Atacames (Beach), Mindo (Cloudforest), Papallacta (Hot Springs), Quito

Lots of stuff happened since I last wrote. I did go to the beach as I had planned. I first went the bus stop for one of the companies, Trans Esmeraldas, but the next bus was leaving at 12:30 at night. It was only 7:30 then, so I took a cab to Terminal Terrrestre , the big bus station and got the next bus leaving at 10:20. With about 3 hours to spare, I went on the internet for a while. I felt like I was back at home browsing the internet for hours on end. Anyways, I took what I thought was going to be a 5 to 6 hour bus ride to Atacames. It turned out to be 8 1/2 hours on the night bus. Luckily, I sat next to a nice woman and we talked for a few hours which helped pass the time. She teaches Spanish here and so we talked about Ecuador and some other things for a while until she got off at an earlier stop.

I finally got to Atacames at 5:00 in the morning. One of the rickshaw like taxis took me to a hotel next to the waterfront. Unfortunately, that hotel and the next nine others were full. I eventually found Hostal Guayacan on one of the side streets and got to bed immediately.

I woke at around 12 in the afternoon, and headed directly to the beach where I swam in the ocean for at least a few hours. The beach there was really nice with palm tree lined shores, warm water, and beach huts all around.

After not having anything to eat for a while, I was starting to get pretty hungry so I walked back to my hotel where I showered and changed. I decided on what I thought was a nicer restaurant and ordered an omelet. Just as I started eating, I heard screams from a nearby girl who was freaking out because there was a cockroach in her salad. Normally, at least in the US, i would have stopped eating my food and left, but I was just too hungry and the omelet was pretty damn good.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, or at least I don´t remember much of what happened.

I woke up pretty late the next day and walked to the beach where I swam and just rested until about 6 o clock. It was a pretty relaxing day! For dinner, I ordered the salsa verde fish which was an amazing tasting fish in some kind of green sauce. In the middle of my dinner, i was interrupted by a group of six or seven girls who asked if they could take a picture with me. They were a pretty loud bunch and the entire restaurant was staring at the lucky gringo who had six pretty girls approach him! I felt like some sort of celebrity. Did I mention that there were at most 10 other gringos (westerners) in the town?

Just about all of us gringos happened to be staying at the same crappy hostel. Just as I was about to head out to the clubs that night, i met two other girls and a few Ecuadorian guys. They were traveling together and hitting up all of the beaches in a row. We went out together that night for a bit of dancing.

I woke up the next day and did the same thing, just relaxed on the beach. I also had fish for my next 3 meals…which I have been eating way to much of. I tried Ceviche, which is a typical Ecuadorian dish of some kind of seafood(i got fish) in a lime tasting soup that you eat with popcorn and fried plantain chips. Since then, i have had it a few more times. I will make it for you guys when I get home.

I also bought a ticket to go home that night on the bus. Armed with my mp3 player that I had recently figured out how to play games on, i was ready for a long bus ride. It turned out the bus driver was an Ecuadorian who drives a bus in Canada for half of the year and Ecuador for the other half. This was good because when we reached a checkpoint and had to get out of the bus and in lines, i was waiting in the girls line until he told me in English that I was in the wrong one.

After getting frisked, I got back on the bus and had a pretty uneventful ride home. Again, I got home early in the morning and went straight to bed. When I woke up, I went to the old town to check out the markets which was nice for a few hours.

I went back to work again the next day. The week was pretty much a blur. I went out a lot (pub quizzes, movie theater, clubs, etc.) at night, and worked during the day. Right as i was leaving work on Friday, I decided to check my online banking. Turns out someone got ahold of my other credit card number and made 12 charges with sprint for downloads. After a few hours on the phone with my bank, it all seemed settled. Anyways, it was not and ruined my next few days where I seemed to have a lot of bad luck in everything that I did.

My bad luck seemed to end once I started my usual weekend trip. I took an afternoon bus to Mindo ( a cloud forest). It was only 2 1/2 hours with great scenery. I got in at about 6 and ate some Mexican food that was made in a microwave….and then watched Bad Boys 1 and 2 at my hostel because it was too late to do any activities. While watching the movies, the guy who was working there kept hitting on me, making me feel very uncomfortable. I checked out early in the morning and then checked into a really, really nice hotel for only $13 a night.

