Vilcabamba, Ecuador and the Border Crossing to Perú via Zumba

Vilcabamba

Leaving Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre ($2 in a taxi from the centre to the terminal), we hopped on one of the hourly buses to Loja for the 4.5 hour, $6.50 journey. We then hopped on a bus from Loja for the just over an hour trip to Vilcabamba In Ecuador’s Valley of a Longevity (locals are said to live to well over 100 years). Vilcabamba is a sleepy village with just a few tourists roaming the area in the evening scouting for food. We only stayed one night as we were anxious to get to Perú after so long in Ecuador. We stayed at Las Margaritas just up from the park for $24 and it was perfect. Dinner (delicious spaghetti bolognese) was had at Vilcabamba Natural Yoghurt. Didn’t try the yoghurt…

Vilcabamba, Ecuador to San Ignacio, Perú

So this was a long enough journey I have to say. The bus from Vilcabamba to Zumba (which you get from the main road, outside the Banco del Barrio – bank and shop – and not the bus station) was supposed to be at a number of times; 5.45am, 6am and 6.30am so we got there about 5.30am just in case and the bus arrived at 6.20am ($7.50) – jam packed with locals but they weren’t travelling too far so we had a seat in no time. We arrived in Zumba about 11am and should have jumped straight on a chiva (truck with wooden seats essentially) but instead we had terrible coffee at the bus station and ended up having to wait over 3 hours for the next chiva to La Balsa ($1.75) to get our exit stamp from Ecuador. Anyway, once we were settled in to the back of the chiva we took off on the 1.5 hour ride to the border. So you know that underwear with like butt implants? Get that. Seriously, my ass was internally bruised for at least 3 days after that journey. The word bumpy does not do it justice.

Ecuador's Beauty

Ecuador’s Beauty

The back of the chiva

The back of the chiva

We arrived at La Balsa and had to pop in to the police ‘station’ to get our exit stamp from Ecuador. Just one policeman here (very friendly) and no other tourists. Once you get your stamp you walk across a dusty bridge to the Peruvian migration office which is currently undergoing some work. There was nobody here and we had to wait about 40 minutes for the supremely relaxed Migration Officer to stroll across from the Ecuadorian side if the border to open the door to his wickedly messy office. Here we had to sign some forms and then walk down to the Peruvian police ‘station’ (look, I, just going to say hut) so a young chap could type our passport numbers into an excel spreadsheet. Fierce formal here! Then we had to go back to the lazy Migration Official for our formal entry stamp to Perú along with an immigration card (which you need to keep for all your time in Perú).

Next, we had to try to get a ride to the nearest town for the night, San Ignacio. The guys are right Luis here trying to get the maximum possible from you for the hour and a half journey. As we didn’t have any Peruvian currency (Neuvo Sol) on us, we agreed a price of $10. Once you get to San Ignacio you have to get a mototaxi to the centre ( should be S./2). We stayed at the San Ignacio Posado Hotel for S./45 (about $18).

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La Balsa Immigration Office

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First taste of Peru’s Immigration

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Police Station on Peruvian side of the border

Next: the trip to Chacapoyas

Happy New Year!

 

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Cuenca, Ecuador

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Street Art in Cuenca

From Banos we took a bus for 80c up to Ambato (1 hour – you’re dropped off on the highway so you just need to cross the road and the locals will all shout places so you can’t stray too far here). We then caught a bus to Cuenca for $8 (7 hours) and caught a $2 taxi from the bus station into the centre. We decided to stay at La Casa Cuencana on Hermano Miguel for $22. Not a very happening spot but fine if you just want a bed and some wifi. We stayed here for 2 nights. Hermano Miguel seems to be where most backpacker accommodation is situated. There are a number of cafés here and some crazily overpriced secondhand bookstores too. You get $2 for every book you bring it and most books are about $12 to buy. Love in the time of Cholera was $19 – SECONDHAND. Would you be well?

Cuenca is pretty much all about the churches – you can’t turn a corner without having to tilt your noggin up to have a gander. The new cathedral on Parque Calderon is stunning – a fantastic addition to the city skyline. There’s a flower market just to the left of the cathedral which is definitely worth checking out. So colourful and there’s a very popular hole in the wall juice place here too – locals queuing for ages to get their hands on some! There’s a town nearby called San Bartolome which is famous for making guitars – we didn’t get to visit but there are a few stalls selling guitars around the city. Music seems to be a pretty big deal here actually; music shops on every corner! We wandered to Plaza San Sebastián one evening and there was a group of guys (I think a family) all dressed up in suits and playing the drums, saxophone, trumpet, triangle …it goes on! So cool.

