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Excursion to Punta Blanca and Montañita

Guayaquil, Punta Blanca and Montañita


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Excursion weekend! We left on Saturday the 15th and came back the next evening. I and the other teachers from the language school where I work had been invited to a party held at Punta Blanca by the British Consulate in celebration of the Queen's birthday, and after that finished we carried on up the coast to the surfers' town of Montañita for the night and next day.

The dress code was pretty simple - we had to wear white or cream as much as possible, and a hat. I hadn't managed to get a hat before we left, but the situation got resolved when we were nearly out of Guayaquil. We stopped at a rare traffic light and were surprised by the amount of traders who descended upon us and the other cars; it's normal for a couple to wander round cars at traffic lights further into the city, but not for so many to do so at once. All of a sudden someone asked me "Don't you need a hat?" I looked to my right and saw a trader with a couple of piles of hats walk past, so he was stopped and a couple of hats were passed back to me to choose from hurriedly. Just then the lights changed so we pulled over to continue the transaction. I paid $5 for a wide-brimmed, tightly woven but semi-floppy white hat. I'm glad I bought it,because it will come in very handy in the future, especially with the sun as hot as it is.

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The scenery wasn't spectacular like it is further up the coast and in the Andes, but it was still different to the UK. It was quite hilly (though not mountainous) a lot of the time and the sides of them were covered in bushes and shrubbery, some green and some brown with the occasional touch of pink. We did pass a banana plantation at one point though, and a field of what some of the others said was plantain at an early stage. Quite often billboards appeared at the side of the road - a series of Coca-Cola ones and a series of Banco Pichincha ones are two lots I remember. In Ecuador (and in Bolivia and Peru from what I remember when Dave and I were there), out in the middle of the countryside you quite often come across political slogans and murals painted onto shack and shop walls, even abandoned ones. The name of Rafael Correa appeared a lot - the current president of Ecuador.

On entry we had to sign the visitor's book that I noticed had been printed specially for this occasion, and were given a glass of wine each by a waiter. Then we found a table and sat down. Soon a waiter began bringing us each a plate of small empanadas and Ecuadorian ceviche. It was all delicious – some of my students have told me about ceviche and how it's different to the Peruvian sort, so I was glad I could finally try it. In Peru ceviche is raw fish with lime and chilli - Dave and I had some when we were there but I didn’t like it because of the chilli – but in Ecuador you can have other kinds of seafood as well, and the fish at least is cooked, albeit still cold; the sauce has tomato in it, and there isn’t any chilli. In our mini glasses of ceviche at the party, however, there were only prawns, no fish. It was delicious, as were the empanadas. As well as wine they had free beer and soft drinks as well, so we found no reason to resist...

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After a while of eating, drinking and chatting, there were a couple of speeches. They were both in Spanish, and neither was repeated in English, so I didn’t understand a lot of what was said. I did surprise myself though by recognising more words than I could have expected, and more of the general meaning. At the end of the speeches the Ecuadorian and British national anthems were played; a recording of people’s voices sang the Ecuadorian one, but the recording of the British one was only music.

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When the speeches had finished I went for a quick look at the beach. I noticed a little fishing boat nearby, and further along there were three men pulling on a long line that went into the sea. I assumed that if I waited around for a bit the net would come out, but it must have been a very long line because I waited for quite a while and the men pulled the line further and further back up the beach, but nothing appeared.

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Not too long after that we all had some more food. This time we had to queue up for a served buffet of chicken, special sausages, beef, potatoes in foil, vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, green beans), a white very cheesy sauce and chimichurri sauce, which is an Argentinian green sauce made of garlic, parsley and other things. Of the two sauces I just chose the white one because I didn't realise what the green sauce was until after I'd eaten my plateful and was too full to have anything else. I really wish I'd had some of the chimichurri now because it sounds pretty nice!

A while after eating, I noticed that there were some rather prehistoric-looking black birds flying overhead and even more flying around over the beach. Something clicked in my head as I realised the fishermen must have pulled in their nets by now. I went back out to the beach but didn't get too close because I didn't want to intrude. I think they'd already brought in the catch and packed it up in the truck nearby, because I didn't see any fish, only men wading in the sea doing something with one of the nets, while lots of empty nets lay on the sand. There was a crowd of pelicans in the sea next to them, a couple of birds standing at the edge of the sand that Iooked from the distance like white storks, and the strange big black birds flying above. The pelicans and other birds weren't fighting over anything, which makes me think even more that the catch had already been brought in.

