Blue boobies and other monkey business
Trip Start Dec 17, 2011
8Trip End Feb 20, 2012
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After twenty hours, eight B-movies and several exotic snack bags later, our bus finally arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador. By this time, our panoramic windows were completely covered with a cascade of dead bugs and dirt. The landscape had finally changed from dry desert to tropical and lush surroundings dotted with banana trees and red hibiscus flowers. We instantly fell in love with Ecuador.
And just when I though it wasn't possible to abuse my rear end to more sitting, we ended up on yet another bus ride to chase the Ecuadorian sun all the way up the coast to Puerto Lopez. This local ride started off near empty but quickly filled up with travelers along the road as well as salesmen offering anything from tooth brushes and coconut water to USB memory sticks and underwear. It is a constant stop and go, honking, yelling and sometimes a stop for the driver to get a snack or have a casual conversation with someone he knows along the road
Our hostal Monte Libano is located just cinco minutitos walking distance from the town center. The incense smell is heavy. Feathers, seashells and other little treasures decorate this beyond laid back joint. The owner, Jadin, has a French beau and it seems like all her friends are visiting at the moment. The ashtrays are filled to the brim with cigarette buts, a la François.
Although the place is a bit too laid back in regards to the cleaning, we find ourselves really enjoying some beach time here. The hammocks on the upstairs deck becomes our favorite spot. There, the sound of the waves washes away all the worlds problems (along with the constant cigarette smoke from downstairs) and we indulge in some serious hammock time.
Puerto Lopez is a small, sleepy fishing village where time seems to stand still. Blue and green fishing boats dominate the view from the Malecón where several cevicherias and tropical fruit stands are serving the areas finest. Every morning before the crack of dawn the local fish market draws buyers and sellers from all over the area. Big fish, little fish, squid, shrimp, lobster, shark, dorado and a partridge in a pear tree, are all displayed under the watchful eyes of large frigate birds circling in the sky above, and dogs lurking on the ground. There is bargaining and yelling while other vendors ride the festive market wave selling gaseosas (sodas) and dulces (sweets) to accompany the mariscos
Other than seafood and hammock time, Puerto Lopez is blessed with it’s proximity to the poor mans Galapagos, the Isla de Plata. Here travelers like Josh and I can get a chance to spot a few blue footed Boobies and other wildlife for $35 instead of $1,000+ which is the price for the real deal, the Galapagos Islands.
Jadin sets us up with his primos (cousin’s) company for a day on the island. With hats, lifejackets and an abundance of sunscreen we take off at about 40 miles/hr on the fishing boat. I must admit, I really didn’t have too high of expectations for this trip, but was happily surprised when 100’s of dolphins greeted us outside the island. What a treat!
While on the island the temperature shot up to over 36C (over 100F). The dry surroundings looked like they were gasping for moisture, keeping you wondering how it is possible for anything to live there. All of a sudden, we stumble upon a young blue footed boobie. His feet are still light blue and his feathers soft and thin. Normally a chick this small would get a heart attack if a group of ten people would be one meter away (3 feet) but the blue boobie has no fear of humans as they are living a sheltered life on the islands and he is probably just as interested in us as we are in him
On the rest of the hike, we hear a few "I see boobies!" along with a stunning views of turquoise waters and rock formations. The one hour hike is about to give us all a heat stroke and the guide decides to take us back to the boat for some lovely sandia (watermelon) and a dip in the ocean.
Although we didn’t get to see any turtles on land, we did get to swim with four sea turtles that came and visited us by the boat. They weren’t afraid and came close, beyond magic! The snorkeling was not up to Thailand or Fiji standards, but we did see some beautiful tropical fish and got stung by jellyfish. Guess it just added to the adventure. All in all I think we got our $35 dollars worth of fun :)
We're in the jungle baby!
Jadins other primo (I believe he has a lot of them), works and lives in one of Ecuadors most unique wildlife preserves: Parque Nacional Machalilla. As we had read a bit about the preserve and it was listed on many not-to-be-missed lists, we headed for this unique dry jungle the following day
Outfitted with rubber boots and with more guides than visitors, we took off on horseback with hopes of seeing some Cappuchino monkeys. Our guides were all brothers and had grown up in this preserve with a dad that fought hard for the park to be protected. It wasn’t until 1979, when this jungle was almost whacked away to extinction, that the government finally made it a protected are. We learn about plants and trees and get to taste some fabulous exotic fruits along the way. The climax of the day is when we get to play Jane Goodall and observe beautiful monkeys play in the wild. After a long day on the horseback we get fed a traditional Ecuadorian meal in the family home. Such a beautiful day in nature with a wonderful local family. This was one of my favorite days on this trip.
On day five we decide to move on, destination unknown. The first bus we see is heading north. And so, north it is…..
Peace, Love and Monkey business