Day 9 - Destination - Get out of Montanita
Sarah and I left first thing in the morning.. weren´t really sure where to.. just away from drunk teenagers and piss smelling beach.
Stopped back in Puerto Lopez and chatted to fishermen who were busy doing business on the beach... sending cart loads of various slimy creatures off to Peru and Quito. One cart was full of a certain long, skinny fish that is apparently used for burning in factories, cheaper than wood - must stink!
Spent the day on a beautiful beach in a national park - no one else there.. able to sunbathe topless.. heaven.
spent night in Puerto Lopez, found delicious italian restsaurant - yummy pasta much appreciated.
DAY 10 - Destination - Canoa
Beautiful coastside drive all the way. Stopped in a little village for lunch, swam in the sea - got rid of my bum ache (driving for hours does take its toll on that area!), ate some delicious ceviche, chatted to some local men, who were shocked neither of us were married - here the girls get hitched between the age of 15 and 20... after that they are in trouble.
Arrived Canoa about 6pm, where we found our little sister and comic Darrel who had taken the bus 2 days before. Canoa is meant to be a ´quieter´ alternative to Montanita - it is.. but didn´t have the charm that Sarah and I have romantically invisioned.
Day 11. Both woke up in the morning feeling dissatisfied and itchy, so got in Humphrey once again and drove further north passed a town called Pedernales, and found an idyllic little spot on a fantastic beach. A family run hotel.. $10 a night.. a bloody good deal... if anyone ever wants to go to a beautiful beach, eat freshly caught fish, go horse riding, have a very comfortable room with hot water bath, for hardly any money - i´d recommend this undiscoverd little place: Coco Solo its called, Pedernales, Ecuador.. would be good for a honeymoon.
We walked along the beach after arriving in the afternoon and came across a beautiful women in rags, and her five gorgeous little children covered in sand. They lived inside the palm trees which lined the beach. Then the father turned up on his horse, equally beautiful, dark skin and a huge white toothed smile, clearly very proud of his nest.
The woman gave an order to one of the kids, who ran into the palm tree woods, and came back with a huge cocnut. The woman then chopped the top off and presented it to us to drink the juice from. It was delicious.
Discussed our options as to where to go next at dinner. Were going to go north, towards a town called San Jose near the Columbian border, but thought best to asked lovely hotel man first if it was advisable. ¨"Muy muy peligroso,¨he said with a smile on his face, ¨muchos muertes...¨ Turned out drugs being smuggled in and out of Columbia meant there was/is gorilla warfare going on up there.. people just ´shooting eachother all the time,´ and police don´t have any control apparently as they are too afraid of the gorillas. Uhum. So.. we either stuck to the coast, or made our way back into the mountains, stopping at Banos before going back to Quito. We spent one more day at the beach, and then did the latter...
Longest, and hairiest drive yet. I drove for 9.5 hours, not including 3 quite short breaks! Trusty Borocca and Leftfield kept me going. Wound along a very busy road connecting the coast to the higlands for about four hours... stunning views but never ending sharp bends, and too many bullying trucks and buses for Humphrey´s or my liking! Getting stuck behind a huge slow truck was the worst... beacuse it meant there would be about 20 other vehicles behind ours, waiting for me to overtake, and getting more and more impatient until I´d finaaly find a stretch of road long enough to make the manouver anything but a death wish. Several times buses would tail gate me so intimidatingly, and then if they got too impatient, would just overtake me AND the slow moving vehicle, on a blind bend, going steeply uphill... their good faith was quite astonishing, there were a few crosses marking deaths along the way. Arrived Banos 7pm.. dined and collapsed.
Went horse riding around a smoking volcano, which we´re told could erupt any minute. My horse was very lazy. Sarah sped up the hill while I lagged behind on Caramella. We came to huge drop, at the bottom of which was a fiercely flowing river. We dismounted the horses, left them grazing, and crossed it by means of some rusty iron chairs which hung from a line which connected the two sides.. We swooped across 30 meters above the water! Don´t know what they´re called and am probably not describing them very well, but basically we both felt like Tarzan for a few seconds, and then landed the other side, where we found a charming little house that looked like it was from Hanzel and Gretel. A man inside gave us some coffee. Our guide took us for a brief nature walk where he made a tree bleed and told us the red juice is used for arthritus. Swang back to the horses, and back to Banos below.
The setting of this town is stunning.. flanked by mountains on all sides. It gets its names from the thermal baths, which Sarah and I visited that evening. Delicious. They are below a dramatic waterfall, and full of lots of locals who use them on a daily basis. There was a boiling hot one, and a freeezing cold one.. one then the other, then the other, then the other.. moments of discomfort followed by pure pleasure.. good detox we were told.
Went for a drive to try and find some indigenous villages.. no luck.. this place is too discovered by tourists unfortunately. We both agree we should have stayed in Chugchilian (day 4) for at least another day to explore those hidden depths of Ecuador better.
We are meant to be on way back to Quito right now, but Sarah has lost the car keys, so we are stuck. Someone is driving to deliver us the spare set of keys... its 1pm.. Quito is four hours away. My flight to NY is at 7am tomorrow morning, where I am going for lovely Harriette´s wedding. The keys better get here quick!.. as I´d rather not do the Panamericana in the dark!
Have formed a worryingly close bond with Humphrey.. I talk to him and pat him regularly. The only other relationship I can equate it to in my life, is the one I had growing up, with my horse, Calypso. That is insulting to darling Calypso, as at least she had a brain! Oh dear. Well anyway, having always said I wouldn´t care too much what my first car would be, as long as it moved, I´m not so sure about that now. Humphrey has given me standards! Not one flat tire, break down, or any problem at all, along the worst roads i have ever seen in my life and over two thousand kilometers! He is filthy, so much so you can't read the number plate, my hands have blisters on them, and my left arm is browner than my right. But I will miss him, and all the places he´s taken us, greatly.