Thursday, Nov 3, 2016

It is still dark outside and I’m listening to the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach. I haven’t slept well for some reason, but I don’t mind because I find the sound of the ocean very soothing. I must have dozed back to sleep because light is now coming through the windows. It is almost 8 am.

I got up and went out on our wooden porch.  Our porch sits four cottage rooms, and an attached beach bar at the end of the row, away from the actual beach itself. There is a cool breeze blowing off the ocean and the walkway between our row of cottages and the next building is creating a wind tunnel.

I can see a lot of surfers out in the water. The air feels cold to me but the water must not be too bad because in addition to the surfers in wet suits there are other people swimming without one on. I forgot how much I really enjoy just watching the waves come into shore.

I moved from our deck to the larger deck at the beach bar. I have a better view of the ocean here. The woman who makes our complimentary breakfast just showed up and started doing her thing in the small kitchen area behind the bar. Chase came out of the room and is sitting with me as we watch the surfers try and catch their wave.

By the time breakfast is being served Heidi and Easton have joined us. I am jones’n for some coffee and finally, the last thing brought to our table, is a cup of hot coffee. It taste crappy, probably instant, but I don’t care. I just added some stevia and let the euphoria of the caffeine surge take over. Honestly, I feel like what I see in movies after heroin addicts mainline. Is this a problem? 😉

After breakfast we walked the beach route into town to buy bus tickets for our trip back to Cuenca tomorrow. We had checked yesterday but you can’t buy tickets any earlier than 24 hours in advance. I asked for seats near the front of the bus and I got seats 17-20, which is in the middle. Guess it doesn’t matter because we are usually the last ones off the bus.

We haven’t learned, or maybe choose not to do, an Ecuadorian bus exit. What is that you ask? Everyone in the back of the bus runs to the front as the bus is turning into the terminal. The aisle becomes packed like a can of sardines, so you can’t get even step into the aisle from your seat. The only way to get into the aisle is to push people out of your way because no one voluntarily stops to wait for you.

Cappuccino art at Hola Ola's

Cappuccino art at Hola Ola’s

After getting our tickets I wanted a cappuccino because that one small cup of coffee at breakfast didn’t do it for me. We walked over to Hola Ola’s. I now have a creamy, smooth tasting cup of coffee to savor and enjoy. While I sat enjoying my cappuccino we discussed logistics for visiting Ayampe today.

Tres amigos in Montanita

Tres amigos in Montanita

Heidi was able to contact Bev and Jim, our friends from Bahia who now live in Ayampe, and we are meeting them for lunch. I haven’t seen Jim since leaving “life on the porch” post-quake. Bev was in the States at the time, so it’s been even longer since I’ve seen her.

Jim and Bev look great! This little town has suited them well and they shared how much they enjoy living here. One of the things they really appreciate is how safe the community is. It is very small and everyone seems to look out for each other. I thought Ayampe had a great feel. Certainly different when I visited without knowing how to find the hidden gems here.

In May we had visited Ayampe to check it out as a potential place to live, and although I loved the ocean and beach here, I wasn’t impressed with the services available. Bev and Jim hadn’t moved here yet, so I didn’t know any “locals” to help us out. What I learned today is that we didn’t see over half of Ayampe. The reason is that the houses, restaurants, yoga studios, coffee shops, Spanish school, etc. are actually tucked away down various dirt roads, and many sit behind heavily foliaged lots. Jim showed me a whole other world in Ayampe.

Finca Punta restaurant, Ayampe

Finca Punta restaurant, Ayampe

We enjoyed a great lunch at Finca Punta’s, a restaurant on the side of a hill overlooking the ocean. The dining area looks more like a very large, comfortable living room in someone’s home. Heidi and I split a shrimp burrito and Margherita pizza. The food was excellent.

After a great lunch we all walked along the beach listening to Jim tell us about the hostels, restaurants, and homes we passed and the people he has met that own them. From his narratives this town definitely fits the vibe of a South American beach village that I picture in my mind.

4 hombres in Ayampe

4 hombres in Ayampe

It was getting dark and it was time for us to get back to Montanita. Bev called a taxi for us and we waited for it along the main highway. It took about 30 minutes for the driver to show up from the next town over. We he arrived we said goodbye to Bev and Jim, until next time. In about 30 minutes the driver was dropping us off in front of our hostel.

I figured out where the music was coming from that we listened to last night. It was from Shanka’s, the restaurant next to us. We went over there for dinner tonight and it had a completely different vibe than when we had lunch here yesterday. Most of the tables were filled with guests listening to the entertainer in the center of the place playing guitar and singing English and Spanish songs.

As we walked through Shanka’s to find a table, the place had a soft yellow glow from the lit candles on all the tables. The floor is the sandy beach itself and my flip flops felt all the dips and divots in the dry sand as I walked to my table. A large bamboo bar was set behind the singer and two Ecuadorian bartenders were busy making happy hour cocktails.

When we sat at our table the breeze off the ocean was strong and cool. We asked the waitress to unroll the plastic “window” that created a barrier between us and the direct ocean wind blowing into the beach restaurant. The musician was really good and created a great feel in the place as we enjoyed our dinner. I’ve decided that Shankra’s is a great place to be for an enjoyable evening in Montanita.

Tomorrow we begin our trek back to Cuenca. Since we have been gone, it has been full on sunshine and heat there. Go figure.