After my intense jungle retreat I headed back to the beach for some ocean chill and quality eye candy; Pacasmayo was the next stop. Pacasmayo is a chilled town with a small pebbled beach and good swell and where there is decent swell, there tend to be fit surfer dudes. VERY fit surfer dudes on this occasion and where there are surfer dudes, there tend to be herbs and good vibes, besides the tasty eye candy. Pacasmayo was my last stop in Peru and after almost two and a half months I waved the country goodbye with the intention to come back very soon. I took a night bus from the sleepy beach town up north to Tumbes, which is 30km from the Ecuadorian border. There I changed to a bus that would get me across. Border formalities were surprisingly swift and the official at the other side of the window was very friendly. Ecuador is a rather compact country, especially coming from Peru, and one can travel from one side of the country to the other within a day. As I planned to spend most of my time in Ecuador at the beach, I headed for the colonial town of Cuenca first, which I reached from Tumbes very swiftly due to excellent bus connections. Besides working and eating good food I didn’t do an awful lot in Cuenca and as it’s rainy season I didn’t mind leaving the Andes valley for the beach. Travelling through lush, mountainous territory, the beautiful Cajas National Park (say Cagas, with a hard ‘Dutch’ g) and the jungle of the lowlands I reached the biggest city of the country and the capital of commerce, Guayaquil. From there I took the bus to my final destination, party town Montañita. Montañita is a surfer town, but as the waves were modest during my stay the water was full of surf classes and I assume the more advanced surfers headed for more challenging waves outside town. Montañita is about beach chill and party-hard and there is a generous supply of herbs, other intoxicating means and just general hedonism. In other words, a most suitable place to spend Holy Week (the week before Easter). Holy Week is a big deal in catholic countries like Ecuador with colourful procession through many cities and towns. But not in Montañita, where one is just way too busy chilling and partying.
Montañita is not a real town. It’s more like a village consisting of five streets parallel to the beach and five streets across. There is a bridge over a tiny creek that separates ‘town’ from out of ‘town’ with a few dirt roads on either side of the main road. Very few people actually live in the village. It just consists of hostels, hotels, restaurants, bars and a few shops all catering the tourist crowd and it all feels like a permanent festival rather than a ‘real’ village. What is cool about Montañita is that the crowd is a nice mix of gringos (tourists from North America and Europe) and folks from Latin American countries. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the music in the clubs, but the herbs and general vibes were good and I stayed at the coolest hostel in town with the coolest motley crew of guests.
After 11 days I decided to change scenery as Montañita is one of those places that the longer you stay the harder it is to leave. I wasn’t done with beach chill just yet, so I headed further up north to the more relaxed beach town of Canoa, which I found a bit underwhelming after Montañita. At the moment of writing the Dark Fairy Circus is in the capital Quito, where I am staying at a funky hostel with a cool roof terrace offering the most gorgeous views over downtown Quito and beyond. I have hooked up with an old friend from the Hood in London, who is a Quito native and who I hadn’t seen in 8 years. He took me to a bohemian place in his neighbourhood and it felt like last week that we had seen each other last. After Quito the Colombian border is calling. Everyone I’ve met who’s been to Colombia is raving about it. So now I have rather high expectations, which might not be good, but all I can do is find out for myself whether the hype is justified. Entonces, Colombia, ya vengo. Colombia, I’m on my way.