Saturday, May 26, 2012

welcome to ecuador: you want a hammock with that?

buenos aires, 5:30am, waiting for a taxi.

arriving at night we had no idea where we ended up. after a day that began in buenos aires at 4:30am and ended after two taxis and three flights, we heard the sound of the ocean somewhere nearby. but it was pitch black and we were wiped out. the fine folks at la hosteria mandala showed us our room and a beautiful looking bed and zzzzz...

in the morning, however, wow. buenos aires was turning cold and the leaves were falling from the trees and we were needing to wear our jeans far more often than we wanted to. so, scheduled to be in cuenca, ecuador to house-sit during the month of june, we decided to spend the next three weeks at the beach about 100 miles south of the equator and we high-tailed it to puerto lopez. hello pacific ocean! 

puerto lopez, ecuador 10:30am, waiting for nothing at all.

after breakfast we were told "just take a couple of these hammocks with you to the beach and tie them up in one of our cabanas for the day." well, indeed. and we did. just the thing for a day of recovery.

we're constantly amazed where a credit card and an internet connection will bring you. after lots of slow travel, with short hops on buses or trains, through europe and southeast asia, we've made a couple of big hops lately. turns out, south america is huge! someone should make a map. so consider this an open thank you to all the transportation employees (well, most of them) out there who allowed us to wake up in a city nearly 4000 miles away from where we started. all in one day.

the great thing about staying in puerto lopez is that it combines a beach vibe with an actual town. each day, we walk into town for laundry, or food, or to watch the fishing boats bring their fish to the market at the north end of the beach.

after two weeks now, we've cut the time it takes to tie up a couple hammocks from about ten minutes to maybe four. we've mastered the art of the double-hitch-over-the-shoulder-boulder knot, or whatever it's called, saving precious extra minutes for hammock time. our biggest success in the first week.

having lazed about like melons for the first week, we then decided to add some structure to our free hours and take another week of spanish lessons. this fine decision resulted in a daily commute of 25 minutes,  walking along the beach from one end to the other on our way to school. we conjugated verbs and tangled with indirect objects while being wind-blown for a couple of hours each day. walking back through town after class we got to know our local fruit vendors, "practice" our spanish with them and become quite familiar with the street-side bakery selling all kinds of things stuffed with dulce de leche (milk candy). thank god for those 25 minute walks to school each day or we would be five pounds heavier. then it's back to the hammocks (see the trend?) to study spanish and lull about for the rest of the afternoon.

fish market end of the beach, puerto lopez, ecuador. the streets are lined with cevicherias. 

los musicos at el resturante. 'i'm taking what they're giving 'cause i'm working for a living.'
go ahead, try to say no to grilled meat and a cold beer at midnight on the beach. just try it, it can't be done.
puerto lopez, ecuador.

bobbing at the beach among the boats. this is about as busy as this place gets. puerto lopez, ecuador.

not real dolphins. puerto lopez,

this place is doubled-over with wildlife, too. there's an ever-present cloud of frigate birds hovering on the wind currents and forming a giant mobile forty feet above the beach. that's the first thing you see, then it's pelicans swooping down everywhere and the vultures who live on the discarded fish and octopuses from the boats each day. on morning runs on the beach we've come across washed up sea turtles and some blue-footed boobies (that's right, i said boobies), along with thousands of sand crabs constantly darting for their holes as we approach. sand dollars and starfish litter the beach, as well as some of the most perfect shells this side of a doctor seuss story.

view point, top of trail, los frailes beach, ecuador.

then we took a day trip to los frailes beach and just when we thought the coast couldn't get any better, it did! one of the great success stories of land conservation here in ecuador, los frailes is one of the single most beautiful beaches we've ever seen. it's strikingly similar to the coastline of california, too, which gave us a bit of homesickness. but we walked it off. :) well, actually, we washed it off in the "sulphur lagoon" of the neighboring pueblo of agua blanca.

a hammock with a view. puerto lopez, ecuador.
one more week on the coast and our travels will bring us to the colonial city of cuenca, up in the mountains at about 9,000ft elevation. it's going to be quite a change and we're looking forward to the diversity of this tiny country. in the meantime, we have six more days to perfect our hammock vibe and embarrass ourselves with our spanish in the central market and around town. thankfully, ecuadorians have so far been incredibly forgiving. we're told that the people in cuenca speak a really slow, sing-song spanish that is perfect for beginners to understand and practice on. we'll report back.


  1. Looks fascinating. I'm interested in equador, but not really the cities. Beach villages sound awesome.

    How did you get there?

  2. What a simply perfect time you all have carved out and so well communicated. My only sadness is I wish we were there to enjoy it all with you. Puerto Lopez sounds perfect and a nice respite between cities. We know you guys are going to love Cuenca and I'm looking forward to seeing Russ in his new Panama hat.

  3. hey rob,

    the coast of ecuador has been great so far. we've only been here two weeks. we're no experts but any other part of ecuador yet, but puerto lopez is easy to get to know. we flew from quito to manta, an hour and a half drive north of puerto lopez, and took a car. you can get cheap buses but we were arriving late at night after many hours of travel so we decided to spring for the car. it's pretty easy around here to catch buses. we'll be on our first this friday.

    thanks for reading!

  4. warren!

    always great to have you lurking around the blog. :)


  5. Cool blog and great photography Michelle ;) Next time your around here you need to go to Salango and eat at El Delphin Magico, went with the boys the other day, different grade seafood Sir. I'm leaving soon and starting to prepare mentally for the mountains, hows the elevation treating you ?

    hasta luego,