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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Montanita

I write this from Salinas, Ecuador.  It is somewhat of a mini-version of Miami Beach....taken with a BIG grain of salt.  I am house-swapping with an ex-pat couple who own a home here in Salinas.  I'm staying in their place for 3 weeks, while they stay in mine for the same period, to explore Cuenca. 

More about that in a later post.

Yesterday, I ventured up the coast to see what I could see.  At first, it didn't look so good.  Yes, a nice 4-lane highway followed the coast, but in this part of the region, everything is dry, dry, dry, dead, dead, dead, dirt, dirt, dirt, and ugly, ugly, ugly.   As with any drive in this country, you invariably travel through small villages along the way, with the customary speed bumps through town to make sure you go sloooow.  Contrary to where I've been in the past, these villages were primarily comprised of small houses (more like shacks) made of concrete 'cinder' blocks that rarely were finished with any coating or paint.  Just gray concrete blocks and mortar...that's it.   The primary street through town was generally paved, but all side streets were strictly dirt, rock, and potholes.  Amazingly, everyone I saw was very much the Ecuadorian standard...well-groomed, clean, and nice clothes.  Still don't know how they do it. 

The topography was just rolling hills (more like mounds) and dry dead-looking scrub-brush.  I felt like I was outside Victorville or Bakersfield, Calif.  None of the towns were impressive enough to stop and get out of the car.

Along the way, I constantly saw projects that started, then stopped, and have been frozen in time ever since.  Clearly, people sought to create developments maximizing the beach locations.   There were many fancy entrances and walls surrounding the land, but nothing beyond that.  Never got off the ground.

After an hour of all this, things started to green up as I entered a tropical zone along the beach.  I arrived at Montanita, the town I had been hearing and reading about.  This is the surf capital of EC.  Here, surfers from around the world (from what I hear) descend during high season (Dec - May).  Think of a village with thatched roofs, bamboo construction, surfers with their boards, hammocks and more hammocks, bohemia, 60's hippie, and partyin.  Shake and mix well.   A very unique environment in the middle of nowhere on the coast. 

The narrow streets are dominated by vendors of hand-made crafts (ie; beautiful jewelry, necklaces, braces) that line the curbs in front of outdoor dining and various shops.  The street itself is occupied by people in shorts and flip-flops, boarders, dogs, and tourists and once in awhile a car passes through...if the pedestrians let them.  When a bus arrives, there's a fresh batch of backpackers hitting the streets looking for their hostel.

Luckily, the town has a limit on the height of buildings, so no high-rise beach-clinging condos here.  Bars line the streets, too.  I don't mean the kind you walk into, I mean the kind like a coffee cart that you walk up to on the sidewalk and order a cocktail or beer, then take it with you while you wander around town.   At night, the clubs come alive and the partying starts, inside and outside.

So, with all that said, here's photos to back up my writing.  I'll be going back there a few more times, since I have 3 weeks to kill.

Olon beach, just north of Montanita

Cemetery next to Olon beach.   Looks old, but based on dates, it is still used today.  Lots of lillies growing about.

Saw this amazing enclave from the road and pulled over to take a snapshot.  Can you believe how close they are to the edge?

Take a good look at the structure in front.  What does it look like?  (answer up ahead)

Big cross, next to the enclave, on a bluff overlooking Olon beach.

Yes, I climbed up that mound (in previous picture) to take a better shot of Olon beach.  Straight down....and I was wearing flip-flops!!!

Here's your answer!!  Viewing the other side, this was built to resemble (or is it the REAL thing?) Noah's Ark.

Montanita Beach

Montanita Beach

Club/Bar/Disco in Montanita.

Downtown Montanita.


One of the bars lining the sidewalks.

Interesting new construction in Montanita.

One of the many hostels (hotels) in Montanita.

Bicycle vendors are everywhere in EC.  This (and many others) sold fresh ceviche around the village of Montanita, and even on the beach.

6 comments:

  1. On one of the bldgs (orange), there appear to be a/c units on the outside - but because of the grouping, I doubt that they are a/c units. What are they?

    Denise Charlotte NC

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tell us about Salinas too... Tom

    ReplyDelete
  3. Regarding the units on the outside of the building, they ARE A/c. AC units in EC are different than, say, in the USA. They are 2 parts...one is on the outside of the building and essentially does all the work, then the 2nd part is mounted inside the house high up on the wall but it doesn't have to be directly on the other side of the main worker. The cluster you see are feeding other units in the building.

    Dano

    ReplyDelete
  4. These are wonderful pictures. Now I know where I'm going to spend a lot of my time when I move to Cuenca.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dano, is this Kathleen the gal we used to refer to as your 'ex-wife' facetiously??? Your blog is great, I look forward to catching up every couple of weeks and seeing what you are up to. Keep up the great writing, who knows maybe your next Hollywood career will be as a screenwriter!! ME

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi ME and Don!! Yes, this the one and the same EX-wife. She tracked me down in Ecuador. I guess she's making sure she doesn't lose her alimony trail. She still lives in Kent and just became a licensed aesthetician. If you look at the photos of use in Quito...that's her hanging out of the gondola. Hugs, Dano

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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