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Beautiful entrance to the New Cathedral

 

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Cuenca’s New Cathedral

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Cuenca’s Flower Market

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So pretty!

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La Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Our favourite thing in Cuenca was the Parque Arquelógico Pumapungo (about a 20 minute stroll out of town). It’s free to get in here. To be honest we made the mistake of going into the museum first and although it was nice to see their exhibition on indigenous cultures, we were a bit disappointed with the place overall. If you go here be bloody careful not to put your big toe anywhere near the yellow tape on the floor near the exhibitions. Security will get you. Walking behind the museum is where it gets exciting. There are foundations of an ancient Inca city called Tomebamba here. They’ve rebuilt one house to give you an idea of what it would have been like and the garden below the terraces is supposedly a replica of Incan times. It’s being well looked after and comes complete with a little family of llamas. It would be an awesome spot for a picnic. There’s also a rescue centre for birds here and an amazing Belgian waffles spot just next to here. Now when I say amazing I mean it. It’s called Waffles de Belgica and it’s run by a chap from Bruges who’s married to an Ecuadorian. $2.50 for the whole shebang of waffles, fruit and ice-cream. John had a toastie and went back for seconds…and we learned how to make proper Belgian mayonnaise. Not bad for a days work.

On the way to the Parque Arquelógico Pumapungo

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More Street Art

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The Gardens at Parque Arquelógico Pumapungo

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Terraces at Parque Arquelógico Pumapungo

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Yep and there’s us

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Isn’t he dotie?

Cuenca is where most of Ecuador’s Panama hats come from these days (even though they originated in Montechristi, remember?) so there are a number of factories in the area. You see people at every airport in Ecuador toting around a bag from Homero Ortega and they have a factory out near Cuenca’s airport where you can look around and purchase a little something. We skipped this one and went to check out Barrancos Panama Hats in the city instead. It’s actually a large enough shop with plenty of choice price and colour wise. There’s a little museum on the way in to the shop where you can get an idea of the process. Free entry so definitely worth a stop.

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Panama Hat Blocking Machine

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Hat Blocks and Some Beginnings

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Dyed Toquilla Straw

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Barrancos Shop

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Up Close!

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Barrancos Shop – so much choice!

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I’m a little obsessed…

Next stop: Vilcabamba, Ecuador and on to the Peruvian border at Zumba.

Banos, Ecuador

We're in Banos!

We’re in Banos!

Back on the South American route! Getting to Banos back in Ecuador was an all day affair from Havana to Panama to Quito and then on to a bus to the lovely town of Banos. Instead of paying the ludicrous prices Quito’s airport taxis request, we hopped on a local bus from just outside the airport doors to Quitumbe bus station. This took close to 2 hours and cost $2 (back to USD now). If you land at Quitumbe station by bus you need to pay a 25c entrance fee to get through the turnstiles – not a big deal but just so you know you’ll need change. We took a bus with Touris San Francisco Oriental for the 3.5 hour, $3.50 bus to Banos. There’s also a 40c fee which you’ll have to pay for with your bus ticket to actually get out to your bus. Random but it’s a really well kept bus station. As we landed in the evening it was really dark and so we didn’t get to glimpse the amazing Volcano Tungurahua towering and puffing away over Banos – I definitely suggest doing this trip in daylight if possible.

Hostal D’Mathias was recommended by a friend in the Galapagos so we hot-footed it directly there and got the most beautiful room; hardwood floors, cable TV, separate dressing area, actual bath (although so ridiculously massive it was more of a swamp) and wifi…for $16. You can’t knock these prices! Our first day in Banos consisted of breakfast at Amarelo overlooking Parque Central – delicious granola and homemade juices. I’m a little addicted to strawberry juice these days. Banos means baths in Spanish and the town has a plethora of volcano-heated pools to visit. We checked out the Piscinas de la Virgen in the evening ($3 entrance plus $1 for swimming gap rental – obligatory). They were jam lacked and in no way enjoyable unfortunately. The next day we went to the Piscinas El Salado on the edge of town – all uphill so don’t walk or $1.50 in a taxi. They were awesome – six pools – hot and cold and all for $3 (again plus swimming cap rental).

