An older English woman ran the hospedaje at in Punta Sal. From the start she wanted to know how long I was staying and was insistent that I had arrived in paradise. I have seen many Pacific coast beach towns, twenty or more, on the ride down from Ecuador to Punta Sal and this one looked alright but I did not see a paradise. This English had been living in Punta Sal for 25 years and I was not going to challenge her on it. She was also very keen on my staying. Perhaps it was because it was still low season and I was the only one there. I didn’t know.
Even after I explained my money situation she offered that I could stay and paint the hospedaje and do work with her young Peruvian husband for my room and board. That afternoon I had helped her young Peruvian transport with his mototaxi a large log he had scavenged from the beach and it seemed there was a lot more work she wanted done. I expected the English would work me hard repairing the place.
I didn’t need the work though. I have money to pay for rooms and food. I also didn’t like the little shack I was staying in. There was no mosquito netting so I had to sleep inside my tent put up on the mattress. The young Peruvian husband would also smoke me out of my room every afternoon when he started up the fire in an outdoor furnace they had near the bathroom. Although I could hear the ocean and just see it from the hill the hospedaje was built upon, I wasn’t very near to the beach either.
I was paying 30 soles a night for this room when for 35 soles in Zorritos, where I had come from, I had had a nicer, mosquito-free room, the room cleaned and my sheets changed daily, cable TV, my own bathroom, and a breakfast in the morning that ranged from eggs to fish to shrimp. While you can never go back on a bike I was thinking perhaps I had made a mistake in leaving Zorritos too soon.
This English was also a quite large woman and she smoked and smelled funny. I liked her cooking but when I ate I tried not to think of her as the one who had cooked it. Her young Peruvian husband was a breeder of Peruvian hairless dogs and there was a baby one with pink skin and without a tail which followed me where I went biting at my heels. Even if I had the money to stay I wouldn’t want to.
Mancora, the next beach town south, I had been to a month earlier. It was a party town filled with gringos and hippies and music blasted from the bars late into the night. I was not looking forward to going there either.