Hello home free family, Chard here. Just wanted to share some insight on my experiences living down in Ecuador for a few months. If anyone is planning a trip to South America, I would definitely recommend this worthwhile destination. Ecuador has it all- amazing food, great culture, excellent surf, pristine rain forest, and some of the most genuine down to Earth people I’ve encountered. Lets start at the beginning shall we, back a few years ago one of my best mates moved down there and would tell me about the scene there. This peaked my interest and a few months later I decided to go see for myself. I landed in Gauyaquil, the second biggest city in the country next to the capital, Quitos. Speaking very little Spanish I set out into the city not sure what to expect. In my opinion it was a big city just like anywhere, some interesting spots but also some questionable ones. After a few hours I made my way to the bus terminal and bought a ticket to a little beach town called Montanita. We were about 3 hours into the ride when I smelt the salty ocean air and soon after glimpsed the mighty Pacific Ocean. I was dropped off in the center of town, where I grabbed my backpack and surfboard and set out to find a hostel. The streets here were lively and teeming with life. Street artists played music while others wrapped jewelry and painted, all joyous to be alive. I walked a few blocks and checked out a few places til I found one that felt right, Hidden House Hostel. It was about 5 mins from the beach and back in the cut a little ways. Shaded with trees, the property had hammocks everywhere and a few slack lines. I was shown the bungalow, dropped my stuff and set out to explore the town. It was an interesting mix of people who came from all over to enjoy this little beach party surf town. (I’ll go more into details when I do a Montanita post where I will describe the best restaurants, surf spots and some local tips.) I stayed at Hidden House about a week and then decided to head out of town a little bit to an area that wasn’t as much of a party.
Although I loved coming into town to go out, I was there for months and wanted some balance from the craziness and party scene of Montanita. I went to a healing center, Bromelia, about 20 mins outside the city in the town of Dos Mangas to get a reiki session. I met with the reiki master, Tito, and after talking for awhile decided to stay up there and intern under him. As luck would have it he was also a big surfer so we would drive to La Punta often and surf in the mornings. I spent two months here and learned an incredible amount from him. (I will post another in depth post about my experiences working with reiki, sacred plants, and qi-gong.)
From there I decided to leave the coast for awhile and head inland to a place I had been hearing a lot about, Banos. It was about a 10 hours bus ride but worth every second of it. Banos in settled up in the Andes mountains close to the edge of the Amazon rain forest. Surrounded by volcanoes and waterfalls everywhere you look, this is a place you do not want to miss. If you are an adventure seeker, this is the place for you. You can rent bikes or ATVS and cruise the roads to numerous waterfalls, a bungee jump, swing on the end of the world swing, swim in hot springs, and much more. I would recommend spending at least a week here to fully take it all in.
From there I hopped back on a bus for 5 hrs to a place called Misahualli, or the gateway to the Amazon. Its a little village settled on the river where you can take boat tours, do some hiking, and meet with native shamans. After a few days here I made my way through Quitos, which if there you should stop by the monument of where the equator runs through, but to me it was another big city so I made my way back to the coast. I stopped off in Olon, which is just north of Montanita. Olon was less of a party scene and had lots of health food places, art studios, and yoga classes. I spent some time here before heading up to San Jose for awhile. San Jose was a quiet little beach village with quartz filled beaches and amazing locals. They would invite me to have dinner with them and share their food even though they were living in a hut and didn’t have much. Truly restored my hope for humanity. I found a job up at another healing center in the San Jose area, Samai Lodge, doing massages and surf instructing. In addition, I had the pleasure of working with a shaman during my time there.
I spent a month here until one day I had this feeling, a draw, pulling me back home. I packed up, took a bus, and got on a flight home a few days later. Overall, Ecuador is a beautiful country filled with amazing people and I feel blessed to have spent some amazing months down there. If anyone else has been been here before or has some thoughts to share, drop a comment below.
Love and light, Chard
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