Where to go next...

Where to go next…

Piscinas El Salado

Piscinas El Salado

We took the vigorous stroll (read: another god damn uphill hike) to Bellavista, a lookout point over the town high up on a hill on our second afternoon. It took a good half an hour and is 95% uphill so be forewarned. On our way down John insisted that we detour to Cafe Cielo, which was in no way downhill – it’s another 20 minute steep climb – and all for his love of coffee. Coffee which turned out to be only alright in his words but I had a lovely vanilla shake so that was worth the pressure on the glutes. That evening we went to the Stray Dog Cerveceria (bar) for a couple of drinkies. John thought he was going to get some fancy IPA beers he’s become accustomed to since living in Sydney but alas it was not meant to be…better than the couple of local beers he’s been having apparently and the owner was lovely so that makes it worth visiting anyway.

View of Banos from Bellavista

View of Banos from Bellavista

They have these here too! Reminds me of home

They have these here too! Reminds me of home

We rented bikes on our next morning for $5 for the day to tackle some of the famous Banos to Puno road. It’s very popular for cycling so we felt pretty safe – you’re only battling Ecuadorian traffic for a small portion of the mostly downhill route as there are separate cycle tracks (albeit on cobblestones). There are plenty of adventure options for adrenaline junkies on this route – you can go canopying (it’s like lying on a zipline if that makes sense) or bridge jumping. We took a trip across a canyon in a metal cage for $2 (slough I’m not 100% on that and John actually did the canopying for $10. I completely chickened out as I had enough of a kick from being suspended in a metal cage. We eventually got to the village of Rio Verde to take a walk to the base of a spectacular waterfall, Pailón del Diablo. You have to pay $1.50 to see the waterfall – we even crawled in behind the waterfall to check it out. You only get a little wet. There’s also a suspension bridge which you can walk across to see the waterfall from above (this is before you come to the church though and you can’t get there from the bottom of the waterfall). Since the cycle back would have been all uphill we hopped in a waiting truck along with our bikes for $2 for the trip back to Banos.

Yep, we got into this for a closer look at that waterfall

Yep, we got into this for a closer look at that waterfall

Here's that closer look

Here’s that closer look

Pailón del Diablo

Pailón del Diablo

December in Banos

Such a cute Christmas village

Such a cute Christmas village

Oh so pretty lights

Oh so pretty lights

Basilica Reina del Rosario de Agua Santa

Basilica Reina del Rosario de Agua Santa

Volcano Tungurahua

Volcano Tungurahua

Next stop: Cuenca, Ecuador.

The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Some of the Galápagos Islands

Some of the Galápagos Islands

We flew with AeroGal from Guayaquil to Baltra on the main island of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos for  8 days. To get from Baltra to Puerto Ayora, which is the main town on Santa Cruz, you get a free bus from the airport to the ferry, then hop on the ferry for $1 across a short stretch of water and then you hop on a bus for $1.50 for the 45 minute trip to the bottom of the island (or a taxi costs $18). We hadn’t booked accommodation before arriving so found a place by just wandering around – we stayed at the Hotel Espana just parallel to the main thoroughfare for $35 a night. We stayed in Puerto Ayora for a few nights to suss out prices for cruises and eventually went with a 4 day cruise on the Estrella del Mar, stopping at Isla Bartolome, Isla Genovesa, Las Bachas (on Isla Santa Cruz) and finally Isla Santa Fe. It’s best to bring enough cash to pay for this trip as most agencies don’t accept credit cards and if they do they have whoppers of fees attached. We also tried to get a cash advance which didn’t work and our card was put on hold in Australia and it’s really difficult to find wifi good enough to Skype call the bank – let that be a lesson learned!

Puerto Ayora and Isla Santa Cruz

The main thoroughfare in Puerto Ayora is Avenida Charles Darwin and this is where most of the shops, restaurants and bars are situated. The walk along the port at night is pretty nice; we saw lots of small Galápagos sharks here and a even a cheeky sea lion chilling on a bench. There’s plenty to keep you occupied on Santa Cruz island. One afternoon we rented bicycles from the little shop just next to the Isla Grill restaurant for $7.50 for 4 hours and took in the whole town. The Charles Darwin Research Centre (free entry) at one end of town has a number of giant tortoises and some iguanas – not amazing by any stretch of the imagination but it’s free. A lot of cruises actually bring you here on your last day too. There’s a little rocky beach next to the station called Playa de la Estacion which was nice for sunset.

