London, Madrid, Lima, Guayaquil, and the search for some boobies...
After three flights, we arrived safe and sound into Ecuador, to a large port city named Guayaquil. Guayaquil is neither pretty, nor steeped in history or culture, but offered a number of options for onwards transit into deeper Ecuador. Despite its somewhat functional offering Guayaquil has a traditional colonial-era neighbourhood , where brightly painted and ornately decorated wooden houses snake around a hill, with a lighthouse and small church perching on top.
Puerto Lopez was our first 'real' stop; a small fishing town with access to Isla De La Plata, a unique island ecosystem, comparable in many ways to that of the Galápagos Islands. An hour trip by speedboat presented an opportunity to see blue whales on their migration south to find mates. Sadly we were slightly too early to catch the whales but did find masses of Blue-footed Boobies, Frigates and Pelicans clouding out the sky on every corner of the island. We were also fortunate enough to see turtles and a huge Mantaray breach the surface of the water near to the boat.
As we have travelled northwards up the coast to Canoa we've encountered increased numbers of dreadlocked-laden hippies. Whilst the charge of the perennial traveller is one that could, in part, be charged at me, these roving bands of 'free-thinkers' appear to be self-sustaining, spending the majority of their time producing and buying jewellery off each other and admiring each others' organic appearances.
Somewhere along the way there appears to have been a mistranslation of the word 'hot'. Whilst every place we've stayed in to date has advertised 'hot' showers we have encountered nothing short of disappointment at every hose down. Cara, in particular, continues to adapt to this and her initial yelps of pain at showering at sub-artic temperatures have now subsided to low-level whimpering. Progress indeed...
Temperature remains somewhere 25-30 degrees which was welcome as we hiked 17k to the next town along the beach. It was a surprisingly empty route of any other hikers but full of birds and masses of scuttling red crabs swarming away from the herons.
Now for Cara's entry:
Summary for week 1
High light: Seeing a male blue-footed boobie (henceforth known as Moobie) do its sexy dance waddle to win the affection of an apparently disinterested female. Dance reminiscent of drunk man wearing over-sized shoes trying to walk a straight line.
Low light: Day 0 at Heathrow hotel we got off the lift without realising it was stopping at the service level before going to floor 4 where our room was. After realising there were no rooms on the floor and we didnt even know what level we were on we could not operate lifts with our cards. Whilst considering our options for raising the alarm we found some stairs - luckily these led us one level up to the reception where we had started. Great start considering we were still on home soil with the prevalent language still in our favour.
Reflection of the week:
This might give away my naivity as a first time traveller to S America but my first impression of the culture here would be that every person is running some kind of business and the mutual appreciation workers and entrepreneurs have for each other is admirable. Bus conductors let street vendors on and off whenever stopping along city roads - they're persistent but proud people and I have yet to be made to feel pressured or threatened in any encounter. From what I can tell, bus conductors have no finically gain from this and people have access to an alternative to begging as vendors can start by simply flogging sweets individually from a packet and work their way to sophisticated wares like ice creams from a cooler box or hot food with sauces etc.
Cuisine summary: delicious ceviche last night in Canoa, enjoying having cheap set meals from local haunts at lunch times too. Melon, pineapple and coconut heaven.
Jetlag summary: Still unable to get past 9pm if I have a beer in the early eve.