At around 9, i changed into my bathing suit and searched for a tour that was leaving to go tubing down a nearby river. I finally found one group leaving and hopped into the back up the pickup truck with an Ecuadorian family who i was to go tubing with. We got to the river 20 minutes late and our guide explained how to sit in the tube. A few minutes later, we were floating through the rapids. It was a blast, and for the cost of only $4, i should have done it again.

I had also planned on doing th cable car (Tarabita) that would take me directly above the cloud forest. The driver who took me to the river suggested that I hitchhike to the Tarabita and so I did. I waited about 20 minutes until I found a ride with a young Ecuadorian couple who work as engineers in Quito, in their nice and clean jeep.

I was definitely glad i got a ride with them as I would have had to walk at least an hour to the Tarabita. Once we arrived, the three of us bough tickets and took our ride on the cable car. Once on the other side, the three of us hiked to a bunch of waterfalls.

I ended up going back up ahead of them and took the cable car back to the other side alone where I waited for a ride back to Mindo. Eventually four other gringo girls came back from the cable car and were trying to get back to Mindo too, so together we rode back in some guys van.

Back in Mindo, we all hung out for an hour until they caught their bus back to Quito. I also realized that i had done everything that I had wanted to do in Mindo, and so I bought a bus ticket back to Quito as well. I also decided that it would be a good idea to go to Papallacta once I got back to Quito. So i took a cab to the bus station directly from the other bus station after my taxi driver insisted that I could get a bus at any time to Papallacta. I was a bit nervous because I had not taken any notes on Papallacta. I did not know which bus to take (there are no buses to Papallacta as the final stop), if there were any hotels there (or at least where they are), or anything.

I got to the bus station and got on a bus headed to Coca (the jungle) where the driver insisted that the bus would stop by Papallacta. I had no idea when we would arrive in Papallacta and so I asked him to tell me when we did. He followed through on his word and I eventually got off in Papallacta. It was about 10 at night at this point, and the small town was dark and quiet. I asked a lady working at a convenience store if there were any hotels nearby and she said no.

With my big backpack
on, i just started walking, hoping to find a hotel. Just a few minutes later, I did. For $5 a night, i checked into a somewhat nice little bed and breakfast. I woke up early, and had the owner driver me to the hot springs. I guess I forgot to mention that the hot springs is what the town is know for. Anyways, I got there at 8:30, and had the place to myself. The hot springs were just as beautiful as I had heard. They were also quite refreshing as it was at most 40 degrees outside.

I ended up making friends with an Ecuadorian family while I was relaxing in the hot waters. Together, we left at 12 in the afternoon back to Quito in their car. Once in Quito. they invited me to their restaurant. It was a really nice restaurant (one of the nicest in Quito), and i had an incredible and filling lunch.

At about 4, i checked into my usual hostel, Centro Del Mundo, and then to an internet cafe where I got an email from a the movie making friend i had met the previous week. I started walking to his hostal to meet up with him. He and a German guy were eating lunch upstairs at another restaurant and started calling my name. It took me forever to figure out where it was coming from.

The three of us walked to an Irish pub where we played pool and talked for a while. They both told me some story that had happened to them that they had built up so much. The story was pretty disappointing…. 🙂

A few hours later, we went back to their hostel and built a fire and ate some more. After another hour or so, we went to another bar where we spent the rest of the night. I got back at about 11:30, which was pretty late considering we started at about 4:30.

I had a hard time waking up this morning and getting to work…but did make it. I spent the morning placing our posters that i had designed in hostels, agencies, internet cafes, ect. In the afternoon, I put up a picture tour of the clubhouse on the website.

After work, i got some dinner and brought it back to my hostel where I watched Jerry Maguire. The end…for now.

Jason Bartoli
Jason Bartoli

"Jason is the best person you'll ever meet here. He's just a ray of sunshine. An adventurer, businessman, and has a 4.9 Uber rating. Lovely person inside and out. I say, go message him" - My Mom

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