Tortuga Bay, reached by a good 40 minutes walk out of town, is absolutely stunning. The first time we visited we made the mistake of cycling but you can only get to the entrance of the 40 minute walk! We had no locks for our bikes but lots of people seemed to just leave them for the day so we thought when in Rome…happy ending too – they were still there when we returned. You need to sign in and out at the entrance station so you need your passport number. Tortuga Bay is where sea turtles come to lay eggs but we saw none of this – just lava gulls, pelicans, little sharks (some of the guys saw a hammerhead shark one evening) and the motherload of iguanas. The huge beach just before Tortuga Bay is stunning and you could easily while away a few days chillaxing on these beaches.

We rented a taxi dude another day for $30 who took us to the Bellavista Lava Tunnels ($3 entrance) and El Rancho Mariposa ($3 again). You get a flash-lamp to guide you through the lava tunnels – it’s pitch black in places with some lovely puddles thrown in for good measure for you to dunk your converse. El Rancho Mariposa is a tortoise ranch which was pretty cool – we got stuck in a tortoise jam on the way in 🙂 The tortoises have acres of space to roam around here and they are everywhere you look. Not sure I’d recommend this to be honest – $30 is a bit saucy for the distance you travel and we had a tortoise ranch and some lava tunnels included on the cruise we took.

Our favourite food haunt in a Puerto Ayora was the Galápagos Deli which has delicious thin crust pizzas, good (for the Galapagos) wifi and lovely chocolate cake. The ice-cream at Il Giardino down at the end of town is hands down the best in town. We must have had at least 10 scoops each in our time in Puerto Ayora! The main supermarket up the top of the town is definitely worth a visit. It’s so old-school; definitely like something out of an olde time film, plus they have organic chocolate.

En route to Tortuga Bay with an Opuntia Cactus

En route to Tortuga Bay with an Opuntia Cactus

Home to iguanas...

Home to iguanas…

and Sally Lightfoot Crabs

and Sally Lightfoot Crabs

Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay

Local Resident

Local Resident

Taking in the beach

Taking in the beach

Ceramic Garden in Puerto Ayora

Ceramic Garden in Puerto Ayora

Isla San Cristobal

We took a day trip to Isla San Cristobal to see La Loberia where the sea lions hang out and we weren’t disappointed – so many baby sea-lions – too cute! The 7am speedboat trip over there ($60 per person return – absolute robbery but we were hardly going to swim!) was horrible – 2.5 hours of nausea. After breakfast (don’t eat before that boat trip) we got a taxi to La Loberia for $1 and decided to walk back, alongside the tiny airport which takes about 45 minutes. Unfortunately that’s really all we had time to do on San Cristobal as the speedboat back leaves at 3pm.

Mummy and baby on La Loberia Beach

Mummy and baby on La Loberia Beach

Aren't they just dotie?

Aren’t they just dotie?

Cruise aboard Estrella del Mar

We booked our cruise with Jenny at Moonrise Travel 3 days before we travelled. She was fantastic and called everyone on her contact list to get us on the most suitable cruise. We ended up on the Estrella del Mar for a 3 night/4 day cruise with 9 others – a relatively small number for a Galápagos cruise which was perfect for us – the others were really lovely so we had a wonderful time. Our guide, Alfredo, was über passionate about his profession and very happy to field a bazillion questions from John. Our itinerary started with a visit on day one to Isla Bartolome, overnight cruise north to Isla Genovesa, back overnight to Las Bachas on Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Santa Fe and the last night at the port of Puerto Ayora.

