Ecuador 🇪🇨 – Guayaquil, Salinas, Montañita, Baños & Quito

After a very full on couple of weeks in Cusco we were excited to get to Ecuador to do some more exploring and also relaxing. 
The first thing I noticed about Ecuador before even setting foot off the plane was that it seemed a lot more tropical than Peru ( but part of the amazon is in Peru so it obviously does have some tropical parts ). What I mean by this is that the cities were full of greenery that seemed different to what we saw in Peru; and of course the weather was much warmer than Cusco. 

Ecuador seems to have a very heavy American influence that makes the country seem more westernised compared to some of the big cities in Bolivia and Peru for instance. 

Our first stop in Ecuador was Guayaquil which is the second largest city in Ecuador! We were fortunate enough to have a friend, Xavier who lived in Guayaquil and showed us around. It was very interesting to be shown around by a friend that lived in the city as you see it from a completely different perspective. For the first time in a couple of months I felt ‘normal’ ( by normal I mean, not a backpacker ). For those two days we did live a normal life, we went out for dinner, drove around seeing sights and stayed at a friends house. I couldn’t thank Xavier and his family enough for welcoming us both into his home and most importantly made us feel so comfortable in their home country. It meant everything to us.

We also spent two nights of our stay in Guayaquil in a hostel called Casa Serena, the reason I’m mentioning this is because its is the nicest hostel that I have ever stayed at… Why? 

This place didn’t feel like a hostel, it felt like a home. Well it was a home, the owner of the hostel and her grandson lived there. It was just a large, very secure house where they let the bedrooms out. 

Serena the owner was amazing! She was a ‘typical’ grandmother, hugging us, picking us up from the airport, looking after us and taking us for food. She went above and beyond for us and made us feel like her home was ours. 

After Guayaquil we went to Salinas which was 2 hours from Guayaquil on the coast. 

There wasn’t many tourists in Salinas as it’s more of a place that locals go for the weekend or on holiday when they want a beach break. The beach was lovely, you could get anything you wanted, like most beaches in South America! And so we spent the day on the beach, drinking beers, eating mango and me and Soki go our hair braided – in true holiday style lol.

We headed further north up the coast to the surf/party town of Montañita where we spent our couple of our last days with Xavier. 

Montañita reminded me of Thailand, like a mini Koh San road; they had pop up cocktail bars where you could enjoy a cocktail on the street and people watch (can it get any better). There was an abundance of street food and a gorgeous beach, what more did we want. We spent the first night having “a few drinks” – famous last words . The embarrassing part is that I literally only had a few drinks and still managed to get stupidly drunk. In true Lloydy style, something obviously had to happen. Yes it did indeed; while I was projectile vomiting my strawberry mojitos 🍓all over our bathroom I managed to break the sink. When I say break I don’t mean like the knob of the tap came off or something (I wish). I lent on the sink, the sink fell off the wall and smashed all over the bathroom floor.

💦G O O D O N E💦

Me still being drunk tried to fix it or try make it look slightly better by hooking the sink ( or what was left of it ) back on the wall and at the same time cutting my fingers.


*note to self and everyone else – never lean on sinks

So as you can imagine the next day was a hangover day spent at the beach where we enjoyed lots of food, the sun and sea – THE perfect cure.


We said our goodbyes and thank you’s to Xavier and made our way further north to the Baños.

Baños is known for its hiking, water falls, thermal baths, activities and extreme sport. We decided to take a day trip out to all of the main sights; in the morning we visited the beautiful waterfalls and some of the extreme sports. The beauty about the extreme sports here is that they are dirt cheap ! If you go to New Zealand or somewhere you’ll pay at least $100 to do zip lining whereas in Baños it’s only $20 – win win. The afternoon was spent going to the famous “swing at the end of the world”, taking the typical pictures and soaking up the amazing views. 

That night we went to the thermal baths, something that I was really excited about, relaxing. To my disappointment these thermal baths were unlike any of been on before and far from relaxing. Let me explain, there were two baths and people were acting strange getting in and out of them and I wondered what the big fuss was. Soki went in first and looked quite shocked and said that it was hot, ” it can’t be that bad” I thought … This thermal bath felt like one big saucepan of boiling water, it was probably about 50degrees. The idea of these baths were that you alternated between the extremely hot one and the freezing cold one, spending a couple of minutes in each bath. Eventually I got the hang of it and it didn’t hurt and shock me as much each time I got in either bath and it did actually turn out to be relaxing … eventually. 

After Baños we headed to the cooler city of Quito.

The main reason we went to Quito was so that we could do an Amazon tour from there or at least organise one while we were there. 

We managed to find an amazing travel agent who really went out of their way to help us get the dates and lodge we wanted.

We only had one proper full day in Quito before we left for our tour, so we decided to do the free walking tour (as we do everywhere) and it didn’t disappoint! It was great to learn about the history of the city and also the culture. After the walking tour we hit the local food market and had a local feed.

That night at 11pm we left Quito and head towards the jungle to begin our 4 day amazon tour. 

Overall I loved Ecuador, I much preferred the warmer cities and towns but saying that Quito had so much history and character it was a very pleasant city to be in. 

The thing that stood out for me the most in Ecuador was the absolutely AMAZING people. Everyone was so so friendly and happy to help yet we’d heard such bad things about Ecuador how it’s dangerous etc – it just didn’t make sense. 

Advertisements

Landing

35 mins until we arrive in Santiago, when I look to my right, past a few people and through the window, I see the sea, greenery and mountains, possibly the Andes?

