Alicia: After our lovely time in Puerto Lopez and having had our fill of Boobies and Ballenas (whales) we left Sandra to travel up to Cuenca to meet Christina and her friend, while we travelled up to the hippy hot bed that is Montanita. The guidebook said we would 'be hit by the smell of marijuana and the sight of barefooted hippies' when we got of the bus, but we arrived to a huge built up beach resort with dozens of happy hour bars, street vendors with an array of beads and shells, and a white sandy beach with gorgeous crystal clear water and hundreds of sunbathers and surfers. Was beautiful, except that we hadn't been able to book anywhere to stay in advance so had to walk around for what seemed like forever to find a hostel. During this time, with my huge backpack on and the smaller day sack on my front, I managed to miss the step off a curb, and fall over in the road, arms flailing like a upturned turtle. Was hilarious I'm sure to look at, but I then had to hobble around the many hostels that turned us away with scraped legs covered in stones and crap from the road :( Mike eventually left me to wait with the bagson the beach while he found us a nice hotel just off the main beach front with our own hammocks and free breakfast :D Loves it. After we'd cleaned ourselves up and I attended to my wounds, we ventured into Montanita and found a cool little surfer bar which made a lush thai green curry. Curry cravings well and truely quenched at that point. Then we headed off to sample some of the happy hour specials. One thing I've learned is that South America definately has the best cocktails in the world, and riduculously cheap which is great. We then bumped into a couple we'd met on the Isla de la Plata tour in Puerto Lopez. They were memorable because the guy went snorkelling in a sling. Turns out he had come off his bike on Bolivia's death road and fractured his clavicle and dislocated his shoulder 3 weeks ago. Can't believe he managed to stay a float, but during the evening after quite a few cocktails ( I love Happy Hour :P) managed to give him some exercises and stuff lol. Something to write up for my CPD I guess :D The next day we pretty much continued with the Batido de Cocos - My fave drink of South America. Pretty much just coconut milkshake but well lush - and more lush Thai Green curry. Loves it.
On the monday we decided to head down to Cuenca via Guayaquil - Ecuador's largest city and its most dangerous - but ended up missing our bus so had to wait anoth 3 hours in Montanita on the beach. I guess there are worse ways to kill time, and we got to use our football again though it was so lightweight it kept flying everywhere :S Finally once we'd made it on the bus and then caught our connection (a crazy bus with disco lights and bachata music) to Cuenca, we arrived at around 8.30pm into one of my favourite cities in South America. On the bus it looked to me exactly like any town at home - little semis with gardens out front and actually clean streets - and back to the cold Andean weather sadly too. As we'd managed to miss the bus in the morning, turned out we had missed our chance to meet up with Christina for the second time, as she and her friend headed off to the coast on a night bus :( So after settling into our hostel, we decided to head into town for some food and managed to find a genuine Indian restaurant with Zee TV Bollywood classics blarring. Was great and a sign of good things to come. The next day we arranged to meet up with Sandra for a wander around town. Sadly my map reading skills had declined by this point, and I told Sandra to meet us at what I thought was called Parque de la Madre, and after an hour realised we were at two different places :S All ended well as we found Sandra at the park eating her ice cream so that was good. After a wander around the cathedral and flower market, we headed to the market aka Llama Central for some prized llama purchasing where me and Mike picked up our amazing llama jumpers :D They were a bargain. After some bargaining, got them both for $15 each. Totally worth it. In the evening we then went to see what we'd been waiting aged for... the new Batman movie. Was brilliant and crazy cheap, then headed out for dinner and drinks at a little German/ Ecuadorian place.. :S Was weird, but oddly great. As Cuenca was so relaxing, we decided to stay a couple more days, sort ourselves out (laundry, posting stuff back home... the boring stuff) before we headed northeastwards to Riobamba to discover the Lost Pyramid of Punay.