Isla Bartolome was our first stop and here we just took a little wander up some steps to see one of the most iconic images of the Galápagos – Sullivan Bay and Pinnacle Rock. We didn’t see any wildlife here but on the little dinghy on the way back to the boat we saw some darling little Galápagos Penguins taking in the evening sun. We anchored for a while to have some dinner and did some fantastic star-gazing from atop the boat. We cruised through the night to awake in the far north, at Isla Genovesa. This island is great for bird lovers as it’s the only place you can see red-footed boobies, which are birds lads and believe me there were plenty of boobie jokes on the whole trip so enough already! We started our day in Genovesa at Darwin Bay, taking in lots of Nazca boobies, frigatebirds (massive black birds with fork-like tails – the males have a red pouch under their necks which inflates to attract a female) and some sea-lions on the walk up to a look out point over the bay. It was wicked hot here so you definitely need a hat and at least SPF 50. Sadly, there’s a little plaque up the top in dedication to two women who were lost at sea whilst scuba diving here. After our little walk we did some snorkelling just off the beach and saw plenty of brightly coloured fish, some sea-lions, and some of the guys saw some Galápagos sharks. Back to the boat for a spot of lunch and then later on in the afternoon we climbed up the Prince Phillip steps to see the huge red-footed booby population. It’s quite baron up where this population lives so I don’t believe they have any predators. We then cruised overnight back to Isla Santa Cruz to Las Bachas on the north coast. This was my absolute favourite part of the entire trip! I had been dying to see blue-footed boobies and we finally saw them here – and not just some, probably hundreds. They are hands-down my new favourite! After only 15 minutes on Las Bachas we’d already seen the boobies, some flying flamingos (apparently quite rare), a nesting sea-turtle (extremely rare), and the ubiquitous crabs and iguanas. Amazing! In the afternoon we went to Isla Santa Fe where we spotted some endemic iguanas, a nice sized population of sea-lions, a couple of hawks and loads more blue-footed boobies. The blue-footed boobies have an amazing fishing technique; they dive from about 40m to 2m underwater to catch their dinner. It’s an awesome sight. Las Bachas ticks all boxes!

Pinnacle Rock

Pinnacle Rock

Galapagos Penguins

Galapagos Penguins

Red Footed Booby

Red Footed Booby

Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

Catching the sunset on Genovesa

Catching the sunset on Genovesa

Las Bachas Beach

Las Bachas Beach

Nesting Sea Turtle

Nesting Sea Turtle

On her way back home

On her way back home

Finally - a blue footed booby

Finally – a blue footed booby

Many boobies!

Many boobies!

So peaceful!

So peaceful (on Santa Fe)

On our last morning, back on dry land in a Puerto Ayora, we took a bus to see the twin craters, Los Gemelos, which are basically two massive holes in the ground with trees growing inside them. We then went to another tortoise ranch, Rancho Primicias which was pretty cool. They had a really good set up here, with Some food options and a really well stocked souvenir store where I picked up a nice Galápagos tote/beach bag for $15. After this, we went to some more lava tunnels just next door. These ones had lights and were pretty big but even though the others were more expensive to get to, I think they were better.

Why so serious?

Why so serious?

Posing with a resident at Rancho Primicias

Posing with a resident at Rancho Primicias

Turf War

Turf War

I cannot wait to go back to the Galápagos! Although we saw loads there’s still so much more to see. Isla Espanola down south sounds awesome and our guide raved about Isla Isabela so it seems like there’s a lot to see there too. I think the islands would be a great place to bring kiddies too.

Side note: The Galápagos Islands are honestly a money pit – I actually think currency evaporates here. Bring your life savings 🙂

Next stop: Havana, Cuba.

Montanita, Ecuador

Lots of love going around Montanita

Lots of love going around Montanita

We spent a week at Montanita although I’m not really sure where the time went! The bus from Puerto Lopez to Montanita cost $2.50 and took less than an hour (expensive in Ecuadorian terms). You’re dropped off on the highway just up one street from the main thoroughfare so refreshingly, no need for a taxi here. We trudged up along the beach trying to find accommodation but everything seemed full (we always end up travelling to new places on Sundays; bad idea) so we stopped at a café…which ended up having accommodation and so began our week at Hosteria Comuna Montanita. We had a beachfront shack here for $25 per night with hammocks on a little porch area; ok I want to call it a porch but it was just about swingable in a hammock. Still, many an hour was spent chilling here. Montanita is like the Byron Bay (in Australia) of Ecuador. Full of hippies, backpackers and I heart Montanita fringed vest tops. There are probably a hundred or more places to get a cocktail, they even have a cocktail avenue running from the beach to the town. There are plenty of cafés too (all with wifi) so there’s lots to keep you occupied. The beach is huge, whisper quiet during the week and filled with Ecuadorians at the weekends – they seem to congregate near the town so a five to ten minute walk up or down the beach gives you plenty of space. One afternoon we wandered down the length of the beach to the next village, Manglaralto. It’s tiny and quite run down but it’s a nice thirty minute wander along the beach, complete with a host of skeletons from the sea (not human now lads), bloated puffer fish and hundreds of little crabs peeking out of the sand and scuttling about.

