16.11.2009 - 20.11.2009 26 °C
Following 8 glorious days cruising around the Galapagos we returned to the classroom for one final week of Spanish lessons. However, having had enough of Quito and its less than friendly vibe we booked in with Language School to visit the coast and a sleepy little fishing village called Puerto Lopez.
Our adventure started by having to get ourselves from Guayquial to Puerto Lopez via 2 buses and no locals to hold our hand, we were truly now on a South American adventure. Our first bus dropped us off in Libertard near the shore and nowhere near a bus terminal. Looking slightly lost and a bit edgy a girl from our bus took pity on us and since she was going past the bus terminal in her taxi offered to give us a lift and then pointed us to the bus we needed. I guess that part about not having a local to help wasn’t entirely correct.
Our second bus was our first real local bus experience it was filled with little old Spanish ladies, slightly smelly unwashed men and mothers with noisy children. No more reclining seats, no more air conditioning just stale air, humidity and sweat not quite what I was after with a mother of all headaches and our painkillers out of reach.
Careering through local towns that were nothing more than a collection of little shacks we were starting to wonder what awaited us at our final destination. As the hours rolled on the sun fell away, disappearing into the ocean taking with it the last remnants of light and any possibility that we’d be able to work out what town we were in on our own accord.
Just as we were starting to fear a never ending bus ride the crest of the hill brought a welcoming sight. The horizon was lit up by a thousand dancing lights, Puerto Lopez was 5 minutes away.
Having found our hostel with not too much hassle and at least one of us getting a decent night’s sleep we left town early the next morning to find our accommodation and school for the next 5 days.
Alandaluz is an eco lodge set 20 minutes out of Puerto Lopez on the beach. The lodge provided beautiful huts complete with beds and hammocks and the all important mosquito net. The lodge was almost completely self sustaining with ecological sewage systems, solar cells and their veggie and fruit patch. While the electricity was rationed, only coming on after 6pm each night they more than made up for this by stuffing with the cooking. We gorged ourselves on organic breakfasts and 3 course lunch and dinners.
Our teacher Hipatia had come all the way from Quito for the week. While we were slightly taken aback by this at first we quickly realized she saw this week as more of a holiday than work having left her eldest daughter to care for her younger.
Over the next 5 days our Spanish came on in leaps and bounds. We had only paid for 16 hours of direct lessons. However, having Hipatia’s company and all 3 meals and during our extracurricular activities meant that we speaking Spanish at least 12 hours a day.
Aside from formal Spanish lessons our week on the coast included extracurricular activities under the guise of Winston, the local tour guide!
We had booked the coast for a session of sun, surf and relaxation. Unfortunately the weather did not present us with optimum opportunities to explore the surrounding coast line. Luckily we had Winston, who knew where to go where the clouds refused to move.
Our first afternoon was spent visiting a local community and the world’s largest bamboo church, now I don’t know about you but I know what my highlight was bring on the bamboo church!
Tuesday we went for a walk through the nearby rainforest and were shown different plants for survival and most importantly keeping the mosquitos away. Halfway through our trek we encountered some hard working ants. We were quite literally mesmerized by their endeavors as they slowly broke up this giant leaf while fighting off Godzilla sized ants!
Thursday we finally got the call from Winston, Playa de los Frailes was cloud free and ready to be checked out. The National Park Beach is a glorious stretch of white sand and we had it all to ourselves. After firstly investigating the sea life in the rock pools Winston took us snorkeling. The snorkeling in the Galapoagos was amazing and hard to beat so we weren’t expecting much. However the types of fish were completely different to anything we’d seen before. We were eve lucky enough to witness a giant parrot fish take another fish for lunch, leaving only the bag tail hanging out of its mouth.
Friday was our last day in Puerto Lopez and our final opportunity to visit Isla de Plata. A nearby island known among backpackers as a poor man’s Galapagos. To thank Hipatia for her time and patience over the past week we paid for her ticket to Isla de Plata, while the$35 wasn’t much money to us, it prices out the local Ecuadorians who on average earn only $200 a month.
Our boat to the island left from the shore which required us to walk through the hoards of fishermen, with their boats and their catch. It certainly gave us a new meaning of fresh fish as the sharks, manta rays, tuna and a vast array of local fish we don’t know the name of were gutted and deboned right here on the beach, the scraps being left for the circling vultures.
Isla de Plata was a bird lovers paradise, while it didn’t offer much in other life forms the population of the Blue and Red Footed Boobies exceeded anything we’d seen on the Galapagos and provided me with the opportunity to get that ultimate photo of the boobies with their blue feet. It is safe to say that we now have more photos of boobies than we’ll ever need I think I need to let my biggest critic loose in Hannah and have her delete a few but you never know when you’re going to want a particular angle of a boobie!!
That night we caught the night bus back to Quito arriving 2 hours early at the horrible time of 4:30am. We experienced our first attempted robbery with the whole tomato sauce distraction but the VB’s were too cleaver and lived to fight another day! 2 days until we join our organized tour.