(CP) 'You come for a few days, end up staying for months'
28.11.2008 - 09.01.2009 29 °C
Sorry its so long but we were there 6 weeks!!!
We arrived in the night. Coming off the bus we were surrounded by taxi touts and kids wanting to take us to hostels so they would get tipped. This was all a bit much when you're laddened with backpacks looking more like turtle than human. With no idea how far the Cabanas were we were tempted to get a taxi. Still, Laura logged online and printed a map. 5 minutes walk, as we later discovered is everything. So off we went, on arrival we walked into a Salsa class and alot of smiling face. The Cabanas are private cabins with hammocks only built 5 month prior and there was a swimming pool. All good so far. We decided on an early night after a long bus journey.
Woke in the morning and went to explore the town. A beautiful beach, one main strip with restaurants, smoothie stalls, shops and hostels and not much else. Perfect.
We went to register with the school and was greeted by Julie, office Manager, an Aussie who was travelling, went to Montanita for a few days and has now been there 6 months! Accordingly to her its what happens to most people. We liked it, but at the time never thought it would be us. Somehow though it sucked us in.(not sure the last scentence needs to be said.
The classes were great. My teacher was called Ara and she was hilarious, the bubbliest friendliest Senorita you´d ever meet. She doesn't speak much English which was defiantly best for learning. Phrases i don´t think ill ever forget 'EeeeSOooooooooooooo Clarita' (Eso - thats it!) & 'Muuuuuyyyyyyyyyyyy Buuueeeeeeeeen' (Muy Buen -very good). Constant reassurance after being told i spoke Spanglish at best!
We spent the 1st week concentrating on school. It is true that most people do not speak English but in honestly you could get by with the basis if you stuck to the gringo trails and English speaking owned hostels but for us, we wanted more from this trip. True, the landscapes are vast and diverse but we want to learn about cultures and spend time with locals so it is so important to at the least be able to understand and hold a conversation.
Full of good intentions our 1st week also included running along the beach, surf lessons (it is as hard as it looks!) and 50 lengths of the pool a day. Unsurprisingly these remained good intentions as we settled in to the relaxed slow lifestyle of the locals.
School finished and we were meant to leave BUT after consulting Tim decided there was no better place for Xmas and NY than where we were. Sure we had 3 weeks to fill but the decision was to continue learning. Well why not? As said by a friend, 'If you find somewhere you like, stay. Somewhere you don´t, move on´.
We met some amazing people, some only for a few days and others for the entire time we were there. A special mention to Krista and Andreas and Titta. We met Krista on our 1st day, sitting next to us in a restaurant with her puppy Titta. Not hard to figure out how we ended up chatting. Krista is Canadian who travelled South America 3 years ago, fell in love with a Colombian and is now married. They are Artisians travelling south. We spent alot of time with them and they were so kind when Laura broke her wrist (we´ll come to that later!). Chris, Nerys and Guy. 2 Welsh and a Brisoalian. Great friends for life I'm sure. Chris has been travelling SA for 3.5 years with his 3 dogs, Zara, Fatima and Whylie. He owns a truck and has converted it into a mobile home ' Spectacular,'. what an inspiration. Sonia, Volker, Marloes, Leah, Sarah, Greg, Kjerstin, Marita, Jairo, Daniel and all the artisans... the list goes on. But for sure they are part of our fantastic memories of Montanita.
Days drift by so quickly filled with dedicated Spanish time, Empanadas and Cerviche on the beach, poi dancing -( Laura with fire) and cooking. The food is so cheap to buy. two bags of fresh veg was $2 at most and each morning, the local fisherman cycle round with that mornings catch, Fish, 3 for $1, Prawns and Calamari.
Evenings would mostly be spent in town, sitting with the Artisians, watching the street performers - Jugglers, Clowns, pois with fire, Bongos, Drums, guitars and even didgeridoo's. We´d buy a carton of Clos, cheap as chips chilien red wine for $3.75. Obviously not the best quality but easy to drink, more like sangria. There was always bonfires on the beach or on the weekend you could sample the delights of Cana Grill or Ola, Ola. The 2 bars - nightclubs of the town. Where the same music would be on repeat every week.
Needless to say we had a few morning with sore heads, and on one particular morning Laura with a sore arm. Or as discovered a little later, a broken wrist, YEP.... in two places! Poor thing had a cast practically up to her armpit, it was hot, itchy, she couldn´t -can´t swim, surf, ride a bike, eat or even dress properly!!
Even worse this happened on 23rd December so that put a real damper on Xmas. It was always going to be hard being away from our family, friends. To be honest it drifted by un noticed. Laura was in the wars so didn't feel up to leaving the Cabanas but luckily for us the Spanish school organised a big BBQ at our cabanas with 30 odd people so at least it was bustling, Laura spent the time in her trusty hammock frequently visited by friends wanted to see how she was getting on. Not sure she welcomed this, but she smiled all the same. This is not meant to be a ´wow (i think you mean woe hee hee) be us´´ we chose to be away and are loving it. Its Just a note that Xmas (xmas away from home naturally inspires some reflection as we imagined you all together around your trees and eating turkey) was for reflection on how lucky we are to have so many special people at home and for you to know we miss you all.
So that was Laura's knock, mine happened a few days before and no where near as bad but a pain never-the-less. Where we were staying was a little out of town and a definite target for thief's. Unfortunately our room got robbed but the thief must have ducked in and out in a second cos he/she just grabbed what was on the table and nothing more. I´m thankful they didn't get everything but it did happen to only be my stuff. Camera - biggest loss, ipod, speakers, watch, and money. Boo! Was a nightmare enough let alone when we tried to report it to the police. The local station, or office if you can call it was locked when we got there, after a few knocks we were greeted by a man in his boxers. Cop no.1! He was hopeless and told us to wait for his boss. Boss, turns up. Crude, disgusting man. Who took the whole thing as a joke. Krista came with us as she speaks Spanish and he had the cheek to say it was our fault for hanging around with Artisians, proceeded to ask Krista if she was a prostitute, ( and if Andres was a drug dealer because he was colombian. The most ridiculous accusation if you could meet them) asked if we would go drinking with them that night and worst of all then told us they couldn't, wouldn't give me a crime report. Great. No insurance claim with out it. Instead we had to get a bus to the nearest big town. 3.5hrs away to go to the public ministry office. Corrupt police is one rumour i will certainly be agreeing with.
Unfortunately Laura's Camera was broken so we were snap shot less. We managed to get Laura's camera working sporadically and thanks to others we have acquired plenty for memories.
Looking back its crazy to think we were never intending on going to Montanita yet we stayed there the longest we have ever been anywhere, but that's the beauty of exploring new places. Funniest thing is that Kathryn left us in Quito, Ecuador. 7 weeks later she is back out to join us. Woo hoo. and in all that time we never left Ecuador. Thankfully she had booked her flight to land in Lima, Peru so we had to leave. It was time and we are so looking forward to seeing new and different places.