Our shack on the beach

Our shack on the beach

One of Montanita's main streets

One of Montanita’s main streets

Local hammock sellers

Local hammock sellers

It is what it says!

It is what it says!

Local graffiti

Local graffiti

There’s not too much one can say about Montanita to be honest; it kind of is what it is! We found a café called Hola Ola where we pretty much ate all our meals – good pizzas and lovely fresh juices. We tried the Italian run Pigro one evening (they make their own pasta) but it just wasn’t great and Tiki Limbo is another spot where a lot of people seemed to frequent; we just had cocktails and wifi here. We also tried Papillion who had a pretty nice granola breakfast. On our last day we found the fastest wifi (John actually does a speediest every time he connects!) at CoffeeArt just across the road from Tiki Limbo. Typical! Montanita also has done frozen yoghurt spots – yay! We went to Greenfrost where you get plain frozen yoghurt, 3 fruit toppings and hot chocolate sauce which tops it off beautifully for $2.50 (for a pretty massive portion). The largest portion toy could get would easily feed 4 people and it $6. I’m used to paying about $7 for the tiniest portions in Sydney!!

Admiring the sunset

Admiring the sunset

Next stop: The Galapagos Islands.

Manta, Montechristi and Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

So sorry for the lack of posts – we’ve been in the Galapagos Islands and then we took a side trip to Cuba (or 1960 where the internet has not yet found a home…it’s also the spot where we realised that we’re wifi junkies…) but I managed to write a bit so I’ll pop up a couple of posts for you now.

Manta

We travelled from Quito’s Quitumbe bus station ($10 in a taxi from La Guayunga Hostel in the old town) to Manta on Ecuador’s coast (I think the company was called Flota Imbalala or something along those lines) which took 9.5 hours and cost $10. There’s absolutely nothing in Manta so we stayed overnight in the Hotel Santa Fe for $45 (saucy for us on this trip but they had really good wifi – I literally streamed episode after episode of The Mindy Project – heaven). Manta had a Subway restaurant so we were sandwiching it up once again. The real reason we travelled to the coast is because we wanted to see Montechristi, the home of the Panama hat (yep!). Since I do enjoy a hat it was obviously a must visit destination.

Montechristi

We travelled from Manta to Montechristi for 40 cents each which probably took about half an hour. Montechristi is a cool little village with a lovely whitewashed cathedral which almost looks like it sits on stilts. The locals are very friendly here and everyone says hello as they pass. Just like Killarney then 🙂

We stopped off at a little café on the main square for some dessert (at like 10am but we’re on holidays so what you gonna do) to get ourselves prepared for the hat-trying-on-expedition we were about to take on. Plus we had our backpacks with us so needed to chill for a millisecond. Our first port of call was the street to the right behind the church to some chaps house (he’s called Jose Chavez Franco) which had a few hats strewn around and was less than impressive to be honest.  It’s mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook (which we just bought online as the Rough Guides South America just isn’t cutting it for me to be honest). Instead, we popped into Montechristi Factory Hats just next to the church. They have an amazing selection of fantastic quality Panama hats – John looked at one for $400! Needless to stay he didn’t acquire that one…but it was amazing. The hats are woven with toquilla straw and can actually take months to weave, depending on how fine the weave is. John found this fantastic Brent Black website with superb information on what to look for etc. so we had some notion of what to look for in a hat. I bought a lovely little hat (which obviously I’ve named Monte). Obsessed a little. Side note: the other day in Cuba we were on a bus and this Canadian guy was sitting behind us chatting to a women. He was an importer/exporter and John overheard him talking about my hat and saying it was a really good one and it would cost around $400 – $500!! WTF! I paid $60. I love it more now!

Jose Chavez Franco's Home or Store

Jose Chavez Franco’s Home or Store

Monte's First Home

Monte’s First Home

The beginnings of a hat

The beginnings of a hat

Puerto Lopez

We had to double back to Manta to get the bus to Puerto Lopez, a little fishing village on the coast. The bus took about 3 hours and cost $3. We stayed at the Hostal Machilla ($20) just up from the (not so nice) beach. Not sure I’d recomment it to be honest as it was incredibly noisy. The best thing about Puerto Lopez was hands down Mojito from a little shack of a bar on the beach down by the fishing boats – I believe it was called Sadhana – the most delicious cocktail I’ve ever had; yum!

Monte and I in Puerto Lopez

Monte and I in Puerto Lopez

On to Montanita