Saturday, 4 May 2013

Arrived in Banos on May 3rd evening after a long drive.  Banos is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains - and an active volcano!  It reminds me a bit of Banff in it's beauty and vibe.  We explored the town, went back to our room to clean up and then wandered into a lovely restaurant where we feasted on filet mignon and all the fixings for $8.00!  After eating, we ventured out a bit to explore the town at night.  As with most of the places we have visited in Ecuador

, Banos has a vibrant night life where we connected with people from all over the world who, like us, have followed their dreams to Ecuador.   After a bit of socializing we turned in a bit earlier than in the past few nights.

Beautiful Banos came alive early this morning - May 4th - around 3:15am as the volcano erupted, spewing black ash throughout the town.  It actually became active about a month ago, but this was the first time it spewed ash.  I have attached some pics of people sweeping up the ash as well as of us wearing the masks that were handed out to the locals to avoid inhaling the toxic ash.  Kind of cool to be here to witness this, but I'd say we timed our exit just about right!!

We drove three hours after grabbing a great fruit smoothie, to the city of Quito - from where we first began our journey.  We will explore the town a bit more this afternoon/evening and then call it a night a bit early as tomorrow we must say good-bye to beautiful Ecuador and head back home to Canada.   This truly has been one of the most incredible trips of my lifetime!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Just arrived in Cuenca had a very long drive from Montanita to Cuenca ran into heavy thick fog through the Andes with winding switch backs.  Drove the entire way at only 20 to 60kms/hr due to the treacherous fog!  Mentally exhausting!  Some spectacular views though.  We managed to get lost in Guayaquil for two hours. Heading to Banos tomorrow.  We will explore Cuenca a bit today and report back.  There is a river that flows through Cuenca and on one side is Old Cuenca and the other is the newer city.   Here are some lovely pictures from our journey to Cuenca.   These are from Puerto Lopez, Manabi ~ between Manta and Montanita!  

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Well after two days spent here in Montanita we are on the road again heading to Guayaquil and then Cuenca -  about a 6 hour drive.

Our visit in Montanita was an unbelievable experience to say the least.

This quaint little town has a vibe like no other. We have literally met people from around the globe both young and old all of whom seem to be here with the same agenda of nothing more than to escape from reality.
The evening comes alive with the non stop pumping of music as people enter the streets. Vendors selling everything from hot dogs to enchiladas to t-shirts to necklaces.

As you walk down the main street it is lined with tiki huts selling beer and any drink you so desire. With the music pumping everyone is happy and friendly, as we walk further we become totally immersed in the flavor of the evening. The vendors are advertising their specials to draw you in - $2 for mixed drinks and $1 for local beer! As I look behind me a fellow is holding a tray of brownies - they look delicious and apparently they are.

As we move from one club to the next we stumble upon the people we met from the night before ---our group has just doubled in size. The air is clean the streets are alive and it almost feels like you are inside a huge building but you are not as you can see the waves crashing against the beach.

As we exchange stories with the people around you of your experiences in Ecuador you do not realize the time, as for us it was now  8:30am.  Wow where did the time go!

As I reflect on the evening experience I think of all the people I met from all over the world and how sweet the vibe was, there were no arguments - no fights - no one was stabbed or shot.
Everyone from around the globe from different cultures different languages just shared in the simplicity of the evening: drinks, food  laughter, and whatever else you might have indulged in.

We live in a very complicated world but here in Montanita its pretty simple!
I love Montanita.  We will be back!

Now we are packing for our 6 hour journey to Cuenca and

Guayaguil.  As usual, we will touch base just as soon as we can find wi-fi!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Mompiche to Montanita....the beach is callin'

We had a spectaular drive along the coast of Ecuador today from Mompiche to Manta.  We stopped along the way at Pedermales.  (see pics attached).  Popped in to a bar on the malecon in Pedermales and enjoyed the beach and watched a friendly game of poker by the locals.   We have truly seen some of the most gorgeous scenery I have ever been lucky enough to view.  Skippy and I ventured into the jungle for a bit yesterday in search of howler monkeys.  Didn't see any, but we did find a great place to stay right in the was only $2.50 a night to stay...YES..$2.50!  We will definitely try it out on our next visit.  We have driven over 1000km so far and have spent a whopping $23 on gas!!  Gas is $1.48 a gallon (not litre)!  Most people cook with propane and a 40lb tank runs abut $2 or $3 to fill and about $6 to have them delivered each month.  You can live comfortably here for six months on $1300!!!  Need I say more....

Today we head into Montanita and I will update with pics and news after arrival.  The temp is expected to be in the 40's...bring it on!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Cayembe to Cotacachi

So Cotacachi is by far on top of the list so far as a retirement location.  It is very nice.  The Main Street would be equivalent to Spring Garden Road at home as far as shops/restaurants are concerned.  The shops are amazing.  You can actually smell leather in the air when you get out of your vehicle as a majority of the shops sell leather products all produced in Cotacachi - from shoes, boots, purses and beautiful leather coats and jackets - and the quality and styles are amazing.  Not only are the styles amazing, but they are very inexpensive - leather jackets go from $80 and up. If you barter, like I like to do, you can score a great deal.

There are some amazing little restaurants to choose from, offering great cuisine with beautiful clean decor.  The drive into Cotacachi is beautiful as it is located in a valley with mountains on either side.  The air is clean and fresh and the people are very friendly.

One of the things that has stood out thus far about Ecuador is how clean it is, even in the larger cities like Quito with a population of 2.7 million people it is amazingly clean.  Cotacachi is no exception.

We are heading off to the coast this morning to Manta.  We will check in as soon as we arrive. 

Here are some pics of the hotel we stayed at Saturday in Cayembe, Ecuador...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Baptism Busters

Well what a nite we had after copius amounts of vodka consumed by myself and rum by Darrell we ended up at a baptism celebration at the hotel we stayed at.

Apparently baptisms are a big deal.  We thought it was a wedding when we first walked in as the banquet room was all decorated like a wedding reception.

So here we are in our shorts dancing in the center of everyone on the dance floor having the time of our life couldn't understand a word from anyone. Even the owner of the hotel was dancing with us.
Then it got weird as the owner motioned for us to come to the back of the hall where he introduced us to about six guys, with one guy standing there with one foot on a case of 1ltr beers.
He gave this guy 10 bucks and motion for us to do the same I said I had no money and so then Zip gave him 10 bucks. He then gave us a cup and we had to pour beer into the cup and pass the cup to each one of them. We did and then they would pass it back to us to have a drink, this went on for sometime. Then Darrell gave the cigars.
Then the owner motioned for me to go back to the dance floor with him and I proceeded to do the same of offering everyone on the floor a drink of beer and then them motioning to me drink as well, Darrell was doing the same with one of the guys from the back of the room. This went on for quite sometime.

Next thing I know Darrell comes up to me and says we gotta get outta here and I said why he kept sayin we gotta go. So I look at the owner of the hotel and said we have to go. He motioned no stay.
Anyway we left not sure what happened but Zippy figured the group of guys were mafiosa as they seemed to control the beer, which was weird cause the owner of the hotel was there. I think Zippy was nuts and paranoid!

Anyway were just getting organized to head across country to the coast.  Touch base soon..