) exhausted from the day’s events.
The next morning, our guide made sure we got up in time to take the tour to Isla de la Plata. We met at the harbor at the time the fishing boats were coming in with their product. We saw about 10 medium sized sharks and a swordfish among the rest of the catch. The sharks are meticulously measured and recorded before being hacked into pieces right there on the beach.
On the boat ride to the island we stopped to watch humpback whales jump up and play. The humpbacks come to the area around Pto. Lopez to mate and give birth from June thru August. They were a beautiful sight and we couldn’t help feeling giddy watching them. On the island, our guide took us on a grueling 3hr hike to the highest points. It was worth it though because we got to see many blue footed boobies, fragatas, tropical birds and even an albatross guarding her egg. All these birds are now in their mating and hatching season, some were dancing around hoping to secure a mate, some had eggs and a few had chicks already. On the way back, we stopped to snorkel among a myriad of colorful fish. Best money we ever spent.
During this tour Fernando made friends, as he commonly does, with a native ecuatorian and his very pregnant wife who offered to give us a ride back to Guayaquil. It was a bit cramped, so much so that the boys requested we not take rides from people anymore but it was nice to have that sense of community however fleeting it was.
As I write this, we’re boarding a plane which will take us to the Galapagos Islands and we’re all crazy excited about that!