ARRIVING TO PUERTO RICO, PUERTO LOPEZ
After our visit to Otavalo, we came back to Quito and took a night bus that very same day to the beach of Puerto Lopez 12 hours away. It was one of the worst night bus ride we had (Bus Carlos Alberto Aray, USD 10/seat) as it stopped about 5 times along the way and music was blaring in the bus for the entire time. The toilet door was broken and the bus driver didn`t like people using it. The DVD player was broken so there was no movie to make time pass faster.
After leaving at 7PM in Quito, we arrived in Puerto Lopez at 7:30AM. As we were near the coast, on the bus we saw beautiful sunrise with the cloud forest of the Machalilla National Park as the backdrop.
After some seafood breakfast in the town of Puerto Lopez, we headed off to our first destination, which is Hostel Azuluna (Blue Moon) 14 km south of Puerto Lopez, just south of the village of Puerto Rico. (USD 50 cents/seat)
RESTING IN HOSTEL AZULUNA
The beach of Puerto Rico is clean and quiet, with hardly anyone which makes it a nice resting place. The waves are also just right for beginner surfers.
We mistakenly went to the wrong hostel, Hosteria Alandaluz, next door. It is beautiful but much more expensive. After being picked up by the staff of Hostel Azuluna, we settled into a beautiful cabin on the second floor with 2 rooms and 2 bathrooms overlooking the beach of Puerto Rico. The walls of the cabins are painted beautifully with different pictures of plants, trees, and animals. The restruant and game room of the hostel sits high above a hill and the interior design was also very tasteful with many pastel colors and bamboo and wooden frames and furnitures. We like it very much.
After some rest and homeschooling in the morning, we decided to go horseriding at the beach for the afternoon (USD 5/horse/hour) We rode on horse in Argentina and Bolivia in the mountains. This is the first time riding in the beach which was a new experience. Riding the horse into the waves, looking at the ocean, beach, and sky was magical. We were also able to gallop the horses on the sand and in the waves, splashing ourselves at the same time. It was definitely worth the USD 20 we paid for the one hour ride.
Afterwards, the manager of the hostel took Annie and Jon to several community project the hostel and its associated NGO – Fundacion Reto Internacional (email@example.com) had initiated often with help of volunteers from Canada. We saw two community center it has helped build for infants, beautification of beach colnade, and the building of a school classroom. The hostel is also trying to be eco-friendly by compositing its bio-degradable waste and reusing shower water. It also tried to build its structures with regenerable materials, such as bamboo.
At night, we decided it was worth paying the higher price of USD 6.5 for a complete meal per person to experience eating there. Annie learned from the cook about Ecuadorian dishes. The rest of us watched the beautiful sunset from the hostel restruant. We had great cheese soup and shimp, fish, and chicken dishes, topped off by juice and chocolate cakes.
After dinner, we had our family Sunday worship, then we went to the game room to play ping pong, football table, and bingo. Bingo was a great way for Joani to learn double digit numbers while having fun at the same time.
The bed was very comfortable and had mosquito net so we all rested very well until at 5AM, we were awaken by a loud angry scream and banging on our door. Apparently, Nathan went to restroom at 5AM and his footstep sounded really loud on the wooden frame floor such that the Russian lady downstair felt very angry, especially given they were with us on our horrible night bus the night before. She was a bit over-reacting but we tried to understand. They were friendly from the beginning and we were surprised at their intolerence.
FUN AT THE BEACH
The next morning, we wanted to spend more time at the beach in front of our hostel. Jon went to rent a surf board and tried surfing by himself and with Olivia. (USD 12 for half day) Several times Jon was able to stand up straight and catching waves was quite easy here. Olivia had a hard time as the waves was big for her and the board was not that suitable for a small person such as she. Several time the waves crushed her and the board flew up while Olivia tumbled underneath.
Nathan and Joani had lots of fun catching small crabs on the beach and building a large sand castle. Jon and the children built a stone ¨prison¨ in the middle of the sandcastle to keep all the creatures they have caught such as crabs, crickets, and other little creatures. It was fun trying to keep these creatures from running away from the prison.
On the beach, there were many beautiful colored sea shells and stone of all shapes, patterns, and colors. Annie spent the entire time looking at these stones and shells and she collected a bagful of them to bring back. Jon approved since we only had to carry it for 2 more days before coming back to the US.
It was a great way to spend the morning.
After checking out of the hostel at noon, we took flagged down a bus on the road and took it back to Puerto Lopez (USD 50 cents/seat, 20 minutes) Originally, we were planning to go to Montanita for the afternoon, supposely the best surfing place in Ecuador and a party town. But after considering the cost (USD 1.50/seat, 1 hour), the limited time we have, we decided to just head back to Puerto Lopez as we didn´t have a proper breakfast and lunch and we`re starving.
1) In Quito, we saw some info on this eco-friendly hostel Azuluna near Puerto Lopez that also contributes to community development around it. (www.azuluna-ecuador.com) Although it is not cheap (USD 10 + 22% tax per person/ USD 35 + 22% tax for our family), we thought it is worth staying for at least one night to understand more about how this hostel runs. We were impressed by the scenic view and the interior design of the place. The hostel manager also took us to see some of the project they did. We liked the place very much.