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Two different perspectives of the same day...

Written on: Sunday September 23rd, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Author: Julie

Hola!

This morning we boarded a local bus heading north along la Ruta del Sol towards our next destination: the fishing village of Puerto Lopez. It known for tours to the poor man?s Galapagos: Las Isla de la Plata, located 40km out at sea. Having decided to not fly to the Galapagos this was the next best option for us to experience the seabird colonies, turtles, and iguanas we would have missed. Also, in the months of August and September, large groups of Humpback whales migrate from Antarctica, along the Humboldt current to feed, court, and mate before heading back down.

Arriving in Puerto Lopez, we grabbed our bags and hoofed it toHosteria Itapoa, located in the northern part of the village. We met the owner Maria and her big dog Scooby-Doo who showed us the cutest cabin complete with a loft and lookout over the other cabanas. Loving it, we took it and dropped our bags at our new casa. Talking with Maria, she asked if we had planned on going to the island in the next couple of days. She had 3 other Canadian women staying at her hostel and we could join their tour group tomorrow. We said of course, handed over the tour price (30$ each) + park entrance fee for 5 days (20$ each) and she took care of the rest. Wow, that was easy. We thought we would have to visit multiple tour agencies and compare prices, boats, and offerings. Next order of business, eating! We were famished from the uncomfortable bus ride. We had to ride with our bags on our lap since the bus was so full there was no more room in the storage container for our stuff. I slept with my head supported by my bag most of the way, I couldn?t see anything!

Along the malecon of Puerto Lopez, all of the restaurants specialise in seafood. We sat at small restaurant, looking through the 5 page menu listing various ways of preparing shrimp, calamari, white fish, conch, huge mussels, octopus, and lobster. I opted for the breaded shrimp while Kevin, being a bit of a rebel, asked for steak. It was all delicious and we ate our huge plates till there was nothing left, all for 10$. We love this country and we love the great exchange rate too!

After our meal, we needed to stretch our legs a bit so we walked along the malecon, admiring the blue fishing boats bobbing in the bay, the pelicans crash landing into the waves, the quiet of the beach, and the occasional seashell washed up to shore by the light tide. We worked out way back towards our hotel, then passed it as I wanted to see the other hotel we had considered visiting before Itapoa. It was highly recommended by our guidebook but in the higher end of our budget. It?s called Hosteria Mandala and it is absolutely beautiful. The walk towards it is framed by coconut palm trees each with an attached written fact on dolphins and humpback whales. Almost at the entrance of the hostel is a completely rebuilt model of a humpback whale from bones. It was huge! We couldn?t wait for our tour to the island. Walking through the entrance of the hostel, we were met by the owner who wanted to give us a tour. It is a labyrinth of gardens, all lovingly planted and groomed by him. Set amidst all the greenery are small cabins with hammocks. We were amazed at how beautiful and serene it was. Our little cabana with a loft wasn?t looking so hot anymore. He explained that he had been building this place for the past 10 years, had to have all the black earth trucked in and it costs him 6$ a day to water all the plants. There is a water shortage in Puerto Lopez and it has to be trucked in daily. That adds up quite fast! We are thinking of spending our last night in Puerto Lopez at the Mandala to treat ourselves.

We finally fell asleep to the quiet of waves, no techno music and the occasional rooster crowing. Ah, a full night of interrupted sleep is what the doctor ordered.

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Author; Kevin

There are many different forms of transportation in Ecuador, as well as different costs but the bus is by far the cheapest. Our goal was to get the hell out of Montanita and find the next quiet town with a view of the Pacific. As we stood at the bus stop, our options for getting to Peurto Lopez included riding by taxi or in someone?s custom made car, hopping into the back of a truck or riding on the back of a rickshaw/motorcycle. Buses pass through Montanita to Peurto Lopez every fifteen minutes and cost $2.50 for the two hour ride. The first bus was too full to pick us up, but there was minimal room on the second one that passed. With our 5 bags of gear we crammed our bodies into two tiny seats. I hung my head and arm outside the window to try to combat the feelings of Closter phobia, and took pictures to keep my mind distracted.

One route, the landscape is lush and green and everything just grows on top of each other, with bromilias growing in trees, and moss growing on branches. The road we drove on is muddy and the driver is swerving to avoid large puddles and pot holes. The bus continues to stop to pick up more passengers, even though the bus has no more seats people just pile in. At least the salsa music the driver listening to is loud enough for all of us to enjoy and the swaying bus once again rocks Julie to sleep.

Peurto Lopez is a fishing village tucked into a sandy cove with rolling hills on both sides that cascade into the ocean. The surf is mild and perfect for the men to moor their blue and white fishing boats. The sand is soft and brown, and there are very few seashells on the beach.

From the bus stop in Peurto Lopez we set out to find our hostel ?Hosteria Itapoa?. Being independent travellers we passed on offers from taxi drivers to take us there. Instead we accepted their generous directions, which they provided to us with smiles. I wondered if our drivers back home would be this accommodating?? Once we arrived we set our bags down and crashed on the bed before us.

The afternoon was in full swing and more Salsa music blasting from speakers down the block. Ah here we go again?will we ever get some quality sleep? Not tonight. As it turns out, there was some type of celebration going on that would last throughout the night and into the morning. Its 2 pm and men are already into the rum and beer. To the left a group of thirty men are shouting and laughing and make there way to plastic tables, with decks of cards on them. On the right side of the street, some men are greasing a pole, which they will later attempt to climb. Prizes are nailed to the top of the pole (12 feet high), if they can manage to grab one without falling. Later we see a swimming race and figure that these games could be all tied together like a poker run.

The rest of the day was walking around town, ate some good sea food and took a cold shower before going to bed. If you are coming to Ecuador and are a light sleeper or need a lot of sleep, bring ear plugs. The DJ playing music on the street, talked till 6am, while the Salsa music pumped in the background. Roosters start clucking at 5am and don?t stop all day, some siren goes off at 6:30am, and if you are lucky a brass band will march by the hostel at 7:00am. Are we bitter? Nah, I wouldn?t trade places with anyone yet.