Monday, June 27, 2011

Seafood, whale watching, and a run in with the polica all down the coast of Ecuador

Its been awhile since we've been on the beach but after 3 months of mostly mountain climate it was a welcome change. That was my reason to see the coast but for Jieun, it was all about the seafood. We made our first stop in Canoa, a tinny town with dirt roads, full of hostels, restaurants and bars. After an hour of looking for a place to stay we bumped into a young French couple we meet in Panama and they had been camping on the beach for free. We decided to do the same but in the van. We had a beach front view, palm tree shade in the mornings and breezy nights. We only spent 2 nights enjoying the free camp, cheap seafood and beer, it was time to move on and plus we really needed a shower.

cute fishing village
morning jog who am I kidding!

end of a long day enjoying a cold one
Manta, is Ecuador's largest port city with a long malecon lined with buildings, seafood stalls, fish markets and boat makers. Funny thing that happen on our second day, we got stopped by the immigration police. They asked us for ID and we told them we had them at the hotel, they put our bikes in the back of the truck and gave us ride back to the hotel to show them. During the ride they joked with us about Jacky Chan and after we showed our documents they released us and told us to carry a copy of our passports. After that experience we packed our things and headed south to Puerto Lopez, a small town but this town had the national park of isla de la Plata, some refer to it as the poor mans Galapagos island.

we asked a guy he told us would cost about 200k and take 6 months

shark fin anyone
shrimps galore and cheap
Ji, getting into trouble again see our bikes in the back
We arrived into Puerto Lopez late afternoon and stopped on the beach front for a drink. Just as we sat down a guy was trying to sell us a tour of isla de la Plata and whale watching. Usually we just say no to these sales guys but we already knew we wanted to go. First he told us it cost $40/pp and said they already had 8 people going and he could drop the price to $35/pp so we told him we would find him again after our drinks. 10 minutes later he came back and offered $32/pp so we jump on it "be ready a 9 am tomorrow" he told us. Next morning we arrived 10 minutes early and surprise the other group was running late and we waited two full hours before getting on the boat. The boat ride was bumpy but Ji, took some meds well advance and had no problems. When we arrived we saw a few other boats docked. Now all groups must be accompanied by a guide on the island and we were given a option of one trail hike, 1st and easy 1.5hr hike and you can see the red foot booby or 2nd an harder 2hr hike and you could see the blue foot booby. We all agreed to take the later and were the only group doing this hike so we had the whole trail to ourselves, with the birds of course. At the start of our hike we were instantly greeted by a pair of blue foot booby, they had no fear of us, seemed to be calling us wanting our attention and posing for pictures. As we continued on we saw more blue foots and 30mins in we saw Nazca boobys. It was really interesting how segregated the birds were, they only stayed with their own type it was like they had there own boarders. Later on the guide stopped and told everyone to be quite and we saw a large wave albatros, it seem to be protecting an egg and the guide told us it was a treat that we got to see one because they are hard to spot. After the hike we all got back on the boat for lunch and later boated out to a snorkel spot just off the island, the water was clean enough but it was a cloudy day so not much light, everyone on the boat took a dip in the water and 30 minutes later we headed back with hopes of seeing the whales. As we started our return the boat stops and long behold the whales surfaced for us and even swam towards us and in the distance another whale jumps into the air, it was site I won't soon forget the size of these amazing animals. The tour was good overall, saw and did everything they promised but would have been perfect if they let us see the entire island.

the blue foot boobys its almost like someone painted their feet

Isla de la Plata
nazca booby looks the same as the blue just different color yellow feet

large albatros protecting its egg
Next would be Selinas to visit Paul and Rachel who we shared a container with were planning to get married and invited us. They had recently purchased a building with 4 apartments, 1 penthouse unit just 2 blocks from the beach so we stayed with them. We spent 5 days in Selinas but unfortunately we could see their wedding because of some red tap problems but we wish them both good luck and happiness for the future. We are heading back to Banos to do some white water rafting.