Turning “Hello” into “Hola” and other life skills

We are in Ecuador by default. We hadn’t really considered that it’s the centre of the world (Republica Del Ecuador translates to The Republic of The Equator), or that it’s home to some of the most spectacular Andean mountain ranges, The Galapagos Islands, The Amazon, and several cities declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites for having the best preserved and least altered historic centres in all of Latin America.

Our choice of first South American location was based on being able to learn Spanish whilst living on a beach. The small beach town of Montanita answered our prayers. Pretty wrapped with the all the cool bonus features though. Definitely feels like one of the under rated gems of South America.

IMG_0233465 steps up from Guayaquil city at the top of Santa Ana Hill lighthouse. Recently revitalised favelas, however still no shortage of heavily armed police wandering around. Tripadvisor had mixed reports about the safety there, but we couldn’t resist checking out the candy coloured houses.

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IMG_0525In case you’re looking after some additional junk for your trunk, this is the spot.

IMG_0264Langosta. Important word to know.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAParque de las Iguanas where this photo is taken is in downtown Guayaquil. It’s across the road from our first stop in Ecuador and is not a reptile zoo or any kind of fenced in facility. As it’s name suggests it’s literally a park overflowing with iguanas free to do as they please. We saw one leaving the park crossing the road. No joke.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery plaza needs a statue to commemorate someone important. This is the one in the iguana park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter one day in Guayaquil it was time to move from the city to the coastal town of Montanita to learn all of the essentials for our trip ahead: spanish, salsa, surfing and rum.

IMG_0281Adidas boat, clearly the sportier model.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlice settling into coastal life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALa Punta (The Point), our home for three weeks.

photo 1Ben and Miguel (our main Spanish teacher) working on the palabras. Palabras means “words” – something useful that we learnt.

photo 2So many palabras.

IMG_0271Ben doing his homework while waiting for tacos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADoing the salsa. Miguel our trusty spanish teacher also doubled as a salsa instructor. There was a lot of hip shaking both in and out of class.

IMG_0421When it’s not a “school night” Montanita is the perfect place to let loose a little. Famous for its Cocktail Alley, an alley of street stall bartenders who serve up 2 for 1 cocktails (making them as cheap as $5). Once when we bought 6, they came down to $3 each and beer was even cheaper.

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IMG_0312Our modern day interpretation of salsa-ing.

IMG_0303Solo salsa.

IMG_0549Our friend George who we met on the dance floor.

IMG_0504Now that we’ve discussed Spanish, salsa and rum, lets turn to surfing.

IMG_0541We scheduled our Spanish classes at 9am and finished at 1pm, so that we could catch the afternoon surf. We hired boards off a Costa Rican guy called Oscar who charged us $5 for a half day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHey brah.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPost surf food in Montanita was almost always, rice, menestra (beans in sauce) and chicken/fish/protein and patacones. Besides street food, this traditional style meal is the cheapest way to eat in Ecuador. Patacones is twice-fried plaintain (a type of greenish starchy banana) and is a South American staple. Here’s how you make it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh yeah, another new skill acquired in Montanita, after many years of talking about it, Ben got his scuba diving license. Now both of us can dive.

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