Well, that was pretty interesting – Montanita
These last few days have been something else, let me tell you. We left the Galapagos on Tuesday afternoon. The flight only takes a couple of hours but there is a time zone change, so we arrived around 5pm. Instead of taking a couple of different buses and landing in Montanita 4hrs later we arranged for a driver to pick us up. He was waiting with a sign and our names. It was niiiiiiice.
We had no fricken clue what to expect. For the past month locals had been looking at us with these crazy eyes and expressions when we told them that we were going to stay in Montanita for an entire week. They asked, and were being dead serious, if we really really liked to party and do drugs. We told them no, not really. They kept saying ..well, then don’t stay there a week. The first few times we laughed it off and joked about our missteps in booking this part of the trip. After ten different people said the exact same thing – and sometimes in very poor, broken english, we decided that we had to cut our time there short. And we did, from 7 nights to 3 nights. This turned out to be a great move.
We arrived at our hotel/hostel around 830pm – this is after we got our bags, found our driver and made a pit stop for some snacks. I spent 10 minutes in that gas station looking for beef jerky but had to settle for fast food burritos and an a canister of Pringles. OK, back to Montanita. The place we stayed at, Montanita Cabanas, was alright. The property was located just outside the main town but our cabin, #8, shared a fence with a campground which partied until 4 or 5am every night. No A/C in the place so we had to open the windows to circulate air which meant we listened to a bunch of messed-up campers singing/yelling “yeeeeeaaaahhhhhhh…..your sex is on ffiiiiiiiirreeeee” all night long. The song is still in my head.
We get somewhat settled in our place on the first night and walked into town a little after 9pm. We came in on the main road, heading north. Our cabanas were on the east side of the main road and the downtown was on the west side (towards the beach) so we didn’t catch a glimpse of it as we strolled in via car. This place is awesome, strange, weird, trashy, cool, gross, fun and wild all rolled into one. The best way I could describe it is a mixture of Key West, New Orleans, Panama City Beach on spring break, and Amsterdam. The beach setting and laid back attitude of Key West, the endless amount of bars, drink specials and condensed layout as New Orleans, the same young, party-going clientele as PCB on spring break and the drug-friendly attitude of Amsterdam.
Honestly, the place is pretty cool – but just for a night or two. I can’t hang with these kids any more. Back to back to back benders were the norm in college, but I never made it out past midnight (so sad) on any of the days there. It was still bumping though at that time though. Every place had a happy hour that lasted an absurd amount of time for real cheap. We sat down at a place that had 3x$6 cocktails. 2x$5 was expensive. Almost all the food specials included either a cocktail, beer or wine. On our last night there someone told us that the “party” doesn’t really get started until 1am and will last basically until the majority of people have passed out and there aren’t enough customers. Haha. WTF?
Part of the reason that we chose Montanita was it is home to one of the highest rated Spanish schools in Ecuador – the Montanita Spanish School. They run the school and the cabanas where we stayed. Lindsay booked up 12 hours of lessons, four hours each day from 8am-noon. This was part of our reason for heading back somewhat early each night. Classes were a lot of fun. It was just Lindsay and I (most “classes” didn’t have more than four people) because our spanish-speaking ability was on the same level and we only had three days of classes -which is how they organize and setup their classes. I think that we learned quite a bit. It was so helpful to have someone breakdown how to conjugate verbs, help us understand some common travel phrases and essentially build a small little base that we can build off. At our first session we asked the instructor…”so, how long do you think that we would need in school to effectively learn the language?” He looked at our placement tests (which were awful), looked up at us and said “probably four months.” We started laughing.
Our three nights came and went quickly, especially because the first half of each day was taken up with our spanish school. The last night there we met a guy from California that opened his own micro brewery on the beach. Montanita Brewing Company. Real cool guy, tasty & unique brews as well. If you’re in Montanita, check this place out. We told him that we were headed to Manta next (which is a 3hr bus ride north from Montanita). He paused. Looked at us both and said, “Hey, sorry – but I got to ask, Why the fuck are you going to Manta?” We didn’t have a real good reason. We read about they had some nice restaurants, it was a larger port city and was on the way to Quito. (note we originally planned to go to Quito, but we had changed plans by the time we were talking to him, so there wasn’t really a compelling reason to travel to Monta at this point). Right then we decided the next day we would take a bus to Cuenca and visit Lindsay’s relatives, Larry & Beth, who have retired there.
The next morning we woke up & packed our bags (730am), went to school (8am-noon), grabbed a quick bite for lunch (12:20pm), checked out of hotel (12:40pm) and hopped on a bus leaving for Guayaquil (1pm). A little over seven hours later we arrived in Cuenca. More on that ride and my adventure with an upset stomach while crossing the mountains in the next post. 🙂
Anyway. Our time in Montanita was nice. Funky town…super funky town. If you like to party, surf, smoke and/or eat weed, sleep during the day and stay up all night then I don’t think that there is a better spot for you.