After another big mission; this time from Lima to Ayampe in Ecuador, we were ready to hang up the boots for some chill out time and some warm water.
We scored well with accommodation in Ayampe this time. Beach front, self contained house with 4 rooms up for grabs. BAM! Downside was no waves! After six nights here and still no waves. We hit the road again and said goodbye to Triff. Our hitchhiking days started the day we left Ayampe. Fed up with waiting for a bus that never seemed to arrive, we soon took up throwing the thumb out to anyone passing by. This is how we now travel when there is no bus in sight.
After talking to Keith from La Buena Vida about surf spots on the coast, we bunked down in Puerto Cayo for the night before adventuring off to find the infamous barreling beach of San Jose. We found San Jose with little difficulty; the hard part was the lack of transport and the scorching sun. We kept heading north to San Lorenzo. On the way there, we noticed a right hand wave near Las Pinas and it was peeling perfectly. Our main aim was to find accommodation, which we thought we could at San Lorenzo. Instead we were faced with three options over $140. Feeling sunburnt after riding around in the back of pickups and a dump truck; we pushed on to Santa Marianita and San Mateo with no luck of finding accommodation. We then turned around and hitched back to Las Pinas to where I thought I had seen somewhere to sleep; when this failed we managed to hail a bus that was headed back to Puerto Cayo. Luckily for us there was some people on the bus who ran a "hostel." Having mixed feelings of suspicion and desperation we took up their offer and followed them up the hill to their accommodation. They were very accommodating people for whom we are grateful for their help. Our hosts showed us the prize winning fighting cocks and even put on a display for us.
The following day we grabbed our belongings and made our way for San Mateo. We were hoping for waves, but when we arrived they were too small to bother with. We walked back into the small and dirty fishing village and stuck out our thumb to the next passing car. The next car that pulled over had a long board hanging out the back. "Sweet," we thought. This is when we met our friend Jorge the owner of the Beachcombers restaurant in Manta.
The day we met Jorge; we had lunch with him in Manta at a tasty cervicheria, found some accommodation and then drove back to San Mateo for an afternoon of surf (surprisingly the surf had picked up). We have fallen in love with the city of Manta and the waves that are on offer nearby. It is rare to see another gringo here and the food on offer is terrific for South America to say the least. We found some great accommodation at the Centenario Hostel, which is run and owned by another friend from Manta called Pepe.
For the following ten days we caught rides with Jorge to San Mateo and San Lorenzo. Bronnie experienced her worst accident on our trip at San Lorenzo when letting her board go when in the shallows. She dived under the oncoming wave, the board stretched out on her leg rope then projectile back at her head. This left Bronnie with a cross cut in her ear, which was attended to by a doctor who stopped the bleeding and sewed three stitches into her ear. On another occasion to San Lorenzo; people were clambering out of the water with cuts, bruises and broken boards. That is San Lorenzo, shallow, hollow and powerful.
While in Manta we hired a car and drove it down south to Playas. We stopped at Ayampe for the night and had some beers with Triff. Unlucky for us, the swell that was supposed to be at Playas had turned slightly and left little evidence for us to use. We hadn't travelled south of Ayampe, so it was worth the drive. We had also surfed San Jose twice, once with the tide in that produced big peeling slabs and once with the tide out that produce some of the best hollow waves I have seen all trip.
With a big northerly swell arriving soon, we dropped the car back off in Manta and headed for Mompiche with a stop over in Canoa. With the lead up to Carnaval, Mompiche was becoming packed and prices were becoming expensive. So when the swell dropped we high tailed it out off there back to Manta. Mompiche has been the wave I have wanted to see working since we first saw it seven months before. Yieeew feeling stoked we caught it when it was working. We caught many waves that took us all the way from the point of take off to the shore.
Arriving back in Manta, we took up our room in The Centenario Hostel and started ten days of Español lessons. We broke this up with a trip down to Ayampe to catch up with Triff and Keith. We then hired a car as there was going to be decent swell in San Jose. We caught up with Triff and Keith in San Jose where they had just scored a sweet session. Bron and I managed to catch the tail end of it. We took one last trip down to Ayampe to say goodbye to Triff who was heading back to Australia shortly. We were able to give our wetsuits to him, which has lightened our luggage considerably. On this last trip to Ayampe, Bronnie and I scored our last night nights accommodation free at Keith and Marilyn's La Buena Vida Bungalows. This was luxury with a really good mattress, air con, bath mat, soaps etc. the list goes on.
Not wanting to leave Ecuador, it was time as we were already three weeks over our tourist visa and have a deadline to meet Jo and Bruce my parents on the 13th of April in Bogota, Colombia. We jumped on an overnight bus from Manta to Quito where we spent the next two nights relaxing and catching up with our "Ecuadorian Parents" for almuerzo.
At this point in our trip, we would have to say that Ecuador tops the list for us in the countries we have visited in South America. Ecuador has plenty of activities from the jungle up to the Andes and back down to the coast. There are plenty more things for us to see and enjoy on a returning trip.
Adios Ecuador! We will miss you!