 I’ve not been able to sleep at all on this journey because of excitement. I’ve been up since 5am Aussie time, our flight was at 10am from Melbs and we’ll be touching down in Santiago at 11.20am – the same day; sometimes I like time differences.
Whilst I was trying to get a glimpse of what was beyond the window I had a little moment of sheer excitement, this is MY DREAM, I’ve been wanting, wondering and longing for this continent for a very long time. And it’s here, at my finger tips, just beyond that window and in 27minutes time I’ll be setting foot there, exploring, wandering, exposing myself to the culture and soaking up everything I possibly can.

I just feel on top of the world, I’m doing it, doing me, my dream, my life and I actually want to cry.

Globe Trotter

October 12th 2015 was the day my life changed, It was the day that little me from North Wales got on that flight form Heathrow to JFK and never looked back.

Meeting people from different countries, cultures, ethnicities and upbringings has helped me learn and understand that people are so different from one another. All of those factors shape an individuals’ personality and outlook on life. Whilst traveling I’ve hung out with people that I wouldn’t usually, yet I’ve instantly had a connection with them as we shared the same passion, to explore and travel.

This trip was first time that I visited third world countries. To see it on television and hear about them is one thing, but to see it with my own eyes was very hard hitting. I think what touched me the most was how happy the people, especially the children were in such poor living conditions and with so little. Of course the children are happy; it’s all they know. I have witnessed things that I would have rather not and it is hard to see and watch some things that your not comfortable with and not be able to do anything about it; but at the same time its good to see these things and its a massive reality check, this is some peoples lives and this is what they do to get by.

When breaking the news to my family and friends that I was going traveling alone, the reaction wasn’t great. People were forever telling me to be careful, look after myself because there’s some bad people in the world. Truth be told, yes there are bad people in this world; but what people tend not to realise is that there’s probably the same risk of something happening to me in Thailand as there is in London – Distance doesn’t make destinations unsafe, people do.

I’ve learnt that the people that preach danger of foreign countries are usually the ones that have never left their own. Most countries are relatively safe if your sensible and stick to the beaten track.

Throughout my journey I have met the nicest people and realised how lovely humans really are ❤️ The amount of people that have helped me along the way in some way or another is incredible! I never expected it to be like this. The more people have helped me the more it’s made me want to help others because I know how much I appreciated receiving that help. At the end of the day, we are all humans in this big wide world and we have a lot more in common than most of us thing, no matter who we are and where were from we still have a connection, were all here for the same reasons, we just have a different life paths.

Exposing myself to new things is very important to me, in order for me to learn and progress. If I always enter things with an open mind I’ll learn things about myself that I never knew. I have done and experienced things that I thought I would never have done, and if I would have stayed in good old Cerrigydrudion, I definitely wouldn’t have done them.

 It’s hard to always be positive, sometimes things don’t work out or go to plan. I’ve learnt that it’s so important to be positive as much as possible in these situations and just in general. Keeping positive will also keep you sane; after all things ALWAYS work out one way or another.

I’ve learnt that I never need to plan when travelling, it’s far more exciting to wing it. Not researching destinations, lack of organisational skills, absolutely shit map skills and navigation has left me rocking up to destinations with no battery on my phone not having a clue where I am or where I am meant to be; but I sorted it – Why? Cause I had to. Situations like this put of pressure on me yes; but they also pushed me to talk to people, try read a map, ask for help. Now I’m never worried if I don’t have an address for a hostel, get lost, run out of battery. I’m becoming an expert. My lack of organisational skills also contribute to my feelings, thoughts and impressions of destinations. I’ll be the first to admit I have done hardly no research before my trips and the destinations that I have visited. To me this is a positive thing as I have no expectations and haven’t set any standards which has left me truly blown away by many places.

The things that I thought would matter whilst travelling really don’t! Nobody cares how scruffy you look, how many times you’ve worn that grey t-shirt or when the last time you washed your hair was. The only things they care about is your story, where you’ve been and where your going.

Material things do not matter in life. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s about you, your personality, your soul and your outlook on life. Good qualities in a person are far more valuable than money will ever be.

Traveling has made me realise that you always have to enter things confidently and positively whether it be a bar, friendship, relationship, conversation or room. Go places you wouldn’t usually, talk to strangers in the street, do things that scare you and that you wouldn’t necessarily want to do; but always have the confidence, strength and ability to walk away if you are not enjoying something.

I feel that I have become a lot wiser, relaxed, loving, happier, open minded and just generally a better person since travelling and I am so great full for the lessons I’ve learnt and the way it has shaped me; and I cant wait to embark on a new journey.

New Light

So they say that the best things happen to you when you least expect it; that I am now a firm believer of. 

Deciding to go traveling was a massive move on my behalf, someone that was scared of going upstairs alone was about to embark on a 12month journey visiting various parts of the world – alone! 

Two months in to my travelling I was in country number 3, beautiful New Zealand. Little did I know that this was where a new journey would begin.

Meeting someone that loved drinking and partying as much as I did was great, someone that was outgoing, open minded and had a freshness about them was awesome but it’s the kind, selfless, warm heart that he carried with all of that which really caught my attention and made me think, ” I can’t just leave this “.

Although I had vowed to myself not to get into a relationship or anything of the sort – due to extremely bad luck in the past; I just couldn’t leave this behind. There was something that I hadn’t felt or experienced before which made my mind up not to let go of it. And so we decided that we would make a go of things, cause after all what did we have to loose?

Just over one year down the line and I haven’t looked back. We have been with each other every day since ( apart from the month that we were apart in January ’16 ).

There’s just this sense of connection and engagement that I haven’t experienced with anyone else in my entire life. We are such different people but have the same dreams and sense of adventure, that’s how it works – were life buddies.

To have someone like him walk in my life was a breath of fresh air, and I am so grateful to spend my time, share my memories and give all of my love to the loveliest man I have ever met.  


X