23 August 2012


I tired quickly of Puerto Lopez and had to leave. The town was overrun with gringos. It is the tourist jump-off for whale watching and Isla de la Plata. My room was also filled with mosquitoes and I was forced to stay in bed under the mosquito net whenever I was inside. Just going to the bathroom meant collecting a couple of bites. There was, however, a little Colombian restaurant owned by Calenos that served real coffee--coffee made from ground beans. Coffee in Ecuador is without exception served as a hot cup of water or milk and a jar of powdered coffee. I stayed one more day just to drink another cup of the good, Colombian coffee.
Puerto Lopez from above
It was cold and raining when I packed up the bike. My plan was to go 15km south to the town of Puerto Rico where there was a campground on some sort of ecotourism land.
The climbing began just outside Puerto Lopez. All of my riding days on this part of the coast have begun with climbs back up from sea level into the mountains. I pulled over after the climb and put on my rain jacket and neoprene bootees. The rain was really coming down now and I also wanted my bright yellow rain jacket to make me more visible to drivers.
I passed through the town of Salango and then arrived in Puerto Rico. The ecotourism place was a western styled monstrosity. There were a couple of young gringo backpackers standing out on the road. I rode past without even asking about the camping. I would ride for Montanita. I hadn’t planned to but that was where I was going now.
The road turned further inland and started ascending. I smelled the brakes on a truck coming down and knew I was in for a long and steep climb. But it was the perfect temperature for climbing in the rain and it felt wonderful to ride higher up into the mist, up into the green and lush mountains, the rain streaming down my face. I climbed for probably two hours and my knee felt excellent. I believe my cycling shape is returning and perhaps the knee ligament that caused me so much pain is strengthening.
The road dropped out of the mountains on a long descent back to the coast and a string of wealthy towns along the ocean. I arrived in Montanita soaked through and covered in mud. Montanita is a town of hippie backpackers, bead sellers and street jugglers. The dread-locked and tattooed and pierced young people stared at me as I rode through town.
I took a room at a hostal on the quiet end of town for $10 a night and showered and changed into dry clothes. I hung up my wet clothes on a clothes line I make from my bungee cords and went out and ate a shrimp ceviche on the main street in town. My plan is to rest one or two days before heading on down the coast.


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