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Day Tripping Up the Coast to Puerto Lopez

ECUADOR | Tuesday, 13 November 2007 | Views [985]

We've spent several days just relaxing here in Punta Ayampe in "June gloom" weather. Windy conditions have given way to glassy morning surf sessions, yoga and meditation on the ocean view deck, and just chillin', taking the chance to catch up on reading, writing and growing our Spanish vocabulary. Darrin's out taking National Geographic type photos of monster iguanas living in the tree tops below the view line of the deck. It's a peaceful, relaxing scene here, and did I mention how incredible the food is, and the tasty rich coffee? Organic, tasty, healthy and filling! I ventured into Puerto Lopez today with our buddy Marco and one of the hotel business partners. We take the local bus to check out this little town, catch up on emails and just experience local life here. The bus is rickety with fringy window decor moving in rhythm with the shaking and turning of the bus. There's a huge "70's" style speaker lodged above the driver's head, and the bus is packed. It's not even 50 cents for the 40 minute ride. We make many stops along the way; at one little farm stop a whole extended family loads on, grandma, grandpa, their sons and daughters, their kids, and their kid's kids, and freshly birthed newbies wrapped in wool blankets around the female backs, sweltering in the heat. They're all chatting away, huge smiles, and freshly laundered clothes, slicked back hair for the men and boys, and that scent of pungent cologne so familiar among Latin American men. They're off for a family outing to the next town north of here. We pass desolate strips of beach, lush jungle, small fishing villages and the rare vacation housing communities for rich citizens of Guayaquil who have made this strip of beach between Olon and Montañita their vacation getaway. For the most part, though, the coastline is speckled with 4-walled shelters that serve as homes for the locals who fish and grow tropical fruits. In Puerto Lopez, it's a bigger town than what I had imagined. It's the jumping off point for tourists heading to Isla de la Plata, or what they call "Poor Man's Galapagos". The town is like a dusty Baja fishing town, but with a ton of little cafes and travel agencies. We pop into the only working internet cafe full of school children doing homework. As I sit here confirming and paying reservations for our hostel in Lima and Guayaquil, I feel little bodies and hands pressed against my back. I'm surrounded by little kids, curiously looking over my shoulder at my emails, in a foreign language to them. A group of young girls are their doing their special project next to me - all seven of them crammed into one cubicle, mind-mapping a graphical document of Princess Diana's life. The oldest girl, 15 years old, will probably be married and starting to have children within the next two years. Our hotel owner tells us these girls, even at 13 years old here, are sexually active, and most by 16 will be married and living the child rearing life. The girls only looked to be about 12 years old, so tiny, dressed up in their stylish tight jeans and strappy little tight, revealing tops. We roam the town a bit, the boardwalk chock-o-block with local fisherman watching the sea, and auto rickshaws cruising the street looking for business. This is the one place, outside of India, where we've seen auto rickshaws being used. We wonder who introduced this great means of transportation into Latin America. The wind is picking up, dirt devils swirl in the streets and we duck into the local panaderia for a pan and chocolate sweet, hopping on the next bus back to Ayampe before the rain dumps. Another fabulous dinner, personal hand crafted pizzas led the way for a great nights sleep to the sound of rain overhead.

Tags: Beaches & sunshine

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