I went to Montañita for the 5 week CELTA course, coming from Baños. I’d heard quite a lot about the place and it’s fame for being a party/surf mecca, which is usually not my first choice. Upon arrival I found that it held true to it’s reputation, with people openly selling brownies with “special condiments” on the street and others handing out weed menus (pick your preferred type!). The bars and clubs would be open all night and drinking in public was rather encouraged than frowned upon.
Once the course started, there was little time to go into town (the school was a 5 min walk away) but it became the thing to do on Friday evenings – go in town for a beer. And surprisingly, the place grew on me! I still wasn’t into the partying, but it’s casual and laid-back atmosphere was pleasant and a nice contrast to the busy, demanding and, at times stressful course. After a while, walking through town, I’d meet people I knew, like the laundry lady or some of the students we taught, which made it all the more pleasant. Now, sometimes I miss it, although it wouldn’t be the same without my fellow trainees.
Once I became a certified English teacher (yes, I’m proud of myself!), I stayed on for a couple of days to go to Poor Man’s Galapagos (Isla de la Plata), which is only a short trip away. I even booked a tour, that’s what a lazy traveller I’ve become – shame on me! I was pretty knackered and just couldn’t be bothered working it out for myself and I think it was worth it because I had a great day out. There are apparently two versions for the origins of the island’s name: one being the bird droppings on the cliffs shining silvery in a full moon’s light and the other being that Francis Drake had buried a silver treasure on the island. Although in a tropical climate zone, Isla de la Plata was bone dry, according to the guide the last rain shower had been months ago and it was blisteringly hot. We saw a number of Blue-footed Boobies and Frigate birds, which let one get really close (hence the comparison to Galapagos) and take pictures. Also got to see the only two reptiles that inhabit the island, a skink and a lava lizard, but didn’t get any decent photos. After this trip, I went back to the mountains in Cuenca, which is where I am right now, thinking about going to the real Galapagos.