Friday, September 25, 2015

Montanita, Ecuador - surfer beach party town

Three years ago on a drive along the coast of Ecuador we drove through a small town on the beach called Montanita it had sand roads and the buildings were bamboo and grass roofs

After three months of cool weather here in Cuenca I decided it was time for another trip to Montanita to warm up and check out the area. I had a FB friend that just moved to Olon and another friend who was living in Montanita so I sent him a message and he reserved me a room with a balcony looking down on the main street. Being off season the rate was just $10 a night at La Casa Azul. 

So I packed up the car and headed out about 10 a.m. on a Thursday morning driving over the Caja mountain pass to Guayaquil and then up the coast to Montanita arriving at 4 p.m.

On the drive through the Caji's I passed many restaurants with their own trout lakes where you can catch your own dinner and the restaurant will cook it up for you. Always drive through a cloud bank which most of the time is pretty thick

And careful to watch out around the curves for Lamas and alpacas on the road

I took about 3 hours to reach Guayaquil and maneuver through the center of the city as directed by my trusty GPS! Can't leave home without it! And another 2 hours to reach Montanita.



My room was equipped with 3 beds and bathroom and wall mounted fan which came in handy even though it was not to hot out. Montanita has no water or sewer lines so it all has to be hauled in and out by truck which is the reason my shower was just a dribble of water and not heated! I later heard about another Hostel down the road with hot water, cable TV and A/C for $20 a night. When January comes it will be high season and even my room will be $50 a night.

My patio where I spent most of my time watching people walk by over and over again. I did meet people from all over the world some broke and sleeping on the beach and some selling any kind of drugs you can think of. I did indulge in a $5 piece of pot cake from the lady seller. Her boyfriend would scout the streets for her looking for police and put the money in his pocket. When the police did approach they would stroll around the corner and return later to continue their business.

On Friday and Saturday's the streets are roped off and there are many vendors selling jewelry, clothes, hats etc.

Me with a NYC tourist and Zane

Carlito a lifetime local that showed us around the area

My neighbors from Quito who were celebrating with a close friend back from the US great guys one was a DA, one an Attorney and the other a Computer Analyst and of course at their insistence I had a couple of beers with them which turned into a late night at Diablo's Bar! 

Every night this group from Argentina would play up a storm below my balcony and pass the hat, people were dancing, drinking and having at great time late into the night. If you want some peace and quit this is not the right Hostel.

The beach was full of people, bars and restaurants all day long and at night a few beach Disco's were open all night.

I met the owner of this beach bar who was from Hawaii with my friend Zane he will open in December and I guess it is a wild place right on the beach where noise is no problem.

Second day Zane went with me up the coast about an hour to Puerto Lopez

When I met Zane he had a beer bottle in his hand and everyday and night during my stay Ha! But one would last him a few hours at a time

View of Puerto Lopez

The beach in Puerto Lopez

With the new malecon under construction it was a bit dusty, really not a good time for a visit.

And back to Montanita for another night of loud music and dancing

Next day we took an hour drive north to Salinas for lunch, which is called the mini-Miami, the beach is lined with high rise condos which many are vacation homes for Ecuadorians that use them a couple of months a year. Not my favorite place Salinas, kind of dirty and at times to much traffic.

Well after five days of relaxing and sightseeing I headed back up the mountain to Cuenca it was nice to get back to a hot shower and low humidity. Although the best time for a visit to the playa here in EC would be June - October before it really warms up! Next trip I want to check out Manta, Crucita, San Clemente and Canoa.

It has been great to have a car, It is so much more enjoyable for me rather than taking buses and vans around the country!

Until next time I am waiting for more visitors and new expats to come to Cuenca!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Devils Nose Train Ride - Alausi, Ecuador

A day trip to Alausi, Ecuador for a ride on the Devils Nose Train!

My cousins Linda and Larry from Washington stopped by Cuenca for four days on their six week trip around South America. We decided to drive to Alausi, Ecuador to take the Devils Nose Train ride which is 157 Km (98 miles) drive from Cuenca. The 2 hour 20 minute drive took us 3 1/2 hours with all the windy cloudy roads with buses and trucks to maneuver around in my small car!

We left Cuenca at 6 a.m. and arrived in Alausi, which is on the Pan American Hwy driving towards Quito at 9:30 a.m.

Devils Nose Train

We purchased our tickets when we arrived, regular price is $25 each but with my Cedula (resident card) we got our tickets for $14.50 each.

The train ride takes 2 1/2 hours all together and travels down the mountain on a steep cliff using 3 switch backs. The train leaves at 8am - 11am and 3pm daily!

We boarded the train at 11a.m. for the 45 minute train ride down the steep cliff to another old train station once used by trains going from Guayaquil to Quito.

You can see where we descended behind us.

We arrived at the train station below Alausi for an hour stay, you can see the Museum on the hill above.

We were entertained by the local dancers

Photo shot with Lama. The track we are standing on once went to Cuenca, now it will become a hiking and biking path once all the tracks are removed.

Construction on the train tracks from Guayaquil to Quito was started in 1825.

After an hour we boarded the train for the trip back up the mountain to Alausi.

Back to the Alausi station we ran into the train that runs from Guayaquil to Quito on a 3 day excursion.

Then we headed out for our 3 1/2 hour drive back to Cuenca we encountered thick clouds, many pot holes which I think I managed to not miss any! Speed bumps, slow moving buses and trucks!  Alausi is a beautiful small Village and the lust green scenery on the drive is breathtaking!

Dinner for Larry and Linda on their last night in Cuenca with Deborah Marsh our good friend of three years who is moving to Mexico.