We touched down in Guayaquil, Ecuador at 10 o’clock at night, and it was super surreal. I couldn’t quite get my bearings, nor believe that we were actually in South America. For me, it was country number 30 and continent number 5. I’d really wanted to visit 30 countries before I turned 30 this past June, but 30 countries in 31 years will have to do.
Anyway, after grabbing our bags we quickly found our way to the taxi rank, showed them the address of our hostel and were on our way! With none of us really able to speak Spanish (I know very basic, GCSE level, which I haven’t had the chance to use a whole lot), we just had to trust that the guy knew where he was going. And with no road markings or, seemingly, any rules on the road, we also had to trust that we’d still be alive when we got there.
About 10 minutes later we made it (intact) to our hostel, Nazu City Hostel, which actually is now up there with some of my favourite hostels for its location, cleanliness and just general cool vibes. As we arrived fairly late, we pretty much just fell asleep straight away, enjoying perhaps the most comfortable hostel bed I’ve ever slept in!
We had one full day to see the main sights of city, and we really didn’t have to venture far to find them. After enjoying a free breakfast at the hostel, we headed outside and wandered along the river front, where there’s a newly built harbour area, filled with restaurants and fairground rides, as well as an IMAX cinema and university buildings. We walked through the streets for a while, exploring the city and just taking in the sights, before heading towards a rather large hill with a lighthouse atop it. We learned that this is called Santa Ana hill or, Las Peñas. It’s a super cute little area with brightly coloured houses, bars and walkways that lead all the way up to the top where a working lighthouse sits, showing off some spectacular views. It was definitely a day well spent, but we were eager to get out of the city and find those beaches we’d heard so much about that were, let’s face it, the real reason we came to Ecuador.
The next morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before getting a taxi to the bus terminal. After some broken conversation with the taxi driver ( I really need to up my Spanish game), who was trying to convince us it would be cheaper to get him to drive us all the way to Montañita (it definitely wasn’t), we arrived at the bus terminal. This was like no other bus terminal I’ve ever been to before. It was a huge complex, filled with shops and escalators and signs that I couldn’t read. We eventually figured out (ok, fine, we were shown where to go) that the CLP (Coperativa Libertad Peninsular) bus service office was on the 2nd floor, office number 220 (if any of you are wondering), tucked away in a little corner by all the arcade games. We missed the 10am bus by approximately 1 minute – like, we actually saw the bus pull away, so we had to buy a ticket for the next bus, just an hour later (only $6 for the bus ticket).
11am arrived and we boarded our bus, making sure we kept hold of the luggage tag we were given so we could claim our bags upon arrival. The journey took just under 3 hours and we were pumped for our new location as soon as we reached the coast, about an hour before actually arriving in Montañita. The bus driver was nice enough to drop us at the side of the road, right by the sign for ‘Kamala Hostel‘, where we had booked to stay for the next few nights – just tell the driver that’s where you’re going when you get on and it’ll save you having to go all the way to the bus terminal and then back again.
And that’s where we are right now. Kamala Hostel. It’s like I’ve found my place. We’ve got a little cabana type hut to ourselves, with a balcony and hammock, and it’s literally a 30 second walk to the beach and the waves. This place has a pool, ping pong, pool, its own bar, a restaurant and, so far, some of the nicest people I think I’ve ever met travelling. It definitely has a party vibe, but also seems very relaxed and non-judgemental, so you can just do as you please. Join in, don’t join in. Play in the pool, swing in your hammock, rent a surfboard for a day, get a massage or go scuba diving, it’s got it all. We’ve actually only booked 2 nights, but I can already see us staying here for at least a week.
Once you find your little slice of heaven, why would you leave?