Ecuador, March 2, 2012: Puerto López and the Coast
We chose Puerto López as a stop because it is a launching point for boat tours to La Isla de la Plata, an island off the coast billed as “the poor man’s Galápagos” in our guidebook and known for its wildlife and natural beauty. It was a site we’d factored into our itinerary when planning the trip, and we were up at 7:00am on our first morning in Puerto López, ready to go…only to find out that tours weren’t running to the island that day. The reason had something to do with maintenance on the island, but the exact explanation was unclear. So, as an alternative we decided to spend the day in Montañita, a small surfer town about 40K South along the coast, in the hope that tours would be back up and running the following day.
Montañita is Ecuador’s hippy surfer town, an obvious tourist/back backer hub, full of outdoor restaurants and souvenir shops. We arrived around 10am and spent a few hours lying on the beach with a couple of beers, taking turns dipping into the warm ocean. I thought I was lying in the shade for the most part, but apparently not, as I managed to get some odd burn marks all over my body. I must have done a poor job of applying sunscreen.
For lunch, we all enjoyed some nice fish at a local Montañita joint (the fish has proven to be the best menu option in Ecuador) then hopped in the car to check out another small beach town a few minutes North. The drizzle began just as we arrived, so the boys got Piña Coladas and we all hung out under a tent on the sand for a while, chatting and enjoying our surroundings. After that, it was home for a shower and a few games of cards over beers on the balcony. And it was right about then that the power went out. Ecuador in the dark! The hostel owner set up candles around the hallways, and a couple of local businesses were able to stay open because they had generators. We ended up having a very tasty meal over candlelight, cards and more beer, right out on the main drag of Puerto López. It was interesting to see the town come alive in the darkness. People came out of their homes into the street, forming what resembled an impromptu block party. We stayed out, chatting and playing cards until 11pm, when we all hit the hay. I slept well, even without the air conditioner. Luckily the window had a screen, so we were able to keep it open and listen to the sound of the rain all night long.