I had the dorm to myself on the final night in Banos which was great as I had to get up early for the bus and it meant I didn’t wake anyone up leaving. I arrived at the bis station as instructed and was told to wait on the benches. I waited 20 minutes and nothing. It was approaching the leaving time off the bus but the woman said I should wait. A few minutes later and she told me to follow her. We left the station and it dawned on me that the bus was heading for the main road, it pulled up and I jumped on. I wasn’t sure how long the journey to Guayaquil would last so I settled in for a long journey. Turns out it’s 7 hours and I arrived around 2pm.
This city was huge, and is the biggest in Ecuador. I wasn’t stopping for long as my final stop for the day was Salinas. I found myself in a shopping centre so ran for the toilets and upon passing the food court grabbed a McDonald’s for $3 and then quickly headed to buy a bus ticket. After approaching several wrong booths I found out there was a bus leaving in 10mins. I was instructed to follow two people who brought a ticket ahead of me but they went the wrong way. Actually it turns out I did and the bus left from the second floor. I made it up there and the bus left,
Checking my map the bus seemed to be heading the wrong way. I checked and my ticket said Santa Elena, not Salinas and I realised they sounded similar. I resisted the urge to run to the driver and another passenger assured me it was the right way. It was but after another 2.5 hours I needed to get a third bus. I was stole I could get a taxi but just outside the station a bus was leaving and that cost 30 cents. It wound its way along the streets and after around an hour I found the hostel.
A Spanish girl checked me in and I found out I was the only guest. Now I had WiFi o wanted to plan out my next few days at the beach and I was too tired to make a proper decision. I decided to spend one more night here so I could walk tomorrow without too much pressure and then go to Ayangue and Montanita over the following days. I relaxed at the hostel and then went out for dinner to try some sea food. This is afterall why I am here. So I found a popular restaurant and had some shrimp.
After I went to relax in my hostel ready for hiking he next day. Okay, so I’ll be upfront and say that Salinas was not on my hit list. It’s not really on anyone’s as it tends to be locals who visit here, although I’ve heard more and more English speakers are coming here to retire and when you Google Salinas all you get it houses to buy. I was told I should go to a place called La Chocolatera, which is a little bit of land jutting out into the ocean. Now the problem with the coast at the moment is that it’s permanently overcast, just like Lima. The sun returns in November but that’s too late for me. Still I was only here a few days so I set out to complete my task.
I had breakfast and started my hike. It was only 4km from town so I figured it would be fairly easy. As it was overcast I didn’t put on suncream and that would prove to be a mistake. After a few wrong turns and being turned back from security check points I found myself near the beach. There was a warning about live rounds bing fires but I couldn’t see any red flags so decided to cross the last piece of land before I reached the beach. I was headed to another viewpoint when a man on a motorbike approached me and said they were having a Tsunami training so in 15 mins the beach would be evacuated. I quickly headed to the viewpoint and had a little look at the sea lions and birds before I headed back to be evacuated.
I headed along the road to La Chocolatera but not really wanting to go the whole way along the road I skirted back to the beach that was now deserted or evacuated. I followed the path to the viewpoint and came very close to some giant birds. Before I could get my camera out they flew away.
Eventually I reached the view point I’d been heading towards. There were a number of people here as a few tour busses had arrived. I kicked myself for a second and then realised I wouldn’t have gotten one even if I knew they existed. I had a walk around the area and took some photos.
I decided to walk back along the road and saw a man coming back from the hill so I decided to follow the path up to the mirador. I spotted a friendly lizard on the way
And I got upclose to some big birdys.
It wasn’t too far to the top and at this point it was getting quite warm and the sun began to be a force through the clouds. The view was great and it was just a shame the weather wasn’t great as it’s a really nice beach town.
I had a coke and some crisps whilst I reflected and caught my breath before heading back to town. By this time I could feel I was burning but there was nothing to be done and I covered my neck. On returning to the hostel I realised my legs were red, which is weird as it’s the first colour they have had on them since 2005 so not all bad but I was sad to have sunburn on my first day at the beach.
I had been told I should try shrimp Ceviche so I headed out to a little second of the town which is covered with sea food restaurants.
The dish was delicious so I went off in search of ice cream as I felt I deserved some after the hike. I found a place that did crepes and didn’t realise I’d ordered a no crepe dish. I was a little disappointed by the ice cream as it want Argentinian standards but it hit the spot
After I had a little walk along the beach. I had intended to relax and sit there but it was around 4pm and people were starting to leave. Instead I headed back to the hostels and read my book in the hammock.
Later that night I decided to take a break from the seafood and went to a Mexican restaurant for tacos which were delicious and then returned to the hostel, where I was still the only guest. One of the owners dogs has been killed te day before by a car so they had decided not to take any more bookings. I watched Netflix and went to bed.
The breakfast hadn’t been great at the hostel so I went around the corner to a cafe. I discovered they had cheese toasties on the menu so snapped those up and got a cup of proper coffee before returning to the hostel to get my things.
Today I was excited. I was going to Ayangue which I’d been told about by a Swedish couple all the way back in Buenos Aires. Today I would be getting $10 lobster. I jumped on the local bus back to the terminal in Santa Elena and then quickly brought a ticket for another bus heading up the coast which was also leaving immediately. I was having good luck with busses right now.
