During my time in Guayaquil, it was extremely humid, and with the constant changing of temperatures, walking in and out of air conditioned buildings, and the hostel air conditioning at night, I woke up before my bus ride to one of my favourite places on this planet, Montañita, with a pain in the side of my throat. I have been succeptable to strep throat, but thats in Canada, when its below freezing and youre immune system is low. I figured it was simply a dry throat and hydrating would kill it. Plus, nothing could damper my excitment to cruise the coastline, to Montanita!
Ecuador Montanita, My two loves
The main bus station is Guayaquil is massive and seems to have a bus to almost anywhere! Hopped on the bus to Monanita and with excitement in my bones and a smile plastered on my face, I welcomed a couple hour enjoyable bus ride to the little coastal town. Having already been there I knew exactly what to expect. Cruising through some shanty little towns on the “highway” you let your eyes take in endless perfect coastline and brown sand as the sun starts to set, one thing I adore about the west coast. Finally, the bus started to slow and I knew we had arrived in Montanita even before the bus driver said anything. I was so happy to be back.
Such an unassuming place that surprises everyone with what it has to offer, I strolled down the street leading into the town, and noticed that there had been some changes, but still remains the small surf and party town I remember. First thing to catch my eye was that the roads now were now actually paved! I strolled down to the “main road” which is merely a 150 or so, meter walk lined with restaurants, hostels, bars, and a couple surf shops, looking for a place to stay. I remember staying out to the left of the main road, near the church, in a small place much cheaper than in the “center.” I retreated back this way knowing that my dollars would stretch much further as far as a hotel and food here in Montanita.
When I say off the main road, and when I talk about center, I am talking a difference of about 45 seconds walking. I headed past the church looking for a place I stayed last time, but instead came across a place that you could tell was quite new, quiet, and cheap, run by a very sweet, humble Montanita family, so I checked in for a couple nights in a room with a bunk bed and private bathroom, 10 dollars a night, with Taylor coming the next day. That night I just took down a lot of water, ate some quality food and called it a night very early hoping to wake up the next day feeling better.
My hope did nothing. I wouldn't say I felt worse, but with only a fan in the room, it was warm, and I had troubles getting to sleep and staying asleep, however, being on "vacation" I had nothing to do except explore. I spent the day wandering around every corner of Montanita, hanging at the gorgeous beach Montanita has to offer, had a nap, and strolled up the road to catch Taylor as he said he would be arriving at about 7:30 in the evening. Sure enough, at about 7:45 I saw a bus cruising up the road, it pulled over, and mister Taylor Batman Livingston stepped off with a big smile on his face. After a big bear hug, I helped him get his bags off the bus and handed him a good bottle of rum. He looked at me and said “ I guess this what we are doing tonight…” and I showed him the bottle of whiskey I had put on the ledge, and I said “well that too…” and we both laughed.
It was a Saturday night, and theres always fun happening in Montanita so we headed back to the room and sat down and mixed a couple of drinks and filled in the last couple weeks of our respective travels. Having not seen one of my best ever buddies in a couple weeks, being in Montanita and the excitement of showing him around, those whiskeys and rums went down very, very easily. Eventually when we were legless, we walked into the center area to search for my main bartender in Montanita, Pascal!
There is a small street that runs perpendicular to the coast, that leads down through a bunch of drink stands to the beach, and 5 years before when I was here, I was always at this one guys stand. Best music, great guy, good mojito's and an incredible flair bottle show! Wandering down the street in a zigzag fashion, we arrived at the beach and the end of the alley without me having recognized anyone that looked like Pascal. Had he moved on? Had he left Montanita?
We ended up sitting down at one of the stands, getting a couple mojito's and chewing the fat. More stories, more laughs, feeling very relaxed. Eventually, I heard a song come on, and I stopped dead. It took me back to years before in Montanita, as it always does, and I needed to find that music! If it wasn't Pascal, I at least had to be at that stand, so I followed the song to the stand a few meteres up.
"Pifoflair" it said on the banner behind his stand, I looked at the guy in charge of the music ... it had to be him! I walked up and in my sub-par Spanish, I tried to explain why I was so excited to see him. Eventually his jaw dropped and he just said … “Canadiense?!” Asking me in Spanish if I was Canadian, I laughed and nodded, and he said, "William?" In his thick Spanish accent, again I laughed and nodded.
The days before I left a few years ago, he always asked me to return, and just like many tourists, I said I would but was unsure if and when I really would. Though, here I was standing in front of him. He shook his head in disbelief and gave me a big hug and looked as if he was going to cry. It was a seriously special moment for me, I cant believe he remembered me in the first place, let alone was as excited as I was to see each other. Needless to say we drank too many mojito's, stumbled back to our place late in the night and crashed instantly.
I had initially expected the alcohol to kill whatever was brewing the pain in my throat (I did it very successfully once in high school when I had strep throat) but woke up still with a solid pain and swelling in the right side of my neck. Another terrific night in Montanita, but I was paying the price. I walked to the store, grabbed a big bottle of water, Gatorades, some easy to take down snacks, and headed back to my bed knowing the next few days would be rough.
Later that evening, I was laying on the bottom bunk, reading my book and nodding off constantly, just ready to put my book down and turn in. Suddenly, I awoke to a loud noise and the bed moving side to side and then with a "thud" Taylor landed on the floor from the top bunk. The kid is and has always been a jokester so I initially thought that he had seen me nodding off and wanted to scare the life out of me, so I started half serious yelling at him for almost killing me. Apparently, he wasn't messing about. “Man! Something just flew through the window and landed on my chest!” He yelled at me. “ I think it was a giant cockroach!” Sure enough as we looked under the bed, and with feelers moving about frantically in the corner was a very large cockroach hiding next to another cockroach! We grabbed the broom and started poking at it, trying to get it to run somewhere we could get it. Eventually they both ran towards the end of the bed and Taylor, equipped with the ultimate killing tool, a flip flop, in hand, he smacked both.
After a good minute of laughing and talking he walked into the bathroom, and when he came out with tissue paper, he said “Oh thanks for cleaning them up.” I looked at him a little bewildered because I hadn't done anything, I just got right back in bed, figuring he went to the bathroom to grab clean up materials. When I told him, he now thought that I was the one joking around. We went back to the “crime scene” and he was right, they were no longer there! Looking back under the bed, both were still alive, and with guts half hanging out, dragged themselves back under the bed! Another chase commenced and after a couple minutes they were officially out of the room via a toilet flush.
During our whole stay, and due to the heat, we always had our window open. Located somewhere outside the window, a fair distance away, there was always a generator turning on and off every 20 minutes, a very faint humming noise we had become accustomed to. Obviously Taylor was still on edge, because when the faint sound kicked off in the distance, so faint I barely noticed, he literally jumped backwards throwing his hands up to his ears swatting at something that wasn't there! “Bah!” thinking it was another cockroach flying through the window! I literally could not handle myself I sat down on the floor absolutely losing it I was laughing so hard. He just put his hands on his hips with a smirk like "Ya...that was not very manly of me."
First night together in Montanita, and already some great stories to tell. I swear, this is a magical place.