From the hippie-surfer town of Mancora, we headed to Ecuador’s equivalent – Montañita. Way too many blogs compare the two and we stayed outside of Mancora and therefore, couldn’t do a proper comparison. Instead, this post will start by featuring the dogs of Montañita. At first we thought all of these dogs were strays, playing freely on the beach, in the waves and wandering the towns few streets. After a few days we came to realize that most of these dogs (if not all) seem to have owners. The owners let them run around playing most of the day while they work/surf/play and then reconnect at some point or another. You’ll notice if one gets too rough or too far away some stranger will start yelling after it. Given they all love to play in the ocean they rated as the cleanest dogs we had seen in ages and we happily petted them.
Montañita is known for its big waves and good surf and it didn’t let us down. The waves were big enough our last two days that we didn’t dare swim out and the lifeguards wouldn’t let you past about knee deep water. We took to working on our tans and relaxing on the beach instead. The beach was lined with chairs and colourful umbrellas which provided a good refuge from the beating sun.
Once again, the west coast produced majestic sunsets complete with surfers catching the final few waves before dark.
As for the town itself, Montañita is known as Ecuador’s party capital and is decked out with bars and clubs filling most of the streets. Other than that, there are plenty of restaurants and more street stalls than your can count. Friday night we decided to check out the party scene and grabbed a couple 3 USD mojitos at what appeared to be the ‘pre-drinking’ street – the whole block was littered with alcohol stands. Two mojitos soon turned into six (they were delicious); however, we never ended up going to any of the clubs. Many of them charged cover and by midnight still didn’t look very happening.
During our trip we have seen hundreds of “windblowers.” The term is one we jokingly coined referring to people who appear to blow with the wind and have no set route or plan.
Someone who blows or moves with the wind, often gets stuck in one place and redefines the term “budget traveller”. They tend to sell home-made food or handicrafts or perform at street corners to make enough money to pay for their tent space and bread. Usually found in Bohemian towns or parts of town, travel in groups of two or more, wear worn out ‘hippie’ clothing and are often in dire need of funds.
Examples of windblowers from our trip:
Lone female windblower at the bus station with a small backpack and a guitar tries to sell her phone charger and sleeping bag to pay for a bus ticket.
Windblowers wander back and forth on the beach selling “happy” brownies.
Two windblowers sell handmade seem-less underwear on the street outside the clubs at night.
A windblower couple juggle three balls in the middle of the road at a red light collecting small change from stopped drivers.
Montañita has more windblowers than any other place we have been. Ten seconds doesn’t even go by on the beach before you are being offered another snack – not counting the locals who come by pushing carts of beverages or coconuts. Usually it was one or two people at a time, from all over the world, offering whatever they had whipped together in their hostel kitchen that morning. Given the fact that street food is dirt cheap in Montañita (1-2 USD for a decent sized snack) it’s hard to believe that any of these people sell enough to pay for their living. Best guess is that they bring in 10-20$ a day and spend about a quarter of that on ingredients.
We stuck to cooking our own meals as the mini-markets sold a decent selection of fruits and veggies for the cheapest prices we’ve seen yet and a small fresh fish store sold mahi-mahi and tuna for next to nothing. One night we couldn’t resist splurging and spent 20$ on an amazing sushi meal on the beach watching the sunset. Montañita breweries was connected to the restaurant and we had some quality beer and cider to go with our meal.