The bus dropped me and several others at the side of the road and three of us quickly got into a can which took us the further 3km into town. I would have walked but 3km is just over my limit. I checked into my hostel, this time I had a double room to myself. I was feeling a little stressed out by this point as the hostel I’d wanted to book for the next day in Montanita was now sold out I’d accidentally booked a room for the Sunday and the day before there had been lots of beds left. I’d arrived in another hostel where I was the only guest and Montanita was a party town, so I didn’t want to be stuck in alone. At this time I was waiting for a reply from the hostel about moving my booking.
I stayed in the room using the WiFi and refreshing my emails. At last I had one and they said they would see if there were any dorms left. I decided to head to the beach but couldn’t relax to due to the hostel situation. This is what I mean when solo travel is lonely sometimes and after a while I start to become paranoid that I won’t meet anyone’s again. I always do but it’s one of those things that hit you.
I walked along the beach and there were lots of restaurants serving seafood. I picked on that was fairly busy and was told the lobster was $15. I was a little annoyed for not haggling or going somewhere else but I’d made my bed so I’d eat it. The lobster was delicious but i couldn’t relax so after I headed back to the hostel.
Still no response from the next hostel so I decided to go back to the beach and read until it was too cold. I sat in a chair under a gazebo and was shocked but again stupidly didn’t argue when I was told it was $5. I paid and then read for the next few hours. By this time I’d had a reply from the hostel and was told they only had rooms which were a lot more expansive. Not being able to make a decision I called Brad. It’s weird sometimes, making decisions can be really hard. I’d probably have been fine to have booked any hostel in town but in my head I’d decided I kept booking the wrong hostels and to be fair for the past 3 weeks I’d ended up on quiet hostels and I didn’t want to repeat that. Brad talked me through it and helped me make a decision.
Around 8pm I decided Togo our for food and see if I could meet someone. There were some bars on the beach so I headed for these but only one had people there and I felt they didn’t look sociable so decided to come back later. The town was as busy as it could be so I brought a burger from a street vendor and a some beer and headed back to the hostel with the plan of going back to the bars around 10pm. At 10pm I was too tired to do anything so went to bed. At this point I wished I’d just come here for the afternoon but it’s all an experience. I learnt a lot this day.
The next day I woke up to blue skies and after being told the checkout wasn’t until 12 I headed back to the beach to get some photos. You can see it’s a really pretty cover that is protected from the wider ocean and the water is warm. This is where you will realise I’m never satisfied as now I wanted to stay to enjoy the sunshine.
Is been messaging Rosi, who lived nearby, and she was heading to Olon, a town just north of Montanita and said she would en happy to show me around. I decided to check out early and head up to my next hostel. So I jumped in a taxi to the next road and almost straight away a bus pulled up and I jumped on.
Montanita is a party town for both locals and tourists a like. It’s a place where people go surfing and drinking and I’m not sure what else, but is essentially full of clubs. Not really my ideal but i hadn’t been out in ages and I’d been told I should visit. I arrived around 11am and the town was sleepy. My hostel was 20 mins walk down a muddy track and when I arrived they were a bit rubbish. I was told that I couldn’t check in until 1pm and then promptly ignored. I realised later that the staff were hung over and I managed to carve out a little spot until someone arrived who knew what was going on. I waited until 1pm, was let into my room, which was lovely, had a shower and jumped on a bus to meet Rosi.
Rosi was lovely and could speak good English but insisted on speaking Spanish so I could learn. I think I understood about 25% and she took the time to speak slowly and repeat herself many times until I understood. We had ceviche for lunch and then took a walk up the beach, before walking to a lookout point.
It was a fun afternoon and was really good to practice my Spanish and to see a place I otherwise would not have. When it started getting dark we went to the main road and had to wait a long time to get a bus back. I jumped off near my hostel and realised I’d been attacked my mosquitos.
At the hostel I put my name down for dinner and retreated to my room until dinner was nearly ready. I forced myself to go to the bar and had planned on sitting there except s big group of really young people were at the bar, in fancy dress and there was no way I could get involved. I pulled up a bar stool but after a couple of failed conservations I retreated to a table and wrote more of my blog.
I really felt I’d made a bad decision by coming to the hostel as everyone was so young. As dinner was served a few guys joined me and we got talking, and afterward I met more people as the goth went on. Around midnight people decided to go to the town and I joined. It was crazy and so loud. We brought some drinks on the streets and visited a few clubs, they don’t seem to mind that everyone took drinks from place to place.
After dancing for a while lost people ended up on the beach and was just killing around. I was exhausted and decided to call it a night around 3am. I’m not sure the last time I stayed up that late! I woke up tired and confused around 8am. I knew I had to check out by 11am but I didn’t have a plan. As I was checking though messages a girl told me that the weather in Cuenca was good. I had wanted to check out the national park and was desperate to see some blue sky so made a decisión to go there.
Over breakfast I was talking to some of the hostel staff and they advised me to go to a hostel, so I booked it and was glad another decision was made for me. Breakfast was delicious and at 11:30am I headed to the main road to flag down a bus for the first part of my next journey.