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There was dancing after it got dark:

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We teachers didn't leave until past 7pm when things were winding up. We arrived in Montañita between 8 and 9pm. Unfortunately it was drizzling a bit when we arrived and it didn't stop for nearly all the time we were there, but that didn't stop us having fun.

Our accommodation was great! All our drinks were free, and on the patio we were given a free barbecue of sausages, red peppers, ribs, medium-rare steaks, salad and pitta bread. The steaks were so lovely I had four, but I didn't have any ribs or sausages because I was full up by then! They kept bringing out more and more meat, and I couldn't resist. We sat around for a while after that, variously in armchairs, a swinging seat, a hammock, a sofa and ground cushions. Some of us had beers, but I had a rum and coke.

At 11.30pm nearly all of us walked down the road into town. I could hear cicadas by the roadside. We went to 'Cocktail Alley' and had a couple of cocktails - Mojitos first. You can see in the photos what Cocktail Alley is like - quite a narrow pedestrianised street filled from one end to the other with roadside cocktail stalls under gazebos. Each one had a row of tropical fruit in front of the row of bottles and the cocktail list. Nearly every cocktail cost either $2.50 or $3, and they were pretty large and strong cocktails!

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We sat there for quite a long time. After the Mojitos some of us bumped into people they knew, whilst the rest (including me) went next door into a small club where we danced for a bit. Then I had another Mojito, looked around the beach for a bit with a couple of the others, and got myself a lovely White Russian from another stall. When I stood up after that, to go to a bigger nightclub with those of the others who hadn't already made their way home, I could tell I was a bit three sheets to the wind...

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The club was a bit different to any I've been to in the UK. For a start, although they played some Western songs you hear in the UK all the time, they also played Latin American music (as you'd expect in South America, of course). Also, the rafters,columns and some of the walls were made of giant bamboo, and one end of the club was open to the air, one giant open window without any glass pane or iron bars or anything. I thought it was a good idea because it meant a breeze came through quite often and the air didn't get stuffy.I really liked the atmosphere there. We danced for a while before going home at 3.30am.

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On Sunday morning we had brunch on the big wooden patio at 11.30. As well as a piece of leftover steak from the night before, I got an English breakfast with a twist – the fried egg was quite runny and on a split-open roll, the sausage was one of the short fat Ecuadorian ones from the night before, and it all came with a glass of papaya juice. (There was also bacon, mushrooms and a tomato, but no baked beans thankfully!)

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After I'd had brunch a group of us went into town for a look-around in daylight. We walked along the beach for a bit and then some of the main streets.

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Montanita is Hippy/Rasta/Backpacker Central in Ecuador, with loads of dreadlocked characters on the streets running roadside jewellery and craft stalls or just sitting around not doing much.

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We went into a lovely café where some of us had drinks – I had a ‘Frappacino Bombon’, delicious iced coffee with ice cream and drizzles of condensed milk on top. We split up for a bit then. I popped into a cyber cafe for 20 minutes because I wanted to send a Father's Day email. As soon as I'd sent it the man himself happened to come online, so although I wasn’t able to install the plugin for Gmail Video chat on the computer I was using and he couldn't see me as a result, I could see him which was great!

We went for another wander after that and got some lunch at a roadside ceviche stall. The man had tupperware containers of fish chunks, octopus chunks, prawns and one or two other things on the counter, and in a cupboard inside the stall he had various kinds of shellfish in their shells - oysters, conches and some others I didn't recognise. I chose just to have the fish and prawns in mine. It came with chopped up raw onion and tomato, squeezed lime and chopped up fresh coriander in the same bowl, and there was a communal pot of large dried toasted maize kernels and bottles of tomato sauce and oriental chilli sauce to which we could help ourselves as well. We each got a packet of green banana crisps as a side too. Apparently you're supposed to break up the crisps and mix them and the toasted maize into the main dish, but I had the crisps separately. I did mix some maize in, though, and the taste and texture of it went well with the juiciness of the seafood.

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The journey back to Guayaquil later on was pretty uneventful apart from a stop we made at an isolated petrol station where I discovered some packets of yuca crisps. I secretly found it quite funny that they had a couple of loaves of bread, one or two toilet rolls and cleaning products, a drinks fridge and a few sweets, and the rest of the goods were almost entirely made up of various kinds of crisps...

Posted by 3Traveller 15:55 Archived in Ecuador Tagged beaches parties birds pelicans coast dad cocktails barbecue ceviche ecuador montanita explorations cocktail_alley punta_blanca ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

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